From The Cradle To The Grave – 2nd Decade – Belema Opreh

From The Cradle To The Grave – 2nd Decade – Belema Opreh

I took another look at my result sheet as I adjusted my behind in the danfo bus to accommodate the stinky woman beside me. It was the last day of the school term and I was on my way home from school. My bus stop was about 10 minutes away and I psyched myself to endure the stench that oozed out of this woman. I concentrated hard on the report sheet in my hands, hoping to use it as a distraction. I felt like I was going to choke to death.

 

 

 

The thought of spending 7 weeks at home on holiday made me sick to my stomach. As usual I was top of my class with 6 Distinctions and 1 B, but the excellent results meant nothing to anyone and at this point not to me. It wouldn’t change the fact that dinner will be garri and if I got lucky enough, maybe dry fish or peanuts to go with it.

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing that got me going was the fact that my friend’s mum had offered me a holiday job at her Shoe retail store. I instantly had a spring in my steps when I remembered that, as I hurried to where we called home in the ghetto of Ikeja Under Bridge. The past 6 years of my life have been pretty much the same since my dad walked out on us. I have since lived with my mum and younger brother and life I must say has been tough.

 

 

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We have never really lived in affluence, but when my dad was with us and still had his job, we had all the basics. Things started to fall apart after he lost his job, I still don’t know whether to relate it to pride or living in denial, but he turned down many job offers that came after wards. His reasons ranging from how they were not befitting to how he deserved a lot better. For a family man who had needs to meet, I would have expected him to take one of them while he waited for something better.

 

 

 

He kept waiting for his former job to call him back and bragged about how they wouldn’t be able to function without him and soon they’d come back begging for his services. Days turned into weeks and then months but after a year, it was clear that they didn’t have him in their line of vision. The other job offers had also stopped coming and so Mr Anderson Opreh, my dad, took to drinking heavily.

 

 

 

 

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I was fortunate enough to have gained admission into Queens College, Yaba on merit, so my education didn’t have to suffer. I didn’t appreciate it much then as I do now especially with the fact that it has become a lot more difficult to get in without some form of connection in high places.

 

 

My mum, Chidinma Opreh, the most beautiful woman I know, slender with equally beautiful skin was the perfect house wife and mother. She adored my dad and literally worshiped the ground he walked on. It was his way, his word, his decision or nothing else. She could barely decide on the hairstyle to wear without consulting with him first. And so it was that when he lost his job, I was about 10 years old, she bore the brunt of  it all. She became his dumping ground for his emotional tantrums and frustrations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He would beat her up at every chance he got and blame her for his misfortune. She took it all in good fate and would make excuses for him after every black eye and broken lip. I watched in anger how foolish and weak she was and how selfish and mean my dad had become. I started to spend less time at home and would jump at every opportunity to go to a neighbor’s house.

 

 

 

 

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My younger brother, Charles always tagged along and would cry a lot especially after witnessing another round of beatings. It was the episode that left her with a broken nose and a knife wound that sent us to my grandmother’s place for a week. On the third day of our stay there, my mum was already crying, saying she had to go back to her husband as her vows were for better or worse and he was just going through a rough patch.

 

 

 

“Nwoke a ga-egbu gi”, my grandmother said  to her the day she got up to leave.

 

“Let him kill me mama, he’s my husband and I love him, I have told you, Andy is just going through a phase, once he gets a job and his business sets sail, all of this will stop.” She replied stubbornly.

 

 

“Chineke ga- enyere gi, just make sure no harm comes to Belema and Charles or i’d kill you before he does”, my grandma responded.

 

 

As little I was, I entered another level of disgust for both parents. If I knew nothing at all, I knew for sure that I was going to be a very successful, firm and wise woman and I would never be in a position for any man or anyone at all to treat me in such a disrespectful manner.

 

 

 

As God would have it, by the time we got home, my dad had left the house with all his things and left a note for my mum saying he could no longer live in the hell hole she had created for him and had moved on in search of greener pastures.

 

 

 

To say that I was happy was an understatement, my mum on the other hand became hysterical. She blamed my brother and I, blamed herself, blamed her mother and finally blamed it all on the devil. She lost her mind when news got to us that her dear Andy of for better or worse had moved to South Africa with his wealthy girlfriend who was carrying his baby. From one anointing service to the next deliverance service, my mum attended every church vigil and eventually became a shadow of her already weak self.

 

 

 

The beautiful skin and features I once admired faded into an entirely different body. She gained a lot of weight from depression, got shades darker and simply lost the will to live. Fortunately, my grandmother was there to support us, we moved into a smaller place as we could no longer afford the rent of the 3 bedroom flat. She set her up with a small food and drinks retail business to help us keep body and soul together.

 

 

The only time my dad got in touch with us in the past 6 years was to inform us about the birth of his child, I was 13 years old. He even told my mum she could re marry as he had no plans of coming back to us. He promised to send upkeep allowance every month but we never heard from him again.

 

 

My mum’s business sustained us, it was enough to pay the rent, pay our fees and feed us with occasional help from my grandmother and a few neighbors. I thought about my holiday job again and it put a smile in my heart, knowing I’d be earning something and soon will save up enough to leave this below mediocre life.

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Belema Opreh, I am 16 years old now and this sums up my life so far. I am in final year in secondary school and I know for a fact that my life is just about to begin. It doesn’t seem like much now, but with the kind of determination I have to succeed, all of these will be a thing of the past soon.

 

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Here we have Belema, our second character in her teens with her life experiences so far. With two more characters to go, the story is just about to start with a lot of twists and turns, life lessons and great fashion moments. Who is as excited as I am?. Let’s meet in the comment section or click on a smiley. I will get these introductions done back to back so we can get into the story proper.

 

Peace, Love and Shine

It’s your girl

Jay.

2 Comments

  • Mz Kemz
    November 2, 2018

    Sigghhh. You write so we’ll!!!! Gosh. Hurry with the next Jay #impatientmuch!

  • Becky
    November 11, 2018

    It’s like watching a movie

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