Chapter 52: Ijburg Islands.
Ijburg is a nearby suburban in Amsterdam. It was a small beautiful suburb reclaimed from the Lake Ij.
According to the small history book i found at a bookshop in Amsterdamse Poort, Ijburg was planned for the middle class. The proper construction started in 2004. It was clearly a new Suburb.
As at the time i was having problems with Clement, only two Nigerian families lived in Ijburg. The houses over there in Ijburg were a little expensive. One obviously had to be a Dutch citizen to be able to live in Ijburg.
It was in this Ijburg that Mr Clement relocated. Whatever reason why he relocated to Ijburg was unknown but i assumed he was running away from me. Maybe he wasn’t running away from me but i had made the assumption to protect myself.
Peharps his thugs had told him how i got the information of his failed attempt from them.
I didn’t blame him. He was a typical Igbo man, full of ego and pride.
His brother had done something wrong and paid the price for his actions. Rather than finding out what happened, Mr Clement had chosen the part of fire and destruction.
Why was he running away from Bijlmer where we all lived? Peharps he had all of a sudden, decided to exercise the powers of his Dutch Passport.
Ijburg was an isolated town sitting on top of lands reclaimed from the Lake Ij. There were some carefully planted levees that prevented the lake from overflowing into the residential areas.
The population of Ijburg was less than 10,000 since it was a town carefully constructed for the middle class. Among those small population lived Mr Clement and whatever family he had.
Over 80% of the Igbo people in Amsterdam were Catholics. They attended Masses at a house called African House in Diemen which was not far from Ijburg.
I met Mr Austin, a Nigerian Man who also lived in Ijburg when i started searching for Mr Clement.
I had finished shaving my hair at his Salon when i heard him talking about the Ijburg Island. He boasted that they were only two Nigerian families in the entire Ijburg Islands. I wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying until he mentioned Clement.
I had pretended that i didn’t know what he was talking about and went home. His hair salon was very close to my apartment in Krainest. As a result, i started going to the hair saloon on daily basis, just to sit and watch television as if i didn’t have a television at home.
Mr Austin liked me a lot due to the articles i wrote on the newspaper.
One afternoon, i brought up the issue of Ijburg and asked Mr Austin some questions. I told him that i wanted to visit the Island. He agreed to take me to his place where he lived with a Suriname girlfriend of his.
On our way to his house, he had pointed to a house and said that it was where Clement lived. On our way back, i had looked at the house again and saw that the house number was 12.
However i made a stunning observation. Every household in Ijburg owned a vehicle. No one was seen walking to anywhere.
The entire Island was calm since there was no bus station, train station or any public anything. Ijburg was just a quiet place. The only encouraging thing i saw there was a man with a bicycle who distributed letters and newspapers to each door.
The following Sunday, i went to the Catholic Church at the African house. It was my second time of going to the Catholic Church since i arrived in Amsterdam. The first time was when Dozie tried to practice the Nigerian mentality of ”If you don’t go to my Church, we can’t live together” with me.
At the African House Church, i saw Mr Clement. He was seated at the front when i entered. On seeing him, I had decided to sit at the back to make sure that he didn’t see me.
I endured the boring routine of Catholic mass until the Church was over, then i watched Clement climbed into a blue Toyota Corolla with a woman and drove away. He had apparently bought a new car. Some businesses must have clicked since he now lived in an expensive suburb and had a new car.
I was happy that i saw him at the Church. I was also happy that i knew where he lived. What was left for me was to find out if he worked and where he worked. It was going to be a difficult one.
Amsterdam was a city filled with thousands of bicycles. Every organised person in Amsterdam owned a bicycle. As a result, i had gone to a shop and bought a used bicycle.
A day after i purchased the bicycle, i rode it to Diemen where a daily Dutch newspaper plant was situated.
The newspaper company were always looking for distributors. Nobody wanted to work for them because their weekly pay was as good as nothing.
”Good morning Sir” i had greeted the man i met at the reception hall of the newspaper. He had responded and asked what i came to do.
I told him that i was looking for a distribution job. He had asked me to sit down and asked a few questions which i answered.
After keying my data into their computer, he told me that the pay was €180. The pay was ridiculous but i believed they paid according to what they made.
He told me to start work the next day. My work was to go to the newspaper house as early as 5:30am every morning, pick up newspapers and start distributing them in Ijburg.
I had specifically chosen Ijburg and the excuse i gave him when he asked was that i loved looking at the man made Islands. He had claimed that he loved it too and had asked me to always remember to cover my body properly since the early morning weather was usually harsh.
As it stood, Ozoigbondu had just been employed to work in the Netherlands. Work usually required legal documents and bank accounts but since the newspaper company didn’t pay well, they usually preferred to give money to their workers directly. As i rode home on my new bike people stared at me.
When i got home, Robin confronted me.
”What are you up to this time” he had asked.
”Nothing, i just found a job that required bicycle and here we are” I said.
”Don’t do anything stupid” Was his last words.