By Ifeyinwa Kojo
There I was crying that I had no shoes only to see the one without legs. I had passed that spot many a times during the burial ceremony, it was on the way to the cooking arena. I never noticed, I didn't look. So preoccupied with the guests that this almost went through.
But I heard it. The tiny thankful voice. "Chukwu Tank Sir", it said. It was the voice and the weight of gratitude attached to it that drew my attention. The little girl was tucked in a corner of the room. Beside her were 2 other kids....they were between 4 - 6 years old. Beside this particularly grateful girl was a cellophane bag. It was obvious that it was filled with rice. Another had some swallows and another soup. She also had some packs of pure water.
Their mouths were quite oily showing they just finished eating and had tucked some away maybe for later.
"How are you? I asked them.
They were startled at first. They stared blankly back at me. The girl's hand went by default to protect their storehouse. I smiled.
"Are you guys Okay? I asked in igbo. Have you eaten? Would you like some more?"
They probably didn't expect anyone to notice them, and not the celebrants anyhow.
One of my cousins walked up to us, and called them by name. She asked if they were disturbing me and made to send them away but I stopped her.
These children were exactly what my mum stood for. She would have taken them in, bathed and fed them all.
She would have made those strange handmade clothes for them and sent them home happy.
"Who are they?" I asked my cousin.
"The poor children, she began, they lost their parents few years back and now live with their old grandmother. They go from party to party gathering food and taking home to the old woman.
My cousin launched into some pitiable stories about their lives and it was my turn to stare at them. At 7, this little girl has taken on, understands and accepted responsibilities.
It was after she had packed food remnants to last them a few days that she thanked Chukwu.
My Chukwu, sometimes I am at a loss on what to say, what to feel or how to feel.
I trust absolutely that You know what you are doing but sometimes I worry.
But then again I take a clue from all my experiences with You and leave You be.
I worry about those children even though I know You are not.
I fear for their survival even though I know You will work it out for good.
I wish I could do more than I did for them that day but what they really need is their parents.
Those children taught me a lesson in gratitude.
I still hear her tiny voice even now ...
"Chukwu thank Sir"
Have I said it for the successful burial?
Did I say it for the provisions and protections?
Have I said it today, for life and for health?
"Chukwu Thank Sir"
Like that child, In good times and in bad times, I am truly grateful.
This is Your daughter and I am checking in.