Neche started her morning rounds. Today was like all other days. Still drowsy with sleep, she drew open the makeshift curtains which consisted of old worn out clothes. Kene ran out from the room already fully awake, his tiny four year old feet making soft tapping sounds over the cold cement floor. “Stop running, you!” Kene only stopped for one second before he continued his morning routine. Neche sighed to herself, resuming her actions. The clouds were out today. It looked like it might rain. “Mercy,” she said to no god in particular.
She adjusted her wrapper around her bust, picked up her chewing stick and moved around the house, humming an old tune her grandmother used to sing. Forgetting her worries for a minute the frown on her forehead seemed to disappear.
“Neche,” Akachi bellowed from inside the uncompleted unpainted house, his generally loud voice bouncing off the walls in echoes. “Have you seen my belt?” “Oh!” Neche hurried quickly to where she had placed it. No time to argue, Akachi got dressed quickly. He left on an empty stomach, there was no breakfast to be had.
Only a small bowl of pap was what she could come up with, and Kene would eat it all up. Kene ran towards the smell of food. One down.
The cloudy morning still continued, rain in sight when Neche walked out the house for some of the breeze. Leaning on one of the pillars, she observed the world around her. She was dressed and ready for the day. She would run errands with all her might today, maybe Madam would be kind to her today when she sees her sweating from exertion. She would do her work with gusto. Today would be different if she worked a little harder. She dropped Kene off with her neighbour. Lucky woman, her neighbour was. She got to stay at home with her children. Neche wasn’t that lucky. Akachi had promised her a better life as a married woman, but here she was begging for crumbs. If there was a God, why would He leave her to suffer?
Was there any truth to what her grandmother had said? The woman was a fool. So unwise in this world. The old woman gave everything she had away, all the time. Neche’s own mother had warned her of such behaviour. It was dangerous to be so selfless. To gain in this world, one had to acquire and keep. How else would you advance?
Those were the lessons Neche learned. Those were the lessons that had kept her. Had they kept her? Did the words in that book save her grandmother? Neche longed to be as happy as that old woman was even for one day. Would it be better to be foolish and happy or wise and miserable as she was? Who made her mother the judge anyway? Who made Neche the judge?
“God, if you’re there, I want to be foolish and happy like my grandmother was.”