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Loving the problem child


Charles Ighele

I usually smile, when I think of my growing up years. I was a very good boy, until I went to secondary school. My parents sent me to an all boys boarding school owned by the Anglican Church in 1969. I joined one of the Christian groups known as the Scripture Union. But because I did not have the knowledge and ability of how to resist being drawn into the company of bad boys, I found myself moving with some of the ‘baddest’ boys in school. I wanted to belong to the group of ‘civilized’ boys. Boy! You needed to see me dancing ‘hey hey, I feel alright three times ah ah.’ You needed to see me dancing ‘say it loud, I’m black and proud.’ You needed to see me learning how to do the ‘camel walk’ dance that was originated by James Brown.

At a stage, I thought that being in the boarding house was all about enjoyment and not about studies. I started dodging classes, especially mathematics and science subjects. Some of the evening hours, when students were in the class reading or doing their homework, some of my friends and I would sneak to town to catch fun. We would return to school on time to join other students to go to bed, when all lights were switched off in the hostel. I did this about six times. We would deliberately go to some fishing ponds in the bush to catch fish with our hooks as a way of dodging mathematics classes and other subjects that I hated.

By age fifteen or sixteen, I became very desirous of having a girl friend because that was the reigning thing among the boys I moved with. I started smoking some of the costliest cigarettes (Benson and Hedges and Dunhill). I felt cool. Thank God I did not graduate into Indian Hemp, because all the boys I knew who graduated into Indian hemp either started roaming the streets in rags as completely mad men or died in their twenties. I did not know that I had become a problem child to my parents and loved ones.

My parents reacted by reducing my pocket money from one British pound to ten British shillings. They stopped buying provisions for me. My cupboard at school, which used to be loaded with Ovaltine, Horlicks, milk and many other things, suddenly became empty. During holidays, my father would tell me since I loved to dodge classes and go fishing, he would buy me hooks and fishing nets and withdraw me from school, so that I could fully concentrate on fishing. Each time he entered my room, I knew he was going to tell me something like this.

Then I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want me to move with those boys. However, I noticed that despite all my parents did to make me change my ways, they NEVER withdrew their love from me. But the day I made up my mind to change my ways, was when I saw AGONY and LOVE in my mother’s eyes. Oh! My God. I feel like crying as I write this line, when I remember the love, which my parents used to make me leave the company of bad boys. With their ‘rod’ of discipline and their ‘staff’ of love, they ‘comforted’ me.

I believe the prodigal son in the Bible wouldn’t have come back, if he did not know that his father loved him. Do not withdraw your love from that problem child, as you may be tempted to do. Love you.
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In this article:
Charles Ighele
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