It was 14 years ago; the season all glittering, and streets on wars with firecrackers and bangers. It was Christmas and the best I had ever had. But in all this eulogies, something spectacular happened on the 23rd and 24th night. Something I have told people about, but failed to believe me. Even my parents think me to be one who hallucinates a lot. I know it’s not easy to believe, but am certain that you who reads this story of mine would believe me.
As I said earlier, it was 14 years ago, and I was 10, as at that time. My name is Folanre Ejiofor; Yes my mum is Yoruba and my dad Igbo.
It all started on the 23rd of December; that day started like every usual day. I woke up from sleep and went straight to where my mum was preparing meal for dad and my self; I am the only child of my parents. As at then, I was really not tidy, my room was always scattered, and I had hardly placed time to arrange it. The only days my room was neat was on Sundays, because mum and dad brought visitors from their places of work and family; and surely they would come up, checking on me. The rest other days, “are days of penury for my room” would say my mum. They had tried convincing me on bringing a house part-time cleaner/teacher who would both clean our home, give verdict to my room and also teach me math’s and English language; because schools were on Christmas holiday. But I didn’t like the idea of having a cleaner and a teacher as a house companion; cause their conversion theme could probably be on personal hygiene and the apply of arithmetic on room maintenance; what other things, would he/she have at mind if not the aforementioned. That I thought. My parents finally won at getting a cleaner/teacher. The cleaner/ teacher was muscular, and had, bold black eyes, with thick brown heir. The cleaner/teacher was a she, and had this bad commanding bass bold voice, and wore a Santa Claus looking like dress. If I had not come closer, I would mistake her for Santa clause him self; Because she was huge, tall and bold looking, every thing about her, seemed alien to me. She was worse than what I despise. “some body save me, come on!!!…” (from the series movie, Smallvile), was the song in my head and heart. After moments of gazing and scrutiny at the humongous cleaner/ teacher, disappointment sped through my respiration. Mum and dad spoke to me uniformly, saying, “son, you would love her very much!” “your dad is living for work, and my self would be going to see an old friend who has invited me,” said mum, in her victorious like voice. Dad didn’t say anything as he walked with mum to the car, and shouted “take care of your teacher/cleaner!” what I had in mind was that, mum and dad had planed all this getting of a wrestler looking like woman. The cleaner/teacher which my dad pronounced as teacher/cleaner; and thus made me mad, believing he made it up in order to tease the atmosphere, asked, “what’s that your name again?” Even when she talked gently, she sounded commanding because of her voice. I said to her, “folanre is my name”, she tried forcing a smile from her countenance, but the effort ended up in a frown–like smile. She said, in a still bad bass voice of hers, “er we are going to have a lot of hygiene fun…” Hearing what she said finished me, to the extent I had to think up a lie, in order to flee from her presence to meet my few friends in the street.
The cleaner and teacher said, staring at me as if irritated at my size. “lets go Inside, and why are you still wearing pajamas?” I stood in awe not knowing how to tell her the lie I had built in order to escape her, and be with my friends, till my parents came back. At last, the words and how to say them had just rang in my head, and thus I spat them, “ma, I had promised to help an old woman water and trim her garden, down my street. And she had probably been waiting for me. She gave me a very frown look and said, “hmm… are your parents aware?” I said with no waste of thought “yes, they know,” “why didn’t they say anything about this old woman?” added the cleaner/teacher. “Well, they most have forgotten,” I said. She paused for few seconds and said, “you go to her place, and be back very on time, so that I can handle you on math’s.” but the way she said “handle you on math’s,” sounded like she would wrestle me to learn math’s. I told her, “OK”.
I sped up to my room, changed my cloths and vanished from the house like flash. Didn’t bait though.
I went to Chuma’s place; a friend of mine, and wiled away the day there. I came back home at 5:56 pm, expecting to see the huge lady cleaner/ teacher, but didn’t see her. At the top of our door knob hung a piece of paper, which read, “always keep it clean and tidy.” The letters of the hand writing on the paper was as if it had muscles. I already knew it was the cleaner/teacher lady, that had dropped the piece of note, because the way she looked, everything she would do, would probably be like her. I went inside and banged the door with a heart full of joy for escaping the cleaner/teacher.
My parents were back by 8:18, and had asked how today went with the cleaner/ teacher. I told them, “we had huge fun”, and both of them Burst out in tears of joy. Mum said “you are such a good and kind boy with every one you meet.” Dad touched me on the shoulder, and looked me in the eyes, as what I would interpret as a gesture of encouragement.
The night grew to it’s glory, as we had all finished eating the meal for the night, and moved straight to bed. Mum and dad moved before me, as I was at the balcony, viewing firecrackers catapulting them self’s to the night sky, and performing the jobs of the stars, for there were no stars this night. It was such a heavenly view. After few minutes spent at the balcony, I went off to bed.
This is the part nobody has ever believed, rather they will call me names like, “Foolish Liar.” But just read carefully and be my first believer. I was asleep, not deeply asleep, when I heard the sound, like the legs of someone, moving very gently in order not to be noticed. My door was slightly open for me to see who it was, that was moving in such a way. So, I turned my face to the side of the bed, that faced the door to my room. I looked for some moments but could see no body approaching towards my room or going to the rest room, or sitting room. I saw no body; but the noise, was still heard by me. And for a second, I thought of my parents; if any of them had been awake at that time of the night. But paying close attention to the snore that came out of their room, I realized in surprise that it wasn’t them at all. Because both mum and dad snored, and their both snore were unique; one had a slightly loud snore while the other had a tiny tone snore, thus when they slept, you could tell if both were on bed or not.
The sound crept close, and I became petrified under my blanket, tightened my eyes very hard; for The fear in me became too much. I tried not believe what I was hearing, and opened my right eye, which was easy to open at this moment. I saw a huge shadow who carried something looking Like a humongous bag; the bag somehow was bigger than the carrier. I said to my self, “why and what in the world, would a thief be doing in our house by this time of the night? where did he enter form?” Were all the questions in my head. I decided to go back to sleep, so as not to attract, the shadow to my room.
When it was morning, the next day, I rushed down to where my parents were preparing for work, I asked them if they had heard any sound at night while they were asleep. They replied uniformly “No Darling, we didn’t hear any sound,” I told them, all I heard, but did not believe me. And said, “you must have been hallucinating,” just take good care of your self, while the cleaner/teacher comes to teach you.
While I was waiting for the cleaner/teacher, I went round the house too see if the night thief had really taken anything that would serve as a proof to me. But could not find one, everything in the house was in place and order, not a thing was missing. Half past twelve noon had past, and yet the cleaner/teacher woman was no were on site. I waited extra two hours, for the cleaner/teacher woman, but still, could not hear her coming. I then thought, that, my behavior towards her yesterday was not friendly and could cause her not coming again. I was half glad and half sad; half glad because the cleaner/teacher woman, I would see no more, and sad, that what happened yesterday night had put in me, the fear of going out side to see any of my friends.
I was afraid, that, what happened yesterday night, might happen again. In the sitting room, on top of the chair used by my dad only for reading, rested a piece of note, similar to the one I saw at the door knob. I picked it up, and it read. “I know you do not believe in Santa Claus; also known as Father Christmas mass in your country. I know you do not believe he exists nor he existed. You better do, cause he is not far from you, Folanre.” The note thundered fright into my spine and left me confounded. Truly, I hated the idea of there was Santa Claus, talk more of there is Santa Claus. I had been a believer of Christmas, without Santa Claus. And one of the big reason was that, I had never seen a real Santa Claus, other than the humans vested like Santa Claus. My parents had never seen one, my teachers who eulogize him, had never seen him, and my friends had never seen this so called “Santa Claus”. So I didn’t give respect to the Santa Claus name.
I dashed to Chuma’s house to ask him, if he really did believe in the Santa Claus. “oh yes!” he exclaimed, “I have never seen him though, but I believe he exist,” Chuma said. I didn’t like the idea that Chuma believed in the Santa Claus… it pissed me of though. What kind of Nigerian child, would really believe in that name Santa Claus. After all, the fake Santas we see at places of parties are merely masquerade personified. Just like the way, the cleaner/teacher looked like. Well, You could never tell, if the cleaner/teacher did fake Santa’s jobs as a side job. I bet, if the real Santa, had the attributes of the cleaner/teacher, then, I would never take part in things of Christmas. Mum and dad say “we celebrate Christmas, because, it was the day our lord Jesus was born, and thus, the celebration has been so. Whenever I asked them to tell me more about Santa Claus, they’ll make excuses of been unable to tell me.
I told Chuma, about what happed last night, but he didn’t believe me. He said “its been 5 years of no robbery in this neighborhood, talk more of, our neighboring places like Ilasamaja or Cele Oshodi. We have had peace bro! And don’t forget the security of this area is excellent.” “hmmm…” I muttered in me. Chuma wasn’t lying, all he said is true. There was no way one would brake into our home without been noticed by the vigilantes at night. All Chuma had said, gave me a deep thought on whether to report this to any of the vigilantes I might see to night, but a second thought came to me; the person who broke into our home didn’t take anything from our home, so I withdrew the plan of going to a vigilante person to report the issue. My new plan was to know what the stranger who came last night, did in our home. “This is life, anything is possible.”
The night had come and it was the 24th night, the night didn’t seem as though it was ushering the 25th day. Mum and dad came back on time, but refused to ask me how the day had gone with the cleaner/teacher; out of fatigue from work. We ate on time, and went to bed on time. This time I was very prepared to know who was coming to our home to night, this time I was the house vigilante. On bed, I was, covered with blanket, peeping through the right side of the bed, facing towards the door of my room; where I could see the thief this time, very clearly. I waited and Waited and was still waiting… I checked the wristwatch I wore, and it was 00:27am. In a moment the passage central window was cricked open, and immediately the foot steps began tipping. I looked, this time around with my two wide eyes open. It was the shadow again, moving exactly the way he moved yesterday; Not miscalculating his steps. He tip toed past my room like yesterday, and immediately, I gently put away my blanket and picked up a baseball bat my daddy’s father gave to me before he past away last year; I knew it would one day be of use for me, and this hour was the moment. I held the bat to my right side and followed the thief to the sitting room, where he headed. As I approached him, I noticed he bent to the Christmas tree in the sitting room, and was doing something; I didn’t know what it was, he was doing though. But I didn’t care, as I walked gently to hit him with the bat; I raised and swung it to his direction, but some force in me stopped me. The thief noticed some one was at his back, and thus, turned to see me. I was shocked at seeing him, looking at me. But a closer glance at the thief, made him appear, familiar to me.
The thief said in a bass voice, “Folanre, how are doing?” I was surprised he knew my name. I said to him, “am not fine,” “and who are you!?” I asked, not happy. He cleared his voice and replied me saying “ I am saint Nicholas, the man you know as Santa Claus. I could not believe his words until he moved to where the Christmas tree was and put it on, that Christmas tree had spoilt for, four years now, and no electrician has been able to repair it. Dad said he was going to throw it after this year’s Christmas. He brought out gifts from his humongous bag, and placed them round the tree. I was so perplexed, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, because I had only watched them on TV and read them in books. “It is impossible!…” I muttered to my self; He said to me “sit down, and stop muttering those nonsense in your mind. I sat down, and kept steering at him. He said, “I am the Santa Claus you don’t believe in. it’s not easy – I know, to believe in the existence of someone, whom you haven’t really seen before.” “let me tell you my story, of how I became the Santa Claus. It was many years ago… then I was steel alive,” “still alive!!!” I exclaimed quietly, because it was the early hours of the morning. Santa continued “yes, alive, and at that time, I was fond of giving out gifts to the children, during Christmas periods. Not only did I give out to children, but I also helped the poor, the disabled and the old. Every one around me, loved me. The day I died, all the children, the poor and the old, were so very sad. The children never kept forgetting me because of the gifts I had given them; years after years and they kept me at their heart; it was hard for them to put me aside from their mind. So I was sent back, by God to come and keep on the joy I had been giving to children. And that’s how, I became Santa Claus. Am not a thief, son. I came, that, you who has refused to believe in my existence, would believe.” The air of the night filled the entire sitting room, making it chill and cool. He stood up to leave, and made his way to the passage, looked back and gave me a wristband that had the inscription, “be tidy in you and out of you.” as he climbed the window in order to get out of the house, he turned to me saying, “be a good boy, and you see that cleaner/teacher of yours; I was the one. Merry Christmas!!!!!!” as he jumped out of the window. I rushed to look if he had crashed on the ground, but didn’t see anything nor anybody.
The entire neighborhood was still quite, nobody had noticed anything or anybody jumping down a window shouting “Merry Christmas!!!!!!” I breathed in deeply and closed the window. My parents were still snoring divinely. On the table close to the window Santa had jumped from; I saw an aquarium with glittering fishes, its interior was designed like the north pool, the fishes in it was its light. A peculiar thing I saw in the aquarium, was that the fishes were helping each other, on the glass of the aquarium was inscribed “for Folanre” in muscle like hand writing.
I sped off to bed with joy in my heart, as I had accomplished what many people haven’t achieved; which was seeing the Santa Claus. It’s 4:15am, and it’s already Christmas day, I would wake up to tell mum, dad and Chuma; you already know what they would say.
©Jude F Nwosu