My Brothers and Sisters,
As my tori wan start, I take God beg ona, make ona no judge me; no judge me bikos life no dey fair to everybody, and also, everybody get in own sin wey e dey commit, sin na sin- no sin small. I go school small, I go like talk my tori for the small English wey I understand, then garnish am with some small Pidgin so that everybody go hear my story.
About Twenty-Seven years ago, I was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Bena; my father was a Fine Art teacher in the town school and my mother owned a small shop in our compound. My father was very intelligent and hardworking, but he was a disciplinarian; people feared him, especially children and close neighbours. They had been married for five years without a child, and on 28th July, 1989, they had me, the apple of their eyes.
Friends and relatives who came around when I was born rejoiced with my parents; one of the pastors had come and told my parents I was going to be famous. At the age of five, I was already in Primary One, unlike other girls in the town. Papa and Mama did not have enough money to put me in a nursery school, so before I got to primary school, I used to stay with my mom in the shop; she would not allow me do anything but stare at her while she attended to the customers. We also had a grinding machine behind our house; since the shop was very close to the house, my mom would always multi-task, she would attend to the customers who came to grind, and run back to the shop to attend to the buyers.
One day, a customer had come to buy a stick of cigarette but my mom was at the back of the house completing her transaction with a customer who came to grind beans, being the stubborn girl that I was, I did not go to inform her that there was a customer waiting, I opened the pack of cigarette and sold the stick at One Naira. When Mama returned from the backyard, I was so anxious, I told her the good news.
Me: “Mama, guess what? I don sell for you o, you go give me dat chewing gum wey I beg you” I said happily
Mama: “Shiber, wetin you sell? I nor tell you say make you nor dey sell? Why didn’t you call me?”
Me: “I think say you go dey grind for Mama Ono, see, I don sell one cigar” I showed her the pack of cigarette I had sold from “The man na mumu o, e no even collect change, mama you see why I no need go school? I go dey here dey help you sell, you go dey house dey grind”
Mama: “Make I see the money wey the man give you?” she said and turned around to pick a cane from the ground.
Before I knew it, I had received the beating of my life, in fact, that was the first day I was flogged with a cane. I had sold the stick of cigar for One Naira instead of Three Naira, Mama had told me after flogging me. The cane did not get to me that much, but I exaggerated as she added more strokes. I screamed so the neighbours could hear, but none of them came out to rescue me; they did not like me that much, they thought I was a spoilt brat.
After the beating, I went straight to the back of the house, I sat on the wooden bench near the grinding engine, I knew that Mama would come around there numerous times, so I thought sitting there would remind her that I was sobbing and prompt her to apologize to me and give me some sweets to stop me from crying, but she did not. Several times, she walked past me and pretended there was no one visible.
It was when she locked the shop and was about to climb the steps to go and prepare lunch for Papa that she missed her steps and fell off. I still do not know where that laughter came from, but I laughed like I had never laughed before. I held my stomach because it hurt as I laughed and ran away to the shop. I had thought she would run after me but she did not; she had sustained some bruises.
That afternoon, when Papa returned from work, I sat by the door and heard Mama reporting me to Papa
Mama: “Shiber is a stupid girl”
Papa: “Shiber? What did she do?”
Mama: “Like you instructed, I asked her to sit in the shop and let me know whenever a customer comes, but she disobeyed”
Papa: “She left the shop?”
Mama: “No, Darl, she sold cigar very cheap, I had to beat her for that…then I fell off the steps and she laughed so hard. How can she be so heartless?”
I sat there, expecting my dad to call me and scold me because he was silent after Mama told her what I did, next thing I heard was a thunderous laughter from him, I crawled behind the wooden chairs in the living room to see what was happening and I found them chasing one another- just like me, Papa had found the missed steps hilarious.
I was the last pupil to resume school that year. Papa had told me that he needed to pay his debts first before buying the things I needed for school; he said he knew I was smart and would easily catch up with the children who had resumed earlier. Papa had more than forty siblings, since his dad died, he had been the one taking responsibility of his mother and siblings, and sometimes he would extend his generousity to his nieces and nephews, which is why he was always borrowing from money lenders.
My first day at school was amazing; Mama had bathed me hard, she used the hard sponge to wash the dirt out of my body. As she did, she complained I played too much with the kids in the neighbourhood and she was glad I was going to start school; she said I would meet my match there in school. She rubbed the Pears Vaseline all over my body and passed me over to Papa, who handed me my red and white uniform.
We got to the school on Papa’s Suzuki bike. I ran to catch up with him as he walked briskly into the school compound immediately he parked his bike, and then handed me over to a woman whom I later found out was my class teacher. He had left me there with the wicked ‘aunty’; I cried like I was being sold out to a wicked slave trader as I saw my father’s image vanish. “Shut up you brat!” was what the wicked aunty had told me to keep my mouth sealed. She showed me my seat and collected the broom, hoe and cutlass from me. I saw her add them to the other three sets in the corner of the class, then she stared at me like she was about to eat the hell out of me.
Being the new girl in school, and a smart one for that matter, I blended just like the chameleon. I gathered my new friends during break and told them funny stories of my experiences with Mama and how I played pranks in our compound. Turn by turn, each of us told our stories; the other girl who had resumed same day with me was so proud and annoying. She was also the only child of her parents, I had thought I would be the youngest in school, but we were same age; she spoke about how her dad had four airplanes, I told her mine had six. When the other girls realized that the conversation was becoming a competition, they left us. I eyed her green water bottle and backpack; I wished Papa had bought the same for me.
I returned home that day, with the plan to inform Mama that I truly met my match in school but all did not end well, I met Papa outside the house, the shop was locked but I could see neighbours gathered, the women crying and the men consoling Papa; Mama had gone to join her ancestors.
How will a five year old Shiber survive without her mother? Will Mr. Bena bring in a second wife or a relative? What happens to little Shiber after Mama is gone?
…Stay tuned for Episode 2 (For Trending AdeLove Stories, Follow our Twitter HERE)
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