Dear Mum,

Last night, I did put myself on the line when I carelessly made a post on Facebook that I will be telling our story for the world to hear. Yes, I said careless because if I had known that many people would be waiting for the story, I would have probably kept my peace intact. But the Holy Father, Pope Francis asked us to tell our story in order to give hope to the world in need of hope. Mum, I believe that telling our story will help other mothers to be like you and so heal our world.

Yesterday, 23rd May, 2020, I celebrated your 85th birthday with joy. I know that even you would be surprised at how I arrived at that date. Surely, nobody recorded your birth information at the time of your birth. But after your baptism on 23rd May, 1952, your baptismal information, which is currently in my possession, tells us that you were 17 years old at the time. I believe that information because my father was already educated and teaching at that time. If it was not correct, he would have countered it. And since we didn’t know the exact day or month, we have to settle with the only one birthday available to us, your baptism, which was your birthday to Christian life. So it would be say to say that you were born on 23rd May 1935. Can you see that? That was 4 years after my dad was born. So he should know and his testimony should be true.

I have to say all those because Fr. Michybe asked me to tell the complete story. As a man under obedience, I have to obey him. So blame him for telling the world our complete story.

Really, since yesterday, I have been feeling on top of the world with all the acolades my friends poured out for you when I mentioned you and the celebration on my social media handles. Many of them were thanking you for giving a ‘huge‘ person like me. For people like Fr. Theodore, the ‘huge’ might be in terms of size (laughs) but for some others, it might be in terms of what they see me do. Mum, indeed, this your little boy has grown and many people now look up to him as an example to follow. Yes! I said an example! How would this have been possible without you, Mama? How would I have become whom I am today if not for you and dad?

Well, you were the ones who got it wrong at the beginning. Being your last born, you pampered me so much. Unfortunately, you didn’t know when to draw the line. I got everything I ever ‘wanted’ including freedom from responsibilities at home. No thanks also to my big aunty, Laetitia (Mama Ego), who doubled as my second Mum and always advocated for me and made sure I won all cases, even when I was wrong. Chai! It pays to be a last born; if you no know, you no go know. Everybody was on my side except few persons who felt I shouldn’t have been born. Well, you don’t blame them; I was the 9th surviving child in addition to one or two still births. Yet, I don’t see myself as an accident. Yes! “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5). That is what the word of God said about me! Oh, you think that passage is talking about prophet Jeremiah? No! I’m sure even my professor, Fr. Ovayero would agree with me on this given the fact that prophecy is not really about what happened in the past (that belongs to history) nor about the prediction of future (that is soothsaying). So what is prophecy? Ask me later. Let me first finish my story.

I know that by now, Mum, other people who are reading this my special letter to you might be thinking that I was ajibutter without knowing that I was proper ajikpako. What’s the difference? Many! Even though I was being spoiled with love, it didn’t stop me from going to farm every Saturday and public holidays. I hated weeding so much especially under rain. But exempting me from this was out of the list of options for love. Mama, where did you get all those strength? We will leave home by 4am to the farm so that we can reach Okohia before 6am. And we come back late in the evening. After all those somebody go come call me ajibutter, abi? No! I’m still thinking of where I belonged. But definitely, not butter. Who see butter chop sef?

Anyways, those other little privileges were enough to push me into becoming a little spoilt brat. Poco á Poco, I started mixing up with some lazy youths. The worst part was anytime my immediate elder sisters raise an alarm, you turned their concerns down by saying, ọkwanị obere nwa (he is still a baby). Na so! With ọkwanị obere nwa, ọkwanị obere nwa, I kept getting out of hand before your very eyes. By this time, I was already an adolescent. Everybody has probably given up on me but not you and Dad. With the same strength you used in spoiling me, you recovered me. You spared no rod just to make sure I get converted. And you succeeded.

The first time I saw you after your second amputation, I went back to my car and wept. I thought of how much those legs helped in making me whom I am today. Even with your heavy weight then, Usain Bolt is a learner where you were. You were Papa’s legs for catching us for disciplinary actions. You were a good companion to Dad.

You were many things to us Mum. I have not forgotten how you always insisted on our academic excellence even though you were unlearned yourself. I can’t forget in a hurry how you flogged hell out of me when I took 2nd position in my Primary 4 especially after you heard that the person who took 1st from me was a girl. Hmmmm, Mama, do you know that that girl has grown into a woman and now lives somewhere close to me here. Hahaha! But now, she is my daughter and I’m her Father. Not just her; indeed very many people call me Father. And you my mother, their mother too.

Mum, our story has no end. I cannot tell it all. All I can say is that you are my woman, my everything. I will forever love you and look after as much as I can. After this lockdown, I will come and see you with some of my friends so that we can share some fish and chilled palm wine together. We shall celebrate, Mama. You are a model of motherhood.

I’m proud to call you mother. May God bless you for me. Amen.

Your son (obere nwa gi),
Maobi Nnei.

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