It takes only a moment for everything to change…… this change may be good sometimes like a poor man winning a lottery or bad like a rich man gambling and losing all his wealth.
It was already two months of staying at home for me and still there was no cure for the pandemic affecting the world. Baba and mama had been asked to stay at home a month ago, they were both teachers in a school that paid very small salary to their workers but still we had hope that something was going to come in at the end of the month, baba used to go to different children’s houses to do extra lessons for them and get some money while mama used to stay with us and look after us.
I had clocked 17 a month before this chaos began and mama had baked a small cake and invited my friends for a small party to celebrate it with me. I was in 100level studying veterinary medicine and although I didn’t really know much about it but I was eager to learn.
My little sister; Kira was in ss3 about to write waec when the government had asked all schools to close and everyone should stay at home. She was in science class like me and sometimes I tutored her so she wouldn’t forget everything she had learnt.
We had a small radio which we used to listen to news at night but the batteries we had for it was running out. I used to hear baba and Mama crying as they prayed begging God to lift whatever plague he had unleashed into this world. Our cooler containing rice was half way by now, while our garii was still a little bit full. No one knew when this pandemic would end. We had a small phone to make call but just little airtime on it and baba had told me it was to be used only in emergency situation.
“ Ciara”, mama called me from the kitchen we shared with four other tenants.
We were living in a one bedroom flat and had to share kitchen and bathroom with everyone else. It was quite difficult maintaining hygiene in that kind of environment but we tried.
Before the lockdown was implemented, I and mama had gone shopping. We had bought two buckets of garii, two buckets of rice, one bottle of oil, and 5 satchets of hypo among other things. Mama had taught me how to use it, she said we were to dilute a satchet of hypo in a bucket of water and use one cup per day to disinfect the kitchen.
Personally, I didn’t think any of us living in that house could have Corona disease, we were all poor and were always looking for money to survive, we couldn’t afford trips outside the country and so we couldn’t get it, I had tried explaining that to mama but she didn’t seem to hear.“yes mama”, I replied
“wake Kira so that we can eat”. She said. I think she must have heard me because she appeared in door way,
“mama I am hungry” she said.
Mama served the food which was rice and stew with a very small smoked fish that I didn’t know how we were going to share it, on a big plate and brought four spoons. The rice was so small that it couldn’t satisfy me alone not to talk of a family of four but we had to manage. We ate the food in silence knowing fully well none of us was satisfied but there was nothing we could do. We said our night prayers and went to sleep, with Kira sharing a mat with me while mama and baba slept on a small bed that could only accommodate one person but still they managed it.
As I lay on the mat, I felt tears flowing down my face as I eavesdropped my parents conversation. “ I have just 8,000naira left in my account, if we spend it we won’t have anything left, there’s no source of income coming in for us, where would we get money to buy things when it finishes, rice is expensive, the price of foodstuffs has gone up and the government isn’t doing anything” baba said “ Don’t worry my dear, it would be fine, God would answer our prayers, tomorrow I and Ciara would go and buy garii from iya gbenga across the street, the government may decide to give us food, you know the radio said it” mama replied. “hmm, let’s hope for divine intervention, goodnight my love, thank u for always supporting me”
I was crying because I tot of all those families out there who were in better condition than I was. I tot of what would happen if we didn’t have anything to eat anymore, I tot of what would happen to my little sister Kira and I. I cried because had I known this would happen I wouldn’t have celebrated that birthday. I would have asked baba to let us keep the money he used to buy drinks for my friends and flour for us to bake the cake. I thought of how I had made baba paid that hostel fee of 20,000naira. I had thought I would go back to school and didn’t want them to chase me out. Now I couldn’t even stay in the hostel and the money was gone. I cried myself to sleep that night begging God for help.