Travails of a Mother


I knew her. She lived with her family in the same neighborhood I lived in with mine. As young as I was then, I had served as a kind of confidant to her.
She was rich. At least rich enough to have seen her three kids through private primary and secondary school and now university.
“If only I can see my children through to one of the best universities in the country, then, I’m richer than the richest; not even Dangote can match up my wealth”, She would say.
But Alas! It seems those dreams were going to be mere fantasies; a figment of her own imagination and many factors were fighting tooth and nail to make it remain an illusion. She had the resources to make her dreams of educating her children come to fruition but it seemed mischievous fate is just bent on making her hopes wean and her dreams fade away like the rainbow in the sky.
“Why does it look as if God is asleep on his throne? Or is He so blind to the fact that my life is being inconsiderately plundered by these forces beyond my control?” She would ask no one in particular, “Can’t God understand for once that I’m closing in to my grave daily and I will soon be retired?” But there was nothing she could do against the side of the coin life has tossed towards her. She was at the behest of these man-made gods; these unchecked powers that be and except they turn the clock of goodwill towards her and her children, she will continue to be a spectator.
She had been abandoned a long time ago by her family. Her marriage had been against their concrete wish. She had thought at first that they were the forces behind her trials, but on confronting them, they had said to her, just like Pilate said to Jesus, “We have no hand in your travails and we have washed our hands off your family issue”.
At work, she always had to force a smile on her face even when it was not forthcoming. She did that just to maintain her job, giving the façade that “all is well” with her. She had been serving a boss barely in her son’s age grade for almost a decade and half and there was Philip, her first son, still roaming the streets in search of greener pastures. Life had been indeed brutal to her. The same position that her boss occupied would have been hers if she had proceeded further in her education and had told “love” to wait at the other side of the bridge.
Sometime the previous year, her last daughter, Esther, had sprung up like “shekinah glory”. For a girl whose teachers had almost written off as an academic failure in the making, Esther had suddenly began to show promises of being a genius in her second year in secondary school. She seemed to be evading the gravitational pull of these unseen “gods” who were determined to puncture the hopes of her mother. After almost a decade of sorrow and dismay, Esther had put a smile on her mother’s face again, giving her reasons to forge ahead in her will to educate her children. So, her mother had sworn to correct the “mistakes” she had made early in life through her children and it seemed Esther was the appointed one among her “not-so-impressive” children to carry out this task.
Esther was very intelligent. As a secondary school student, she had served as the assistant head girl. She added lots of medals and laurels to her name. After six years of trail-blazing schooling in the old Remo community, Ogun state, her WAEC result was “fantabulous”. I had been quite astonished myself when I saw the result. I had told myself that even the “gods” must be jealous of her. However, these forces must have been planning to convene a conference, where they would sack, reappoint and review the constitution guiding her affairs because I had personally felt that the girl’s success was just too suspicious.
And it seems their strategy worked. The Almighty JAMB “jambed” Esther. She was so ashamed of her result that she wept all day. She refused to be consoled and locked herself up in her room, sobbing for hours. She would say amidst tears, “…but I read and even Kunle that I had tutored has a better result than mine”. All of a sudden, just like it had started, the once glowing light dimmed and retired to its bushel, courtesy of these supernatural forces.
So, when her mother called me on phone to confirm her result, I felt reluctant to tell her. I knew the poor woman would be so heart broken and I didn’t want to be the harbinger of sorrow.
Unfortunately, I was right. She broke down into tears at the discovery that her dream had been cut short once again. I could feel her emotional trauma and the anguish that permeated through her sorrow laden voice.
She said, “Dayo, you remain a source of inspiration to me. Your mother must be proud of you and I know that one day, I too will enjoy such pride in Esther”.
Being the typical unrelenting “African” mother that she truly was, she resolved, like Nnu Ego in “The Joys of Motherhood”, to continue to strive and make sure that Esther beams the ray of hope in the family, no matter what it will cost.
Before she hung up, she said with tears already building up in her voice “Dayo, why me? Why Esther, my only source of joy?! I will never relent until these heartless “gods” turn against themselves”.
I was totally devastated when I responded, “maybe they just have to adjourn your case till further notice and who knows…before they revisit it again, Esther would have been in the university. Then these gods, working through JAMB and POST-UTME, would have to resign to fate themselves” I said in a light voice, trying to relieve the overwhelming tension that had built since we started talking.
When she hung up, I sighed heavily and said “YES, she was truly rich for taking that stance. I salute her sagacity.”

©Austine Elegbede 2016


Austine Elegbede Dayo is a student of the department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan. He majors in Publics Relations and Journalism.
He believes that all men are equal and should have equal rights to live right.

You may reach him through:


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