Highly Commended Story - Not My Dreams
“Not My Dreams” by Nwigwe Jessica, Blossom Fount College, Nigeria, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Nwigwe Jessica Nneoma is an eleven year old student of Blossom Fount College. She derives joy in swimming and playing badminton and her favorite subjects are Mathematics, basic technology and basic science. Her most memorable day was when she was awarded silver medals in badminton and swimming competition coupled with the award for being the best socialized student for the section. Nwigwe’s role model is her dad, which is why she wants to follow suit in his career line to be a doctor.
Not My Dreams
On a drizzly Thursday evening, on my way back from catechism classes as I recited my homily in preparation for the next day’s exam, from a distance I perceived a voice shout my name. But I thought I was hallucinating until I heard it again the second time and at a closer range. I turned only to see a pale looking pregnant woman, so I simply greeted her and continued until she shouted ‘Jessy’. Did I recognize her voice?
“Aunty Maria is that you?” She simply dropped her native basket (Abor) and held me firmly like her life depended on me, not minding her state. I noticed she was breathing heavily, which made me ask if she was weighing up to herself. Before I could finish the sentence tears rolled uncontrollably down her checks like a waterfall. My heart melted and I recoiled as she whimpered “Jessy, live your dreams”.
Aunty Maria as she was fondly called by our catechist was a role model to all children in fourth grade catechism class. Chukwuka Maria (Aunty Maria) is the first of seven children from a relatively poor background. Her mother kicked the bucket out of complications from her seventh issue leaving them at the mercy of their father, Chukwuka Nweze, a diehard drunk and peasant farmer. With the mantle of motherly role on her and lack of funds, Aunty Maria had to discontinue her education after her senior secondary certificate examination (SSCE). It was fun listening to her teach cause she always spiced it up with pleasant stories about saints and other aspects of life, she would always tell us of her interest to study medicine.
On that fateful Nkwo market day, I went to church for catechism as usual when I noticed catechist John consoling aunty Maria. An hour later she called us together and broke the sad news to us in an agonizing voice “I made all papers in SSCE and scored three hundred and seven in University matriculation exams and told my father only to be told that I have been scheduled to marry Mazi Okafor in three market days’ time.”
Mazi Okafor is a prominent farmer and palm wine tapper in and around Eze kingdom. At forty six he has two wives and twelve children. Aunty Maria was the price for the twenty thousand naira he lent her father which he used for Nwanyibuife, her mother’s treatment when she had complications during pregnancy cum burial expenses. Since he could not pay up as agreed, Aunty Maria becomes the price.
“Why didn’t you run away” asked the innocent me. Aunty Maria simply smiled in between her tears and said, “You won’t understand.” I then recalled some Saturdays back when my friend Rita told me aunty Maria’s home path was being cleared in preparation for her wedding. I finished my chores earlier than normal to go to church so as to grace the occasion, but was disappointed as no one was there, not knowing that her marriage to Mazi Okafor as the third wife was against catholic doctrines. Consequently her dream of becoming the first female medical doctor from Eze village was aborted even though she was a brilliant and vibrant lady.
“Jessy fight for your dreams”, this statement brought me back to reality to see Aunty Maria still clutching my hands like her savior. I bed her farewell and hurriedly ran home in a confused state of what the dreams in question actually are. My father noticed my condition and called me into his room and I narrated my encounter with my favorite catechism instructor to him. My father told me twice and promised me that I will live my dreams even if it entails him selling off his land to sponsor me.
All this thoughts were going on in my mind as I walked up to receive my award as the best graduating medical student of Clifford University. I proudly dedicated the award to Aunty Maria because she was my driving force all through my school days and a fulfillment of her aborted dream.