I found myself in the exact situation they had been trying so hard to protect me from. I had come out physically unscathed, but emotionally I was fighting for my life. Maybe if I had listened to them, I would have been safe and remained a rookie in the school of life.
But the longer I stayed in the east, the deeper my roots went. Gradually I built my dream life there. I thrived. So when the last ASUU strike collided with my six months industrial training period, I looked forward to making lots of dough, so as to have a stress-free final year at university. I decided to spend those six months, in the east. I called home to inform them of my decision.
I still remember the conversation:
“Hello mummy, good evening ma.”
“How everything?” she replied.
“Fine ma,” I replied, “I have found IT placement in the east.”
“Where? Which office?” my mother wanted to know.
“The licensing office ma’am.”
“No, no biko, that place is a den for sin. Bribery and corruption is too much in that office!”
“But Christians work there naa … ” I countered
“Do you want to tempt your faith? Please, come back home next week and meet bro John. He works in a bank not far from the house. He’ll help you.”
“But mummy … ” I started to protest.
“Pls don’t but me, just prepare and start coming home next week,” she said, before hanging up on me.
But I stayed. I wasn’t ready to give up the experience of working. They still refused. Dangling the bait of providing my needs, whereas all they wanted was to stop me from earning so I would remain dependent on them. They didn’t mind if I passed up the opportunity to learn a thing or two about working in the corporate world. I was sturbborn. Held out for a month.
I still remember the SMS messages my dad sent me during the hold-out period. I would go to bed scared, I was afraid of seeing the messages he would send me in the morning. Some read thus:
“DAUGHTER DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEART TO GOD. COME BACK HOME TODAY IF YOU DON’T WANT THE ANGER OF GOD ON YOU!”
“GOD IS ANGRY WITH THE SINNER EVERYDAY, COME BACK HOME AND RECEIVE MERCY.”
“THE WORD OF GOD IS SURE, WHATEVER YOU SOW YOU SHALL REAP. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO REAP THE WHIRLWIND, COME BACK HOME.”
I went home. After I exhausted my savings, I finally went home. I met up with the Brother John to make them happy and after another month of waiting, he told me to finally resume in his office. I became the errand-girl of the office. If I wasn’t out of the office, running errands, I was sleeping at my desk. Nobody ever actually taught me anything; Brother John was a marketer, who was never around.
That was how four months of my industrial training period, jogged on. And as the strike persisted, I begged my dad to use his little influence, as a friend of some government officials in our state – to get me a paid position. Anything that meant I would earn something. But he refused. He refused to let his daughter, out of his sight. So I changed jobs and worked as a sales-girl, where I was paid the meagre amount of six thousand Naira (N6000). This meant that whereas my friends returned after the strike with more than enough funds, I returned in my final year as a struggling student.
The blueprint of my life, that had been drawn out by my parents, became clearer: I was going to complete my university education, serve my country (NYSC), return home and serve the lord as a Sunday school teacher as I awaited marriage. They were willing to house my siblings and I, no matter no matter how old we became … so long as we were within their sights and living according to the blueprint.
But my fortunes were about to change. My father asked me to come back home and help in the reproduction and worldwide distribution of CDs of a girl from Sierra Leone and a woman from the southern part of Nigeria; they both claimed to have been to heaven and hell and back with a message. While he focused on propagating the message, I mapped out my strategies to fill up my bank account …
A. Rebelle is a 20-something year-old African lady and these are her adventures.