Mama Toke had a great sale in the neighboring village that day and she was super excited as she counted the money and discovered that she had made enough to pay for her daughter’s fees and even had enough to spare for their feeding.
She decided to visit the market of that village to buy ingredients that she would take home and prepare dinner for herself and her daughter.
At the neighboring village, she recognized one woman who had returned back to her parents house after the death of her husband in baba Toke’s village.
Woman: “is this your face, mama Toke. It has been ages o” she said hugging her affectionately.
Mama Toke: “my sister, how have you been? Ever since your husband died and you left, you haven’t returned, not even to come and see us. Is that fair? Ehn?”
Woman: “my sister, I am very sorry. I have been here trying to make ends meet and you know that my parents are old now so I have to fend for myself, my children and them but it has not been busy. I will make out time to come and greet your people these days, especially those who stood by me during my mourning period. What about you, what are you doing here?”
Mama Toke: “I came to this village to sell o, hmmn”
“Sell kwa. How can you come all the way from your village to sell here at this time? Don’t you have buyers in your village anymore?” the woman asked with surprise.
Mama Toke: “there have all refused to patronize me. One she devil in fact, Jezebel of a woman told the villagers that I am a witch and since then they have all refused to buy from me” she said sadly.
Woman: “eyyahh, that is very painful o. Anyway, how is your daughter? She must be a very big girl now” she said trying to change the topic because she saw how that trend of discussion discomfited mama Toke.
Mama Toke: “in fact, she is the reason why I am coming here to hawk. I need money to pay for her examination fees and since the villagers would not patronize or help a poor widow, I have decided to take my destiny into my hands” she explained.
Woman: “I have always known you to be a very brave woman but I don’t think it is a wise idea to come to our village at this time when human hunters are out there looking for strangers to kill and use their heads to bury our dead king. Or are you not aware that our king has not been buried?”
Mama Toke: “I know, as a matter of fact, the town crier went round all our village informing us that none of us must come here until your king has been buried because of the human hunters but what can I do? Do I fold my eyes and watch my daughter drop out of school? She is all I have and she will be the one to take care of me in the future” she said.
Woman: “but your daughter can only take care of you only if you are alive. Putting your life at risk is not worth it at all. One would have understood with you if you were not aware but coming here even though you know what may befall you is wrong. Have you thought of what your daughter will go through if God forbid you die? Will she be able to forgive herself knowing that you died because you wanted to save enough money for her exams?”
Mama Toke: “I don’t have a choice, I expect you to understand that as a mother and as a widow too”
Woman: “I understand but there are other ways to go about looking for the money. For instance, you can go to the palace and ask for a chance to speak with the king. I am sure he would have assisted and even if he doesn’t, you could have gone to the Roman Catholic Church that we used to attend while I was living there. Talk to the priest and he will help you with your daughter’s fees even if it means talking to some parishioners to help you raise the money”
Mama Toke: “I stopped going to the Church long ago. What is the use of going to the Church to worship God when He is sitting on his throne, watching me suffer without doing anything to help me?” she asked her bewildered friend.
Woman: “you know, God’s ways are not our ways. Most times, He allows us go through difficulties because he has something better and bigger in stock for us. Anyway, I will not allow you go home today o. You will have to remain in this village until we bury our king, that will be the safe time to go back”
Mama Toke: “I have to go back to my daughter, if she doesn’t see me today, she would be very worried besides, the deadline for her registration is tomorrow, I have to go back and pay”
Woman: “don’t worry about your daughter. We will send some youths from this village to go and bring her here so that you two can stay with me until it is safe to go back” she suggested.
Mama Toke: “and her registration?”
Woman: “that will have to wait. I know how all these schools operate, they will still extend the registration after the closing date. They all do that”
“And what if they don’t? Does that mean that all my efforts would have been an exercise in futility?” mama Toke asked again to the irritation of her friend.
Woman: “there you go again. We are talking about your safety here and you are talking about exams as if the exams can only be written this year. Some people who would not have the opportunity to sit for the exams this year will still write next year. Have you thought of what a double tragedy and loss it will be if you leave and then something happens to you before you get to the village? That means that your daughter would have lost you and yet she won’t sit for the exams since the money is here with you”
Mama Toke: “God forbid” she said, snapping her finger over her head.
Woman: “God will not come down from heaven and forbid it. You have to prevent it from happening. Who knows if God is even the one asking me to talk to you because I cannot even control what I am telling you. Remember that it is not everybody that will sit for the examination this year that will pass. Some people will have to resit next year and who knows if your daughter is among those people so please don’t risk your life for uncertainties”
Mama Toke: “my daughter must pass in flying colours. She has been preparing so hard for it and I cannot imagine her disappointment if she doesn’t sit for the exams this year”
Woman: “mama Toke…”
Mama Toke: “wo, my sister, let me just be going. I can see dark clouds gathering in the sky. Thank you for your advice and offer of hospitality. I really appreciate it. It feels so good to know that someone still cares for me and my daughter this much” she said and left before the woman could say another thing.
It was getting dark because of the cloud and the rain was threatening to fall. Mama Toke increased her pace as she walked along on the lonely path. She was alone and she was a little bit afraid. She thought of her daughter and knew that she was missing her, she couldn’t wait to inform her that she had made enough money for her registration.
Suddenly, it began to rain heavily. Mama Toke ignored the rain and walked on but soon walking became difficult as the rain was accompanied by strong wind. When it became obvious that she was doing herself more harm than good by walking in the rain, she sought shelter under a big bamboo tree off the road. She stood under the tree shivering and clutching on to her basket when a hand touched her. She turned around and saw some men in mask with green palm branches in her mouth and chalk decorations on their faces. They were the human hunters.
“If only I had listened to my friend!” she thought as her heart flew to her mouth.
She tried to open her mouth to speak but one of them dealt her a blow with his cutlass.
“Oh my daughter”, she screamed and fell on the floor with a thud.
Question: hmmn…what a pity. Sometimes, God uses people to talk to us and we should learn to listen. Is mama Toke dead? What happens to her daughter after now?
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