The night before, Enyimba and the Kano Pillars had played a football match that left people screaming and astonished in the town square as Kano Pillars had beat Enyimba 5 – 2. It was disastrous as most of the older men had bet on Enyimba winning. The entire town went to bed that night with the understanding that nothing in this life was certain. We were soon however to find out how uncertain. We woke the next morning to find out there had been a coup d’état. We were left dumbfounded. What did this mean for us? Was school cancelled? What of my future? This and many more thoughts ran through my tiny mind. With the military came changes, drastic changes, life altering changes. First came the food rationing. Were we at war I thought? Were our resources depleted? I thought they had just found oil not too long ago? Life would never be the same again. The government was rationing food so people would not decide to carry out a revolution. Their plan being to cut off and monitor our energy intake, have us just where they wanted. Their plan was working as people soon became totally dejected from malnourishment. Then came the shortage of water supply. Of course, everyone knew the power behind this, it was the military government once again. Could people actually be so cruel, I thought. In comparison to what I experienced not long after, this was hardly cruelty I soon realized. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when the government started laying people off. Remember I said my parents were both civil servants, they were thus not off the hook. Both of Tanimola’s parents were laid off. I could see the strain it put on her family. Since they however believed in the existence of a supreme being who watched over them, they didn’t let it get to them. I wished I could believe like them, but I couldn’t. Tanimola said it was because I lacked something, she called it faith.
It hit my family next. My father was laid off from work, luckily my mother was not… luckily I thought. About 2 months before Christmas, I remember because the king had just died then. The town was in mourning and my family was not left out. That was when I noticed the changes in my father. Knowingly or unknowingly, it was a negative change. The first sign was that he started to raise his voice and get mad all the time. Things which usually would not give rise to any issue, seemed to become a huge deal for him. Like the other day when Tanimola came to visit. We were singing the songs we had always sang, the same way we had always sang it, outside under the mango tree in the evening. Suddenly he just came out and shouted at us, telling us to shut our dirty traps and stop adding to his problems. Was I really adding to his problem? Was the apple now rotten? How could he say such a thing to me? I was hurt and I swore to never forgive him. He never apologized. He only got worse. My mother had to be at work a lot because the hospital was actually short staffed. The times she was home were never peaceful, one argument to another. If it was not the food, it was that she hadn’t washed his clothes properly, on and on and on. I thought it was the woman who was supposed to nag? Did my father fell less of a man because he had no job? I wished I could comfort him but I didn’t know how, I also had no one to talk to… I was after all just a 7 year old girl. Olayinka was graduating from primary school the next day, we didn’t throw a party. The once vibrant town of Taribo had become a ghost of its former self.
Being a nurse, my mother often stayed at home during the day when she was not on duty, leaving her at home with my dad as school was still in session. I noticed immediately I got home but I said nothing. It must be a figment of my imagination, her eyes however betrayed her. I figured it all out but still I said nothing. I can’t say if my brothers even noticed. All they were concerned about were their stomachs. I had begun questioning Tanimola about her ‘faith’ thing. My friend, Tanimola was quite the brilliant one, which was why we were friends in the first place. In simple English, faith was believing, when you know you shouldn’t. Believing that it would all work out for your good. Believing that there was a reason for everything that was happening in your life. I still didn’t understand.