Of Choices and Necessary Radios.

Yesterday morning, I braved the now inevitable traffic to Aguda, Surulere to get my hair done by the woman who’s been plaiting my hair for nearly ten years. Because my hair is thick and springy and my scalp is ridiculously tender with a negative pain threshold, getting my hair done elsewhere is nearly unthinkable as she understands how to handle the strands and how to comb it without causing excessive pain.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned her a couple of times here on the blog, you can check out https://chynanu.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/hassan/ which is about her and the child she lost. Iya K. has five living children, two boys and three girls. Her children came in a funny but consistent order – boy/girl/boy/girl…

Her second son is about ten or eleven years old and he is always fighting with his younger immediate sister who is perhaps the gentlest of all her mother’s children. While I was plaiting my hair yesterday, they were fighting over the cover of the girl’s biro which she insisted was with her brother.

Their mother didn’t even interfere in the fracas as she told them to shift their noisemaking away from us. I aspire to have that level of chill as a mother, to be able to ignore children when they are being annoying and silly – yes, annoying and silly. Don’t forget I was a child myself in the not too distant past and my immediate younger brother (who’s birthday is tomorrow – July 8) had a number of legendary fights in our day.

The brother eventually gave up the biro cover and his sister grabbed it off him. I assumed she was inside the house as we continued with my hair so you can imagine the shock I felt when a small girl came to look for her and her mother calmly said she’d gone for lesson.

It took all the self-control I possess to have kept from whipping my head and asking her if she had lost her mind by sending her child for lesson in this pandemic. I decided to wait for my heart rate to reduce before confronting her but a tiny voice in my head said a few words which calmed me.

“What other choice did she have?”

The children attend government schools which have zero provision for online classes of any kind during this pandemic. Even if by some chance, they were able to access some sort of online education, both parents have phones which are not internet enabled. The mother doesn’t even have a phone right now as her phone is spoilt and I had to reach her on her husband’s line.

Still, the parents have to ensure that the children get an education in this period and the only workable option is to let their children join other children in small groups while a teacher stands in front of the classroom, confident that he has the attention of the children because his cane is always ready to swing into action.

I wondered if Iya K. knew the severity of the condition but I realised quickly that she couldn’t afford to keep her life on the ice because of a condition which seems far removed from her daily life. So, I swallowed my words and nearly choked on my tongue and wished her all the best.

When the Lagos state government announced that it would be giving out radios to school children to enable them participate fully in the offline in the classes, the policy was subjected to intense and immense criticism. However, as I sat there thinking about the matter, I realised that originators of that policy were not even being silly.

Very many Lagosians live below the poverty line and a radio is an exciting but very cheap method of getting knowledge into the hands of the children who need it the most.

I’m supposed to give a moral lesson to accompany this post, maybe something about not rushing into hasty judgement. However, I am barely keeping my eyes open to type this as sleep is seducing me with an irresistible siren’s call.

I finally succumbed to the bout of the malaria fever which had been threatening to knock me down. And now, I am perhaps as weak as the proverbial baby.

If you find typos or there are parts which do not have a logical sequence, just holla so I can edit. But not tonight, I’m already asleep.


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