Watching my grandma carry out her Salaat al-Fajr (early morning prayers) and staring through her bed room window as dawn breaks as the rising sun magically painted the landscape was one of the many reasons I loved sleeping in my grandma’s bedroom. Oftentimes, after prayers Mama, as I called her my grandma, would sit on her veranda knitting and sipping her cup of tea.
A day that was particularly significant and rather special was my first day at school. I was very excited and had hardly slept the night before. It was a very early set off, just after Mama’s prayers, as the 10 miles to the school had to be trekked on foot. Mama lived in Mateboi; a village on the outskirts of Kamakwie – a small but well known town in Sierra Leone’s Northern Province’s Bombali District.
As we walked to school Mama told me endless stories of her and my mum who, at the time, lived and worked in the diamond rich Kono District in the country’s Eastern Province. Mama and my mum had walked the same route. Well into our trek, a tired me gladly accepted Mama’s piggy-back offer. I continued chatting from the comfort of her back.
I remember telling Mama I wished my mum was actually taking me to school that morning. She told me “your mum is not here but I am here and I am taking you to school”. Still on Mama’s back, I agreed with her… but continued wishing that morning’s walk was with my mum.
I had never seen Mama annoyed or angry. Then again, I had not until that moment told her she wasn’t my real mum and or wished for my mum instead of her. She stopped………..to be continued… What do you think happened next??????