• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

The Blood- 1

Language, culture and identity: The Nigerian reality

I grew up in a remote village somewhere in Mubi. From a very early age, it was obvious that I was an outstanding child. I would gather my friends under a tree to teach them letters and numbers on my little black slate which my father kept shining always with charcoal. I was his pride and delight, the child that would bring him great honor so he treated me specially.

I had “the head for academics” so my parents, especially my father did everything they could to encourage me.

My dream was to become the first teacher from Mubi village and nothing was going to stop me. Everybody called me teacher Lilly and it made me feel very proud. At some point, my education became a communal effort. The villagers contributed in one way or another when they saw how determined I was to bring light to the village in the form of education. I was the young and erudite scholar. Nothing was going to stop me from achieving my goal. Nothing except love. My aspirations almost changed after I met Bernard at the Teacher’s Training College (TTC), Kaju.

His business brought him to Kaju from time to time and he’d stay with my lecturer friend, Kole whenever he was around and that’s how we met. He was a very nice man. His sweet words swept me off my feet and I felt butterflies in my stomach whenever I was with him. He made me promise not to tell Kole about our relationship because he was sure the idea of us dating will not go down well with him. He would be biased about us being together so there was no point telling him anything until we were ready to take our relationship to the next level.

We kept our relationship discreet until I found out that I was pregnant. When I told Bernard about it, he suddenly stopped visiting Kaju. He disappeared completely from my life without any trace. This was the era before mobile phones were a thing so there was no way I could reach him. I had no choice but to open up to Kole about my predicament and his reaction was not what I expected. After berating and expressing his disappointment in me, he went on to tell me that Bernard was married. He would have warned me if he had any inkling about our relationship but the brunt was mine to bear since I decided to keep it away from him.

Read also: Girl of my dream

Words cannot tell the shame and humiliation that I had to go through because of the pregnancy. I watched as my world almost collapsed before my eyes like a pack of cards. My entire village was disappointed in me and treated me as if I was leprous. My father never forgave me until his death and that really broke my heart. I was devasted for a very long time but decided that there was no gain if I continued to stay miserable so I made up my mind to make my father proud even in death. I was going to be the pride of my village no matter what. I wasn’t going to let one mistake kill my dreams. I would rise above the ashes and build my dreams from the rubbles.

I went back to finish my program at TTC after having my daughter. I was glad she took my looks because I didn’t want my child constantly reminding me of Bernard. He stole my youth, he almost ruined my life then he ran away but I chose to forgive him so that I could move on with my life.

I worked hard until I achieved my dream to become the first teacher out of Mubi village. The village head gave me a building to start my school and it wasn’t long before word began to go far and near and children from neighboring villages began to troop in as well.

I had redeemed myself from my past mistake but my daughter was a constant reminder of what happened and because of that no man wanted to marry me. I resigned myself to fate and buried myself in my work and I was doing very well in that aspect.

One morning, as I walked into the tiny room that I used as an office, I met a woman waiting to see me. I was expecting inspectors from the Local Education District and I assumed she was one of them so I ushered her into my cubicle and asked her to sit down but instead she went on her knees and started crying. I was confused. Who is she and what does she want?

After a few minutes, my strange visitor regained her composure and introduced herself to me as Mrs Bernard.

What in God’s name is Mrs Bernard doing in my office?

To be continued…