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Eya Ndidiamaka – “Priye”

I lay still, watching the almost burnt kerosene lantern in our thatched house and in the dimness of the room, I watched mama fast asleep, her body in a curled position like one who feared to sleep carelessly, she turned and mumbled and I wondered if she was having one of her many nightmares again. 

Mama could as well be called a dreamer because most of her dreams came to pass. Maybe, that was why, when I was ten, she had woken up to tell me she saw a dream of me dressed in white, in a very big, shiny and well-polished house, she said I was happy but the people surrounding me wasn’t happy – she too- wasn’t but when she realized how happy I was, she then became happy.

“Priye” she had said excitedly. “I have a feeling you’ll be a very successful woman, those unhappy people might be your enemies. “

“what about you, mama? “

“God forbid it that I be my child’s enemy!” she had said 

“I am but only a dreamer my child, I wish I had the gift to interpret them.”

I had allowed myself to believe in this dream so much that I had begun to envision actually living in a house like that until I dropped out of school 6 years later… Just a few months to my SSC exams. Mama had dreamt of people dying, of pipelines destroyed, of doom and they had all come to pass- except mine. 

Most of my privileged friends had gone on to achieve their dreams and here was I, 13 years later trading by the railside. A trade that required we spend days away from home and then go back home or travel elsewhere to buy more goods. Things were going smoothly, and I could see myself wearing an almost white dress until my trader friend had suggested we buy goods with all our money and increase the prices when they became scarce. It felt a wise thing to do until we were robbed of our goods on the way back. 

I had come home two days after, looking like a deranged woman, watching our old lantern burn from high to low until it finally went off. It was on one of those nights that mama found me talking to myself. 

“Priye! You can’t kill yourself over what happened. We will survive, we will. “

“Why does it always have to be us? “I asked, fighting the urge to free tears from the grip of my eyes. 

“We don’t choose our fate, my child, life is like dice, you throw it up and you never know what side would be facing you when it comes down. It is full of risks.” Mama had told me 

“But, why do I always pick the wrong side of the dice mama? “

“Priye! God doesn’t give you a life you cannot handle, he knows you can handle this life.”

I looked at her, her charred lips, dried to cracks by the harmattan, her eyes – so small and even in the dimness of the night, I could see how tired they were. Her rough palm squeezing my hands and reminding me of the many things I couldn’t provide for her now. I looked away 

“what if I can’t handle this life, mama? “

I felt her hands tighten their grip on my bare flesh. 

“you can! “she said and nodded her head “go to sleep my child, the morning is almost here. 

That night, as I watched her sleeping on the mat, I sneaked out of the house to the river very close to our house and sat on the shore. I dipped my fingers in the cold sand and allowed the nights’ breeze blow my uncombed hair all over my face. Then I thought of what mama had said. 

“Priye! God doesn’t give you a life you cannot handle, he knows you can handle this life.”

 I pulled my knees up, buried my head in between my laps and wept all through the night. I wanted to end it all; end this suffering; all of it but I thought of mama, of her charred lips and soles and I knew I had to stay for her. I needed to be strong for both of us. I thought of the dreams she has had about me, about us and how it would break her if I left the world this way. 

It was almost morning and one could hear the cock crowing when I left the riverside. I sneaked back into the room and found mama still laying in that position. She wasn’t mumbling now, she was calm and I stood awhile staring at her, watching her sleep. Then I crawled in beside her and wrapped my arms around her. She turned and mumbled and at that moment, I knew I had made the right choice by staying alive for her. 

Photo by Kaylah Matthews on Unsplash


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Abdulmalik Oyiza Sekinatureply
June 15, 2020 at 8:49 am

This is a very beautiful write-up, at the end we all have to try and conquer our troubles.

June 15, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Such a beautiful piece. It’s never easy for anyone, but our ability to scale through challenges is what makes us stronger, There’s always light at the end of the tunnel

Iboyi Ejiro Emmanuelreply
June 15, 2020 at 5:28 pm

What a wonderfully presented piece, I absolutely love it.
You really are a talented writer, the fluency, accuracy and emotion in your words really captivates my senses.

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