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My pastor started drumming in our ears that we can’t be anything if we don’t first believe it. Everything starts from within, so you can imagine how important within is and how sacred it should be so the output of within won’t be corrupted. Faith, the bedrock of so many things also comes from within and is just necessary in life, not only faith in a higher being but faith in one’s self and abilities and faith in people no matter how many times they disappoint you, and faith in humanity regardless of how shamelessly degrading it is becoming. I know, I know you are going through that period where you doubt so many things, where faith is no longer the wings with which you fly, where you worry your feet might not recover from the pain of the hot coals if you place it down again. Yes, I know and I will not tell you, you need to have faith. Not at all. All I will do my love is re-share my story with you. A story you have heard one too many times, but I hope this time, you will look at it through the eyes of a child spreading her hands wide open ready to feel the beauty of life. I hope you run in your mind resisting the wind and atimes letting it carry you like you did when you did not really know what life can atimes throw at you. I hope you do and when you do, I hope you have the courage to get back up and rest in the supple bosom of faith like you still do on my chest.
My family was not initially rich. We were six and we were happy though sometimes where our next meal was coming from was not certain, though we had to sell old newspapers a times before we could eat. Though our clothes were rarely new and our meals rarely stocked with different assortments, but mother always made sure they were healthy enough. Though all six of us shared one toilet and bathroom and shared two rooms. Though we did not have cable and most of our neighbours did. We were street wise in no time. We were independent in no time. There was no luxury but there was contentment. Things changed for the better but it wasn’t really better. Father got a new job that enabled him buy a car that was close to giving up the ghost. Mother’s salary increased by chicken change, but that chicken change did more for us than you can imagine. Father travelled a lot because his job required it but unlike most of my friends at school whose fathers travelled to the land of the white man, mine travelled to places that made him come back looking like a hungry dog. But Education, that was something father and mother never joked about. We couldn’t have the luxury such as common pure water that many had, but, we would have an education good enough at a school good enough. Not the local school many expected us to go, they would look for the money and they would pull all their money, those earned and those given into making sure we go to a school good enough and such schools we went.
But I had a strong conviction, that I wasn’t ordinary, that we were not ordinary. We would not remain poor and mine wasn’t wishful thinking, mine was a fact I knew but could not prove and to everyone that cared to listen, I told this. I remember coming home one day from school and upon entering the big compound that housed seven houses, I saw a car. Not my father’s type of car. This car looked well fed, this car was big and could comfortably contain all of us. This car would save us from having to walk under the rain and under the sun that would fry us if we stayed under it for a longer time, this car would save us from the embarrassment that we had encountered too many times when my father’s rickety car decided to cry and make us cry along with it, examining our situation and weeping for ourselves although tears never came out of my mother’s eyes; our eyes communicated the hope and faith we both had but could not explain. I ran with glee to examine the car properly and thought within myself that my father had bought a new car. I believed it and ran to our flat which was at the far end to check if all were dancing but on entering the house, I heard my mother begging my sister to please take the garri, there would be better food tomorrow and I knew then without anyone telling me that the vehicle wasn’t ours’ but I still believed it was.
On Saturdays, I would go out and walk in the estates the rich inhabited, looking with admiration at houses that were like those in perfect paintings, never jealous, never comparing, just always hopeful. Always convinced our house would soon be built and always designing the house in my head. Such was my faith. I didn’t even know it was faith. Did I even know the meaning of faith to know my conviction was my faith in our future; in a supreme being to bring to pass all I wanted? I remember vividly well the day my father came to pick me from school with his rickety car, he did it out of the kindness of his heart but I wished he didn’t. You see, I preferred to take public transport home. That way, no one saw the embarrassing car my father drove. He came to school right at the time we closed and many people would be out and they saw the car he drove. I entered with my head bowed in shame and told him never to carry me again with such car until he buys the car I knew he would soon buy. He looked at me, surprised and I looked at him with hope dancing in my eyes and told him of the car he would soon get and the house we would soon move into. It wasn’t long before my dreams came to reality but can I really call them dreams? I am not sure because it was something I believed, something I could see and something I often enjoyed conversing with God about even though I was too little to understand a closed mouth is a closed destiny and God only waits for us to say it, so he can act upon it. God only needs us not to insult him with our requests. He encourages us to dream big and more importantly, work towards actualizing those dreams which is the challenging part. And as I have come to learn in the past years, he needs us to have faith as tiny as a mustard seed because that can move mountains.
I had faith and when our captivity was turned, we were like them that dreamed and those that did not know the faith a little child had asked how the change came about. Today, you know. Your grandparents never touched poverty again. I grew up just like you have grown up and I stopped praying with the innocence of a little child afterall I had become exposed to the darkness threatening to engulf the world.I stopped having faith and started allowing life dictate to me just like you are. But something which you know made me humble myself, made me know I need faith because that is what will carry me through when everything else fails. So that’s all I have to tell you my tender hearted love. May you have the faith needed to scale through it all.
Your petite mother.0