By Nwokeabia, Ifeanyi John
In my primary school days, I was so timid that my baptismal name won’t be wrongfully called ‘Inferiority Complex.’ I didn’t like being with colleagues because I felt within myself that I was nobody.
When questions were asked in the class, and my teacher call me up to answer, when I stand, I would feel as if the sky will fall and kill me. I would end up opening and closing my mouth without saying anything.
On one occasion, I was called out to write something on the board. It’s not that the teacher forcefully called me, rather, I wilfully raised my fingers up and was caught and then called out. Immediately I came out, I forgot everything I intended writing. I ended up embarrassing myself with my face fixed on the board until the teacher released me with a little pat on my head, ‘go and sit down nwoke m,’ she said.
I never wanted my family to be mentioned in anywhere I was. Not that I don’t have a beautiful family, but because I felt that we were poor and never would I identify with it. It became unbearable when noodles came out. That was towards the tail end of my primary school days. Indomie was what we knew then because it was the first noodles that came to my area. It was then eaten by the RICH alone and also PRIVILEGED pupils ( my definition though). I felt the pain of it all those days, not knowing that day would come when I won’t even finish a small plate of Noodles because my Ofe Onugbu and Akpu tastes better.
My school uniforms only enjoy the privilege of being ‘ironed’ after it’s sewn by a tailor. And till it finished its works on earth, no more detour. Each time I saw my classmates whose parents washed and ironed there uniforms, I cried in my mind, asking ‘God, why are we so poor?’
Something happened that made me HATE INTRODUCTION. It’s in primary three, our class teacher asked us to introduce ourselves ( one after the other). I wasn’t bothered by every other thing to be stated in the introduction until she said, ‘MENTION THE OCCUPATION’ of your parents.
I died and resurrected immediately. For a very long time, I was mute. She shouted, ‘NWOKEABIA!’ I jerked and answered, ‘Auntie!’ She further asked, ‘are you not the one I’m talking to?’
Within me I knew she was talking to me. But how would I tell my teacher before the very eyes of the pupils I so hate to be with, that my father is a PALM WINE TAPPER while my mum sells AGIDI? I remained rooted and never said a word. I gave myself up willingly to the endless flogging of the teacher for not saying anything.
Yes. It sounds foolish right? I did it. I never wanted to associate myself with my parents’ business because I felt they were not successful like other parents. I forgot that in those days that so-called RICH always call my father on arrival from abroad to bring the same wine to them? Foolishness is madness if you ask me.
But I forgot something again, the pay from these petty business of theirs fund my education. They equally fed I and my siblings. They work themselves to the brim just to take care of us. Yet, I felt they weren’t good enough to boast of/with.
I may not be alone on this. I know many of you are having such experience or had such experience too. I’m today telling you that you need to appreciate every sacrifice made by your parents. Whenever I’m asked to define ‘GIVING’ I always define GIVING as Denying Oneself of its personal needs in order to satisfy another’s need. That #100 given to you by another can be used by him or her to solve his or her problem but it’s given up for you! And all you can say is: ‘it is too small because he has more than that.’ If he has more than that, so he’s duty bound to gift you all?
We should all know that the qualities that define POVERTY or RICHNESS is man made. No one can outrightly say the reason why they were so defined, but allowing it to control your psyche becomes a bug that needs to be taken off or end up allowing it swallow you. No one has choice of parents. And as such, everyone should learn to appreciate every parents given to one by God. If you don’t accept them for their physical status, have you discovered that there’s spiritual richness? No one, I repeat, no one has it all. Adoring what you have becomes sacrosanct.
I wrote this because of young ones and adults on this space, feel free to learn. Appreciation is healing balms to aching palms. Life is in phases. No one has it all but, time shall reveal all that you will stand to enjoy. Like a master crafter, design your life well by working assiduously to better yourself and family. Shakespeare explains that some people were born great, some achieved greatness. Whichever one you are, greatness needs maintenance. Maintain yours or go begging later.
Nwokeabia, Ifeanyi John is a poet and teacher. He hails from Nibo in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. He has Nigeria Certificate in Education and Bachelor of Arts in Education, both in English Language. He lives in Awka. His works are published in different online platforms.