No Longer At Ease
The book opened at the place where he had put the paper on which he had written the poem "Nigeria" in London about two years ago.
God bless our noble fatherland
Great land of sunshine bright,
Where brave men chose the way of peace,
To win their freedom fight.
May we preserve our purity,
Our zest for life and jollity.
God bless our noble countrymen
And women everywhere.
Teach them to walk in unity
To build our nation dear;
Forgetting region, tribe or speech,
But caring always each for each.
London, July 1955.
He quietly and calmly crumpled the paper in his left palm until it was a tiny ball, threw it on the floor, and began to turn the pages of the book forwards and backwards. In the end he did not read any poem. He put the book down on the little table by his bed. (16.28-30)
When Obi came out, one of the patients was waiting to have a word with him.
"You tink because Government give you car you fit do what you like? You see all of we de wait here and you just go in. You tink na play we come play?"
Obi passed on without saying a word.
"Foolish man. He tink say because him get car so derefore he can do as he like. Beast of no nation." (16.36-39)
As he turned these things over in his mind the door opened and a messenger entered. Involuntarily Obi jumped to his feet to accept an envelope. He looked it over and turned it round and saw that it had not been opened. He put it in his shirt pocket and sank to his seat….
His decision to write to Clara had been taken last night….
Obi, who nowadays spent all his time in bed, had got himself out and gone to his writing desk. Writing letters did not come easily to him. He worked out every sentence in his mind first before he set it down on paper. Sometimes he spent as long as ten minutes on the opening sentence. He wanted to say: "Forgive me for what has happened. It was all my fault…" He ruled again it; that kind of self-reproach was sheer humbug. In the end he wrote:
"I can understand your not wanting ever to set eyes on me again. I have wronged you terribly. But I cannot believe that it is all over. If you give me another chance, I shall never fail you again."
He read it over and over again. Then he rewrote the whole letter, changing I cannot believe to I cannot bring myself to believe. (17.31-35)