A True Story
Sara was not new to the hard life.
She had grown up with a mother who was promiscuous ‘so we can eat’ and a grandmother who was barely tolerable. There was never a father or grandfather in the picture. Growing up, she’d been told one ‘man’ was her father but he never showed one bit of interest in what they were about.
Her mother and grandmother survived. And over the years, Sara learnt to survive as well. Because there was nowhere else to live free, Sara's mother stayed with her mother. She hated the village life. She hated the village men she had to sleep with to earn a lifestyle. She hated having to be caught pregnant, and unable to afford to have an abortion, having to stay with her nagging mother who refused to share her pot of soup except she brought something home!
It was a hopeless situation in the home Sara grew up in.
Luckily, her mother was wise enough to shield her from the dirty village boys. Instead of prostituting, since Sara had to earn a living to be served any food, Sara was sent to the market to sell. And there Sara discovered a calling!
Soon, it was apparent she was good at what she did. She apprenticed in the village market from a young age, and soon, it was obvious, she had great marketing skills.
One day, a woman her mother called her aunt, came in from a big city, and requested that Sara go with her to live with her. The woman would send Sara to school, while Sara served her at home and in her shop.
Not much of the agreement was adhered to. Five years later, still almost illiterate, and almost sixteen, Sara ran away from the big city back home. But nothing had changed. Except that her mother was now sick. And that was not good news.
Her mother died only a few months after she arrived back. To her dismay, her grandmother followed soon afterwards.
Unable to help herself and determined to survive, Sara packed her bag and left on a journey to another city where she knew no one… Calabar!
Sara was not new to receiving help either.
Sara had slept in the streets of Calabar for months, done all the odd jobs you could think of, except prostituting, and finally gotten help from a church. From here, she got accommodation, a job, and lots of acceptance. Slowly, Sara got herself educated to secondary school level, and then started her ‘helping hands’ home care and housekeeping business. She did house-cleaning, shopping, housekeeping, catering and baby-sitting on contract-basis.
But this story is not meant to be about Sara, but about Asari.
While about her business, fending for herself, and earning honest living, Sara saw a small girl disappear into a dustbin in the street. Her heart was torn by this sight and she went to fetch the girl.
She was nine-year old Asari, whose story was so much like Sara’s, it brought tears to her eyes.
Sara learnt that Asari’s mother was dead, and she didn’t know her father. She lived in a shack with her grandfather and a host of other members, who often accused her of being a witch.
Sara took Asari to her one-room accommodation, fed her, and sent her back on her way. The following day, Asari found her. As the days passed, a bond was forged. Sara enrolled Asari in school, visited her family and got permission (which was almost free) and continued to care for her.
Sara is still trying to keep her head above water but Asari remains by her. She is Asari’s adopted aunt now.
Today, Asari is fifteen years old. She is a brilliant young lady, who has consistently topped her classes in school.
And Sara continues to lend her helping hand.
By Sinmisola Ogúnyinka