She is 65, around 5f 3. Dark and slim. Mrs. Kate Okorie had been a teacher in the kindergarten school run by the Catholic Church in my countryside town for maybe 15 plus years before calling it quits. She sat at a corner and smiled to those gathered there.
It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that almost all the generation x born in the five villages that made up St John’s parish received their nursery education from her.
It would be nice to give you some little background gist on the woman. I am sure you have knowledge of when those x creatures started creeping into this planet. It must be the same with those of your village. Well, those that came here through those five villages is even today regarded as ancient, imagine something like that. They just came and all of a sudden, they are seen as ancient already. Truly, time flies.
There was no electricity, no road wide enough for car to pass on, why should there be, there was no single car in those villages. 90 percent of the houses then were mud houses. About 3 percent has motorcycles and 4, Bicycles. Those few cement houses were mainly three rooms and parlor owned by the powerful then.
The year was 1972 and madam Kate as Mrs. Kate Okorie was known had given birth twice outside wedlock and her father had given up on her. Talking wasn’t working, neither was beating and starving. The old man resigned to his fate.
In those years in Igbo land, given birth in your father’s house once is tickets to be certified a damage goods and to have done so twice is double wahala like people like to refer to such bad news. No hope of marriage any more and that must have been reason why girls like Madam Kate decided to top it with more bad news for sound measure. Which young man would marry such a cargo and still have mouth to talk among his age mates?
Two girls in her father’s house, both came in late 60s. Both clearly misfortune, naked bad news and reason attached to it was Madam Kate’s acquiring Western education up to primary school level they call standard level during colonial time. In fact, it was even believed that her mother remained married to the father after such disgrace due to the father being responsible for sending Kate to school as against his wife’s advice.
She was rated as being over wise by all and kept away from by the young men that supposed to marry her.
Madam Kate has ambitions and beauty to match it. She has taste that supersedes the village she saw herself in. Her taste for men transcend the young men around her. She had nothing to do with the village based boys that claims to be too good for her. She had no qualms in socializing openly with city based guys whenever they were back for Christmas holidays.
It was believed that it was those city guys that fathered those two kids and to add salt to injury, madam Kate can’t pinpoint who the actual father’s were. She was Nick named 'City Toilet' by the home based guys.
None in the village has education she had and the educated guys were not village based and that was how Madam Kate landed the teaching work at St John’s in late 60s and remained in it till around '84.
In 1975, a man from neighboring village that is about 30 years older than her came knocking at her father’s house one harmattan season asking for her hands in marriage. She jumped with all her strength at the opportunity and took her two bad news with her to the man's house after initially staying alone for months with the man.
When she gave birth at the man's house, she decided she needed a helper and that was how her two bad news entered into the man family life.
In early 90s when her bad news were in their twenties, they got married to two guys from neighboring tribe for from look of things, no one was interested in them from the town due to the news following their mother around. They got lost in their new found environment to the extent of not being known by many in their village and they knew not many too.
Then, nature started those games they usually play with people’s fate some call destiny. The two bad news won foreign national lotteries and that was how they became citizens of Switzerland and Austria.
They relocated with their families. Madam Kate widowed since early 90s and whose first issue in her husband’s house has became a Reverend sisters based in Kenya and later Ghana has been to Ghana on several occasions on the invitation of her daughter.
Ghana rated as second class by Nigerians, being there is seen as jumping from frying pan into fire. So, the villagers saw it as still paying for bringing bad news into the world out of wedlock. The woman reasoning is far removed from her people’s way. She viewed it as sight seeing, opportunity to mingle with the enlightened.
In 2006, when those her bad news gave births, she was invited to stay with them and that invitation caused fresh animosity between her and her brothers who believed that by tradition, they were the rightful people to go and stay in Switzerland with the daughters since they were born out of wedlock. They belonged to her father.
Madam Kate entered plane for the first time courtesy of her bad news and wasted no time in chatting up people she felt belonged to where she believes she belonged.
“Hello, you serve here, right?” she began with the air hostess. “Please, I need help in turning on this screen”
She seems eager to talk with the hostess maybe to practice her English for many around her was ready to help. She didn’t spend months in Europe but years almost decades. She was junketing from Switzerland to Austria back and forth for 15 healthy good years.
She disappeared from the map of Nigeria since 2006 and reappeared last year December full of stories. She was even familiarizing herself with the town terrain for a lot had changed since her departures. Her compound has changed. Her two sons has risen in the world a bit. The mud house in her compound has turned into two brick houses. She spent two weeks entering and visiting strategic positions in the town telling unending tales of European world.
“ There is nothing like hunger in that country, foods are a pan a penny. It came to a time that my daughter drew a time table for me”
“ Time table for food? You mean there are assorted kinds of food there?”
“ Quality assorted, not just assorted. Quality assorted. I wanted to bring some to you people but government regulations don’t allow that”
“Your daughter must be spending a hell of money on food alone”
“ The foods were subsidized and you are paid allowances for four mouths each family”
“ They give Africans too?”
“ Africans? No one knows whether you are Africa or Asia as long as you are citizen”
“So, the allowance is enough to feed your family for a month?”
“ And over. The house you live in is well furnished. You only worry about rent, water and electricity bills”
She would go on and on each day from family to family, village squares to squares alternating between Switzerland land and Austria culture and occasionally throwing in French and German for good measure.
“ I have not landed for good oh!, I will soon return to Europe again. I am not sure I can be able to survive in this hole you people are in again”
She would end her story on that message before changing location and start all over again with fresh audiences that mope with their mouths open.
“My daughter’s wants me there while they work, I just came to see you people. Shit, you are all suffering. What is government doing about it”
Mouths drops open wider while she dips hands inside her purse for little change she drops for them. She ends her tale there with another mesmerizing tales while some in the audience eyed their supposed good news with confusion.