It was day break at Ozurumba village. Chike woke up with a loud yawn. He stretched out his hands as if to punch someone, but he punched the air instead. He did the same with the other hand. He turned around and saw his wife Obioma still sleeping. He tapped her delicately. “Obioma, wake up!” Obioma woke up and stared at Chike. “What is it?” she asked. “Let us have our morning devotion”. Chike answered.
After praying, Chike called out to his son. “Oluchukwu! Oluchukwu!”
“Yes papa!” Oluchukwu shouted.
“My son, you will not be going to school for a while”.
“But why papa?” Oluchukwu  asked
“I have not paid your school fees my son”, Chike said “You will help your mother and me at the farm to make some money”, Chike concluded.
Oluchukwu brightened up, “Okay papa! I will help you at the farm”.
Oluchukwu rushed out to help his mum to set the farm tools. While doing that, he nearly stepped on a baby chick. The mother hen flew up in anger. The hen chased Oluchukwu round in circles, and then chased him into the hut, “Mama, Mama!” Oluchukwu screamed. Obioma ran to her son’s rescue.
On the way to the farm that morning, Oluchukwu saw some children going to school, handling their raffia bags proudly. He also saw the chief’s son Chukwumobini. Chukwumobini was the son of the village chief. He was one of the rough boys in the village. As Chukwumobini approached, he started teasing Oluchukwu. “Why is it that your father never has money for your school fees?” he asked, and continued on his way, laughing mockingly. Oluchukwu did not mind Chukwumobini. “Don’t worry”, Oluchukwu thought to himself. “You will soon be going to school with others”, he merrily hopped to the farm.
Soon he could see the borders of his father’s farm and the chicken going about their daily business, calling out to each other in a language that no one but they, could understand, and getting ready to pick their morning feed.
Oluchukwu set about the task of tilling the soil. Soon he became quite hot and very tired, but he continued working for the benefit of his family.
On the way home, Oluchukwu thought about how he and his family would get money for their upkeep. That night, while eating a dinner of nicely made garri and okro soup, he reminded his parents about the tuber of yam they had left at the farm and decided he would go there early the next day, to collect it.
The next day, very early in the morning, Oluchukwu set off to the farm to get the yam before the village thief could get to it. When he brought it back, Chike and his family used the yam for a delicious meal of pounded yam and Ogbono soup. Oluchukwu was happy he had paid that price of going back for it.

One evening after dinner, Chike surprised his family by making an unexpected announcement. “I have paid your school fees my son” he quietly announced. Oluchukwu was full of joy, “Chukwu dalu o!, papa dalu o!” he shouted excitedly.
The next day Oluchukwu woke up very early. He wanted to be in school early. He had missed his school. Oluchukwu arrived to a warm welcome from his friends. Everyone had missed him, his teacher also welcomed him with a warm hug. At the end of the day, when Oluchukwu was going home, he noticed a group of boys following him. The chief’s son was their ring leader. Oluchukwu was scared, “I hope they’re not going to beat me up”, he thought. His guess was right. As he heard the pounding of feet behind him, he ran swiftly until he reached the bush. The boys continued to chase him, he ran until he reached a tall tree. In a hurry, he climbed the tree. The boys were confused, “Where is that stupid boy?” they asked one another.
After a few minutes of thorough searching, the boys left in anger, wondering where he had disappeared to.  Oluchukwu looked left and right, the boys were nowhere in sight and he came down from the tree. “It’s lucky that I help my mom in the farm, I was able to climb that tree with ease”, he thought.
The rest of the trek home, Oluchukwu was on the lookout for the bullies. He was afraid the boys were hiding somewhere near and would spring out from nowhere and beat him up. As he continued the trek, he heardthe sound of pounding feet again and his heart skipped. He started running as fast as his legs could carry him.  Soon, he got tired and decided to turn back to see whether the chase was still on him. He turned back only to find that an old woman was chasing her nanny goat. Oluchukwu stopped running. He helped the old woman catch her goat and she was really grateful to him.
While eating dinner that night, Oluchukwu told his parents how his day had gone. He expressed delight at being able to finally go back to school. He explained that exams would be coming up soon and he would have to read very hard to pass. He was determined to pass the exam. Every night before going to bed, Oluchukwu read with his kerosene lamp.
On the day of the exam, Oluchukwu did very well and he passed the exam. That evening, there was a knock on the door. “Poi, poi, poi!” Oluchukwu ran to answer the door. He opened the door and to his surprise, Mr. Nubuezee was standing happily at the door. “Papa! Papa! Onye nkuzi is here!” Oluchukwu called. Chike came out wearing a white singlet that was now brown with holes all over. Chike welcomed Mr. Nubuezee and Oluchukwu back with two stools and a bowl of kolanuts.
When kola had been eaten, Chike spoke up. “Has my son done any wrong? Let me discipline him!”
“No! he has not, rather he has made us all proud! I am happy to tell you that your son will be joining those who will be writing the big exam”. Mr. Nubueze said. Chike was overjoyed. “Obioma! Obioma o!” he called his wife. Obioma came rushing out.
“What is it my husband?” she asked
Chike told her the good news and they prepared with Oluchukwu for the big exam.

The exam came and went and Oluchukwu was the only one from his school that passed. When the good news reached Chike, he was overjoyed. There was jubilation. Obioma and Chike danced until they were tired and their feet ached. Oluchukwu was now on scholarship. He was happy but a little sad that he would not be staying with his parents anymore. He was admitted into the famous Cambridge University and was excited about his stay.
Years later when Oluchukwu had graduated from the University and had become a medical doctor, he was driving along the road one day when he saw someone waving him down. He pulled over and took a glance at the person. It was his old classmate and friend who had mocked and bullied him when they were both small. It was the chief’s son, Chukwumobimi. “Aaah! My friend, I have not seen you since I came back. I have missed you despite what you did to me!” Oluchukwu exclaimed. They hugged each other and Chukwumobimi spoke up “I have missed you too but I will forever live in this village because I did not work hard enough.” Oluchukwu patted his friend on the back. “My friend, it is never too late.” And with that, he entered his car and drove away. “Hardwork does pay.” he thought to himself.

                                                The End.

Written by Ekeoma Onyebuienye 
A primary five pupil of Hopespring Foundation school.


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