“A Day in my Life at Age 8”
A day in my life at age 8.
Breakfast usually consists of fruits and nuts from our backyard garden. Coconut juice in a glass is mandatory if anyone expects anything from me for the rest of the day. Delicious breads from a bakery down the street are a treat when available. Eaten with tea and butter, their flavors include banana, pineapple, and my favorite, coconut! Fungi of any kind is my least favorite breakfast item. Going to school with a stomach full of mushrooms is upsetting at age 8.
Herding of the livestock to a field is then expected. I especially cherish looking for new poultry as ducklings and chicks hatch often in our coop. Just watching them pop out and take their first yawn and stretch enlivens me. Kano, the Nigerian state we live in specializes in grain production and is perfect for my little birds. Large fields where grain is harvested provide feasting grounds for them. Most of them are marked by a strip of cloth from an old red t-shirt tied to their upper wings to make sure they aren’t taken from me.
Next, I have to wake my little sister and wash both of us. Of course, this results in a fierce argument – the sort that only sisters with a five-year age difference can have. Picking her up if I have to, I jumped into the cold bathtub to awaken her with a start. Quarreling all the while, we walk to the bus stop and hope that it shows up. Recently new to school, she is nervous and holds my hand the entire ride.
‘School’ consists of old colonial barracks used by Europeans to torture blacks in the early 1900s. Today, all the blood has been washed off and colorful nursery illustrations sing from the walls. Usually, the day is begun with a uniform check and the national anthem and pledge. Various other inspections, during this recent military rule, include random checks of clean fingernails, brushed teeth, oiled skin, and well coiffed hair. Weekly prayers by different religions and cultures ensues after the dirty and ashy kids are taken away to be publicly cleaned and oiled – away from the eyes of the gods. Xenophobia is either impossible, or inevitable in this climate as there is no middle ground.
Years – or what feels like it – later, I walk home with my exuberant sister’s hand in mine.
“…Zed is for Zebra!” She joyfully proclaims at the end of her recital of newly encountered Alphabet lessons from the day.