The little stories: A testimony
Arising from Rev Father George Ehusani’s response (‘More on Little Stories in a Big World’ The Guardian October 12) to my original essay Little Stories in a Big World,’ I decided to compile some of the little stories which prompted my initial thoughts on the subject. I thank Father George for calling me up first and then later suggesting that little stories should be told to enhance the human spirit. The stories I am going to share are drawn from students, current and former, and from chance encounters with people from all parts of the world.
The first story is from a young lady who had come to me to assist her to gain admission into the University of Lagos. For some reason I asked after her dad whom I knew nothing about. Her response caught me off guard. ‘I have never met him,’ she said. ‘Is he dead? ‘No; he is alive I think. He disappeared after my mom took in.’ ‘What about your mom? ‘She died when I was six months old.’ I’m sure she didn’t realise how big her little story hit me. Picture the vacuum, the possibility of meeting her unknown father someday. Would he embrace her, apologize? The pretty young lady is 20 years old. She grew up with her grandparents and also bears her granddad’s name!
Beautiful Miss Vee grew up without a father figure, dad having abandoned home and went off with another woman. Her mother struggled to bring up her five kids selling petty things in Lagos. She also had to care for her aged mother, bringing her dependants to six. Miss Vee sold ‘pure water’ in the streets of Lagos, managed to enter university and graduated with a second class lower degree. While in the university she sold petty items too and managed to see one of her brothers through Year One before he got a Shell Scholarship to see him through Engineering. He made a First Class degree at the end, and got a plum job somewhere in Port Harcourt. Miss Vee got lucky too. One of their neighbours who had lived in the same ‘face-me-I-face-you’ compound in Benin returned from America after some 10 odd years and said he wanted her for a wife. She now lives in America with her husband and two children. I see their pictures often on Facebook!
Once I was at a Bus Station in Louisville waiting for the next bus. I fell into a conversation with a buxomly African-American lady. About 18 years in age, I knew everything about her life in 30 minutes. She said she was coming from the prison where she had gone to visit with her elder sister. I don’t recall what led to her sister’s incarceration. But she was pregnant while in there and DNA tests showed she had two babies in her womb. Twins, I asked. No; two babies because she slept with two men within an hour and both men fertilised two different eggs. I reeled from the surprise, the shock. I judged the absent sister, how irresponsible, how immoral! But I do not know the circumstances! It’s nearly 25 years since the encounter. I’m yet to understand that story.
There is this couple that started having kids shortly after marriage in a love-filled home. All the first six children were female, all beautiful, brilliant and hard working. The couple kept making babies because they wanted a male child. At last a boy came bouncing into the world after six girls. He was about five years old when he was diagnosed as a sickle cell disease patient. Now he is a permanent reminder of what they should not have done, especially each time he goes through the regular crisis. There is yet another couple who wanted a male child after five girls. The father, Dr. Dee, highly educated with a PhD from a British university, virtually ignored all the beautiful girls and their mother. Finally a boy came. This boy was treated like a prince, often in a most offensive manner to the rest of the family. Sadly shortly after daddy Dee suffered a stroke. In the twilight of his days, he never was conscious of the presence of male or female kids. He died many years later. The boy is still alive, living with his sisters, happily I hope.
When her husband died some 20 years ago through work-place politics and rivalry, Mrs O was a laid-back housewife, well looked after by her loving husband. Of course the family was devastated. The breadwinner was gone. After the funeral, she rose to the occasion. Her hubby’s company dilly-dallied over paying his entitlements because some family members wanted the money paid to the deceased brothers. In the end they never paid the late emoluments. The Lebanese-owned company soon went into bankruptcy. Good friends helped her set up and she struggled to educate the children; as we speak all three children, all girls are university graduates.
Madam ‘S’ had only one child who lived abroad and never came visiting for over 20 years. It was in the days when going to London was big deal. When Daughter ‘S’ finally returned home, she had only one daughter too. Before long we found out that that only daughter was a carrier of the sickle cell disease. She died before her 15th birthday. Grandmother ‘S’ did not live long after that. Before Daughter ‘S’ died she suffered a stroke and endured moths of agonizing torture, without a husband, without the company of family.
We all knew Sunday as a newspaper vendor for decades. We never knew anything about his private life. Just as our parents called him Sunday, so did us the children. He was not Mr. Sunday, just Sunday, like a boy, a menial, a poor newspaper seller. He never protested being called Sunday by the kids. It was much later that we learnt that he had built a four flat mini-estate somewhere in the city and all his children had graduated from university.
They may be small; but some of them have big stories to tell. It is the way of the world! Are you willing to share your stories or stories that you know with the world? Send them to email@example.com
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