Story of (Her) Life

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Chapter 1

“Sara! Sara! Get up don’t be late for school”, said her mother as she gently shook her awake. Sara pushed herself up so she was sitting on the bed.

“Good morning, maama.” That was what she called her mum when she was in her usual I-feel-like-a-baby mood. She found it odd how some kids addressed their moms as “mama”, just MA-MA; she felt it was too uncivilized era-like. She preferred saying “maama”, with a stretch on the first “ma”. And on normal days she would say “mum”, or “mummy”.

“Did you wake up well?” her mother asked. “You look rested and refreshed today no nightmares I suppose?”

“No, I slept well,” answered Sara.

“Someone prayed before sleeping,” her mother said, teasing.

“Mom,” retorted Sara with raised eyebrows. “I always do.”

“Come down for your breakfast when you’re ready,” said her mother, exiting the room.

Crest International Primary School’s uniform was a white T-shirt and a pinafore for the girls, while the boys wore white T-shirts with knee-length shorts. Some of her mother’s casual friends who obviously could not afford the fees but didn’t want to admit always said, “They do too much onyinbo things in that school. I can’t waste that much fees on a child who’ll become a western product and in the end not respect me. They’ll brainwash him.” That was always the cover up.

After taking her bath Sarah went downstairs to have breakfast with her father. They usually had their one-on-one conversations at breakfast on the dining table, especially when they were alone. She had told him about the new teacher who beat a boy merciless for farting in class and refusing to apologize saying it was an emergency call of nature that had to be answered. The teacher was sacked afterwards. He never seemed to get enough of her hilarious tales which most of the time didn’t register any meaning in his brain. But he listened anyway. Even when mornings weren’t as bright, Sara was sure to brighten them up. Girls were naturally known to be closer to their moms but Sara’s father was her best friend, she was his; and he loved her even more for that. Their relationship was like a river that never ran dry, that never stopped flowing.

After breakfast she knelt beside her mother who held head firmly with two hands, while reciting prayers as if doing so would make the prayers sink deep beneath her skull. She proceeded to Umma who did the same then she got up to leave.

“Bye Mom, bye Umma, bye Dad,” she said cheerfully.

“Go well, my child,” they all said in unison. Surprised, the three turned to look at each other and they all laughed. Secretly, it made each one of them slightly uneasy; that they had too much happiness in one house, too much of no worries at all and individually, they feared the day calamity would strike –what?, why?, how?, and when?- but of course they all kept it to themselves in the belief that thinking about it would only make it imminent. The fear was mutual.

In the ten years of her life, Sara had grown to love her family passionately for she was fertilized with love. Being the only child in the house, almost everything was about her. Her parents had been married for fifteen years now. There was also another woman in the picture; her stepmother. Umma, she called her. Umma was like her safety net, especially when she did something wrong to her mother. In her eyes, Sara was a jewel. More like a diamond. Rare. She had to be kept safe and protected. She never liked to see her sadness. Her parents never argued in her presence. Not that she thought they did in her absence. There was abundance of love in her environment thus; she grew up a happy child. Growing up with a mother is indeed a blessing but growing up with two was beyond words could say. Sara became like the rope which tied them all together, close together. Such were the first ten years of Sara’s life, the first step to becoming who she was shaped to be.

The Ahmed’s house was the first on Banana Street, followed by the Akande’s. On the day the Akande’s moved in, hardly anyone in the neighbourhood slept at night. With their eight children, all hell broke loose. Mrs. Akande was loud, sturdy and had a pumpkin for a head. While her husband, her direct opposite resembled a Fulani man; he was elegantly tall, light-skinned and thin. His nose looked as if a carrot had been placed there, in lieu of the nose. He didn’t look like a Yoruba at all. Nothing about him was ever Yoruba, except his voice when he spoke. People who didn’t know him personally never believed he was Yoruba, and the few who did, argued he was either mixed- either of two parents a non-Nigerian- or a Fulani. The pair; Mr. Akande and his wife, did not match at all. Rumours had it that Mrs. Akande beat up her husband that was the reason he did everything she asked for. She threatened to kill him when he said he was taking in another wife. The wife looked like his ninety-six year old grandmother from the village. A weird combination, Sara always thought. It was in cases like this that Sara renewed her belief that destiny catches up, no matter how fast you run.

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