Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
– John F. Kennedy
“Go Tracy, Go Tracy, Go Tracy, Go Tracy” chanted her friends as she moved her far from skinny body to the routine. As far as Tracy was concerned, her dance classes were the most important part of her day. This was the one place where her family couldn’t embarrass her. Her very loud Nigerian family. The thought of them learning about and “infiltrating” her dance classes made her miss a few steps. “TRACY CONCENTRATE!” yelled Miss Blueberry. “Sorry Miss Blueberry” muttered Tracy as she huffed and puffed to the rhythm.
“Uwem go and make sure the car has been washed. The Senator will be going out very soon”. “Yes sir” replied Uwem. He was at the “bottom of the food chain” where assistants were concerned but he had that “power mentality”. As long as he was working out of the office of the Senator, he was ok. He could only go up.
“Goddy u don wash motor?” He asked the gateman as he spotted him about to enter the gatehouse. “Te te” replied the gateman signalling with his right thumb pointing backwards. Uwem ran his finger over the side of the car. “Which kain dust be this? If you like yourself this morning you go come back wash this car. Te te ke. Te te wey fit be last week. Mscheewww ebod(goat in ibibio)” Shouted Uwem. Although he was only the assistant to the assistant to the assistant of the Senator, he took his job very seriously.
“Aunty Mfon I don’t understand. How did you get 20?” asked Zainab of her teacher. Mfon let out an exasperated sigh. She was tired of trying to explan how twenty subtracted from thirty and added to ten(30-20+10) gave twenty. She mentally gave NYSC the finger.
This is the only job they saw fit to give her after she’d toiled and kept the candle burning to graduate with honours in Industrial Physics. When she’d gotten her place of primary assignment she hadn’t believed it. Great heights Nursery and Primary school indeed. She was yet to see anything great in the place. A school where primary two pupils still didn’t understand basic addition and subtraction wasn’t in the race to being great at all in her opinion. “Zainab what part don’t you understand?” She asked the young girl who looked like she was about to start chewing on what was left of a pencil. “Everything Ma” replied Zainab. Mfon mentally counted from one to ten. The day had barely started and she felt like putting a dent in something.
“If you were born to meet something a certain way, how do you know with certainty, it’s the right way?” Asked Matthew of the audience. There was a brief moment of silence as he let everyone ponder on what he’d just said. Being a “motivational” speaker, Matthew loved being the center of attention.
“Think about it. Using the basic example of religion which is more common to us in Nigeria, how do you know that as a christian, your religion is the one true religion? What if you had been adopted at birth and raised in a muslim family? You would be none the wiser. At that point, Islam would be the one true religion to you. How do you differentiate from what really is and what you believe is because of maybe circumstance or your environment?”.
Again, the crowd was silent. Matthew basked in the awe. He loved giving his little talks as he called it. “My book, ‘The Way’ answers all these questions and then some. Copies are being sold in the lobby” he said with a smile. “So back to what I was saying…”. As he spoke, a woman walked into the hall, stood for about a minute and left.
Mr and Mrs Ephraim Bassey lived with their family in Chicago, Illinois. Mrs Uduak Bassey was an anaesthetic with the Children’s Memorial Hospital while Mr Ephraim Bassey worked with at&t as one of their telecommunications engineers.
Together, they made enough money to comfortably support and raise their four kids: Iniobong, Nsikakabasi, Precious and Tracy. Uduak had met Tracy for the first time in the Children’s Hospital when she’d come in for stitches after being involved in a fight at school. Apparently, another kid had called her fat and to put it in Tracy’s words, she’d not been having a good day. The altercation had earned her a month’s suspension and shortly after, Tracy had lost her only surviving relative which put her up in the foster care system.
Uduak had grown to feel something maternal towards Tracy during her stay in the hospital and had immediately offered to legally adopt her- with her husband’s permission of course- which saw Tracy becoming a part of her family. The break-in period had been a bit rough with her kids refusing to accept Tracy but she felt they were all getting along just fine now. The sound of her phone vibrating drew her from her thoughts. The caller-id read Ima(love). Ephraim was on the line.
“Hey baby sup?” She answered. A few seconds passed. ……“O My God! When did this happen?” The look on her face was one of sadness. “I’m so sorry dear. We’ll tell the kids together this evening. Be strong. Love you”. With shaky hands, she dropped the phone on the table. “Ud(pronounced youdee) what’s wrong?” asked Mrs Archer, one of the other anaesthetics on call with her.
“My husband just lost his father” she replied with the look of disbelief still on her face. “We all spoke to him a few days ago. I still can’t believe it. Papa is….was one of the liveliest people I knew”. “My condolences. We all live and someday we must go. Be happy he lived a good life. Celebrate his life” Said Mrs Archer as she gave her a hug. “Yea…” replied Uduak as a tear fell down her face.
…To be continued