She is an uneducated widow at the age of twenty eight, and I see her as someone who needs support and encouragement. The husband died during a medical operation when she was five months old pregnant and we had to support her small family of two girls before she delivered the last child four months after the death of her husband. We were relieved when she was delivered of safely, a son but was flabbergasted when we were told that she must leave when the baby steps the ground, that is, starts to walk because her sister in law will nurture the children. She must leave the children behind, because in our land, children belongs to the husband's family at his demise except the woman can put up a fight supported by Non Governmental Organisation but this woman cannot, becasue she has only God and no one else.
Naturally, the bulk stops on our desk, but we were ready to assist because one, the woman is good, very appreciative, no matter how little you gave she shows too much appreciation.. and secondly, she is the next at the door, knocking for support. It became a weekly affair of support and mother and children were accepted as our extended family.
On the February 14th, lovers' day, we were together again , sharing yes, sharing little things of life that looks great to them and they were content and we happy because they always accept the little weusually offer. The widow had earlier on informed us that she works as a laborer with some bricklayer which I instantly condemned because the son is too young to be strapped to the back fetching water in this very hot weather in Nigeria. She promised to stop the job immediately she gathered enough to buy a handset and pay some school fees, I kept calm because presently those are beyond me, but on this valentine day , 14th she proudly showed her handset, a cheap Made in China phone, and she was storing everyone’s phone but I walked passed them because the way I receive phone calls must be trimmed down.
But unfortunately when we went visiting again, that bouncing baby boy is dead, died in the middle of the night, before we came knocking, we were late, not even aware that he had took ill. He took ill on Wednesday and was taken to the Health Centre in the community, where as usual there was no drug but pen and paper to prescribe drugs for mothers to purchase. Meanwhile, after the prescription, she could not afford the amount, according to everyone, she ran everywhere begging them to lend out and no one in this poor Riverine community could lend a helping hand to this dying child, he had measles.
The boy was so fat, healthy looking, and sucks breast full time because he has not being introduced to cereals but to harsh life of working in the son with bricklayers, from 6 am to 6 pm, she would be strapped to the back while her mother fetches and fetches.
I felt so responsible for her, that I thought may be I f I had given my phone number, may be , may be but I summoned courage and told Mother Starland yesterday, and she said and I quote "DO NOT EVER ENTERTAIN SUCH THOUGHTS. GUILT SUCKS! Guilt also creates illness. You can not save everyone in the world, my sweet daughter and I think it is wise that you don’t give out your number. Others can wear you out if don’t learn to say NO. “NO” is OK. Death only seems “bad” from our human perspective. Is it really? Is the child better off now? Maybe this is the mother’s chance to stand on her own. Would she be a candidate to learn a skill at SOS? ABOVE ALL ELSE, ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF YOU FIRST! If you don’t take care of you first, how can you expect to take care of any one else? I learn this lesson the hard way. Maybe you can learn it the easy way".
I sighed, may be these little ones that die daily, who are only mourned by their mother but no else, are happy over there, where scotching sun do not dry their skin, where what to eat do not shape their existence, where peace reigns, not here where a child strapped to the back suffers the pain more that the mother, do you know that if a child is strapped to the back while tilling the farm, he suffers the scorching sun more than the mother?, How will the child not suffer more, he who has resumed with the mother by 6 am to 6pm, strapped to the back not in order to enjoy the back moisture but to stop the child from disturbing the mother in the course of her work, when he cries, he is viewed as someone who does not want the work to progress not as one who has the right to his mother's attention anytime and anywhere, hmn! .
May be the child is better off there just as Dear mother has rightly put it.