My name is Ewatomi Makanjuola. This is my story.
I was born without a silver spoon, living from hand to mouth. We lived at No 15 Adeojo street, Agege-Lagos state. We stayed in a rented one room apartment, what people call “face me I slap you”.
My father, Mr Ayanfe Makanjuola, was an Auto Mechanic; and My mother; Mrs Omotunde Makanjuola was a full house wife.
Things were really difficult for my family. At times we would only eat once in a day, and it might be garri (cassava flakes).
There was no one to support us. All my father’s siblings deserted us. My mum was the only child of her parent, and her parent died while she was growing up.
My mother had always lived in difficulty. She only wondered if she’d ever be free from a life of wretchedness.
We were totally helpless!
As hard-working as my parent were, we never enjoyed one day of our lives. We lived in abject poverty. Perhaps we were under a family curse, “ogun idile”.
At all cost, I was determined to liberate my parent from poverty; as much as I knew, they had suffered a lot for me.
As poor as my family was, love was something that was profound. We loved ourselves so much and no one could come between us. It was as though God gave us love in place of riches. I always wondered if we can’t have both. Excuse me, can’t one have both riches and love in this world?
My mother always stood by and encouraged my father. My father was the type that easily gets overwhelmed and dejected. Poor man. Without “iya Ewa” as he fondly calls my mum, in his life, he would have given up.
Although my parent were poor, I longed for a marriage like theirs. Only that the poverty be removed. Oh, how mama Ewa and Baba Ewa so loved each other!
Just like my mother, I am the only child of my parent.
Before I was born my mother experienced a lot of miscarriages and still-births.
The year I was born was the same year my mother gave her life to Christ. She wept and prayed to God that I should live and graciously, God answered her prayers.
As I grew, I was so attractive. Even at age twelve, I had nothing less than 10 suitors per day. You wonder what a poor little chap like me ever looked like?
Whenever people come for my hand in marriage, my mother would always laugh and explain that I was still young. My suitor would leave promising to come back when I am a bit older and ripe for marriage.
I wonder how ma’mi would have looked forward in hope to the day I would get married and deliver the family from poverty. Mama Ewa and Baba Ewa gave birth to me at an old age. So really, there was no time on their side. Yet they never gave me out in marriage even with our despicable condition.
I attended a public school as you all would expect. What would land a poor girl like me in what of those big schools? Perhaps a miracle.
Even attending a public school was a miracle! Here you wonder how poor we were?
My school uniform was tattered, no money to replace them. I looked so untidy and this made my teachers hate me. My friends attended the best schools in Nigeria. Did I say friends? Who would make friends with a pauper like me? Well, mayve my beauty earned me some “friends” as it were.
I never felt intimidated and I didn’t lose focus. My mother taught me never to compare myself with anyone and to be contented, and that has really brought me this far in life.
I wanted to become a medical doctor. A poor girl with a rich dream.
Anytime I spoke about being a medical doctor in school, my teacher and friends would laugh because they knew the condition of things in my family. “If wishes were horses…” they’d scorn among themselves. I always felt bad each time it happens but it didn’t make me lose focus.
One day I rushed home from school weeping. My mother sighted me from distance. “Een, Een, Ewatomi mi, kilose e? Who beat you?” She said as she carried me, waiting for my response.
” My teacher asked us to write what we want to become in future and read it out to the whole class,” I said wiping the mucus coming out of my nostrils with my palm.
“I wrote about being a medical doctor and as I read out, the whole class started laughing. My teacher stood up, collected my work and tore it. He said I was not impacting the class, that I was only playing the role of a clown and I should not waste his time. He said I have no future and I would end up like parent.” I could not control my tears as I narrated to my mother.
Hardly could my mother hear the words from my mouth.
My mother’s countenance changed but she controlled herself.
“Ewatomi, Arewa mi, you will become a medical doctor. Don’t mind your teacher,he is just jealous, okay?” She said as she wiped my tears with her wrapper. I knew my mother was weeping on the inside and I was more determined to make her happy. “At all cost, I will liberate my family from poverty,” I said to myself.
“Oya go and put off your cloth and come and take your lunch. I prepared your best food. Rice and stew”
“Yaay”, I shouted because we only cooked rice during festive periods. That was enough to change my mood. I rushed in,changed my cloth, ate, did my assignment and went off to play with my friends.
I came back in the evening only to meet many people in front of my house weeping and wailing.
I couldn’t see mama Ewa and baba Ewa in the scene.
“What could have happened?” I asked myself with fears and tears already filling my heart and eyes, as I rushed towards the house….
To be continued