By Amie Sillah
A peasant family of two girls and a son, they occupy a family farm and a village house neither rich nor poor but have enough to eat when their field is harvested. Pa Bangaly has an industrious wife Naa Jumpfolo and their three children the first daughter, Jaha, first child (taw) 19, Jonsaba, second 13 and only surviving son, Jewru, 10 years, after they lost 4 boys in infancy. He is a jewel in the eyes of his parents who spoil him ‘pata-pata’ especially his father. He works less but is given more and the best chunk of the food ration.
“I want the best for my son who will continue my lineage,” Pa Bangaly posited.
“What about our daughters? Are they not precious?”
“Yes they are only precious when we fatten them and sold to best suitors who will pay money to educate my son, these girls are being prepared for men to take them home to build their families and I’ll never marry my girls to poor suitors,” Pa Bangaly posited.
She is easy going and calm very submissive and not an academic stuff. Naa Jonsi is preparing her for marriage. As a ‘taaw’ she takes responsibility of her siblings when Naa is away.
She is the tigress of the family a right fighter and very academic; “I want to be a pediatrician to save the life of children. Naa Jumpfi lost 4 sons, how is that possible? No wonder Jewru becomes the family eye and precious stone, do I blame them?”
He is a hard working peasant living under harsh backward conditions. The family has no help from any quarters working with crude back breaking tools, cannot afford expensive fertilizer therefore can only apply it scantly. The family struggle with herbs when they are sick because they cannot afford expensive drugs, the nearest health facility can only afford pain killers and that is when you are lucky to find any. Life is very difficult in the countryside. But his small size and hardworking family is an asset and sometimes he enjoys bumper harvest and he plants water melon which fetch him cash to pay his children fees. Jewru is special.
“Everything for my son whom I’ll educate and spend my last butut I want him to pull the family out of poverty,” he soliloquised.
She is an African woman par excellence all encompassing, everyone is her child and she feeds them when they come to her abode. She is energetic and hardworking never tired as she is always bogged by the household drudgery; every household chore is manually done assisted by the girls. Jewru is exempted from any chores but she insisted that he fetches firewood which he does reluctantly.
The only surviving male child, he is spoilt ‘pata-pata’, lazy and always dodging household work when he is able to but Naa Jumpfi insists for Jews to do household chores to the displeasure of Baa Bangaly.
“You hope to travel how will you cope if none of us are around?”
“I’ll hire house help.”
“With which money? What are you going to save even if the money is available? Wake up boy and smell the coffee. Your father is deceiving you.”
At the Farm
The kids are happy working at the farm especially when it is time to return back to the village which means going back to school and meeting old friends.
He assembled his household and announced to them;
“We are returning back to our village, we all missed our old dry season house; harvest time we will come back and harvest our crops. Good bye farm house we will be back!”
The kids are very excited jumping and singing.
She stayed and prepared a delicious chicken findi and ‘domoda’ (groundnut soup) for the family. The family came back to the farm house and enjoyed their meal.
“Naa prepared the meal to treat all of us for a work well done. Eat and enjoy yourself.” Baa posited.
He later called his son and gave him more meat and soup.
“But the girls work harder why did you give him more meat and soup?”
“He is a boy with huge appetite; it is fine the one to continue my lineage.”
Long walk to the village
The farm hut is a bit far from the village and the family has to trek it; the kids are very tired, Baa carry Jewru all the way through.
“I am very tired I cannot walk again.”
Naa slowed down and carried her.
At the Village
The family arrived tired the parents asked for water as they drank Jonsi left them and headed to an old text book scattered on the ground. She held it and kissed the book all eyes focused at her. Parents shook their head and Jonsi fixed her eyes on them.
She is nostalgic and very sad as she protested and confronted her mom as she refused to eat her food.
“I want to go back to school I am not going back to that god forsaken farm house, I want to stay in the village and go back to school.” She sobbed.
She is 15 years and in secondary school.
“Eat your food are you going to starve yourself? I’ll talk to your dad, just eat your food.” She urged.
She spoke to her husband and tried to reason with him.
“Baa! Jonsi said she wants to go back to school and I support her. We can support all our children to school.”
Baa rebuked her;
“Naa! What are you saying? You know we cannot afford to send all our children and I cannot compromise on my son’s education, the girls will marry and Jonsi’ rich husband will send her to school I hope.”
Naa wanted to speak further but he shut her up.
“Do you want me to eat your food or do you want me to go on fasting?”
“I’m sorry eat your food.”
Jonsi heard them arguing and she rushed out into the dark.
“Go after your naughty child before wild animals eat her up!” Naa ran after her and calling her to come back.
To be Cont.