24, GILEAD STREET

Karim MANJRA-3c167bd8

24 GILEAD STREET
It was in that place Ama my eldest sister was born, then Sarah, my immediate elder sister, then me. It was in that place I started to crawl for two years and then walk, to my family’s surprise, because they had given up on me. Sarah, my immediate elder sister’s voice was the loudest and I had started to cry when I heard her scream.
It was in that place I had gotten my first school bag at age 3 when my mother felt it was time for me to start school, there I had met Wilson, my best friend now, who used to hate me when we were much younger because I was a tomboy.
It was in that place my father had always returned to, from work in the evenings. “Daddy welcome”, my sisters and I would scream and run to hug him and he’ll give us sweets. It was there my father would always complain, to my mother about how bad the country was getting, with the prices of things increasing daily, and my mother would reply to every of his statement with “it is well.”
24, Gilead Street, It was there I started to be a woman, “Mummy, my breast is aching”, I had complained that evening. My sisters had come around to tease me and my mother had hushed them away, telling me it was my breast growing and she had made me sit on her lap, to advise me on being a woman. I had cried that evening, because my mother had said I would no longer play with Wilson and Tony, without my clothes on. Two years later, there was blood on my pant and my mother gave me my first menstrual pad, accompanied by pieces of advice and most satisfying, an extra piece of meat at dinner.
It was in that place Ama my eldest sister had met Femi, our neighbor’s nephew, who she had fallen in love with, from the first day she saw him. I can remember her sneaking to the balcony at past 11, when my whole family had retired to bed, to talk to him. It was that place she had also returned to after he had abandoned her for Sisi Caro, the recharge card seller. My mother had welcomed her and wiped her tears, that evening.
24, Gilead Street, It was at that place my mother had sworn to kill herself when the news of Sarah’s death got to us that morning. She was involved in a fatal accident on her way to church from school. My neighbors had come around to console her when they heard her screaming and crying that morning and thank God for the timely intervention of Mr. Simon, the retired soldier, or my mother would have joined Sarah.
24, Gilead street is where all my memories come from, the good, the bad, and the ugly and it is where I will return to when I need a break from the world because my family would be there to welcome me with open hands.
24, Gilead street, indeed, no place like home.


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