Two Sundays ago, I saw a woman I had held a secret grudge against for some six or seven years, I think.
I hadn’t seen her in years, which accounted for the length of the grudge.
As usual after service, I hung around to greet family and friends outside the church before heading home, that’s when I sighted the woman and her family; they too were coming to take a spot outside the church hall to look out for friends they hadn’t seen in a while and catch up on the latest happenings in one another’s life.
At first, I wanted to avoid her, but instead, I stood my ground, ‘Ehen, wetin, am I owing her?’ I looked straight at her and smiled but was hating her inwardly. We did the mwah, mwah on the both cheeks and stood back to examine each other.
Yeah, I know, I am a sinner; well, that’s why I am in church. It’s for sinners like me, not for saints.
So, what did this woman do to me? She was my son’s teacher for one full year, I took the kid to her for extra lessons- to learn to read and write…my son is dyslexic, see the story here.
After one year of great expectations…from me, (you see, I was expecting a miraculous turn-around on the kid- that the teacher would help the kid write in super scripts and he would read like the wind…it didn’t happen)
So I asked her, like a concerned mama, ‘…this boy, I haven’t seen any marked difference to justify the time and money spent these past few months o.’
Then she told me my son could not be helped; she told me I should send him to learn a vocation – like being a mechanic or carpenter. She told me she had tried to teach him but he just couldn’t learn.
Inwardly -insert the emoticon of woman putting up her hands on her head and wailing profusely.
Outwardly -my smile turned crooked; I shrank in my 6 inch stilettos and pencil skirt; my expensive weaves suddenly felt like a soaked mop on my head.
I remember thanking her for her efforts so far and wobbled to my car. I vowed never to speak to her again. I had placed my confidence in her ability to help my kid learn, I wondered how come, she, so versed in education, psychology and all whatnot couldn’t find the answers to helping my kid learn.
I got home and got to work again. I pushed my little boy. I worked him hard. I prayed harder. I motivated him with words of affirmation. I fought wildly for him and gave him as much exposure as I could afford. One day, my parents came calling, they were worried about the maniacal manner I worked the boy. They told me to back down a bit. They said my life seemed to depend on the kid. They told me they loved him too as per grandson, after all, but they saw how I was punishing myself for the kid.
Until then, I never saw it was about me. I thought it was about the boy. I was inadvertently trying to prove to the teacher and several other teachers before her that I was no failure because all I heard in their words was me not being fit to raise a child that wins awards after awards, the one who makes the cut at field events and in the classroom. The golden boy!
I needed to refute these and so I pushed.
But you see, the teacher may not even be able to recall her words to me that day. She would probably have denied them, if I had confronted her that Sunday. We were both mushy-mushy like we had missed seeing each other these past few years. I know I was pretending, I am not sure of her.
Funny thing, many times we say things in jest, we say things we haven’t even properly processed in our heads and we do damage to people listening to us. I may also have been guilty of same, who knows how many hearts I have broken with foolish talk?
That Sunday, as I observed the woman and as I smiled into her eyes, I told myself to let go. She doesn’t even know you bear a grudge, let go, idiot!
To onlookers, we were just two women, happy to see each other and chatting animatedly.
Woman: So how is your son?
Me: He’s doing great, he is in so and so uni right now, he cleared all his papers in all the exams, he did this…he did that…(I was boasting, I was gloating) Inwardly – damn you bitch, you said he would amount to nothing, you two faced lying…
She cuts into my thoughts.
Woman: ‘Oh great, I am so happy, I knew he would do well, he is such a brilliant boy…’
Me: (Inwardly) Liar! You’re still in church o, you just may catch fire!
(Outwardly) We thank God, o. These children, henh, I just thank God, sha
Woman: Greet him for me o, tell him he shouldn’t forget us, o.
Me: (Inwardly) Yeah right, like I would even mention seeing you, oniranu!
(Outwardly) Oh yes, I will.
We parted like two friends.
Maybe we need friends like that, friends who will be brutal and force us to sit up. Friends who will not mince words and get us all fired up to change…and maybe not. Maybe she should have chosen her words with care…there are better ways of conveying your challenges to the mother of a dyslexic child, there are comfort words to give the father of a child who drowned, without castigating him or pointing out his negligence; just ike some people are doing on social media over the death of Dbanj’s one year old that accidentally drowned.
Surely, there are words of wisdom to share with people grieving without telling them they have joined the club of orphans…see, if you have nothing to say, silence is always golden.