Dear Sister Ajoke,
Ba wo ni ? How is everybody in Lagos? Aunty Ladun and Broda Ajayi nko? I send my greetings to them . Mami and Baba are ever thankful to them for letting you stay with them for your service year in Lagos. I hope you are finding it easy there.
How was your NYSC orientation camp ? I hope it was not too stressful? Is it true what they say about the food they give to you corpers there? That there are easily more stones in a place of rice than actual grains? That the mattresses are a haven of bedbugs ? If I am correct, then that is hard life . Isn’t life in itself already hard enough, that you should be forced to spend the dregs of the very cusp of adulthood in suffering? Suffering and shmiling .I heard they have increased your allowance . At least , things are looking up in that area. Money matter na serious matter o! Remember me when you hammer!
Things are not so easy at home these days. Do you know that one mudu of garri now costs two hundred naira ? and one bowl of ogbono is a whopping two thousand five hundred naira- a luxury!! They say it’s because of the subsidy removal….na dem sabi. Papa complains that we can longer afford to serve him three pieces of meat, and Mama only sneers at him , telling him to bring more money , or at the very least open his own abattoir!
They do not fight as much, Mami and Baba. In fact, it seems that that scarcely have the energy to challenge each other. The last few days welcomed a recession in the two man performance that our parents were only to quick to give when we were younger; with the cacophony of Mama’s soprano and Baba’s baritone meshed to create the most unpleasant sounds that echoed from one end of our tiny little house to the other.
Uncle Jide has finally moved out of our house. They say that he has found a nice little apartment off Accra street. He even bought a secondhand Volkswagen golf. The car looks just like our very own Uncle Jide , worn out and in dire need of release. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but we both know that Uncle Jide ( not unlike most of us anyway) needs to be saved from himself. Word on the street is that he picks up scarlet women on the Zone four axis every weekend. I am not a gossip, but I hope he realizes that Aids no dey show for face.
Mami prays a little louder these days. She prays ceaselessly for you, and for the rest of us. Prophet Jehoshaphat told her that the end times were fast approaching, and he gave told us all to fast for a week and deposit a token of five thousand naira, so that you would be retained by the firm you are presently serving in Lagos. I wept when I learnt that she paid the money in full. What are churches of today turning into? God save us all!
Grandmother always asks for you, she misses you. You were always her favorite grandchild. I hear her praying for your safety, purring softly and calling your name in her midnight prayers. She sends her love, and she asks me to remind you to bring back some shea butter from Lagos; her back still aches.
Bodunde came first in his class in the last examinations. Baba says he will be eligible to sit for the scholarship exams next year. Mami killed a chicken for him, and made jollof rice when she heard of his success. We even had coke and fanta on that day; a real treat!
I do not want to come across as jealous or hateful, but Mami has never killed a chicken for me, and I have come out at the top of my class before- more than once. She says I am only a girl, and Bodunde is the first son of the family. Mami even excuses him from the house chores these days. She says it is because she wants him to concentrate on passing the scholarship exams. I have JAMB to prepare for, shouldn’t I also be excused. Instead, I have to do his share of the house work in addition to mine. Sometimes, I sit in that little corner in the kitchen and cry until my eyes are sore; and sing those sad Regina Spektor songs you used to sing to me. Life is not fair, but who says it is supposed to be?
On another note, Cousin Ayike has fallen pregnant. Her mother half dragged her all the way to our house last week. The poor girl was in tears , for her mother nearly killed her!!! She confessed it was that ‘ Awusa’ boy Haruna, who hawks sweets and chewing gum opposite their house that did it. Imagine, an ‘Awusa’ boy? Jesu! Little wonder she was always chewing gum and smacking her lips ‘smack- smack’ It serves Ayike right for not running from one loser boyfriend to the other, like one who has got ants in her pants. – and to think that contraceptives are cheap !!
Bintu, another girl in our neighborhood (remember her, with the crooked teeth ?) also fell pregnant. She tried to abort the pregnancy herself, for fear of her parents ; and drank a native preparation. Bintu was found in her room writhing in pain, and nearly bled to death. The doctors said that she may never be able to conceive again because of the damage done to her womb. Thank God that she did not die. At the very least, when there is life, there is hope.
My dear sister, I hope you are safe, and you are well. Papa always says that a good name is better than the greatest wealth. Please remember this, and live by it. Do not forget the money that you promised to send to me. I must lay down my pen, for it is very late, and my candle has nearly burnt out. I miss you. Bolanle, Chinemerem, Ade and Wasiu send their love. I hope this letter meets you in good time and good tidings. Till we meet again, young Corper.