This non-fiction story is set in Umuokpurukpu, Eberi, Omuma, Rivers State and it happened in the year, 2001 when I was in Primary One in C.P.S. Aririamiri.
I remember one day when my chalk got finished and there was nothing I would use to write the next day. So, I met my dad and said, “daddy, my chalk have finish.” He did not say anything, but I stood still hoping that he would reply to my request.
He finally responded to me as he instructed me to sweep every nook and cranny of his bedroom before he could give me the money the next day. I mulishly stamped my feet on the floor and yelled, “ooooohm!”. But I had no other option but to sweep. So, I grasped a big bunch of broom behind the door to his bedroom and I was all ready to sweep.
The room was nearly dark. I had to invite illumination by opening the small windows. I observed that the room was very neat and wondered why he wanted me to sweep a neat room. “He just want to punish me for just N5 ”, I said grudgingly. I started from the end of the room and then moved to the bed region. I put the broom under the bed to fetch the dirt there, but the broom could only fetch a small piece of paper squeezed in round shape.
I was very curious. Thus, I quickly picked it up and took it close to the window to see what it was. Behold, it was N10 note! I was so excited that I abandoned my sweeping duty in search of more. I crawled slowly under the bed and stretched my arms in different directions sweeping the floor with me palms. Unfortunately, I found nothing. Nonetheless, I was excited since I had found N10 already.
Quickly, I took the broom and fast-forwarded the sweeping, and in the next two minutes, I was done with it. I took a small yellow dustpan and parked the little sand I was able to gather. The next problem I had was how to escape with the money since I was completely bare-bodied. I stood for a while thinking of how to walk away without him noticing that I took money under his bed.
I finally decided to put it in my armpit and then cover it with my arm. It worked successfully and I was very happy. At least, I had found money to buy “banana chewing gum” which I would chew in school. The next day, he was sharpening his cutlass for his farm when I met him so that he could fulfil his promise. I stood there until I became bored; then, I sadly left him for my mum who was making him breakfast. I cried to her saying; “daddy is not give me money for chalk”. She paused for a while and said; “your dad can’t do that, he always tells me how he will give you everything he has.” She continued; “did you refuse his messages?” “No”, I replied. “What then did he tell you to do?” She asked persistently. I replied that he told me to sweep his bedroom and that I did.
“Ahaaaah!” She exclaimed happily. “He has caught you, your father has caught you! Now tell me, did you take any money under the bed or anywhere at all in the room?” she asked as she gave me a wink. I objectively denied it. But she kept on asking until I told her the truth.
She told me that that was the reason why he had refused to give me the money. He called it THE MONEY TEST and every of his children must be tested. So, I failed the test. My mum also told me that she was also tested and she passed it – she quickly returned the money to him after sweeping and he voluntarily gave her the money for being honest and obedient.
“That money is a reward for anyone who accepts to sweep his bedroom, but for you to earn it, you have to return it to him, not stealing it. Some of your brothers passed the test, some failed, too, just like you” she said instructively. “So, I will become a thief now that I fail the test?” I asked. She shook her head and added that; “it is just a lesson that you should not take things that do not belong to you, and even if they belong to any of your brothers or parents, you have to ask for their permission or simply return them.” After that, she brought out N5 from her wrapper and gave it to me for the chalk.
I became relieved. It was late already and I was the only one walking down the school road. I felt bad that I failed my dad’s test. So, after school, I went to him and apologized, he held my hand and gave me a hug of forgiveness.
Dad, I will never forget you and the MONEY TEST. Happy Father’s Day to you, and keep Resting in Peace.