Oginnni? It is as if Mother has refused to get well, and she knows we cannot afford this at all, mba” blurted Onyinye immediately we left the hospital to get food for our mother who has been hospitalized for the past one month, the sickness has been diagnosed to be malaria parasite but she hasn’t improved a bit ever since. when she threw up the concocted rice Onyinye bought this morning, again it occurred to me that we might be losing her but Onyinye shares a different opinion, she believes mother is just not trying to be well, according to her, she is not trying enough to get out of that hospital bed and go home to take up responsibilities, she says “mother knows we can’t afford to spend the little we have on hospital alone when there is no food in the house, the rent is there, debts have been incurred and she is just lying there accepting all the sympathies, I don’t know of anything she is doing to get well” when I explained that people don’t pretend to be sick at least not for so long and when people get sick, they just don’t determine to get well and miraculously get well but she won’t hear any of this. Don’t judge her yet, Onyinye is not heartless, she is just frustrated.
My name is Nonso, you just met my sister and my mother and now me, I still have three other siblings and we are the family of Nwokwuku. First thing you should know about us is that we are very Poor, if you know all the definitions of being poor then ascribe it to us because I wouldn’t want to go into all those horrible details of being a host of poverty. My father is alive but dead to us because we don’t even know where he is, ever since madam “syntheleta” vyed for the post of councilor in my community and lost my father disappeared with her for the past ten years but news reaching us says they got married and are now living in Port Harcourt while some claim Madam took him out of the country. As you could guess he wasn’t the responsible type before his disappearance, he was unemployed though he had a motorcycle he uses for commuting passengers but his proceeds never get to be used for our welfare, he always made sure he had no money on him when he returns home late into the night, some days he would not even show up. before he disappeared we had already concluded that he was dead to us except Mother who still nursed the hope of him returning someday to come beg for forgiveness as she would sometimes say” I don’t want your father returning and see you suffering, he would not appreciate me”. My mother and sometimes my elder sister who had married earlier shouldered the family’s responsibility of feeding and the payment of our two-room apartment, anyone who desired to be educated would have to see him/herself through with no help from home.
So my journey began, I had a small farm I was managing for one of my uncles as soon as I was eleven. So I planted all manner of crops and with so much hard work and many other menial jobs like bricklaying, block making, painting I saw myself through university and finished with a strong 2-1. I am the first and only graduate of the family. My elder sister was in her first year in the polytechnic when she got pregnant for a member of staff of the school, luckily, the man married her and she managed to get her OND but she has not been able to go back to school because of family obligations but she is averagely okay. Onyinye enrolled in Government empowered program to learn sewing and ever since she finished, she has not been able to get money to buy a sewing machine and get a shop. She works with a woman who over works her with such a meager pay but it’s either that or marriage to some never-do-well. My immediate younger sister left with one of my mother’s sisters to Ibadan with a promise to send her to school but Nena has been engaged in food selling in my aunt’s restaurant, now my aunty has sent word that she is pregnant for a riff-raff and has refused to come home and all we do is to hope she would be fine.
Nedu is still in secondary school and with the way he is going I only hope he doesn’t turn out to be like Father, he behaves so irresponsibly in spite of all that I have done to mentor him. He sings in a club house claiming he wants to use that to support himself as it is with all of us but it turned out that he has been badly influenced. The other day I found him in an uncompromising position with a young girl of his age and he started swearing when I corrected him. When he threatened to leave the house and run away Mother begged me to let him be. I can say that I have done well for myself by going to a university, I have even done the compulsory NYSC service but unfortunately for me as it is with many youths in the country I have nothing to show for the struggled years of hard labour. when I look back to my university days, I look back with regret of all the things I could have done, groups I could have joined, friends and connections I could have made but I couldn’t because I had to see myself through, working all the time sometimes I even miss lectures but I made sure I had time to read enough to cover up. I did my best to finish with a very good result so as to change my family story. As the first male child, a lot is expected of me, yet, I can’t make any difference. For the past two years that I have finished serving with the NYSC; I have not been able to get a job. When I got frustrated, I went back to my uncle to see if I could continue to manage his farm but he was very indifferent saying “since you knew you would be coming back to the farm why go to school”
Though my family was not responsible for my education asides moral support and prayers, but I see expectations from all of them, they all without saying it see me as a saviour to deliver them from the claws of poverty that had gripped us ever since we knew our names. Right now I feel like a failure, my mother is dying and there is not so much I can do to help her, the community health centre we had taken her, do not really have the basic facilities to take care of one as sick as my mother and in situations like this extended families rarely help because they all claim to be in problem too, well who can blame them anyway? In spite of all these, my family is a good Christian. My mother made sure she educated us on the person of Jesus Christ and how he would help us in due time but I have not really seen him help us in any way, even mother is dying but since mother says it’s the only reasonable thing to do in a world like ours, I took her word for it and believed her. So I kept praying that if there is actually a God somewhere he should save my mother who believed so much in him.
Onyinye left for her work as soon as we got Mother another plate of Eba and vegetables, we had to buy egg because meat cost more and besides we thought that would be more nutritious. On our way coming the man I help with his photocopying machine had sent word that if I didn’t come tomorrow I would lose my job and I am just so depressed, even though the man paid me peanuts I can’t afford to leave the place and here is mother with no one to stay with her. Onyinye’s boss would not allow her stay away for long because she is the only designer she has, all others had left because of her ill- temper. Nedu had only been here once since mother got sick, we don’t even know if he sleeps at home anymore. As I came out to get some fresh air from the foul smell in the ward, a thought came to me and I decided to see the doctor,
“Good morning sir, I was thinking if……..
“Are you in sane, Can’t you see I have a visitor here, please get out of my office” barked the doctor
I insisted and kept on saying that its urgent but he stood up, wanting to get me out of the way and the visitor looked at me as if to say young man respect yourself and wait your turn but the eyes turned out to be the eyes of my boss in warri, where I served.
“Good afternoon sir” I quickly say before the doctor threw me out and he didn’t get the chance to reply because I was already out the door. I stood there for five minutes rehearsing what I would tell the doctor, it was a matter of life and death, my mother was dying, perhaps she needed blood transfusion or drips or whatever they can do to make her get well, I wanted to offer to work in the hospital for no pay in as much as they would do something to make her get better because they lacked hands. Suddenly the door cracked open and the doctor invited me saying his visitor wanted to see me, I apologized to him that it was because of my mother’s health but he dismissed my apology telling his visitor how irresponsible I and my siblings are. I wonder where he got that from but I also know that when you are from a poor background people just treat you like a piece of trash like you willed to be poor.
“Nonso where in God’s name have you been?”
“I came back to my family when I didn’t get a job in Warri sir”
“To do what?” Well, that does not matter anymore, I have so much to tell you and I don’t have the time so just go get your bags and let’s get going”
“My mother is dying sir and I have to be with her”
“Your mother needs a doctor and not you, what have you been able to do for her since you ‘ve been with her?”
“Look, I will wait for you for fifteen minutes to go get a relative of yours whom I can hand over money to take your mother to the state hospital where she can be properly attended to, this is just a basic health centre not a fully equipped hospital.” The doctor nodded with a devilish grin on his face. it was later my boss told me that the doctor was a brother of his who had run away from home since he was fifteen.
Then I ran, how I ran
I ran the wildest run of my life, first to grab my bag, didn’t have much though, just a few rugged shirts and a pair of trousers, then I ran to grab Onyinye, I didn’t even get her madam’s permission, they were both scared, thinking Mother had passed out.
And that was it, I travelled with my boss that day who made me understand he had been looking for me for the past one year. I had to sell the phone I was using then to settle some of our incurred debts and the one I bought had battery issues; it’s off today and on tomorrow. Immediately there was a vacancy in the office where I served my boss recommended me to the Manager and started looking for me to take up the position but I could not be reached. Now, He said I should not worry that he just had to fix me up somewhere. He said it with so much certainty as if he was under obligation to help me. His reason being that I was a faithful Corp member who did his work, minded his business and would not refuse to take up assignments anytime he was called upon. He said he had reports from the members of staff that I worked with that I was diligent in all I did. Imagine! We didn’t even have a relationship back then, he took interest in me after I had left the place. He said the company needed young minds who would work and be honest with it.
Today, ten months after, I have been transferred to Enugu, not very far from my state because it’s a federal owned establishment and I can go see Mother on weekends. She has fully recovered from the illness and now pestering me to set her up with a small business but I told her to be patient, we would get there. I am a comfortable young man now, didn’t even know ladies can even be interested in me until I started working well and my complexion began to glow, I am not a womanizer and would never be, they come around me now that I am beginning to look like a fine young man, where were they when I had just a pair of trouser and drank Garri all day long. but I would like to settle down with one beautiful lady I met some months back, I hope to propose to her soon., God help me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not paid in hundreds of thousands but I have never held the amount of my one month salary in hand before. When I took out my journal tonight to write on my experience for the past one year I see that even though I don’t really have a relationship with God like my mother, he has been good to me, I can’t believe my luck, mother says is God’s favour and I want to have that kind of relationship she has with God, knowing that, even if the world crumbles, everything would still be alright, I wish I had believed that long ago. The only conclusion I can make from all these is that IT’S NOT ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM, WHAT MATTERS IS THAT WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WITH ALL DILIGENCE, WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT AND GIVE IT YOUR BEST, WITH GOD ON YOUR SIDE, YOU WILL OVERCOME ALL THE LIMITATIONS.