Isioma had come back from school, and her mama had called her her favourite name “mara mma nwaanyi” meaning beautiful lady. Welcome my daughter she had said, you must be very tired. Bring your school bag. She collected it from her. Held her by the hand and took her inside.
Papa good afternoon, I knelt down and greeted him. “Welcome my daughter” He patted me on the back. I stood up and looked at Mama. That look, I knew that look. Then I looked at papa. My Mother looked away. Obi came in hopping and happy. I smiled. Obi my interesting little brother, the grumpy is happy today. There must be something I am missing…
Isioma, my father called. Sit down, I and your mother want to talk to you. By this time, Obi had gone quiet and sober too, like he already knew what they wanted to say. It is not the first time. Obi has always had his way with our parents.
Yes papa. I sat down. Feeling angry already, this was going to be bad news. This has always been her parents’ way of breaking bad news to her.
Papa spoke first. “Isioma”. Yes papa, I answered. Trying to look unaffected.
You know how things are right now. I and your mother can barely feed the family. Let alone send the two of you to school at once.
So. He looked wearily at my mum. “I and your mother have decided that…. We have spoken with your aunt Uju”. He looked at his wife nervously like he needed the support. “We think your brother should be the one that goes to France with your Aunt”.
I looked up. By now there were tears in my eyes. My mother was crying too.
I was so dumb though, What was I expecting? that my parent would truly send me to France when their only male child Obi stayed in Nigeria? This can not seriously be happening! I pushed past Obi and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Crying. Feeling very defeated!
I replayed this scene many times in my head and rather than accept it meekly…I wish I had said…”No”
I wish I had said “Papa…mama. I am not going to tell Aunty Uju that I am not going back with her to France. I do not agree that she should take Obi with her instead of me. Am I not also your child? Did you adopt me? I am going to go with her and if you like you can both disown me”.
This is what I wished I had said, rather than meekly accepting their decision, their decision that suggested it was more valuable for the family to educate the boy child rather than the girl.
The life of the girl child…
Written by – Morenike Balogun