by Debra Ayis
This short work of fiction embraces the use of Nigerian English to more accurately reflect the cultural dimensions of the story.
It was a day like any other; I woke up from the cries of the baby. She was turning four months old today, my little Anne. While trying to rouse myself fully from sleep, my husband grunted to show he was awake.
‘Can’t you hear the baby crying? You know I have work this morning’.
‘Sorry dear I will check on her now’ I replied
I quietly got up from the bed trying hard not to let it squeak. The baby slept in the parlour. In the wooden crib, her elder siblings had used.
By the time I had reached her, Anne had rolled over and returned to sleep. She was a queer baby, but like all mothers, I thought she was special. It was 5 a.m. already and I had a lot of chores to do, so I progressed to the kitchen where most of them were.
Two hours later, I waved my children goodbye as they made their way to school while standing at the kitchen sink facing the window with Anne securely tied to my back by my wrapper. My husband had left for work thirty minutes earlier.
This was my daily routine as a woman in my time and age. It was not a life I wished for, but a life I was given and content to be doing well at. For unlike some of my fellow women folk, I had attended primary school and knew a little of the white man’s ways, I had two boys and now a baby girl. Having given birth a little over nine months from my wedding day, I had no problems with my mother-in-law. I also had a small shop, the profit from which I fed the family.
I had to become industrious because my husband gave me a beating anytime I asked for money and anytime food was not on the table, so I had to find a way to at least feed myself and children. I was not comfortable doing this but when I complained to my husband’s family they told me to be grateful God had blessed me. I was a fruitful woman; the perfect example of ‘The Wife of Noble Character’ depicted in Proverbs 31.
16 YEARS LATER
‘Mama I won! I won!’
‘What is it, my daughter?’
‘Mama I won the scholarship; I can go to the University all expenses paid. You don’t have to search for money again!’
I never knew when tears of joy rushed down my face as I hugged my daughter who came running into my arms.
‘Anne, I am so proud of you!’
‘Thank you, mama, but it is I who is proud of you’
‘How so? My child’
‘If you hadn’t pushed me and paid for my education when papa refused to pay my school fees, then I wouldn’t have come this far.’
20 YEARS LATER
‘My name is Anne Moses, daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth George. I stand here today because of this great woman whom I am proud to call mother. When some women obeyed their husbands and allowed their daughters to be pushed into early marriage, my mother led a silent revolution making sure her daughter had a sound education, pursued her dreams and achieved her goals. I am glad that other women followed in her footsteps, gently paving the way to this day; a great day that we celebrate womanhood. I am honoured to be appointed the Minister of Women Affairs in this great nation’
I sat on the front row smiling amidst tears of joy.