Miriam

Common Entrance Examination

I was born in a small village in Northern Nigeria. My family was extremely poor and we all had to work extremely hard to get a days meal. I had 5 siblings: 3 boys and 2 girls. Unfortunately, my eldest brother, Ahmed got killed by some terrorists on his way back from doing odd jobs for money in our neighboring village some years ago. He was just 14 when this happened. My parents mourned him for years and so did we. My mother was never the same again and sometimes shed tell us that she saw Ahmed in her dreams. But the harsh reality was that Ahmed was gone and he was never coming back. I was 6 then but the trauma and the fear that one day these people could attack and kill us all kept me awake at nights.

I was the 5th born and my little sister, our last child was always the biggest vibe especially in sad moments. I guess she wasn old enough to realize the danger that surrounded us so she lived carefree. I wish I could have too but I was too afraid and so we
e the rest of my siblings and our parents.

I was a precocious child and very intelligent. On realizing this my parents and older siblings worked hard to get money and send me to school so I could become educated and maybe one day, lift our family our of poverty.

I knew one thing; everyone was depending on me so I had to be focused and shun distractions. Going to school was difficult because I faced a lot of gender discrimination. They always told me ”you
e a girl, what are you doing in school? Don you know your life ends in the kitchen and the other room. ” But I never let their words get in my head because I knew that the weight of my familys future was lying on my shoulders. Id get picked on by girls who came from rich families. Theyd laugh at me, call me names and insult my family. They mocked our situation because we were very poor and Id start crying. When they saw the tears, the mockery would increase and sometimes I felt as if my heart was about to explode with pain.

I never really experienced those happy childhood moments because we constantly lived in fear. The only times I was happy were the times I spent with my family. Even if we were poor, we lived together in so much love and learned to always share what we had no matter how small. My parents did their best and even if it was a struggle to get by everyday, they still managed to put food on our table. We hardly ate twice a day but we gave thanks to God for provision.

The rest of my siblings would follow my parents to go do work on other peoples farms, go do chores in other peoples houses for penny payments and thats how we got money to survive everyday. I know you
e wondering how then I was able to go to school. Well heres how. My father had two farm lands that hes lease out to people to plant their crops as our major source of income here in the north is agriculture. Hed accumulate the money hed get paid everyday and store them in a kolo. A kolo is like a piggy bank but it is made with wood in either a cubic shape. Even if my dad was poor, he was business smart and my mom initiated this great idea. Although the money he was paid per day was small, when he put everything together it was enough to pay my school fees per term. We didn have to touch it for food because the jobs they did were enough to feed us per day. There were times when people would owe him and at the beginning of the term the money would be insufficient. My dad would follow me to school to beg for more time to pay up the fees. Theyd agree and Id be allowed to continue schooling. At one time, he couldn get enough money on time so I was sent home from school. On my way home, a parent of another student saw me and asked why I was not in school by that time of the day. It was somewhat around 11am. I told him it was because I was owing school fees and he told me to come with him to my school. He was in the middle class range not poor but not so wealthy. I followed him and when we got there, he asked how much I was owing. When they told him, he took out a bundle of money from his pocket, counted the amount I was owing and paid them. That day I realized that there were still good people on the planet.

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