The Village Champ

Christmas rarely comes to us, even when it is 25th. It just sometimes forgets that we exist. We get no shoes, clothes nor toys (I have only seen that in a book). Even jollof rice stands aloof, like a ghost stuck in the space between heaven and earth. We simply enjoy our swallows in different sizes.

And when our expectations wane, we move on with our lives. We resume school with the dangerous harmattan in January, with our shoeless feet dragging to the shambles we call a school, because they said we are the future of tomorrow. They tell us tomorrow will be ruined, hopeless and bleak if we refuse to go to school. So, even when we have shunned the early morning sleep for buckets of clean water from the community stream and trekked miles to school, we still try to listen on days sleep does not sneak up on us and hunger is on a vacation spree.

When exams come, we feed on the cover of our pencils and pens, staring into the empty space like it holds the key to the knowledge we seek.

“Taiye, if you do not open your book for me to copy, I will not give you fish tonight o”

The knowledge of how delicious that fish would be and the fish-less dinner mother will give me will make me succumb to his threat. Akanni can barely spell his names. He would copy my names with the answers. But of course, the thought of his fish is a better deal than telling him to correct his stupidity.

I knew the teacher knew who really knew of the two of us. I was the champion, add local if you wish.

But it did not matter. When the time comes for secondary school, I will not go, for father and mother are too poor to send me to the city to school. They will not go either, for they cannot even spell their names to save their lives.

So we resign to fate. To the dignity of being a blacksmith. To the dignity of being a farmer. To the dignity of being a hunter. To a life of marrying and having children. We get no chance at aspiring for more.

We live each day as it comes because we are the #RuralChildren

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