Stories of the Blind
Sometime last year, I was teaching in a big and popular school in the city of Lagos. It was a school with a lot of interesting students with striking intelligence. It wasn’t surprising for a school with students who pay hundreds of thousands as their annual school fees.
However, one student particularly compelled my attention. This student was always looking unkempt and not catered for. His hair was perpetually rough, uncombed and unpolished. His shoes were good shoes, most likely expensive, however hardly ever polished. Although his notes were complete and his textbooks in place, they all had torn covers and rumpled outlooks. His schoolbag was also made of leather which is of good quality, but had stained patches all over.
I had always noticed this boy who was in primary two every time, I would wonder whatever was wrong with his parents or his guardian at home. Like, who would leave their ward to leave their confines like that, every time? Were they blind not to see how tattered their boy looked? It was the day this six year old wore his uniform, the shirt to be exact, inside out, that I couldn’t take it anymore.
I approached him.
“Desmond, who do you stay with?”
Oh, I was shocked. He actually has a mother.
“What of your daddy?”
“He is in London”
I couldn’t place it, but it didn’t matter. This disorganized boy has a freaking mother!
“Okay. Is your mommy at home?”
“Are you sure?”
“My mummy is at home ma,” he replied with his baby voice.
I followed him home, I had to see his mom and talk to her.
On getting to their house, Desmond ran inside and I heard him telling his mom that, “mommy, my English aunty followed me home today” in an exciting voice.
“Oh, wow. Where is she?”
“She is ‘offing’ her shoe”
I plastered a smile on my face as I entered into their house and saw the mom, she smiled back. Something was definitely off, the whole house was in disarray, in total disarray. It felt as though I just walked into the 1990s. I came to the conclusion that this woman was just a genetically dirty woman. The woman greeted me warmly, still sitting on the sofa in the sitting room. I couldn’t even sit down. Attempting to hide my shock, I said I just wanted to address her based on her son’s perpetual unkempt nature and his disorganized books, and blah and blah.
She removed her eyeglasses as if to look at me more keenly. Her look changed to that of hurt, and I wasn’t moved a bit, “I won’t feel guilty for saying the truth!” I said to myself. If only I had known that I was about to feel guilty for the rest of my life.
“Oh, Desmond didn’t tell you too, you won’t be the first to make this complaint. I’ve tried to make him live elsewhere, but he won’t agree to leave his single mother. You can only see my baby boy, but I’ve never seen him once…” Her conversation faded as the suppressed tears flowed through her voice.
As though the six year old noticed my confusion, he added, “Aunty, my mommy is blind.”
How I left that room, I cannot explain till date. I just know that a week after, I was still crying.