Children are the payback of marriages in many instances.
If marriages were businesses their break-even period is at most the first nine months—during which they spend all the money and gifts given to them at the ceremony—anything afterwards is pure shortage, especially, with the arrival of the bundle.
Children contrary to popular opinion are not such the cutie little dolls we think they are. For some they are no more like demonic agents sent to torment the souls of men, and of course women.
The Childcare Budget
To raise a child in today’s economy is so excruciating that you wonder why bother at all. A major disincentive for any conjugative relationship should be the sheer economy crush. The golden morn, pampers, clothing, medicals and laundry cost towers above the national minimum wage. Then, how many Nigerian fathers earn above the minimum wage?
A family friend, who earns #25,000 monthly, got so tight on finance to confront his six months old daughter to suppress her bowel movements. The little doll did and for three days the blood level of the mother was on the rise because no one knew what was wrong with the baby; until the father pleaded with the child to be gracious and release whatever was in her bowels. The child did, only this time, her father’s laps formed the WC.
We’ve all come to accept the noise of generators in our lives.
But how many have come to accept the noise of children. I haven’t. The cries of babes drive me to the cankers.
I have a friend, who has never lived with his parent since he was six-months.
His father had strolled in one day and declared Junior is old enough to have a junior, to the hearing of Junior, his mother and the mother-in-law, but Junior had other plans.
Every night when daddy creeps into bed with mother and they transferred baby-boy to the cot, Junior awakens and starts yelling. At that point nothing can pacify him until he his smothered in the reassuring bosom of his mother.
That was how that little creature sabotaged his father’s moves for several months until he was ceded to the grandmother for safe keep. Only a good father would forgive such a kill joy of a son.
My baby-sitting experience
Sometimes ago, a nursing mother left her baby in my care to run to the grocery. But for god knows why, the babe wouldn’t stop to cry. The pitch of his decibel was high enough to burst a close-by listener’s eardrum.
I tried my cutest smile to pacify the little demon; I read lines from my verse book and did a gangnam- style dance, but dude keep on yelling.
I resorted to my last antic, I carried it in my arms put up a very straight face stared for some long seconds and burst into a hysterical scream with a shit-face [the kind you use to behold your shit afterwards]. The baby quieted in a brief moment, hiccupped a few times and went completely rigid!
The babe never cried in my presence, again.
So, that’s how I became the silencer in my neighbourhood. Children don’t just cry in my presence.
Children could be very vindictive too.
There’s a story of a child who never forgets a hurt—we all had our ways of getting even with those brutish brutes of siblings. He was born the baby of the house but the eldest child made a mistake of ‘correcting’ him with a slap one day. The dude promised to show him at night, but no one paid heed to his threats.
When night came, the dude was awake with a very fine cane and hid himself behind the door in the room they all shared.
When the first lash came on the elder brother, he let out a savage scream from his sleep.
‘Ye! Kini mo se?’ [ouch, What have I done?]
The household ran to his rescue but not before the second lash. The visible stripes left concern on the faces of their parents.
They offered prayers binding the devil and casting evil forces away. They sprinkle anointed oil on the stripes and everybody went to sleep minutes later.
But the dude wasn’t through with big brother, so he rose again and lashed out at him two more strokes.
This time, the mother became convinced the kingdom of hell has descended upon the household.
“Father, we bind all demonic oppression in this house, in Jesus name!!!”
The “Amen” thundered out more violently because no one knows who’s next.
“Let fire burn every evil hand whipping our child from his sleeps, In Jesus name!!!”
After two hours of night watch, the family agreed to sleep but victim refused. It took the presence of the parents in the room to reassure him to sleep.
About, thirty minutes later little Lucifer arose again went to the hiding place, waved his cane casually in the dark to ascertain no one is watching. He waited some few minute and sneaked out a bit and tried to land another stroke…
“If you dare it!”
He stopped dead in his track, and the light came on…
And why do I tell you this tale? I believe you should count the cost of any venture before you enter into it. Parenting isn’t a bed of roses but knowing that kids are not always a bundle of joy gives, you heads-up on how to be prepared.
Kudos to all those who are raising children with all genuine sacrifices, shame on those populating the earth for all of your selfish reasons.
My uncle, Ube, was a great fisherman. He was my first example of a good man. Mama calls him so and our neighbours see him so. He goes to the river every day and never forgets to bring me fingerlings—daughters of the queen of the coast. Those he instructed mama to prepare for me with much pepper, to give me good health. I first ate it when I had caught a fever—but I found it wicked then, giving pepper to an ailing child; I now relish every bit and sip of Nkwobi soup. Occasionally, he gifts mama bowlful of fish that, she sells at the eke market.
Since Pa’s death, he has been good to Mama and me; he promised to see me to any level at school, if I remained a good girl. But, who doesn’t want to be in his good books like Itegiri, the daughter of our village Baptist pastor? Therefore, mama and I are most grateful for all his goodwill; even, the neighbours have kind words to say about him. Not just because he takes care of his maternal relations but he was such a generous man to all that comes his way.
He is found of children and plays with us as if he were our father. Our parents allowed this, to compensate for his lack of children. Uncle Ube has no wife and hardly thinks of getting one. When we play with him, he gifts out sweets, especially to the well-behaved ones, which I am always among.
He asks us to deep hands into his pockets and play with an Nsi’monkey that is hidden there; the longer we played the bigger were our rewards. Only Itegiri ever complained of not liking to play with the Nsi’monkey:
‘Nsi’monkey usually messes up my hand with Catarrh!’ she voiced, one day.
Uncle Ube called her a bad girl and we never called her along to Uncle Ube’s house anymore.
Uncle Ube came to our hut on the last eke market day when mama had gone to sell her fish. He asked after mama and I told him where to find her. He complained of tiredness and I gave him a stool in the room to rest. Moments later he called me and requested I play with Nsi’monkey
‘But, the fun would be lost without other children here?’ I complained
‘No, the better for you to take all the rewards.’ He countered
As I started playing with the Nsi’monkey; Uncle Ube reached out to grab my breasts, I wondered what he was up to. He smiled. He cupped my breasts in the bowl of his hands and smiled again.
‘You’re a good girl. If you continue to make me happy like this I would never let you suffer again’
I started losing consciousness but Uncle Ube’s hands were hurting me, yet I didn’t want him to take them off. He started talking again but they went muffled in my hearing.
‘…never let anyone know; not even your mother.’
Though lost to other words, that mention of mama stopped my heart and I jerked off from his laps. Mama has warned me about keeping secretes from her and how can her own brother tell me to do so.
‘Don’t do that, you don’t want to get me angry, do you? he asked in persuasive tone
Do you remember the Igbe feast garments that I promised you and your mother, I won’t get them for you again; you and your mother would be shamed by the community. Now, come here and play along I won’t hurt you’
I thought of the humiliation that mama would face if he kept his threat, and if what I am doing is right. Uncle Ube is a good man mama often says and why do I want to enter his bad books like Itegiri?
‘Nsi’monkey has poured catarrh on my hands, too.’ I complained.
Besides, why don’t you want Mama to know?’ I queried.
‘It’s because I want to surprise her.’ He said reassuringly.
‘Hope you will buy those Igbe garment for us still?’ I asked again
‘Yes, if you’ll be a good girl still.’ He said.
‘Why won’t she be a good girl?’ Mama’s voice thundered from the balcony
I ran inside to clean up my soiled hands before mama would think I have been playing with catarrh to irritate Uncle Ube.
‘Apkevwe, it is good that you are back’ Uncle fired back
‘Your daughter may have started joining bad groups you had better admonish her to remain a good girl, or else, I will hands off your affairs in this house.
‘Nweke! What has come over her? God forbid evil!
As I returned into the room, Uncle Ube stormed out of our hut.
Mama asked what happened but I couldn’t utter a word. I did not understand what suddenly turned up Uncle Ube’s rage; I haven’t said I won’t play with his Nsi’monkey.
Mama pleaded with me to be a good girl and continue to please the kind human spirit the gods had sent our way. She begged me to behave well not to incur the wrath of uncle Ube before the Igbe feast. She sent me to go and apologise to him before his anger settles down in his mind.
Uncle Ube was furious, I begged him and begged but he wouldn’t bug, so I dipped my hands down his pockets and grabbed at his Nsi’monkey. He smiled at my sudden use of initiative and rose to touch my breasts, I was hesitant but I remembered mama’s admonition to do everything that pleases him.
He took off his clothes to reveal a huge bulge down his member and I was scared.
Mama barged in, two hours later, and met me weeping in a pool of my own blood. She screamed. But, I passed out, thinking the world had come to an end.
No one has seen Uncle Ube since then, and most people look at me with some hidden scorn. Was I ever wrong to have heeded mama’s voice?