CHAPTER ONE ENIMOFÉ


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I’m tired. They will just be treating somebody like a slave. Every day, Enimofe this, Mofe, that. Wash plates. Clean the floor. Sweep. Mop. Mtchew! (Hissing). Nothing I do is ever right. In fact, I’m sure I’m adopted. I had to have been adopted. Why else would this family, especially this woman supposed to be my mother, be treating me this way? Nobody deserves this kain wahala, haba!
And the insults! That woman can abuse somebody sha. What name hasn’t she called me? “See your head like cockroach, “ she’d said to me. “To read and pass exams na wahala for you, but you have no problems watching super story on TV or Africa Magic on DSTV. Olodo. Coconut head. No brain, only water inside. Those girls making their families proud, passing JAMB up and down have ten heads abi? If you don’t want me to pounce on you and crack that coconut you pretend is a head to pieces, you will stand up from this parlor and go read your books! You haven’t earned the right to watch TV. You should be glad I even gave you food!”
I could hear them laughing as I left. My younger ones. My siblings. I could hear them laughing at me as I walked away. Why would they not disrespect me? Only this morning, I told Demilade to sweep out our room, and my stupid sister just flounced away, ignoring me! It’s not their fault. I blame her. Mama. I blame mama. I’m almost certain I’m adopted. Or something. I’m sure that woman hates me.
Tears rolled out my eyes, down my face. I didn’t even bother to try keeping it in. I sobbed quietly, my half eaten Sunday jollof rice forgotten where I had placed it beside me on the floor of the tiny kitchen, when I had perched on a squat stool. I absent mindedly swatted an annoying fly from my face. It kept coming back. I knew I should start washing the plates in the grimy sink, but I couldn’t bring myself to stand up, so I sat there, alone with my tears for some time.
It’s not as if I‘m not studying. I told mama that anybody seriously serious about entering the university has to go through Special Center. They would help you score 350/400 in JAMB, and no school would dare refuse you. I told her and I told her and I told her a couple of times more, but she said it was me who wasn’t serious. That I wasn’t studying hard enough! She refused to pay the special fees, and paid for only JAMB lesson. The exam last month was my third attempt. If I didn’t pass without Special Center assistance the first two times, even though I studied hard, what hope do I have of passing the exam this time? I sighed. Maybe third time’s the charm.
Janet and Victoria were my classmates in secondary school, and they are both in the university now, while I’m stuck here doing housegirl work around the house. Janet and Victoria. Two very stupid girls I used to allow copy from me during exams, and afterwards, they will buy food or La’casera apple drink for me. Why should they have gained admission and I was still here?
I stood up, walked to the sink, and started washing the plates. No point in getting more insulted than necessary. When the kitchen was clean and there was nothing left for me to do, I went to sit under the mango tree outside. It was always cool under the big branches of the evergreen tree, though the risk of the odd bird droppings accidentally landing on a person was high. I hated the task of sweeping the leaves when they fell and carpeted the whole of the front of the house, but I loved sitting under the tree to read. It provided shade every day and its tasty fruits ripened twice every year. I had brought out a sachet of water and a slim Mills and Boon novel to read. I hid the novel inside my much bigger biology textbook and settled down on the scarf I had spread out on the roots and earth to forestall ants.
I looked up at our house. It was a modest three bedroom bungalow, just adequate for our family, but I felt trapped in it. The compound was large with patches of shrubby green grass for our single goat to eat, and rich brown soil everywhere else that Mama took advantage off with her small vegetable garden in the back of the house, beneath the kitchen window. Out here in the compound, I didn’t feel so trapped, though I would have given anything for a pair of wings, like the birds flitting within the branches of the mango tree. I rested my back on the bark of the tree and sighed.
I must have dozed off, because it seemed like it was only the very next moment someone was jerking me awake. It was Tinu, a relatively new friend. We’d attended the same JAMB lesson. She was excited and talking much too fast, so her words were running together and I couldn’t really make much sense of them, especially as I was still groggy from my snooze.
“JAMB result is out!” I definitely heard her that time. My heart stopped, and started a new erratic, staccato sort of rhythm.
“When?” I tried to ask her, but the voice that came out wasn’t mine at all. It belonged to some squeaky mouse person. I grabbed the sachet of water and took a few gulps. Some water dribbled down my chin, soaking my blouse and I choked. I coughed, and drank a bit more, slowly. Tinu was looking at me with raised eyebrows.
“What’s wrong with you? Are you ok?” she asked me. I just looked at her, nodded my head vigorously and made a vigorous flapping motion with my hand to signal ‘go on!’
“I said our results are out. I was going to the café to check mine, but I was too scared to go alone. So I came to get you. Go get your scratch card, let’s go check this thing before I pass out with fear!”
I didn’t need further encouragement. I grabbed my books and made a mad dash for the house.
“Mama, MAMA!!!” I rushed round a corner in the house and almost knocked her over. She looked at me like I was mad.
“What have I told you about running in the house, you this stupid girl? Did you mean to knock me off my feet? And why are you shouting for me like that?” she grumbled as she smacked my head. It hurt just a bit. Maybe because I was excited, scared and too confused to register pain.
“I’m sorry mama. Please I need money for the café. Results are out.” I didn’t need to tell her what results.
“So that was why you were running in the house? Nonsense. It’s not like you would pass.” She walked to her room and got me the money anyways. I grabbed it, thanked her, then I rushed to my room to get the scratch card that held the pin I needed to check my result online, then I rushed back out to meet my equally nervous friend.
I halted before her, and for a moment, we just stood there. Then mama’s voice lashed at us from the front door.
“GO!” and we left.
We both weren’t very computer literate, so we had to ask the café attendant for assistance. He was a young man, maybe twenty years old, if that. He looked us over in a way I didn’t like and smirked.
“Let me guess, you want to check your JAMB results abi? Jambitos’ this year are hot o! Chai!” he said. Tinu and I looked at each other, and then looked back at him shaking our heads.
“You girls will pay o!” he said. We just hissed at him, so he laughed and walked off to a computer station and sat down to do his job.
“Oya you, fair girl, what’s your JAMB registration number and your scratch card?
“Me?” I asked him.
“Of course you! Aren’t you the fair one? As you fine reach, you no sabi anything? Abeg, answer me sharply I have a lot of Jambitos to help today.” I handed him the card, wrote my registration number out on a sheet of paper and handed that to him too. He clicked away at the keyboard, but all I could hear was my heart beating in my chest.
“Should I print it?” he asked me after about a minute. It felt like an hour.
“Print ke? You haven’t even told me what I scored!”
“Ehn, come and see now. Did I stop you from looking at the computer screen?”
I released Tinu’s hand; I didn’t realize I had been holding it. I walked towards him, saying a silent little prayer to God for help on the way, and then I raised my eyes to the screen to see what I had scored.
English 70
Literature-in-English 62
Government 61
Economics  68
Total 261/400
Oh my GOD!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe this, I thought.
I looked at Tinu and I didn’t have to tell her. She knew. I tried not to show too much happiness as she had not checked her own, but I was positively giddy, and it showed. She came closer to the computer, gave the assistant her number and card wordlessly. He clicked and typed and did his thing.
“That’s your result,” he said, then looking at me, he asked if he should print it. I rolled my eyes.
“Of course!” I answered him.
TInu looked at me, she didn’t look happy. I moved closer and looked at the screen.
Total 201/400
She had narrowly passed the half mark, but that score was not high enough for Medicine and Surgery, and I know how much she wanted that, so I felt bad for her.
The assistant printed both results and handed them over. We paid and left, but as we did, I realized Tinu was crying.
“It’s ok,” I said to her. “You can still get in for another great course. Maybe cell biology and genetics. You just have to buy a Change of Course form quickly.”
“I don’t want stupid CBG!” She screamed at me and ran off towards her house.
I felt bad for her, but I was too glad to be genuinely sad. I had waited three years for my result. I rushed home to tell my family the good news.
“Mama, Mama, MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I shouted as soon as I got into the compound. “I passed, I passed!! I’m entering UniLag!”
“Ehn! Eeeeeeehhhhh! Mofe my daughter, I’m so proud of you!” she rushed to hug me and congratulate me. We held each other and hopped around like little girls.
My siblings had rushed out to see what the commotion was about.
“Ayomide, Demilade,” my mother smiled in a way I had hardly seen since my papa died almost ten years ago. “Enimofe has passed JAMB!”
“Finally!” Demilade said. I rolled my eyes at her, but mama shut her up. “Soon, it will be your turn. Wait and see how well you do.”
She took my hand and led me through the front door into the house.
“What will you eat? Eba or plantain and egg? Would you rather have Indomie noodles or spaghetti? Or pounded yam? My beautiful, smart, intelligent daughter! You are truly your father’s daughter. He always said you were smart. And now you’re going to UniLag to study law. I wish he was here to see you, how big you have grown, and how smart!” Mama’s eyes were bright with tears now as she talked.
I smiled at her. I knew she still missed Papa. I still occasionally heard her crying in the night when she thought we were all asleep.
“Mama today is a happy day o, so no crying!” I said, so she wiped her eyes with the edge of her wrapper, said she wasn’t crying, and we all went to the kitchen to make dinner.
For the first time in what felt like forever, I wasn’t required to lift a finger to prepare the food or clean the kitchen. My sister Demilade assisted with the cooking and my brother Ayomide washed the plates. They grumbled, and that made me happy. I could not stop grinning. I was enjoying being the golden child after all my troubles. And to think a mere six hours ago, I was being insulted!
Mama called me into her room and we talked for most of the night. She held me, told me she loved me and I had never felt so close to her, or so special.
“Mofe, I had to be hard on you. It was so that you wouldn’t get too comfortable at home and keep failing, and see, it worked. I knew you had it in you. You work best under pressure. I want you to know that you don’t have to be corrupt and cheat to get good results. The fact that everyone is doing something doesn’t make it right. Integrity and honesty can’t be bought and I hope you see that now,” she explained. “You’re my daughter, my first child. You have to lay a good example for your siblings so I had to be hard on you. You’re a woman now, Mofe. You’ll understand when you’re a mother.
I looked her in the eyes and told her “I understand now, Mama. Thank you very much.” Then I hugged her real hard.

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16 thoughts on “CHAPTER ONE ENIMOFÉ

  1. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    What a well rounded story. Although I obviously didn’t understand all the terms, I was able to get the gist of even the ones I didn’t know. That says a lot! Well done and great story! -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please visit their blog.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ll add a little dictionary to the terms non-Nigerian’s might not understand after work today 😀

          Like

  2. What an interesting read! Really shows life for the typical Nigerian teenager. Unfortunate, a lot of our parents think they have to resort to emotional/verbal abuse to teach us valuable life lessons. I’ve had my fair share of the treatment Mofe had!
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so very much for the feedback. This is why I wrote the post, to share what life is like in Nigeria for the young ones. Look out for chapter 2 same time next week.

      Liked by 1 person

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