Dad got one of the drivers, Mr. Festus, to drive us on a tour of the resort in a sleek, airconditioned Toyota HiAce Bus. I never imagined those buses could be so clean and smooth because our experiences with them were the old, rickety ones any sane government should scrap and take off the roads.
Festus was jovial. He spoke highly of the resort, pointing at different buildings.
“Here is the airstrip.” He drove into a large complex. “Papa was going to dedicate the first luxury jet but as it is, you will be the one to do it, sir.”
Dad sat beside him in front of the bus. “Where is the jet?”
Festus shrugged. “Last I heard, they have paid but it won’t arrive yet.”
Dad turned to the back and looked at Mum. I knew what members in our family thought about such things.
It had never been in our sphere of consideration. Private jet? When Dad is worried about getting food for the three widows in the church, who between them have fourteen children, one of them with eight kids.
“Remind me to send a message to Aba.”
Mum nodded. “Okay. About?”
I could read my parents’ minds. We had no idea what a private jet cost, but a used car hadn’t been affordable to our family in recent times, so it was left to anyone to figure it out.
We drove around on the tarmac for a few minutes. I had no idea what this was or how it worked, and the questions burned in me. Truth be told, because I was in school, I knew what an aeroplane was, and an airport, otherwise, I had no clue.
My siblings and I gazed in amazement as Mr. Festus showed the arrival area, and the departure. Then he parked close to the big building, and offered to take us round.
To our surprise, Mr. Julius, the man who had come to our rescue was in one of the offices. He nearly hugged Dad, caught himself quickly, and went on his knees.
“Papa. I planned to fix an appointment to see you this week. I was in church yesterday.”
Dad pulled him to his feet. “Never. Never kneel to me, Bro. Julius.” He turned to Festus. “Tell the others, anytime Bro. Julius comes to the house, he is most welcome.”
The most absurd thing happened, and Julius had silent tears fall from his eyes. Dad held his hand, and he joined in our tour. He took over talking about the airstrip, the late archbishop’s master plan to turn it into a massive commercial hub, and employ more people.
The few people in the other offices stood first, and then went on their knees as our family entered their spaces, and Pastor Kentoroabasi Etim repeated the mantra, “Never, never kneel to me.”
When we left the airstrip, there was a strange silence in the bus. Chatterbox Festus seemed to be in a reflective mood, and did not speak till we got to the school premises.
“The international nursery, primary and secondary school, sir.” He waved as we drove through a huge gate. “It also has a boarding facility.”
Mum gasped. “It is so beautiful.”
Freke leaped. “Is this our school?”
Dad smiled. “Yes.”
We all exclaimed. The buildings all stood three and four-story high, and made from red brick like we saw in American movies and shows.
“It is locked now, as you know sir, that schools are closed for long holiday.” Festus turned at the end of the road to several blocks of bungalows. “These are dormitories.”
“I will find out who has the keys so we can come back and look inside.” Dad turned back to us. “Who wants to be a boarder?”
“Pastor Sade sir. She is in charge of the whole property of the resort.” Festus offered. “I can take you to her office now, Papa.”
“No. That will be another day.”
“I want to board,” I said.
“Me too.” Freke raised her hand. “No more house work.”
Ima snickered. “Already no more housework.”
Freke’s face lit up. “Oh, that’s true.”
I laughed. “Mum said we will still do some work.”
Edidiong arched an eyebrow. “All of you, go. I’ll have my room to myself.”
Everyone laughed at him. “You already do,” Mum said. “You are all going to boarding school. Let me and my husband rest from you people for a change.”
Chioma clapped. “Yes o, Mummy.”
We drove to the sporting center of the school, and we all gazed in shock at the facility. There was a standard football field, a basketball, and a lawn tennis court. And properly outlined layouts for track events.
Chioma looked at Edidiong and Idara. “You’ll play ball and be tired.”
“Even in the compound at home, I have enough space for ball.”
“There is a swimming pool inside the school too, but it’s locked now,” Festus said proudly.
Mum sighed. “It is really an international school.”
Festus nodded. “People bring their children from even UK and America.”
“I can imagine.” Dad agreed. “We can see the rest of the resort now, and return to the house. I have a meeting this evening.”
The drive through the housing area was brief, but it left me curious and thinking how my father would handle Pastor Sade. Her name coming up must have surprised him, but surely, he must know he had her to deal with. And so many empty houses…what was in the archbishop’s master plan for them? Such excess. My dad would call it waste.