The story I present is not a fiction but a true story as happened to me.
I am the last child of my parents, a female. There are two male and two female children in my family. My secondary education was quite challenging. My father was not just there in terms of carrying out his responsibilities. My mother was the breadwinner of the family. She gave her best but we still suffered financially. As a result I could go a whole day or two without food. Often times I came to school without breakfast not knowing exactly when I would have my next meal.
As the financial situation in my family moved from bad to worse, I could not concentrate on studying. I had a friend back then whom I did not tell what I was going through even though I would say he was a close friend. He tried to motivate me to read my books. When I did not feel like studying he gave me reason to do so. He was quite intelligent and he encouraged me to make something out of myself. His inspiration had an effect so despite my situation I studied. I surprised myself as I made most of my subjects at WASSCE with my effort. Even my classmates were surprised. At this time, this friend of mine had left the school. He was my senior.
Due to financial problems I was unable to further my education. I went to assist my elder brother in his trade. I went through hell. I did the work of an aboki by carrying heavy load on my head. I was called ‘woman-man’ due to the load I usually carried on my head. I did that to convey goods to the shop as well as supply goods to customers. I developed severe chest pain due to excessive load and I bled. When I told my brother he recommended After 5. I took it, the pain subsided and the bleeding was suspended.
I joined the market Fellowship where I met the leader of the Fellowship. He observed that I took matters relating to God quite serious and it drew him to me. Then I was counting millions for my brother in his trade but I did not have a hundred naira of my own. Life was difficult for me and the hardship was painful. The Fellowship leader observed my predicament and started giving me a thousand to three thousand naira each time he met me. He encouraged me to be strong in my faith. This continued for years and the money he gave me was what I used for clothing and upkeep. My brother never cared. I was not allowed to spend beyond N60 for my daily meal. As time went on, I met friends who also assisted me financially.
Despite the help, that period was rough and full of trials. I was having invitation to homes and hotels by men for a token. Some men who were bent on sleeping with me had a bet among themselves on who would be the first to ‘go there’. They went as far as enticing me with gifts and cars but I was resolute by God’s grace in my decision not to succumb to their demands. I did not know that one of the men was the boyfriend of one of my female friends. He told me that he had left his girlfriend, my friend, because of me. This turned out to be true because I started having problems with this particular friend of mine. I tried explaining to her that I had nothing to do with the man but my explanation fell on deaf ears especially as she saw the man approaching me frequently. I thought to myself how many girls this man must have dated and dumped for the next one. Such a man would be able to cheat on his wife. It turned out I was not wrong. The man turned out to be a big time womanizer.
My brother changed his business and left leaving little in the store. Creditors came upon my neck and ended up seizing the little goods that were left. I was back to square one. My brother had seized my phone due to the constant disturbance of men. He felt I had something to do with them and he beat me up sometimes. One day I damaged the SIM card out of anger. That was how I lost my contacts.
I joined my parents in their petty trade. I started hawking. I had virtually no income. I ran to relatives for help in order to start the business known to me but that did not yield any result. Some even saw my family as lazy people who could not work hard to feed. I had to go to my aunt. She welcomed me. Soon I started carrying heavy load again and went through stress. The chest pain and bleeding came back worse. My aunt took me to a pharmacy and got some drugs for me and the discomfort subsided. She became furious. She complained that she had no money to spend on drugs or to call mallam when I was there and could carry load.
My mother had an illness and I had not seen her for a year. Her illness was enough suffering for her and I would rather seek ways to work and help her than going to stay with her. Things got worse in my aunt’s house. She stopped me from using her cups, spoons, and other items of hers and asked me to get mine. The way I ran to her was the same way I ran away from her. I was back home earnestly praying to God to wipe my tears and bring an end to my predicament. I visited the Blessed Sacrament almost every day. Then I had nothing. No food, no money, and no support. The end of my suffering was not in sight and there seemed to be no hope. I went hungry for days. At this time a relative of ours remembered us. He visited us and gave us some money and food items.
I did not remember to attend Mass in the morning of the Ash Wednesday of that particular year. I decided to attend evening Mass only that I had to trek a long distance to another parish for my parish did not have evening Mass. I went with my sister. In church my sister told me she wanted to ease herself and I went with her. At a point we heard somebody shouting our names. We turned and saw that it was my market Fellowship leader whom I had met while assisting my brother in his trade. We were surprised to see him and asked him what he was doing there. He replied that that was where he fellowshipped. “So you girls just forgot me like that,” he told us. He gave us his phone number when he learnt that I did not have a job. Before we left, he gave us N2,000 each. That money was so badly needed it seemed like a million.
Afterwards I was hesitant to call him. But my need for a job finally made me do so. He asked me to come to his office. I got there and he told me he needed a secretary and the job was available for me if I wanted it. I took the job happily and started work the next day.
Soon I started having problems with one of his workers who complained frequently about me. I was his ‘enemy of progress’ in his stealing. In addition to that I had refused his proposal for a relationship with me.
One day a customer came complaining that some of the items she bought were faulty and needed to be replaced. This colleague of mine saw her and left without attending to her. I was alone with the woman who kept demanding for a replacement. My colleague who had left was the Assistant Manager who was supposed to replace the items. My boss was on a business trip abroad. Not knowing exactly what to do, I called another colleague of mine and asked him for his opinion. He was afraid of the Assistant Manager from whom he usually received undue favours and hence he was of no help. I finally replaced the items for the customer.
Immediately the woman left, the Assistant Manager came in ranting and demanded to know who replaced the goods for the customer. He was told I was the one and he threatened to deal with me. When my boss came back weeks later, he told him what a ‘common sales girl’ had done. Although my boss was a very kind and God-fearing man, I noticed he was unhappy about what he was told. I kept my distance and focused on doing my job. He later called me and told me I have been avoiding him because I noticed he was angry. He patted me and told me, “It is well.” He went back to being the boss I had known.
When my aunt whom I had stayed with got to learn that I had a job, she called me on phone saying she wanted to visit me. I told her she was welcome but reminded her that I was working for somebody and not a boss of my own. She told me she wanted to get jewellery for herself and I replied that I would direct her to where she could get good ones. She came and I took her there. Surprisingly she demanded I bought a wristwatch worth N5,000 as well as a wedding set for her. I was quite furious and asked her how much my wage was. Her own sister, my mother, was ill, and the cost of her treatment and drugs was on me. Before she came, I learnt she was maltreating my mother in her illness and got my mother away from her so-called care. I told her I could not afford what she was asking for and went back to my office. She came to my office requesting for jewellery, expecting me to give her from the stock she saw in my office. I replied her I could not steal since my boss was not around. She angrily left.
The story continues in the next post.