The door creaked open, and daddy walked into the lounge in his usual mien, undaunted, his shower-fresh smell of Power soap slowly filled the lounge, his Ankara wrapper fastened in tight rolls under his big belly. Then he sank himself into the sofa, tilted his head to the wall clock to check the time, then finally rested his gaze on the side of my face with a shadow under his eyes that said ‘about time’, all in a fuss that sliced the air of comfort, my face suddenly felt fat on the sides. Of course I surely knew it was nine, time for NTA news. I sat still, resolutely unshaken. I pursed my lips and stared blank at the Television, aware of the stretches of time when Alicia Keys bobbed her head melodiously, playing a piano, her braid fluttered around, “no one, no one, no one” the gentle trailing voice slightly cracked with emotions on Mtv Base.
And although it was one minute past nine, I resisted Daddy’s noisy gaze, I had been there from the greying of the evening to the darkening of the night, submerged in excitement
“Ahn-ahn, ngwa tinye NTA right now osiso” he yelled with a contempt-tinged tone. I panicked, threw the remote to the centre table, sprang up
“Are you alright? Ah-ahn, I say put NTA now kita” he repeated aloud, his stomach heaved in the rhythm of the syllables, his face hollowed in anger “This boy has no respect”
“I will put it sir, I’ve put it” I said in a hushed voice, hastily bending down to switch to NTA, leaving my glasses behind, I took off in a brisk pace, almost running into my bedroom, troubled in my own skin, the door banged.
Inside my room, the letters NTA hung heavy in the air, unsorted. The thought of NTA was a TV screen coated in a translucent haze of dust, northern-like voices read careful censored news in bogus traditional clothes “The Governor of Yobe is empowering youths with sewing machines” the words filed out of their mouth with stylish difficulty, headlines were written in white and bold old-school font styles upon chocolaty brown backgrounds below the screen. A minister always commissioned a bridge or a building, a commissioner commissions a borehole water, cutting ribbons in an entrance cladded with balloons. The following day, the first lady wears a black silky veil and empowers women with mosquito nets that heaped in bulk, then makes a speech of sickening banality with a chubby microphone half the size of her head. The president always said this and that, but never said any bad things, “The chief commander of the armed forces of the federation has addressed..” this soared my stomach or drove me into giddiness. When it was a police man, it even made me hungry.
I climbed into bed, I can’t, I won’t watch NTA, then in a wave of resentment the word “nonsense” rolled around my tongue, then out of my mouth, my head shook to my thoughts, and a ball of fire seemed to woosh from my head and flickered. There in my room, I listened to the discordant drone of our neighbour’s generators that came through the windows that flung open. This subtle tragedy (power cuts) was something that NTA never talked about, they never talked about anything, they often sounded like ‘How sweet my Nigeria’. And yet when I switched to Channels news, accusations flung back and forth, civilians spoke to reporters with tears in their voices, bruised lips, placards, melting eyeballs, orotund protests, impassioned rants about unemployment, even government officials punched each other at the House of Assembly.
I remained in my room, listening to the cacophonous noise of the generators, and in that ugly noise, I wondered whether NTA was truly Nigerian. Then the sound of NTA news “pararam, raraam, kwararaa” continued in the lounge like sneezing trumpets, I heard it. Finally I walked to the door and closed it in the best possible way, then blocked the keyhole with pieces toilet rolls. I curled myself on bed, buried my head in a pillow and drifted off to sleep.
Daddy’s News at Nine is written by Anthony Nonso Dim, a student of Univeristy of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. He was born in Lagos Nigeria, working on his first novel.