Today is the most important day of my entire life, I got you… ‘my diary’ and I am so happy, I love harbouring secrets and with you, I can write my deepest and darkest secrets. I didn’t get you on my birthday as would other girls but I picked you from a trash can. Yes, I know you are aware of your history, I know you knew that Tomiwa threw you away, she’s my classmate. Tomiwa is the richest girl in my school, infact my school is one of the biggest schools in Lagos but the irony is that I am the poorest at school. Funny isn’t it? How do I get to go to one of the richest schools in Lagos when my parents have no money.
You see, my father was once a factory worker for this big construction firm, he started work there even before I was born, before he married my mom, as a child I had every thing, my father loves me so much that I had everything I ever wanted. He worked in the construction company till one day we got a phone call and ran to the hospital, daddy was there; we learnt that one of the machines used in the factory maimed him, when I mean maim I mean rendered his two legs useless, they were amputated a week later.
It was bad for my family, we couldn’t bear it because he couldn’t, he cried for months, he was constantly on tranquillizers, my maternal grandfather sued the company and we were compensated, the company offered to pay my tuition alongside my two little brothers to secondary level, that was the most they could do they claimed… my mother who has never worked in her entire life had to get a job, she has the problem of being short tempered so her jobs never lasted.
We received a lot of help from her family, her father was a Doctor who has a well known hospital and her mother passed away when she was little. So her step mom is kind of her mother now, but they fight all the time, my mother is the only child of her mother and the only girl child of her father as I am the only female child of my parents, my step grandmother has three sons but they are all grown up so we call them uncle. Uncle Jim, Alex and John. They loved women a lot, every time I go to stay at grandpa’s I see a lot of women around, its either aunty Tina or aunty Augusta and so on, the list is endless.
My mother is spoilt silly especially by her father, he gives her everything she wants even as at present, but little wonder that even after all the money that grandpa gives her, she doesn’t take good care of my brothers and I. Our uniforms are always ripped, our shoes are always worn out, we are always unkempt and avoided as a plague at school. Daddy’s pension from his former office were too merger considering the fact that the company pays our rent and tuition, the rest of the money is for housekeep and its never enough. Now back to how I got this amazing diary, I was at school today as usual and it happened to be Tomiwa’s birthday, her parents threw her a surprise birthday party at school and it was obvious that she didn’t buy the idea because two weeks before today, she had bragged to everyone that she would celebrate her birthday at ‘The View’ which is a big eatery on the Island.
She said that it will give her the opportunity to invite those she wanted to invite to her party. But as her birthday drew near, there were no signs of invites, students whispered at corridors about the forth coming birthday without an invitation. So today when every one had given up hope of Tomiwa’s birthday, our class teacher comes into the class with this huge smile on her face and with a big cake in our hands. Did I mention that I am in basic nine? And that we are preparing for a our major exams into basic ten so we were shocked to see the teacher at a time that was scheduled by our school for intense studying, smiling and playing with us. She informed us that Tomiwa’s parents decided to surprise their daughter and celebrate her birthday in the school. We clapped our hands in delight except the nasty girls and boys in class who started snickering and making hooting noises.
They were laughing at the fact that Tomiwa had bragged about her birthday and now the so called party was brought to the class. Tomiwa felt so humiliated that she had to excuse herself severally so as to avoid the mocking. I felt sorry for her, I wish I were she, no one ever remembered my birthdays except my father, who would wheel into the room I share with my brothers in a wheelchair and give me a kiss and a hug, so when the class teacher gave Tomiwa the diary, a customary gift given to all students of the school when they clocked fifteen, and instead of placing it in her bag or locker as other students do, she waited for the teacher to leave and threw it in the trash and that was when a poor girl like me had the chance in a lifetime of owning a diary.
You might wonder why I have no diary, anyway I clocked fifteen last week, but the truth is, in this world there exists so much discrimination, I was conveniently forgotten, when I talked to my teacher about it, she said that I didn’t inform anyone and besides I don’t celebrate so the school concluded that my family might not share the views of celebrating birthdays. She also said that there was a fee for all students known as miscellaneous fee and my tuition provision did not cover miscellaneous and it was from this so called miscellaneous fee that birthday gifts came. So imagine my delight when I get the chance of owning my own diary.
There’s a little problem however, every diary given by the school to a student, has the students name written in bold letters on it, this one has TOMIWA in bold gold letters, the diary is purple and it has the Walt Disney character ‘Ariel’ from the little mermaid cartoon on it, its so unbelievably beautiful that I promised myself that I will cherish it all my life. I would have loved to erase her name from it but it would mean destroying the front cover of the beautiful diary. Even if Tomiwa changes her mind tomorrow and decides to take it, it will be gone and she wouldn’t know who took it because she didn’t see me take it. I enjoyed the birthday party and I desperately wanted to save a piece of cake for James and Matthew, my brothers, but Ugo was watching me closely, I think he knew what I was about to do, so I had to finish everything and I was so sad because, I know that my brothers would have been ecstatic to eat a cake. Ugo is one of the meanest boys in my class, could you imagine what he did during the last children’s day celebration?
As a tradition, the school visits those in need and we were asked to write down the names of orphanages and less privileged homes that we knew around our vicinity, Ugo wrote my house address as a place we could visit. It was so humiliating as the teacher read our options out loud and my residence was mentioned. This instigated a burst of laughter from my class mates that I burst into tears and ran to the toilet. Everyone in my class looked for a way to insult my home, my brothers or even me. My brothers attend the primary school headed by my school and they weren’t left out of this ‘shame parade’.
After picking my brothers from school, we trekked the almost one kilometer to my house, while others zoomed past in expensive cars with chauffeurs, we trailed the dust home. No wonder our shoes were threadbare, by the time we got home, we were sweating like goats and we were smelly too. My classmates Ugo and Amaka lived not too far from my place and they had drivers that took them home and there was always ample space in the vehicle for extra people but they never offered us a ride. When we got home to our three bedroom flat, we were fagged out, as usual daddy is alone at home sitting on his wheelchair and reading an outdated news paper, he smiles as we come in and a look into his eyes show that he hasn’t eaten, so while he and my brothers chatter about school, I go into the kitchen with my uniform and try to prepare something for us to eat.
The kitchen was empty, I forgot that the yams finished yesterday, so I go about ransacking the house for loose change. I enter my mother’s room and her room as usual is a spick as span, this is the only aspect of her life that is organized. I see her purse on her bed, I open it and find three hundred naira, without bothering to remove my uniform, I walked three miles to the mini market to get food. After a very unbalanced lunch, I help my brothers with their home work and settle down for time alone with my diary. I will stop here for now, I am already getting carried away and even though this diary is big, its got limited pages and I might not have the money to get another.