We moved to the North in the month of August. School was to resume in September, so I still had about one week before resumption.
One cool evening while in the kitchen with mummy preparing dinner, she said to me, “Praisey, we have decided on the school you will attend”, “Okay mummy, what school is it?” I inquired as if I had a fore knowledge of any school in the city. I only inquired out of courtesy to continue the conversation with mummy. I wasn’t any way perturbed about the school I was to attend. I knew my parents were more than capable to take care of that. They always got my siblings and I the best!
My parents were always a hundred and one percent involved in our education. They would go the extra mile and work like dectectives and journalists, finding out, conducting interviews, carrying out researches just to get us into the best of schools. I give it to them forever!!!
The holidays came to an end sooner than I wanted. I was already enjoying church and had gradually begun to make friends.
Ester and Rina were cool girls. Ester was all calm, kind and always had a smile. She was only eight years old too but she carried herself like a mother of three children. She liked to mother us all. Rina on the other hand was bubbly and always had something to say. She knew just something about everyone in the whole church. If you allowed her, she would talk you to death. She had no worries and always tried to profer a solution for every problem. The only challenge was that her solution could lead you into a much bigger problem.
At home, we lived in a massive estate, it was one of the two of such estates the church had for their pastors in town. The estate was made up of four wings. Wings ‘A, B, C and D. Each wing had four flats. Our residence was one of the top floor flats in wing B. Behind the estate, over the fence was a railway crossing that ran across a sugarcane plantation. I remember when we just moved into the estate, the noise from a passing train was so disturbing and could jolt you out from a deep sleeep, but as time passed, our brains adjusted to the noise and it could even pass for a lullaby.
Peace Abraham was my best friend in the estate. She was a year older than me, but I was the captain of our friend-ship. It was as if she didn’t know anything in life until she met me, and I took up the responsibility of coaching her with pride. For instance, I taught her how to feed babies and change their nappies (back then, nobody used diapers), She always watched me in admiration whenever she was opportuned to see me showcasing my culinary skills in the kitchen. Mothers in the estate didn’t hesitate to ‘abandon’ their babies for me and go about their daily activities when they discovered that I was an efficient child minder. Infact, Mummy Precious, will leave big and chubby Precious with me and disappear for long hours. There were times I used to wonder if she was afraid of her own child because the girl was a wailing prophet. She could cry for hours nonstop.
I remember one beautiful Saturday, her mother brought her upstairs to stay with me while she attended to a guest in her flat. Baby Precious decided I was going to make me cry with her that day. I did all I knew how to do in my few years of experience in child care, but Precious wouldn’t just stop her wailing. I sang, danced, patted, and played with her, but she was determined to wear me out with her cries.
Out of frustration and desperation for calm, I did something. Something, her mother must never hear of, so promise me you will keep my secret (smiles). I lifted her up high and landed her on the bed, after which I pinched her soft thigh, three times! Suddenly, she screamed louder than before, next thing I heard were the sound of her mother’s footsteps, running frantically towards me. She quickly grabbed her baby, while asking me what the matter was. I ‘innocently’ replied, “Mummy I don’t know o, she just started screaming”. Well, I was totally relieved for the rest of that day.
Finally the D-day came, we got into Peace’ daddy’s car and we set out on our way to my new school. I can’t exactly remember the what the car looked like or the route, all I remember now is my little self in The Headmistress’ office. To cut a long story short, after all the essential protocol, I was placed in Primary 4. I was happy, that was my ideal class. It was the beginning of the third term and my parents were skeptical about the school’s willingness to accept me. They didn’t know the school was already used to accepting ‘Missionary Kids’ (MS) like me.
My class teacher, Aunty Anna, helped me settle down nicely. My classmates stared at me like I had fallen into the room from planet Mars.
Maybe it was my bold and confident look, or my uncommon assertiveness, I couldn’t tell. I know I really did look quite strange. I asked them questions endlessly, I behaved like a ‘buttered’ princess from a castle on snowy mountain. They all looked at me in awe. Infact, they were mesmerized!
At the close of school, Aunty Anna gave me the the scheme of work, I was meant to go through it at home, to be sure I had covered the necessary topics in my previous school. I wasn’t worried at all. My previous school was fantastic. My only worry was Hausa, I discovered, I had to drop the Yoruba I had started learning in the South, to Hausa.
Hausa initially sounded like Chinese. It was one of the first lessons I had that day. Uncle Yusuf was our Hausa teacher, he told us a story and taught us a song – that won me over. I never forgot the song – Never! I still sing it to this day.
Finally, it was time to go home. Mummy came to my class after school and told me she came with a woman from church whose children also attended the school and we were going home with them. She then told me to go get my brother while she went to see my class teacher.
I hurried to my brother’s class where I found him eating his leftover snack. I helped him tidy up and made to leave his class when I heard the voice from the other end of the room, “Hey Praise God! My mummy said you people are going home with us.”
To be continued…