Oreva Odeki sat alone on the bed in their one room apartment. It was another of such a day again for her. She had silently referred to their condition of poverty as hell. She knew her father would not be happy to hear that from her because he had been doing his best; he wasn’t a lazy man. He worked through the clock all week, month in month out without anything to show for it. He was a taxi driver.
Looking at the room again, it was unkempt in spite of every effort she put in daily to tidy it up. The walls were littered with blots of old and recent blood stains, which perfectly explained just how mosquitoes-infested the apartment was. She would sometimes soak a piece of cloth to wipe off those mosquitoes blood stains but that was in itself another way of denting the old paint on the walls. The old wooden bed which would loudly announce whatever you were doing whether climbing onto it or coming down from it, had an equally old foam in it, only it was well sheeted with a wispy but clean sheet. There was a divan at the corner opposite the bed but from all indications, it had outlived every comfort it was meant to give because users will closely feel the poking of the woodwork underneath the shabby looking furniture. The concrete floor was bare without carpet or rug. The coverings at the doorpost and windowpane were an apology for curtains. A 14 inches Sharp television and a transistor radio were on display in a wooden shelf at one end of the room.
Oreva lived in such penury with his father.
Poverty started for them when his father got retrenched in a massive demobilisation of workers in the banking sector. He got a fair pay off from his former employers. But that money all went into treating of his ailing wife who fell sick about the same time he received the payment. That was what forced the family into poverty and debt. The painful part being that Oreva’s mother did not survive the ailment. She passed on.
That was many years ago when she was only a little girl in primary school. Now she had completed her secondary school. All these years her father’s earnings had gone into her education, their feeding and the maintenance of his taxi cab.
Oreva felt life should be with purpose and satisfaction, it did not have to mean possessing the entire wealth in the world but definitely not this hardship they were living in day to day. These days, life was getting even borer for her now that she had to be at home; having finished secondary school the previous year. She just sat back at home studying all mornings and listening to the radio all afternoons. Her results from both the West African Examination Council and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board had been okay to gain admission into any of the federal universities of her choice but lack of fund had restrained her entry into school. So she continued studying at home and hoping.
Her father had advised her to start thinking of a trade she could learn like most other girls in the neighbourhood who could not go further with their education.
‘Father, I will find it very difficult to learn any trade,’ she had replied.
‘Why?’ Her confounded father had asked.
‘Because my mind is on something else.’ She replied.
‘And what could that be my daughter?’
‘Father, I want to become a medical doctor.’
‘As if I have not told you times without number I don’t have the money to support you through the university.’
‘Father, apologies for my arrogance, but I have a conviction that I will study medicine in the university. Going to learn a trade now will only serve as distraction to me.’
Mr Odeki had looked at his daughter thoughtfully that evening. Much as he wanted her to heed his advice, he admired her childlike conviction. He knew what the girl wanted was better than what he was proposing her to do. He just shook his head and left her to herself.
Most mornings after her father had gone out to work, she would sit back at home doing all the thinking, studying, praying and concentrating she could. She had read somewhere that the human mind operated with a degree of magnetism; that it keeps attracting whatever you continued desiring with it.
Neighbours in her compound and the surrounding compounds, even her father, was beginning to think her tetched. She did not get herself involved in hanging out with friends like most other young people around. She did not get into the usual dating most boys and girls of her age indulged themselves in after secondary. This was because of the hidden orientation of life she had acquired from her voracious reading. Somehow she felt there was so much for her to do to change from her current status as a poor girl. Most boys and girls in her surrounding seemed satisfied with whatever life was dishing out to them daily; they were not so much bothered about what could happen in vast and unpredictable future ahead. But Oreva was constantly conscious of this.