As a darling little girl, I grew up with the mind-set of fairies. I was pampered and nurtured well, I had everything close to my heart in little boxes.
Just the way I was taught to cherish the little things; because, they are mostly neglected and a lot of people don’t give regards to them. In the irony, wedding bands are a perfect example of some of the things I owned.
I remember in every detail how momma bathed and fed me. In cold days, she’d wrap me up in warm clothes and make me sit by the fireside for extra warmth. Oh! Momma, thou art an unimaginably gifted and relentless soul with the rarest of talents. Oh! How I enjoyed being taken care of by you, it was and will be the best moments of my days.
- Momma showed me how to be responsible.
Growing up for me wasn’t rosy, neither was it crowded by unimportant activities. We would wake up early as soon as the cock crows at 5am, we’d head straight to our large but combined garden farm. And as little as our fingers would hold, we’d uproot the weeds with them. We weeded and planted in the early hours of the days, if there were public holidays, we’d return home early enough so we could have enough time to read and play.
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Some of our classmates never believed I and my siblings knew how to plant cassava, let alone harvest them. They had no clue the kind of mother I have. Just like some average town girl, my parents didn’t have money to throw around; but we had all that we needed. My siblings and I were moulded into artists, handy individuals and so; we didn’t need to buy raw materials from the local markets.
There were days on end where we’d have too much to eat that we’d take some to nearby markets for sale. And of course, those items sold would pay our school fees and the some of it would be used to buy school books and other important supplies for the house. All of these I learned; not from what momma told me, but from what she showed me. She made me enjoy doing them with her and my father till I learned to do them with my siblings and we got used to it.
- Momma showed me brevity.
Fights and arguments are inevitable in any relationship, but my parents had big fights and some nights, we’d stay up crying. Momma was brave, she had no one to turn to whenever my dad beat her up. I’d rage and roar, but my voice was never heard. Even with the tears in momma’s eyes, she’d still find a way to smile and warn us (her children) never to scorn our father. In her words “your father is a good man with his own shortcomings” she’d hold unto us and we’d all cry together in her arms.
Momma could have died; not once, not twice. It occurred to me countless times to run away from home, but I couldn’t do it with the thought that momma would be alone without me. I knew that my presence made so much difference and the peace I brought along with me was irreplaceable. Ah! Yes, everyone has an aura of something they carry, and regardless of our personalities, our presence means a lot to someone out there.
- Momma showed me how to be an advocate
One day; I remember being 17 years of age, and I remember momma telling me something important. She told me her story, how her family neglected her and how her oldest brother refused to send her to school while. Apparently, the man had asked my grandparents to let momma live with him in Jos, in the northern part of Nigeria, but it turned out that he needed momma to take care of his own children.
He never let momma visit home nor go to school, for more than a decade he used my momma as his own housemaid.
On hearing these overwhelming story, I wept in my heart like a dog whose master has just been shot. And then, momma said in a quiet tone, “that is why your father treats me like I don’t matter even though I love him”. My dear child, I continue to live in this house because I don’t want you or your siblings to go through the kind of life I was once subjected to.
I want you all to learn accurately like a soldier preparing for war, and as you grow, you’ll be able to defend my honour before every living thing; including your father.
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From that day onwards, I worked towards my future. I needed to be a woman who is strong and bold enough to stand up for humanity, for her fellow woman and the society at large. It doesn’t talk millions to do it, it starts with one person taking one step towards making things right. I read more each day, studied hard, learned with every situation before me. With each experience, I grew stronger and wiser, and the best part of being wise is; knowing what to do and when to do it.
- Momma showed me how to fight right
One day came upon an evening when I returned home from a long walk, my parents were arguing about something. As usual, I went in to inquire what had transpired, and to my surprise; my dad gave me a lame excuse. He said in an angry voice as though he was a dictator “I will burn all of your mother’s dresses if she wears that one with the trousers”.
I looked to see what his point was, but I found nothing. It was a fabric momma got some weeks before, and I chose the style for the tailor to make for my momma.
Before I could respond, my dad gave my momma a hot slap on the face; you heard right! It was a sound slap that could shake off an early morning hangover. I immediately pulled my momma by the hand out of the living room, told her that I had a plan.
There are no words to express the rift of how much level of anger I was operating on, I approached the living room and by the door I screamed. Daddy, don’t you ever in your future days lay a hand on my momma nor any woman for that matter.
Yes, it was the last straw, I lost my voice and could speak no more. You could tell from the movement of my lips and the light in my eyes that I had so much to say. And the last thing I remember telling him was; I am going to the police station and afterwards, I will let them charge this case to court. Daddy, you need to learn the same pains you have been inflicting on my mother for the past 22years, this is the end. I dashed out of the house on my heels like a wounded lion.
My dad hated policemen because he was a retired soldier, I didn’t care; at least it is his best chance at telling the policemen his content towards them while in their custody. My guess is “it would be a show down” since he knows how to throw his fist; they’d all enjoy the party. As soon as I arrived the police station, behold my cousin by the gate. He looked as though he had a lot to tell me, I couldn’t understand his countenance, so I approached him for the sole purpose of getting the information out of his lips.
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Your daddy called and asked that I met you her, he said. My eyeballs almost popped out as I tried to extend their shape in shock. He says, he is sorry, and he wants for you to come home so he can apologise in camera. Freddy’s words were just dashing in and out of my ear buds, I wasn’t bulging till my dad called him again. And I had purposely left my phone in the house because I had my mind made up. After so much beseeching by my cousin, he proposed to follow me home just to make things calm.
- Momma showed me how to forgive.
I got home eventually with my cousin Freddy, on approaching, I didn’t hear a sound. Just by the pavement in the frontage of our house was my mom, seated and singing in our dialect. Her eyes were clouded in red, I could tell that she’d been weeping. Not from the present incident, but from the reoccurrences of it.
I approached and sat beside her, I sang along as tears rolled down my cheeks. Freddy had gone in to notify my dad of my presence, he came out and summoned me. But my attention needed no diversion and then he realised his legs were functional and decided to use them.
He started by saying a few words; I cannot kneel before you both because I am the first son of a king; it is forbidden. But I sincerely apologise from the bottom of my heart and ask that you all forgive me my wrong. He continued, It all just happens so fast repeatedly that it’d become a habit, and before my father’s name and God’s; I truly am sorry.
I apologise that it took me this long to realise how blessed I am to have you as my family. It is a shame to my name that I have let myself become so weak that I now show my strength by my own fists. I beg for forgiveness and I hereby promise to make a change. Starting now, I nominate myself for the position where I need to be advised on how to make things better.
I will, for the rest of my life, cherish this rare opportunity. He looked my momma in the eyes and implored her, saying; please, I ask that you beseech our children on my behalf to pardon my wrongdoings, for I was ignorant and stupid. Shortly after, he returned to his quarters and my cousin followed him. My dad was proud but also very intelligent, he knew when to read between the lines.
And as the evening grew darker, our voice travelled peacefully without hindrance. I always enjoyed singing with my mom, but on this day; it was spectacular. We sang tirelessly until my mom paused and spoke gently. You should talk with your siblings, remind them why we must forgive ourselves.
Especially because we are one, one big family and your father is a big part of it. I truly believe he is sorry, don’t forget that without forgiveness, love will not foster……..and till my father passed away, almost a decade later, he was a changed man.
Fight right and stand up for peace.
Two wrongs cannot make a right.
Say no to domestic violence.
Notify lawmakers of any domestic violence in your home.
Stay safe and let love lead.
Written by Joyous Akhivbareme.