I was in school when it started, that was in March and the news was all over the media. It was no longer rumour that covid-19 has found its way into Nigeria. The number of cases increased each day, and the death toll was rising too. My school passed a circular that everyone should vacate the facility. So, I travelled home.
We live in a shanty town, with so many neighbours who could barely afford a healthy meal. I share a room with my two brothers and my sister. The other room was for my parents, even though we also considered it a parlour because of the television, two plastic chairs and a small table where my parents sit to eat. We usually receive visitors at the veranda.
My elder brother dropped out of school because of hardship, in order to assist my parents to train me and my younger ones. My younger sister Abigail, the pretty one, very intelligent and godly, was the pride of the family, with so many hopes vested in her. During the lockdown, she was very optimistic and fervent in prayer. On one occasion, after her prayers, mum yelled at her out of frustration, “wasted beauty! Instead of you to use your beauty to attract a husband that will turn our lives around, you chose to live here with your father and I. Is it not your mates that are getting married to Yahoo boys?”
When I heard my mum, I felt like confronting her. She was losing hope and faith in God. Maybe it was because she hadn’t been to market for a month. We were practically living on her little capital.
That fateful day she yelled at Abigail, there was no food in the house. She accused my dad of being irresponsible.
My dad is diabetic and hypertensive. Before his leg was amputated, he was a very hard-working bus driver. He gave out his bus for higher purchase. This period wasn’t easy for him as the person was not meeting up with the weekly agreement. We couldn’t afford his medication and he couldn’t meet up with his medical check-up. With mum’s constant nagging because of no food, dad relapsed into his old ways, indulging in alcohol consumption and becoming a heavy drinker.
I decided to help the situation by hawking buns in the neighbourhood to ensure there is something for us to eat. I had a fiancé, Ude, who had been supportive to me and my education and on few occasions have sent money to assist the family. We planned to get married this year. Our relationship ended because I wasn’t able to multitask and still keep up with communication. I was heartbroken, but didn’t let anyone know. I lost my strength. I managed to prepare some snacks and asked Abigail to help me hawk them. After a week, she fell ill and was vomiting. We sought medical attentions and to our surprise, Abigail was pregnant. Her tragic story remains untold.
© JULIET IHUOMA C., June 2020.