He was like a domino while I fell for him he fell for another; “my papa doesn’t like you” were his words, it hurt cos it took 7years to tell me, it was 7 years gone with very few words.
I moved to a self-contain were you would term ‘a ghetto’, it was a far cry from the life I always knew. I saw sun rise and sun set each day, I knew only the time I saw through the window. My new love was poverty I smelled it, poverty kissed me goodnight every night and robbed my stomach empty, poverty wrapped me at night like a stolen blanket.
I always left my door opened I only locked my door net not because of the heat but so I would see him quicker should he change his mind. He didn’t. Like my father didn’t when he walked away from my mom when I was but a teenager. My mom was left with cancer; so she left with cancer when I was 17.
I knew hurt, I knew death, I knew how to be abandoned, I knew how to be the dirty dried rag on your wall.
Neighbors called me names they said I was too old to be alone, Classmates were way worse, they called me a loner, Society was harsh it had given up on me.
I was tired. I was hungry, I was lonely but I needed only one thing, I needed love. I remembered Mom always said I must give love to get love. There was only one problem; there was no one to give.
I was that woman you are afraid to be, that woman broke and broken.
I walked the same route to school every day. The sun burnt my face blind so I didn’t notice the familiar gate till today, it was nostalgic. I was about 10 years old when I first walked through those gates it was a school excursion and I promised myself I would be back. 20 years on like a dejavu, the wind of my destiny blew me to its tracks. Albeit the hard blow I walked for charity, I worked for free. There were still some familiar faces and I was a familiar stranger.
I taught fine art, I taught them to paint and draw, and they taught me to draw my pains.
Toma and Uwem were my favorites they were about my age. Toma for the bond, Uwem for the love.
Uwem always said he would marry me he only needed a chance to prove himself, when I asked how? He stretched his hand to share his biscuits with me, when I took it he was by himself.
I spent my whole months teaching him to identify orange still he called it blue, he said I was pretty that even if he forgets colors he won’t ever forget my name and he stayed true.
All his teachers scolded him for those words, I didn’t mind I liked him a lot just maybe; he was handsome, stood gallantly, fair smile but he was speech impaired with the brain of a baby.
He was a normal boy with a shy cry, and thought he could fly to the sky; but he was everything more gracious, everyway stronger.
Toma painted happy faces on paper with her toes, she misses her dad. When she cried she wiped her face with her shoulders, she couldn’t use her arms. Everytime she saw me she wiggled her head and clapped her feet. She was a jewel in soul and in beauty so full of charm.
She told me she would get married someday; she was far from my reality. She clings to her beliefs the way her bra clings her breasts.
Her words were always coated with wisdom of the aged, her person; her spirit had an alluring aura. When friends say they want a woman who is beautiful in and out I often wonder would they want a Toma?
I drew my conclusions in my heart with her different shades of paints. She was happy and so content I was almost ashamed of my complaints.
She was a normal girl with fears and cares you could almost taste but she was everything kinder, everyway richer.
I always imagined if my story was different, if I wasn’t me would I still be insecure? Would I be happier? Would I have my parents? Would they be alive today to help me be stronger?
Would I have an ego, be conceited, delusional? Or be lucid, simple, closer to angels than humans?
All my worries of life! I meet those who should worry but make the best of theirs, living if only to make others thankful…I own a clock now and I wake up each morning with gratitude to God for my life. I’ve been an ingrate; I’ve been a fool. If not for anything but because I’m whole.
I looked at life through Uwem and Toma; even if they seem unwholesome they have the power to heal, but I’m only human they are superhuman.
Dedicated to all pupils and housemates of Modupe Cole memorial school, Yaba. Home for the physically and mentally handicapped.