The way these two women are going about this re-branding matter has created a picture (in my mind) of a mother who is bent (inadvertently) on destroying her child by hiding the child’s bad ways rather than shouting out for help? Don’t we have mothers like that all around us. I am sure those of us who grew up in a rural setting would have come across such mothers. The story of Ayisha and her poor mother readily came to my mind. Ayisha was my classmate in secondary school form three in 1981. She never went beyond that class and that is because aher story ended there, she died. Did I say her story ended there? Of course it didn’t, otherwise I would not be talking about her today. Seconds, minutes and hours after her death, her story assumed various shapes, sizes and colours. It is normal for great attention to be paid to issues of the dead, even more so, if such deaths are brought about by peculiar happenings. Ayisha’s death was a climax of issues we her classmates figured out a few weeks earlier.
Few weeks to the end of our first term in form three some observant students suspected she was pregnant which means it must have happened during the previous long vacation and of course it was discussed in hush tones. She stayed on in school and managed to keep it away from the school officials. By the beginning of the second term, it was common knowledge among all our classmates as she spat all over the place and became sickly and sleepy in class. As the pregnancy began to show, she was forced to flare her blouse instead of tucking it in. One fateful day she disappeared from school and by the third day, we heard she was dead. The cause of death was of course obvious, ‘ abortion’. We were taken aback by the situation we met at the house when we visited the family. The mother had a wrapper in her hand, as she tried amidst tears to explain that it was the last clothing on her daughter’s body (with no single drop of blood on it). For her, it was the ultimate proof that her daughter did not die of abortion. Poor woman, she must have heard the rumour that was all over town. Looking at the woman, it was hard to tell if she knew more than she was letting on.
We heard later that she helped to send her daughter to her ‘early’ death by concealing her waywardness. Correcting her daughter was not an option, instead she was very angry and fought with people who knew and talked about her daughter’s waywardness. Even after her death, the poor woman was still doing the same. I see Aunty Dora as a form of Ayisha’s mother trying desperately to convince all and sundry that the world is only calling Nigeria bad names when in fact we should be praised as good people.
To be continued