Life is a race, or so they say. For some it seems a sprint, for other a relay, and yet for others, life seems an endless marathon with no stops, no breaks and a finish line that lies somewhere in the horizons of your mind.
She was quite young at the time, and like the few girls who had the privilege of getting a formal education in her community, she was basking with hope. The hope to come out of school, build a career and one day walk down the isle, adorned in a sparkling white tube dress, the choir singing her favorite hymn, and her Prince also wearing a black suit over a white shirt and a bow tie as red as the petals of a rose eagerly await the moment when the priest declares “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride”. That was not too much to ask, but that was her dream and she cherished it like a little girl would cherish her first baby doll. Hiding her dreams in a special closet somewhere in her heart, she would go about her days activities, only to return every night to the reassuring warmth of it’s embrace.
Getting a secondary education in her part of the world was said to be tuition-free but neither cheap nor easy. So as a jolly fifteen, she briskly hooped out of bed at the first cock crow. Before the first light of dawn she must set out, walking for hours on foot, only to arrive the school compound before the security guards mount the gate like faceless status and students in their countless numbers waive white sheets on their payment receipt as as proof of payment for the terms PTA levy.
Her tiny frame, scantily covered by a brown pleated skirt (which she sew with a needle and tread to avoid the cost of tailoring), a white long-sleeved shirt covering her long hands from the extremely harsh and unfriendly kisses of the wind and her head, wrapped under a white head gear; as it was the culture of schools in Northern Nigeria. This tiny teenage girl absolutely loved her school uniforms and will stop at nothing to flaunt it as she ran pass the houses, across the highway, then through the football field, crossing two streams to get to school every morning.
Yeah, crossing the football pitch was one event too remarkable, she says; as the winds where in a constant struggle to know the exact details of whatever was under her skirts. Determined to see her pants, it whistled lovely rhythms as she approached, then as she began to enjoy the rhythm, the winds will gain a sudden momentum and with all its might, the winds will blow up her brown pleated skirt and wave it round about her frame. That was a daily routine she never got fond of.
Although she could not afford to pay for her senior secondary school examination and was at the risk of repeating her final year, she studied as if her life depended on it. Reading under a push lamp until the phlegm in her nostrils were colored by smoke. But rather than give up on her dreams, she simply decide to store them away and concentrate on surviving the events of the moment while she went out in search of a job. Saddled with so much burden, she had built up into a little woman, having nerves of steel connected to her jelly spine. Kind and soft spoken, her heart became hard as nails. So it was that after many years of work, further education and career advancement,