One might say that in the silence of our mind, the good Lord speaks to us, and on troubled waters, he walks in search of lost souls. And maybe this was true for an African child whose struggles in life led him to the confinement of the prison walls. It is an irony that when locked up, Uche gained his freedom. His mind traveled far and wide to places his physical body couldn’t go. He began to see things differently. Maybe this was what he needed to be saved.
Prison gave Uche all the time in the world to contemplate and think about all the events that led to his arrest. From finding out he was going to be a father to being arrested. He thought about the looks on his mother’s face and the way she cried when she found out her only surviving son was in police custody. He could have said he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time when the arrest happened but deep down he knew he had done some wrongs and he wasn’t about to start feeling sorry for himself. He might have lost some fights but he most definitely didn’t lose the war so he kept fighting. Fighting not to drown, fighting to come out a better man for the sake of his child and his mother. And most importantly, he prayed his mother’s heart would be too strong to break knowing that she raised a convict.
Back home, things couldn’t have been worse for an African child Sophie who did bring another African child into the world to suffer. It killed her knowing that the cycle of her mother being disappointed in her own parents and her being disappointed in her mother will continue with this child being disappointed in her for bringing her into the world to suffer. Deep down she had hoped she gave birth to a male child because she knew from experience that a girl child is like a beautiful flower lovely and nice during the day, inviting all sorts of strangers to pluck it but withers as soon as it is plucked.
Two years passed since the police incident which saw Uche the father of her child arrested. She still remembers that day like it was yesterday. She remembers the shame in calling her mother to come to bail her and the disappointment her mother had in her eyes. That day she had to promise her mother and herself to turn a new leaf. But it hasn’t been easy. She lost all her friends and the news of her pregnancy and the eventual birth of her child helped to chase suitors away. She was back to the streets where she began. Hawking goods in order to support the family which now has a new mouth to feed.
She thought about Uche from time to time but there was really no way she could summon the courage to go see him in prison. Besides, the prison was the last place she would want to go with her child. What would she say? How would she begin to look Uche in the eyes? Is he the same innocent African child she fell for or has the prison changed him? She knows it is really not easy to go through such an experience and remain the same.
Uche’s mother was busy blaming herself for all that had happened to her son. If only she had pay attention to her little boy, she would have perhaps known he was struggling with his own demons. She faulted herself for not being there for him. She misses Emeka but what good is the dead to her that she risked losing her only living son? As usual, she turned to God and asked for forgiveness and a second chance to be the mother she ought to have been to Uche. And she prayed that she doesn’t lose her innocent boy in prison.
She continued with her petty trade with the hope of saving enough money for her son to start a business when he eventually gets out of prison. It wasn’t easy but she knew in order to stop Uche’s idle mind from going astray again once he is free, she will have to give him something to occupy him.
Determined to go through this journey with her son, she would visit him in prison frequently. To talk to him, and keep him informed of the happenings at home. It was her own way of keeping him sane and his conscience in check. In fact, Uche knew he wasn’t alone in prison, his mother was in there with him and for her sake, he would come out from this battle victorious. This was another opportunity to make his mother proud by just being a better man and he wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste.
Everybody is going to fall down sometimes, but Uche wouldn’t stay down long. The lights fell on his face as he rose from the ground. He was finally free and ready to make amends. As expected, his mother was there to welcome him back to the real world. As excited as he was to be free and see his mother, the first thing out of his mouth was “I have a child and I want to do right”. This came as a shock to his mother but she was happy to hear that her son was willing to take responsibility. To her, it was her prayers answered, although not in a way she had imagined. But it is often said that the good Lord works in mysterious ways. Maybe a child is what her boy needed to keep him grounded.
After several inquiries, Uche was able to find out the whereabouts of Sophie. Scared as he was, he just wanted to do the right thing. He was just an African child who has been forced by the world to grow up too fast and he couldn’t imagine caring for another child. But the child was his and he couldn’t abandon the child and the girl he claimed to love.
On a Saturday morning when Sophie sighted Uche approaching her from far away, she couldn’t contain her emotions. It seemed like she stopped breathing, and sweat dripped from her head down her body. She was excited, scared, and confused all at once. Excited to see her lover again but also scared because she knew not what the future holds. She was also confused because she didn’t know what to say. What will she tell Uche kept her away from visiting him in prison? She wasn’t there for him during his darkest hours and she was ashamed of it.
Amina noticing Sophie’s sudden change in behavior was curious what could have come over her daughter. “That is the father of my child”, Sophie whispered to her mother with a tremble in her voice. It came as a surprise to Amina because they never talked about the father of the child. Although there were gossips of the child being a bastard and a product of Sophie’s waywardness. The mother felt it would have been more hurtful to discuss such at home. So it was a pleasant surprise to her to know that the child wasn’t fatherless after all. It was even more pleasing when Uche told Sophie how the thoughts of seeing her again and his child kept him fighting to stay good. Sophie tried apologizing for not having the courage to come to see him in prison but Uche proposed marriage instead. Joyfully, the two families rallied around Uche and Sophie to give them the support they needed going forward despite the mistakes of the past.
Uche and Sophie determined to rewrite their story on a crooked line in order to give their child a fighting chance in a world she didn’t beg to come into, know it will not be easy but it is the closest to a fairy tale happy ever after story they could have asked for.