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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
There was once a catechist Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ayo Morakinyo, Nigeria Oct 20, 2009
Poverty , Child & Youth Rights , Human Rights   Short Stories


There is no work that Ada, my older sister, has not done in Lagos City. Since our escape from the village, she has done every job that the word “menial” fits. From load carrier to road sweeper, from store keeper to food seller, from sales girl to house girl, Ada has tried her best to make ends meet. Coming to Lagos has never given us the privilege of tasting freedom, let alone possessing it. It has always been a transition from the frying pan to the fire or from the fire to the frying pan. We have lived each day as helpless victims of dangerous circumstances, hoping that our daily income will be just enough to foster our survival till the next morning. They say life is not a bed of roses but ours has not even been a mat of grass. Instead, our story is the bizarre tale of an impregnated toddler.

Each time I recall our experience in Amunoko, I wonder if bad luck was my fate. Life at Amunoko was never more challenging than in the period following the inception of the global economic recession. These days, there is little money to make but many problems to solve. It is at this phase in life that I realise the hidden worth of mama and papa. Though their life together was full of diverse misunderstandings, their death is one thing I am yet to get over. Why were they among those who died at the palm kernel factory where they worked? Why did that pipeline have to leak? Who authorized that such a pipeline, carrying petrol, should pass under their factory? Why did death choose to use a fire accident to turn Ada and me into hungry orphans? These are a few of the unanswered questions that burden my heart.

When the gods demanded that a young woman should be sacrificed to appease them, the chief priest claimed it was Ada they wanted. What else could have made him deceive the elders if not his wicked intention to make Ada regret her rightful decision? He had always craved a sexual affair with her but my elegant sister would never engage in such. Hence, he threatened to make us suffer for it. We tried our best to convince the elders but they all seemed blind to the truth. Even Aunty Margaret (our late mother’s sibling) did not believe our story; they all trusted that foolish priest. Perhaps, I should not blame them for seeing Ada’s death as the solution to their economic predicament. I should blame the divine authorities for allowing hard times come upon the entire village.

The elders had met and agreed that Ada should be seized and prepared for the necessary rites the next Friday. Therefore, we thought it wise to run to the district Catechist for help. After a Wednesday meeting, we stayed behind and told him of our perception of the chief priest’s intentions. Believing our story, he gave us some money and advised us to flee from the village the next dawn. When we returned home, we quietly gathered a few things and slept with one eye open. After the first cockcrow we set out, running as fast as our legs could carry us.

During our journey to Lagos, I hopefully imagined that fate would grant us a breakthrough in the city. But after spending three weeks here, I can tell that it is no better than Amunoko. In fact, it has only been fair enough to keep my sister alive. The cards that Lagos life has dealt us cannot be matched with what we had. Our village background has made us suffer more in this strange city. We have spent just seven months in Lagos and so far, Ada has tried her best for me. I have had the privilege of enrolling in school, but my primary school education had to stop due to Ada’s failing health. Two weeks ago, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and has since become weak.

Ada has certainly contributed her quota of responsibility as my sister. Now, it is my turn to help her survive and probably recover from her sickness. I have taken up a job as a cleaner boy and, in my first week on the job, I have found the sum of two hundred thousand naira in my selfish boss’ wardrobe. What shall I do? I lack wisdom, please give me some. I want counsel and I beg you for such. Right now, she is my only family. Should I go to prison for her sake or live in freedom while she slowly dies? With whom shall I share this dilemma? I know there was once a catechist but who shall be my counsellor this time?



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Writer Profile
Ayo Morakinyo

Ayo Morakinyo is an optimistic impact maker who desires to see people live their lives with worthy purposes while contributing to national and environmental development. He believes that a serious pursuit of this goal would make our environment (communities & societies) a more conducive habitat thereby reforming our homes into well-built nests where good citizenship is inspired and effective leadership is encouraged. Ayo has had 5 years experience in writing and some of works have been Published on The Jenda Journal, World Bank's youth portal and the Commonwealth Youth Community. He is a passionate Nigerian who believes in the potential betterment of his country and encourages global development.

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