All hell broke loose when I told my father that I wanted to give up on education, I wanted to be like my Grandfather, a gold merchant, I just wanted to make money, live my life, have kids and not have to go through the whole stress of struggling to read and understand books. My Grandfather didn’t even go to school, all he knew was to how to dig out riches from the ground, that’s how I wanted my life to be like, more pleasure and less suffering. I had no idea what they taught in school anyway, especially in a country like Nigeria where first class graduates end up working for illiterates like my Grandfather.
I straightened my uniform and walked into the house after gathering enough momentum to break the ear shattering news, fortunately my Grandfather was at home with us and I knew that he would have my back like he always used to. He understood me much more than my own mother and as expected my mother began shedding tears, her two hands on her head as she wailed in exasperation,
” Mofe!!! O ni pa mi o!! You will not kill me!”
” O si n’owu ngini? ( What exactly is she talking about?)”
I swallowed hard when I heard my father speak his language, that meant that I was not too far from my water loo. Since I began schooling, from the very beginning, I had brought nothing but problems and head aches back to my parents. I even sat them down in the living room to tell them that I wanted to quit school,
” I–I mean that I don’t want to move on to SSS 3. I–er don’t think education is my cup of tea-“
Before I finished talking, a jaw breaking slap landed on my face from my father. My father has never laid his hands on me even when I had all the F9’s that you can think of, I was the only daughter that he had and as a typical Igbo man he didn’t want any scar to tamper with my bride price but that day was different. I nursed my red cheeks as tears streamed down my face,
” What do you think you can achieve without education, huh, tell me? Whatever you want to be on this planet, education helps to sharpen your skill and talent. Do you know how many people are praying daily for the opportunity that you’re about to throw away, ehn!!”
” I just don’t want to go to school anymore!! I’m tired, ahh!!!!”
” Ohhh, okay!! You still have the guts to open that mouth of yours, isn’t it?”
This time, he began to unbuckle his belt, I needed no sage to tell me that if I stayed there any moment longer my fair skin would be bathed in painful red scars so I ran. I kept on running until I fell into the arms of my Grandfather who was confused at first but when he saw his son running towards me with a belt rolled around his fists he hid me behind his back,
” Papa, biko, leave the way so that I can reshape this girl’s life o! I know it’s because of too much food, you’ve eaten and overeaten away your sense of reasoning that’s why you have the guts to think like a foolish goat!! O ma’m me o!!! You’ll go to school!! Papa, bikonu, shift, let me discipline my daughter!”
” Papa, don’t leave me o!!! Hold me o, don’t leave me!!”
” Come on will you shut up that your mouth there!”
With that I zipped my lips close as hot tears poured down my face, I held tightly to his khaki shorts nearly pulling it down in fear. He took my father and my sad mother inside the house and calmed them down while I still stayed outside in fear that my father would hit me if I went inside the house. My Grandfather took me to his room afterwards, the look on his face showed that he wasn’t happy with me at all but at least he saved me from my father’s wrath, that was enough for me.
” Chioma, why don’t you want to go back to school?’
” I don’t like school, Papa.”
” There must be a reason you hate school, you can’t just hate something out of the blues like that.”
He handed me a cup of orange juice and sat beside me calmly,
” Papa, I don’t understand what they teach there, everything just sounds like nonsense to me. When I even try to learn, I just come back with complete failure, total F9’s .”
” But I thought I told you to keep on trying–“
” Papa, I’m tired of trying, isn’t it better that I just leave it and accept my fate like that, me I cannot come and kill myself in this life o.”
He looked at me, shook his head and retired to bed. He didn’t even try to talk me out of my decision, what was the man up to?
” Papa, you’re not saying anything?”
” What do you want me to say, Chioma. You have said it all, why stress yourself over something you think you’re not good at, you said you want to be like your Grandfather isn’t it?”.
I shook my head in agreement and with that he turned his back to me but still kept on talking,
” Chioma, listen to me carefully. I am a gold merchant, gold doesn’t come easy, sometimes you have to dig for ten, fifteen years to get there. At first, I didn’t know this, I thought that all that one had to do to get gold was to dig for a few days and then, boom!! The gold would appear but I was wrong, very wrong.”
He turned to me and laughed, maybe it was my facial expression that made him laugh at me, I had no idea but he continued talking and I listened,
” In my early twenties, I took a huge loan from the bank and bought a land in my village. I had made my reserach and found out that our fore father’s dug out gold from there to mold our ancestral gods and so in exuberance, I hired men and bought heavy machines, ready for digging. I dug and dug for five years, I had dug 1,582 feet into the ground and I found nothing. I had eleven mouths to feed and over ten pockets to fill and I was running at a loss. So I sold the equipment and the land for double the amount to another merchant and in one week the man brought news that he had found the gold saying that I was only two feet to the gold!”
” That was the turning point in my career my child, I was lucky that the man was my friend and he gave me a quarter of the gold because he had gotten much more that would last even to his sixth generation. That quarter is what I put into my business, only a patient one can milk a lion, Chioma. If I was just a week more patient, if I endured the heat a week longer, I would not have to keep on working to keep my company afloat. A good beginning is of no value unless one perseveres to the very end but I kept on knowing that the water that one is destined to drink would never flow past him. Now it’s left to you to either go back to school or stop at two feet to success, the ball is in your court.”
The next morning I wore my uniform, packed my school back pack and went back to school. I graduated from secondary school as the fifth in a class of fifty five and I made all my papers in the promotional exams. I can confidently say that I milked a lion not because I didn’t make mistakes, not because I didn’t want to give up along the way but because I didn’t want to end at two feet to my gold.
My Nostalgic Pen ❄️❄️