I had just finished my O’Level and my dreams of going to A’level were next to impossible. Slowly reality began to hit me that my future was going to be gloomy. Those years not all schools had Advanced level. The few that had Advance Level were expensive, mostly boarding schools and in towns.
Given my situation, I was in the village which had two Upper Tops (low standard Secondary schools). It would take a miracle for me to get a sponsor because all I had was a chain of Bs. That was not good enough for sponsorship. My mother in her fragile state went to all the influential people in our communities to help me but no one came through. They had they own babies to nurse.
I had a number of options that my thoughts started to entertain. I thought of running away and go wherever I wanted never to return again. I contemplated committing suicide because I could not see my way out. I could not see a reason I had to live anymore. Everything was not making sense. I also considered getting married even to a village head man because I had given up. I felt it was better to be taken care of by someone else.
Moreover, the money that would be paid for my dowry would at least sustain my family for some time. It was just too much for me to handle. A lot was going on in my head but I had to be fine for the sake of mum.
One day we received a note that was sent by one of my father’s cousins. My father’s cousin was well known because her father was a wealthy business man. Growing up I just heard about her but I didn’t know her in person. I only saw her some day after the funeral in the village. As per our culture a funeral can last for a month or two as people come to console the bereaved.
I remember the day she came vividly. She came in a beautiful and fancy car. She was with her husband and his two friends. She was dressed in expensive clothes and jewellery. Her hair was styled beautifully in braids. Her skin told that she spent most of her time indoors. The skin itself spoke volumes about the lotions she used and the quality of food she ate. It was marvellously flawless. Her figure is that of a real African woman. That kind of woman who has flesh in the right places. A well balanced and proportioned woman.
In my small teenage head, I had seen my role model. That was exactly where I wanted to be in life. I fantasised on that. It was exactly how I pictured myself as a young successful lady. I saw myself driving the car of my dreams and living in a beautiful house. My dreams became alive again. Part of me told the other excited part that I would never be like that because I had a poor dad who we had just buried. How could I think I would be like her, a child of a business man. The negative part of me was stubborn enough to remind me of my cracked skin and heels.
Quickly I stopped day dreaming. Reality was facing me and it wasn’t looking good. We stood in amazement and forgot our sorrows as we hosted them. I remember my mother running around trying to clean up our old furnished house because she was a special visitor. In our Buja tradition when you have visitors you give them water even if they don’t ask for it. It is done because it will be an assumption that the visitor has come from afar thirst. We gave them water from a nearby well and they refused politely. Obviously they were that type who would not drink water from some well that possibly had dead lizards. They brought their own bottled water from the city.
She cried dramatically as per our tradition that one has to cry as way of consoling the bereaved. She did her part as we watched in awe. Trying to be sympathetic as she cried yet she was cautious of her make up. She cried the whole time covering her face with her palms. On the other hand, my mother cried like she had just received the news. I guess it was more of memories and unanswered questions that made her cry. Or maybe she wanted my aunt to feel sorry for her and do something. She cried her heart out until I also started crying because in my head I had to act so that she goes with me.
After the tears and childish drama, I was sent to the car to collect groceries. My brother was already playing inside and outside the car. My uncle teased me whilst his friends just looked at me from head to toe. Probably feeling sorry for me, probably admiring me. I just giggled shyly avoiding eye contact with any of them.
My aunt’s husband offloaded the groceries from the boot. There was a lot of food. It even surpassed the groceries and parcels that my father used to bring for Christmas. My brother and I looked at each other in the eyes with excitement. Obviously thinking of places to hide our goodies since mum usually shared them to my siblings and I when dad was still alive. For a moment we relived the joy we had whenever dad came from the city. We carried the groceries into the dining area where mum was sitting talking to my aunt. When my mum saw the parcels she started again to cry uncontrollably. Within her crying she kept mentioning that her worry was not about food but the future of my sibling and I.
She started begging my aunt to take me with her to the city. Even if it meant to join the police force or army. Well, I got excited about going to the city but joining police force or the army was a nightmare. My aunt promised my mum that she would help. Her husband consoled my mum with words that gave me hope. Finally, there was hope for a better future. But I was worried because a lot of people had promised to help but they didn’t.