I felt like screaming just then. Like shouting so loud someone will hear me in town. They know! I mean Mama and Baba . . . just then as my mind wandered to my parents, it dawned on me that that was the first time I would think of them since this ordeal began. When terror blends into horror, it has a way of reordering ones priorities.
My parents, the very people who gave me a reason and much encouragement to dream. They were bold enough to challenge the status quo and give their girl child western education. Courageous enough to face the snickering and bickering of lesser minds in our community who still held on to an old dehumanizing order. They were my rock, my own terra firma. Many times mummy would drum it into my ears that she wasn’t this privileged. Oh she drummed it into me so much the drum became a part of my everyday life. She never allowed me forget. Not when I got so playful my grades began to slip. Not even when I began to develop dangerous emotions for a nice looking Fulani lad on my street. In this particular case, the drum became an alarm. And when she was through shrieking into my soul, it became apparent that I would have to postpone love till I had my definition.
She never had the luxury of a dream. Mama was a creation of the old order, a creation of tradition. A strong willed northern beau. Sometimes I wonder what power her life would have commanded if she had my privileges. I can’t remember ever seeing her breakdown in the face of a challenge. Though very temperate, she has this determination that would shame any lazy soul. She was like steel tempered with mercy. Brittle yet firm. You must understand that our society doesn’t accord her much. To know her, you’ll have to break pass so many barriers. But then, she so refused to define herself by any social script. The irony is this: those of us in the house were the only ones to feel her influence. In the real sense she was a powerful spirit trapped in a weak body, and further trapped in a weak social system. She was a soul muted. A mouth denied its voice. A spirit denied life. She was a phantom!
The only bright side to her predicament was that she married a different kind of man. A man who believed in the power of the human spirit. A man who understood that that spirit is not gender restricted. That the woman’s spirit was as powerful as that of the man and she can do great things if giving the chance. And that was what he made his life’s goal: To give me that chance!
To be continued in Halima 15
The Halima Series is written by a good friend Chukwuemeka Ezeogu