Grandmother Bama looked from one to the other, and could not, for the sake of sanity decide which one was more foolish. There, they sat, cross-legged, husband and wife on the grass while the sun was still awake, and the land unfed. Chichi and Jumbo stared at their child, glossy-eyed and joyous. He was here, their little savior- Junior.
Chichi had stopped saving one yard from each material given to her by gullible customers- Madam Pete, Mummy Ola. Jumbo had convinced her to sell her machine, no more rigorous beejingbeejing, sweeswee, thread pull, feet push.
Grandmother Bama begged her daughter to end this nonsense, how could she give it all away? “Mama there is no need for more fabric, thread. My savior has come. He would take it all away, mama. Poverty. Whoosh! It aff go mama.” She watched her daughter do the same dance she did when she was eight and her papa had bought her a doll. One foot here, the other does a tap.
“You have gone mad my daughter. The poverty, it has taken a toll. You must work hard. Work hard and fight it.”
“No mama! I have worked hard all these years and poverty has not gone. So now I shall work no more and say bye-bye to poverty.”
Chichi never understood how important Junior was. That is until Jumbo came back one morning, his rumpled shirt looking even more crumbled, barefoot, racing towards her with this wild joy in his eyes.
He, Junior, was in love with the world. Bama could see it in his almond eyes. She knew the sky was bluer through his lens, and rain sparkled and tingled when it fell on his chocolate skin.
Bama called her son-in-law aside, “Your job, why did you quit?” Jumbo straightened up, looked to the sky as if he had thoughtfully hidden his reply behind the clouds. Now turning his gaze to Junior he said, “For years I have toiled this land, I have worked hard at the factory mummy, day and night without a pause. Yet we starve, we hunger and thirst day in and out. I have cried out in prayer,” Now looking at his mother-in-law all seriousness void, “And the Lord answered. He did. Yes, he did. Junior!”
They might have said utter nonsense however she learned how to communicate foolishness beautifully, with such belief…. such trust!
Bama knew what would come next. Junior would learn to walk two months earlier and talk a year before the set time. He would be taught that although his parents had tried and failed, he would somehow by some divine blessing try and succeed. He would go out into the world remembering only its innocence.
They have dragged the small boy into the cycle of poverty. But he won’t make it. He can’t break it. She had watched people; her children join the cycle and go round bound by a curse. She had seen them give up, falter at the verge of a breakthrough and hand the wheels to their own children. And the little kids with tall hopes would circle the world. Their hope, dwindling like the joy of the villagers, like the gold in the well.
They all gave up at the end, although she urged them not to. Stupid children they were, to shift the burden to their children and like Chichi and Jumbo sit on the grass, doe-eyed and wait patiently for Junior to perform a miracle.
Still, Grandmother Bama could not deny that there was something about Junior. There was something in his smile that coaxed her to peace, and the twinkle in his eyes reflected life in a moving experience of beauty.
For now, he could see the world, not what the world expected of him. Grandmother Bama might choose to believe this time, but the land was famished and must be fed.