Chapter 7: The Joys of Motherhood
Obidiya fell sick and that made Obi to miss school for one week even while he was not to stay behind at home. After a week, his mother was strong enough to go to market. Many who never knew she fell sick thought she travelled home to see her parents. Seeing the conditions of her parents in the village, she had to bring them to the city to stay with her so that it would save from the stress of going to see them every time in the village.
The house was a full house now. Grandparents and mother at home with their only surviving and intelligent son. While in junior secondary school II, obi was asked to represent his school in a mathematics completion organised by the State government. After the preliminary test in his school in the junior category, he came first and was chosen to represent his school in the junior category. Meanwhile, his running mate Michael was very good at mathematics more than him but Obi didn’t know how he won the test and came first while his running mate came second. He thought over the issue for sometimes. Deep inside him, he was not convinced of himself because it was crystal clear to him that he won the preliminary test out of luck.
Frist, he discussed it with his form teacher, who asked him to decide and give him reply three days later. Secondly, he talked with Michael and he was told the same thing. Three days to the competition, Obi made up his mind not to go but to allow Michael take the lead. Many congratulated him for taking the courage and being humble. After the competition, his school came first in the junior category and failed in the senior category. It was a thing of joy for Diamond comprehensive College Enugu. The victory was well celebrated and Michael had to prepare for the national stage that would be taking place in Abuja. Obi told his mother about Michael’s victory. Though she was happy but not as such. She imagined her son winning the price and bringing that joy back home. “Who knows if he had tried, he would have won too,” she told herself while she preparing night meal.
Michael went to Abuja, accompanied by the teacher who was the head of mathematic department. After one week, before they could arrive Enugu, the principal has been called already that his school took the second position at the national. A brown new Toyota bus and five desktop computers were given to his school as prize won. Obi regretted little of giving that golden opportunity to his friend Michael. “I would have given it a trial, for there is no harm in trying,” he said to himself.
The grand feast was supposed to be celebrated two weeks after the victory but was later shifted towards the end of the term. At the end of the term, obi came first in his class with 94%. Two other persons were after him in position, then followed by Michael.
As it was the end of the term for the academic year. The school combined her end of year party with the feast of their victory of the mathematics competition. Parents and guardians were invited for the feast as it was compulsory. During the party, there were presentation of gifts and awards to students in various fields. There were awards for best student in each class. That of junior secondary school II was given to Obi.
Later, it was time for speech making. The principal took the floor. Thanked all the parents and guardians for the wonderful work they were doing in the lives of the children. He made the parents and guardians to understand that 60% of the success recorded in his school was as a result of their efforts on their children. Michael was thanked by the principal on behalf of the school authority for making the school proud both in the state level and in the national level. After the principal, the vice principal equally made his own speech. Now it was time for Michael to make his own speech. It was a privilege granted to him by the school authority, as one who had really made the name of his school known in all the states in Nigeria. He started by greeting all that were presents, starting from the principal down to the guests. He thanked the school for giving him the opportunity to represent his school in such a prestigious and notable competition. He thanked his mathematics teachers for his efforts and sacrifices on him. Though many were surprised when he told the audience that even while they were on their way going to Abuja, his mathematics teacher was still tutoring him. Towards the end of his speech, Michael put his hand inside his pocket and brought out a piece of paper. Opening it, he started reading: “I know many of you will be surprise of what I am about to say. I am not one to write an epistle but I am overwhelmed by the urge in this case. Few weeks ago, a good and close friend of mine was given the offer to represent the school in one of the prestigious competitions at that time. A few days to the competition, he walked up to the relevant school authority and declined the offer on the grounds that he felt that I Michael am more deserving to be in that competition than him. Long story cut short, I eventually won the competition first in the state level, then secondly in the national level and this milestones largely defined not only my career life as a student of this noble college but also my future. What would have happen if he didn’t offered me this golden opportunity? Well, there are friends and there are friends. I define a friend as someone who believes in you when you do not believe in yourself, and Eze Obi is one of such friends that put others before himself. Funny enough, he calls me sometimes his mentor, not knowing that I deeply admire him and consider him as my hero, my motivator. Honestly, I owe him much more than he thinks he owes me. This is me wishing you a happy birthday also, for I know many do not know that today is your birthday. I know because we not only friends but brothers. I celebrate you with friends whose lives you have impacted a lot including mine. I have no doubt that you have greater years ahead of you; Nigeria and Africa await you as one of the emerging game-changers that would unleash their potentials in the nearest future. Do have a blessed day my friend and brother Eze Obi. I wish you long live and many years ahead. Thank you all.”
There were shouts of joy and acclamations from every side. The acclamations and shouts lasted for few minutes especially from the side of the students. Michael left the stage, went straight to where obi was sitting down and embraced him. Immediately, the parents of Michael and Obi stood up and joined them. The whole family embraced themselves. The shouting and acclamations continued afresh as the families were embracing themselves.
The principal took the floor. He was totally flabbergasted. “I lack words to express myself. These boys had taken me unaware. Really I am very happy for you both and for the entire students. I can see that one day, this school will be looked up to by many states as a place where quality and effective teaching and learning is taken place. Obi, I will not let you go empty handed. Here and now, I am giving you a scholarship that you can renew as long as you maintain you first position in any class you find yourself. I know it is a big challenge to you. Do not see it as a condition attached to the scholarship but take it as a challenge, for I know you will make it because you have all it takes to make it. Thank you all and God bless you.”
There were rejoicing and dancing by the students. Few male students came out from where they were, carried Obi up and started dancing. They took him round the stage. After the closing remark by the vice principal, all departed.
At home, the story had circulated in the whole quarters that Obi had won a scholarship in school. Many men and women came to congratulate him at home. Obidiya saw herself like the mother of a king. Many even went to the extent of giving gifts to her just to tell her how happy were for her and her only son. Also being his birthday, his mother organised a little party in her house, but only few neighbours were invited. Majority of the participants were children below the age of 9. There were enough drinks, cabin biscuit, chin-chin, snacks and jellof-rice. The children demanded for a story from Obi. At first, he was reluctant to their demand, but after being persuaded by their landlord, he made up his mind to tell them one. As he took his seat, everybody sat quietly and attentively. He said:
“This story is a story about a boy called Ikenna.
The harmattan was totally something else. The wind was dry and dusty. Ikenna’s mother came back with aplasticbag in her left hand. “WelcomeMama,” he said as he collected the bag from her hand. He was amazed at what he saw. I knew well that we had no domestic animals like ruminants ones around in the compound. “What was she going to do with these cassava leaves?” he asked himself. He was unable to find an answer.
They all sat in front of two bowls, he opened the bowls. Behold what he saw were the cassava leaves, cooked in the form of vegetable soup. There was total silent. Later, his sister asked: “Mama, what happened? These are cassava leaves. They are meant for goats.” He saw tears dripping down from his mother’s eyes. he was speechless. His mother started eating, with the thought that they would join her but his sister could not. He took only three small lumps of the foufou. He would not know if she ate the food out of shame or hunger. “But Mama, what happened? Was there no vegetable in the market?” he asked her. “My son, for the past three months, your father had not sent any money to us. What should I do?” She said. There, he saw the shame, pain, and sorrow written all over her face.
Ikenna’s father was in another state in the eastern part of Nigeria working. His job could hardly put a good meal on his table not to think of sustaining his family. Normally, he used to send money to ikenna’s mother for feeding. At a point, the cash was not forthcoming.
It was already the third term in Ikenna’s primary school and he was in his final year. Unable to pay his final exam fees, he was sent back home to get the fund. When he got home, he told his mother for formality sake, of which he knew already the answer. The economic condition of his family made it cleared to him that he had concluded everything that had to do with school for his entire life. But deep in him, he kept hoping with an optimistic mind that he would make it to secondary school someday.
One fateful morning, after a friend of his, told him about a site where workers were been taken on a daily basis, he told my mother of his intention of going for such a job, in view of raising some cash for the family. She accepted in a sorrowful manner.
When Ikenna came to the site, it was at about 7: 20 am, he saw no one. He took a brick and sat on it. Later, a man came. “Good morning Sir,” he greeted him. “Good morning my son. Did you come to look for a job? He asked. “Yes Sir,” He replied him. “You look agile. You might work with me today” he said with a smile.
Ikenna was to carry some quantity of sharp sand with a head pan from a ground floor to a third floor. When the man told him what to do, he said to himself: “Oh my God! Could I be able to take it until the end? He calculated the number of times he would climb the steps and others, fear came over him. A few seconds later, he engaged myself.
The work went partially well that day. he fell four times on the steps. At home, he was as weak as a kitten. “How did it go? His mother asked. “It went well Mama,” he replied. The following day, when he woke up, he was unable to walk properly. His entire joints were paining me. He had to force himself because he wanted to realise his dream, his happiness.
The second day, while working, in order not to feel the stress of the work to a large extent, he was singing and put in a joyful mood. The man he was working with was delighted the way he was singing. “Young boy, are you a chorister?” He asked him. “No,” He replied. “You sing like one,” he said. “Thank you, Sir,” he replied him. After they finished for the day, one of the engineers called him. “I liked the way you work. You were working as if it was your own thing. You worked with passion,” he said to him. He smiled. “Well, will you come tomorrow?” He asked him. “Yes, I will,” he replied. He was about leaving his presence, when he put his hand in Ikenna’s pocket, removed it fast and left immediately. A few metres away from the site, Ikenna stopped, dipped his right hand into his pocket. Lo and behold, it was cash, five hundred naira. He was on cloud nine.
When he gave the cash together with my daily pay to his mother after he arrived home, she was perplexed. “Who gave you this cash?” She asked in amazement. “Somebody gave it to me where I was working,” he replied. “For what reason?” She asked again. “Hmmm, I did not know. I thought he was highly impressed the way I was working and decided to appreciate my effort,” he retorted. Her mood from that day changed positively. She was excited.
Life from that day was a bit good for them. From the cash, his mother was able to put something reasonable on the table for them to eat on daily basis. He continued working on that site till the completion of the every masonry work. This lasted for about two months.
The last day of his work on that site, he came very early. Fortunately, he met the engineer that gave him money together with some men who were offloading a trailer loaded with rods and other building materials. The work that day was tedious. Ikenna could not tell how he managed to finish it. When they all gathered to receive their daily pay, he was asked to wait behind by a young man that he rarely saw in the site. At first, he was afraid, but after much thought, he became calm. When almost everybody had left, he looked at Ikenna and said: “Small Boy, you were really hard working. I so much admired your ability and strength. “Which class are you? He asked him. “I was in primary five but no longer schooling,” he replied. “Why did you stop?” He asked in astonishment. He was silent. He came close to Ikenna and tapped him on his shoulder three times saying: “You were very hard working. You worked with happiness and passion despite the tedious nature of the job. “Can you take me to your house? I will like to see your parents,” he asked him. Ikenna entered his car and he drove off.
Ikenna’s mother was surprised of the visit. That very day gave a light to the darkness in ikenna’s dream of going to secondary school. After listening to ikenna’s mother as she narrated her ordeals, the visitor willingly accepted to help financially in his studies in secondary school from A to Z after he gave Ikenna’s mother some words of encouragement.
That is the end of my story. They ball clapped for him and the party finally came to an end.