“Don’t sound like it is important to you mama. You never wanted to; don’t tell me stories again mama” in what seemed like a fierce warning as she stormed out of the room to a quiet place, where she could rend her heart in tears. I have been denied another opportunity to live my dreams.
My family had its fair share of challenges but we were happy people. I grew in a home where things weren’t really rosy but we could manageably afford daily meals and could go to school. Until that dark afternoon when death struck and papa the breadwinner was gone. I and my siblings were left to be catered for by my petty trader mother. At the break of the sad news, friends and family members where everywhere with promises of supports and care but immediately the dead was buried, they all fizzled into their tents. And we were faced with the true music of poverty.
School fees and house rents became a major challenge that gave mama high blood pressure. Whenever these times approached she became a sad heart to deal with. The landlord’s threats to throw us out of the one room we moved into after papa's demise had become a usual occurrence that sometimes we had expected our belongs to be on the street before we returned at night because mama never paid at due dates. The story wasn’t different at school either as we couldn’t even pay for notebooks.
This faithful morning after our prayers, mama called us together to tell us the unexpected. “You all can see that since your father died, I have been the only one taking care of you all without help from any relation or friend. I can no longer pay school fees for now and landlord has given us final quit notice. You saw what he did the last time. You all will have to stop going to school for now and help me in the market until we are able to raise money and you will be back in school by the grace of God.” I saw mama weep that morning like the day papa died.
We got our trays ready every morning and combed the whole market selling, with hope to get back to school almost immediately. I am the oldest so had more vegetables on my tray than Izu and Obioma. A few months later, Izu’s fees were paid and he was back in school and only joined us to sell in the evenings.
Friends and classmates kept asking me when I would be back to school and my answer was always very soon until that session ended. Some were kind enough to share their notes with me while some only gave me all the class stories. At this time thing were beginning to improve. Mama’s market space was becoming fuller and richer as she had added local cooking spices and condiments to her shelves. I had gotten many customers who waited for me daily to supply them with vegetables and soup ingredients. Some I supplied in the mornings and a few in the evenings. Mama had shown me where she buys things, how to sort and tie them into smaller portions. Also, the small vegetable farm we started was growing so well. Whenever she wasn't around, I took charge of the business. I was so happy that the landlord had stopped disturbing us and at least Izu was back in school.
It was time to send another person back to school. I expected Mama to let me knowing I had missed my set and I did not write external exams with my mates but she pleaded for me to let Obioma go. “Ada you will go when the time is ripe. You are the major person in this business now, if you go to school now who will help me, do you want us to go back to what it used to be? Biko Ada understand with me, you will go to school, let Obioma go.” I saw reasons with her and did not argue any further.
Today to my shock, I heard mama discussing land deal with Mailafia. I know him to have helped a few of mama’s friends in the market to buy lands. I asked Mama when we got home why she would want to buy land when I am not back in school. Mama shocked me some more “Ada listen, you are my daughter, you may not understand now but you will be happy later. We need a place of our own where no landlord will disturb us again.” So mama has no plans to send me back to school but to use me to build her house and train my siblings. Already she is hinting I should bring him home if I see a genuine God fearing man who can take care of me, that at my age, she already had me. I am just an eighteen years girl who wants to be educated and have a great future.
Stories not told…
© Stella C. Obokoh 2018
This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.