It’s 5:30 am. The smell of roasted fish fills the air as Ms Regina fondly called Mama Ebube bends over the improvised grill made up of wire mesh, a metal tripod and generously stacked firewood.
Ms Regina was widowed only 8 years into what was a blissful marriage to her long time best friend Mr Charles Osita. He had been killed by a speeding bullion van, and the bank had used its superior finances to stall all legal proceedings that would force them to pay compensation. Being a strong willed woman, she refused to stay down and had gone into the business of selling morning meals to workers who had to leave their houses too early to enjoy breakfast.
She quickly packs the spiced and roasted fishes into a small cooler and closes the bigger cooler which is filled with freshly prepared jollof rice.
“Ebube, Chidinma, Grace, you better not still be in bed” she calls out as she saunters toward the small self-con apartment.
Ebube is up and already sweeping, Chidinma is busy cleaning chalk stains from her school pinafore and Grace the baby of the house is still sleeping.
“Baby Grace, wake up, won’t you go to school?”
“Mummy I’m not feeling fine”
“Ha, what is it na? Sebi you were playing yesterday?”
“Mummy my stomach aches”
“Let me see, where does it ache?”
“Here mummy” Grace points to the left side of her abdomen.
“Sorry, come and drink hot tea, you will feel better”
In about 30 minutes the children are ready for school, and begin their normal trek. Mama Ebube pushes her food-laden wheelbarrow and stops at intervals to sell food to her growing clientele, most of them friends sympathetic to her plight.
The family gets to an intersection where they part ways after affectionate exchanges. The children go left towards their primary school, Mama Ebube goes right to her “spot” in the market zone.
The children are her reason for living, their smiles and the way they proudly tell anyone who asks that their mum was a BIG businesswoman always makes her laugh.
Mrs Hannah Aluko has it all, money, a high paying job, a huge house in an exclusive estate. While these achievements make her absolutely satisfied with her life, the reverse is the effect on her husband. Mr Aluko has been jobless for 3 years. He had been in money and had a thriving transport business. Until greed had made him invest heavily in an obscure gold deal. By the time he discovered he had been scammed, the “foreign contacts” were long gone, leaving him in enormous debt. He had sold pretty much everything he owned and was now a shadow of his former self. While his wife had stood by him, he could only feel heavy emasculation from her.
She had proposed to put more than half of her money into his account but he vehemently refused. She tried to take him out on trips to lighten his mood but he always turned her down, preferring to seek solace at the bottom of the bottle.
Her only child Laura isn’t a bundle of joy either. If she isn’t getting in trouble for smoking cigarettes, she is facing disciplinary actions for cheating on tests or fighting classmates.
Laura started growing out of control when her father lost the desire to caution her. Without stern fatherly discipline she had spiralled radically.
Mrs Hannah is tired. She is frustrated. She is angry. In her case, money can’t buy happiness.
The residents of the populous Goldie Street are in disarray as everyone flees to safety.
Ekemini, hit man of ‘Kadagbe cult’ is being violently chased by members of the rival group ‘Red vagabonds’. He runs swiftly jumping over the potholes and huge gullies on the rugged road, giving members of the Red Vagabonds a huge gap. The rival cult members are hot on his tail, pushing down a boy with a tray of oranges. They chase him with machetes, axes and loaded guns. Kapow! Kapow! kapow! Shotguns are fired at him but each time a bullet hits him, he shrugs his shoulders, gives a hysteric laugh while maintaining his impressive pace.
“Baba said the bullets won’t penetrate, it’s true, I’m not hurt. But what if I die today, what becomes of my family?” Ekemini thinks to himself as he remembers his hard working mum.
He is the first child of three children. His father Mr Okon is an alcoholic who derives joy from drunken soccer arguments and man handling his wife. His mum Mrs Idara, is a market woman who works tooth and nail to make sure her family gets fed.
“Welcome mum” said Ruth and Glory (Ekemini’s siblings).
“Thank you, where is your father?” said Mrs Idara.
“He’s outside drinking with his friends” Ruth answered.
Mr Okon staggered in, drunk with a stench “Woman, where is the money you made from the market today? I need to settle my bill” said Mr Okon.
“I can’t give it to you, I need to pay the children’s fees, we need to feed as well” she replied.
” I’m the man of this house and I want that money”
“I can’t give it to you” replied Mrs Idara.
With quick steps he made his way to the door, bolted it and smacked the back of his right hand into her face.
Mrs Idara screamed, holding her face she dropped the money.
“I just slapped the disrespect out of your mouth, next time I’d slap your teeth out” he said as he picked up the money.
“Mummy sorry” said Ruth. While Glory wiped off the tears from her mother’s eyes.
Her husband walked out, pleased he had more money for drinks.
“Mummy our teacher said we shouldn’t come to school tomorrow without our fees” Glory lamented.
“Don’t worry, we will pay” Mrs Idara replied unconvincingly.
Ruth and Glory were sent out of school for not paying their tuition fees and Mrs Idara had been working hard as a hired labourer to raise the money.
Ekemini had opted out of university and joined the Kadagbe cult group, his excuse being that he wanted an identity and superiority in a world that thought of him as invisible.
He became a known terrorist and an infamous Pirate of the highway.
One day he was caught robbing travellers. When the police approached the scene, he stood in the middle of the road with blood shot eyes, a savage look and a mad grin. Before they could react he pumped out a barrage of bullets into the police officers. All thirteen crime fighters died on the spot.
One very cold evening. Mrs Idara was walking down the lonely road. She slipped her wrapper with her right hand and continued wrapping her hands over her body.
Approaching her house, she checked the time, 10:15pm. Mrs Idara shuddered thinking of what her husband might do to her. She took her mind back to when he was a sweet husband and when they had their first child. Talking about Ekemini, she was sure that she brought him up the right way and those stories about him couldn’t be true.
“Hey, stop there woman!” Shouted Mr Okon.
She froze in fear.
“Where are you coming from at this time of the night?” He enquired
“From the market, I decided to stay longer today” she replied.
“Don’t you know you are supposed to make dinner, who do you expect to do that?”
“I’m sorry, you know there’s no money and I’m the only one working” replied Mrs Idara
“Oh! You dare call me lazy?”
He tightened his fists and stretched his arm out to hit his wife’s face, but a strong hand caught it half way, It was Ekemini.
The hatred and bloodlust in his son’s eyes were enough to convince Mr Okon to retreat.
Mrs Idara cleaned herself up, before turning to her infamous son.
“My son, there are a lot of things I heard about you, things that made me weep knowing how much I’ve suffered to bring you and your siblings up but you are rubbishing my efforts” said Mrs Idara
“Mama what have you heard about me? They are all lies” replied Ekemini
“Everyone cannot lie against you in that manner. Do you remember I carried blocks to see you through your secondary school? And you pay me back by joining a cult group” *she started weeping*
“Ha! Me? God forbid! Ma I’m innocent of all these accusations.” He denied
“How did you get that deep cut on your back?” She asked
” I fell, it was a minor accident”
“Accident? Do you take me for a fool?”
Ekemini eyes stayed fixed to the ground.
“Don’t let my suffering and tears be in vain, that’s all I have to tell you” she stood up and left.
Ekemini recalled all his mother had said to him the last time they spoke as he ran through the road. He was about to divert into a bend when a thrown axe lodged into the side of his head. He felt cold, he felt the metal in his brain. His optical nerves flashed a hue followed by sharp white light and then black emptiness. He was dead before his body hit the road.
3 hours later, Mrs Idara got a call and heard of his demise. She felt a faint electric sensation down her left arm as she quietly walked to her bed. She was discovered dead in the morning.
The world as we know it is constantly changing. The cost of living increasing as life expectancy drops. Sadly, the number of female bread winners has increased.
To make things worse, their efforts become frustrated by external factors due to misogyny and unfair gender-discrimination, and internal factors like insufferable husbands, rebellious children or vindictive relatives.
If you’re reading this and you are close to any woman who might be a bread winner, I urge you to treat her specially. Consider the pains, agony she has to go through to cater for you or her loved ones.
A business woman is someone’s mother, a prostitute could be struggling for survival, a house help foots someone’s bills.
These women are not lackadaisical,they are irreplaceable Glass Warriors, let’s play our part by adoring them and the world will be a better place.