Losing her husband to the war, having to fend for three children, playing the role of the father and the mother, making effort to fit into the society as a woman, then a human, these burdens are shoulder crushing. Yet, Hannah told herself she would thrive. She would give her children the best, endure her mean boss because she needs the cash, give out what she can because there are people in worse situations than she is and just live life per second.
She stepped out on a busy Monday morning after dropping her kids at their respective schools. Her mantra has been, ‘though she cannot afford to pay their school bus fees, she would play the role of a school bus’. Over time, she has come to enjoy doing that. Going to pick them up from school gives her time to have real conversations with them.
She hurriedly got into the Lagos colored bus (Danfo), silently wishing the traffic would not be heavy. She was running late for work. She was trying to look ahead to see the situation of the road when she felt a subtle tap on her right lap. She screamed with joy as she laid eyes on one of her roommates from her University. Her name is Peju.
They hugged and smiled. Her friend looked well dress and better off than Hannah. As they conversed, Hannah asked her how her family was. Right in the bus, with stares from total strangers, Peju burst into tears. Hannah was very concerned. She did not say anything wrong. Did she? She started to feel uncomfortable as the other passengers gave her hot and mean stares. She placed her hands on Peju’s. She was at loss as to what to do.
Between sobs, Peju told Hannah, ‘I have not had someone ask me about my family in a really long while. People ask how I am like it is a form of greeting. I feel invisible at times’.
Hannah was speechless. The truth is that she sometimes felt like that but as soon as she is with her kids, she forgets about it. She wishes someone would sincerely ask how she was faring with the kids or just help with the kids sometimes so she could do other fun things. Sometimes, her heart is so heavy, she feels the pain in her chest.
She understands perfectly what Peju was talking about. It is funny how just one question or comment could have so much effect. How it could carry so much ray of light and hope.