Dear Elsie,

Today, I will tell you about a particularly awesome person. A person I believe deserves all the praise and commendation I can give. She is my heroine – my mother.

When I was a child, if you asked me whom my favourite parent was, my dad would come out before I could process a response. I mentioned my dad as the more favoured of the two with so much joy and enthusiasm. My love for my dad was to a fault and expressing it was reflex so I needn’t think a lot about such questions before giving a response.

I loved my mother too but not very much like I loved my father. And the reason was simple, she was too strict. In fact, at a point I thought she did not like me. What many mothers would correct with a smile, she would correct with a stern look that left me trembling in expectation of the slap or thrashing that might follow.

Therefore, my mummy did not come atop the list of my favourite parent. My father on the other hand, could be equated to Superman. He was my superman. Anytime my mother wanted to beat me, he would intervene.  When his interventions became incessant, she changed her discipline schedules. She would serve me whatever she had to before my dad came back from work. This is partly the reason she was not my favourite parent when I was a child.

Another thing which made her always come second to my dad was that she made me hawk. For a girl who thought she was not from a poor home (indeed, I was not), I detested this act my mother put me through. I could get whatever I asked for without any sweat, my family could afford to satisfy my need without trying too hard. So, I really did not understand why my mother would put me through this.

My father, my saviour, was with me on this for the exact same reason. Try as he did, my mother would not budge. I was not surprised, because she is very obstinate. Once she knows she plying the right path, it would take a miracle get her off it.  Little did I know that my mother was teaching me survival. She was teaching me how to make money, but I was too angry with her to know all of this.

Then I grew up. Things started falling in place, my perspective about issues started changing. I saw these happenings in totally new light. That’s why today, my mother is number one of my list of heroes and heroines. If I had to come back to this life, she’d still make the cut for that selection. Funny enough, the virtues with which she would not have made the cut some ten years ago are the same reasons she makes the cut today.

She is resilient. I’m yet to meet anyone who pushes forward like she does. Nothing is strong enough to prevent her from achieving what she sets her mind to. Not even pain. She has had a chronic ailment for the better part of her life. I have seen her go about her duties in pain like she was fine. She has been a seller since I knew her. She’s hardly idle. Whenever one saw a good reason to make her stop a venture, she would find a better reason to continue. This is what has made her the face of Hausa koko in my current my neighbourhood.

She started this business in our previous neighbourhood. There, we made very low sales. Sales low enough to make anyone back out of a business. But she did not mind. She was hopeful things were going to pick up. She did not stop even though we all wanted her to. Wherever, she gets such stubborn hopes from, I pray I find it. She continued till we moved out of that neighbourhood to a new one. Thinking she was going to rest, she started making enquiries about where she could sell porridge again. And in no time, we were back in business in a new vicinity. We struggled with that too till it became what it is today-a booming business venture.

Put her quest for business away and let me tell you about her passion for knowledge acquisition. She never had access to Western education. She had very little Islamic education. However, her desire for knowledge saw her admit herself at an adult Islamic school when she was around 40 years. By dint of hard work and perseverance, I have seen her knowledge improve over the years. What I find more interesting is that when we moved to a new vicinity, she still found another one to admit herself and continued where she left off.

At 56, her love for knowledge is as hot as a furnace. And she has ensured that we get both types of education.  She moves everything movable to make sure we get it. I remember her habit of showing up at my school unannounced. This habit of hers made it impossible for me to be truant. She would have beaten it out of me if I tried it anyway. I became a lover of education, by choice and by force.

Coming from a community that is plagued with women obsessed in equal parts with the latest fashion item and flashy ceremonies, my admiration for my mother’s commitment to remain oblivious of all this to make us better, grows in bundles. She juggles motherhood, studentship, business and wifely duties in a way that leaves me in awe. She would be my number one heroine every day.

My dear Elsie, this is how my mother transcended from not my favourite parent to my heroine.

Until I write to you next week, I remain yours sincerely,