Onyinye Ubah

…With tears in my eyes, I was waving goodbye to the people I never believed I could spend one night with. My hands kept waving until the sight of them vanished. I wasn’t so sure when and where I will ever get to see them again but the memory lives on.

March 2012, my journey into the sleepy town of Arikya in Nasarawa began. I sat on a bike that rode on the expressway and after what seemed like a short ride, he swerved to the right, into a narrow dusty path. My heart sank into my stomach. There were few mud houses scattered around and other places were bush and few farmlands. The journey seemed endless. For almost one hour, I was sitting on a bike. I couldn’t think straight, the only thing I could do was to recite Psalm 23 in Igbo. When I got to the verse that reads,’ozo a sinaejemijenandagwugwuruonyinyoonwu…'(though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..), immediately, tears rolled down my cheeks. My hands reached for my white handkerchief to wipe my tears, it suddenly turned brown. But I didn’t use make up that morning, what must have gone wrong? I tilted my head to the left a little to see myself in my mirror and only realized I had been bathed by the dusty road from head to toe. I made an emotional outburst,’mummymo! E fuomo!’

How was I suppose to explain that I haven’t used the toilet for almost three days. I confided in Favour, one of the corp members, and she took me outside our building and handed me a small black nylon and asked me what I could see.’Bush’, I replied. ‘Go there and sort yourself out’, she replied. That was exactly what I did until the day of our passing out. Bathing, at first, was not exciting for me. Our bathroom was a zinc erected on three sides of the ground and our wrapper served as the door. It was in front of the building and there was no roof. Every time I used it, it reminded me of the story of David when he saw Bathsheba from his roof taking her bath. Poor guy! Our saving grace was that the village had no storey building. It was only mud houses and very few houses made of blocks. This kind of bathroom made us become Grammy award winning singers so as to make people know you were in there. The only peeping Tom I experienced was a he goat who always took shade close to our bathroom. Every day, I asked myself if I could survive this.

Being an English teacher was unimaginable.I always wore a garment called patience – it was a valid need. There were more boys than girls. I later found out most of the girls got married after primary School or junior secondary school. I rolled my eyes. The first time I had a suitor was in my second year in the university at the age of 19 or 20 and somehow,I was simply not interested. Being a shy person,I couldn’t even make an eye contact with him. The first time I stared at a man so long, I had a warm sensation in between my legs as though I’ve got oil wells pumping down there.

Back to my story, I always look back and wondered how I stayed that long without electricity, we had a central place for charging our phones and the only network was Glo. Going to the central well to fetch water and carrying it on my head became the norm. Social life was zero. My succour was corp members turned family, the long calls from my ex boyfriend then, that made me giggle to sweet nothings for hours, love from family and friends,the hospitality of the villagers and Nigeria Christian corpers Fellowship (NCCF). Somehow, I had to adjust to that kind of life and I was glad I did!

Every time I look at this picture, I always ask this question:

“If life gave you lemon, wouldn’t you rather make yourself some lemonade?’

Photo Credit:Nofuchu studio

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