How can a woman be successful in life, for some, it’s a soft landing and for some, it’s a landing filled with stones. What if life has offered its hand to help you walk the path of stones. Do you stall or do you take it?
How can a woman be successful in life?… The other side of life
Nina did not know how she came to live in the slums but all she knew was that while growing up she was surrounded by stinking environments and dirty-looking children like her.
Each morning, Nina woke up and like every other abandoned child, she took her smelly self to the river and washed in the polluted water before donning her dirty clothes once again to face the day.
The litter of impoverished children on her side of the slums set out each day wearing dirty clothes with a small bowl in their hands that served as eating bowl or begging bowl and Nina found herself among this children.
How can a woman be successful in life?… Living
Each day, they waited on major streets and whenever they saw a big car coming, Nina and the other children rushed toward it. They raised their bowls high to the window so that whoever was inside the car would in his or her gracious mercy drop some money into the bowl. On some days, they were lucky; kind people came with packs of delicious Jollof rice and distributed them to the children. On some days, they were not; Nina watched with dread as some children were carried away in cars and nobody would bat an eye. So the code was; to move around with the flock. Nina and kids her age were wise beyond their years.
Somehow the instinct of survival had become a consciousness embraced eagerly by every one of them. Whoever was not smart had his daily earnings taken away by the bullies and would have to go hungry or beg the other children who barely had enough to feed themselves.
At night, they retired under the bridge and slept in an abandoned makeshift tent. They already had scavenged clothes to protect them from the biting cold of the morning. Rainy seasons were not favourable because it meant they would be unable to sleep. The flood could carry any one of them that dared sleep in its way.
Nina was puzzled by the people that drove in big cars. Her eight-year-old self wondered what it would be like to be seated in that kind of a car. Wishes were horses, and she could not afford horses.
Nina was skipping along the road with her flock to go resume the day’s begging until she caught sight of a beautiful canopy that was set up at the entrance of the other street in the slums. Her flock had no interest in checking out what was going on, Nina’s interest was piquéd so badly that when she tried to move she could not. She looked on as the woman, well dressed, sang nursery school rhymes. Nina liked the song and joined in singing them. Nina had wanted to go to school, she wanted to be like those children she saw in uniforms each morning but there was no one to sponsor her. She sat down under one of the chairs participating eagerly, afraid that they might chase her away.
At the end of the program, the kind woman she saw singing asked Nina to follow her to the school on the other side of the street. Nina would be acting against the code if she followed her but her eight-year-old self trusted the woman. She found out where the school was and the next day, resumed school. Nina received books, crayons, pencils and a school uniform. She would find out when she grew up that she was a beneficiary of an NGO geared at providing free education up to a certain level.
How can a woman be successful in life?… The wonder of learning
Nina had never witnessed anything as beautiful as the phenomenon of learning. Every morning while her mates woke up to beg, Nina woke up with joy in her heart and threw on her dirty school uniform. She ran barefooted to school and eagerly sat, waiting for the teacher to come. She was glued to all the teacher said and copied into her note whatever was asked to be copied. Nina tried convincing her mates to follow her to school, some agreed and some made jest of her. Nina was termed brilliant by her teachers with a flair for mathematics. The school was kind enough to provide free food for them during the day. After Nina got off from school, she would resume her begging so she could eat and use the street light to do her assignment.
Paying the price
In five years, Nina had finished primary school, she cried at the pain of leaving. She wanted to remain and continue learning but whatever primary school could teach she had learnt. Nina decided she would stop begging and work somewhere so she could see herself through secondary school. She found a buka in the slums and offered to clean the woman’s shop and serve and in exchange, be paid a particular amount every week. The woman was kind enough to allow Nina to work for her whilst schooling. Nina was amazed by her luck and decided she was going to work hard to make the woman happy she employed her and that she did.
Every day, Nina woke up early in the morning to sweep the woman’s shop and clean it thoroughly before heading out to the market where she would buy the ingredients and foodstuffs they needed for the day. She made sure to help get her madam the best foodstuffs at the best prices. She would come back and dress up for the public school in which she had enrolled herself. When the school closed, she would sit for an hour in school to read and do her assignments. Afterwards, Nina headed home hurriedly where the woman welcomed her and offered her food before she began the work of the day; serving customers and cleaning.
What does it mean to be a woman in Nigeria
Nina kept to this routine for six years until it was time to write her external exams. She struggled to save for her exams by doing extra jobs like cleaning for people and washing their clothes. Her madam at the Buka was the kindest woman Nina had ever seen. She allowed Nina to take some time off whenever it was time for exams and taught Nina how to take care of herself the day she saw her menstrual cycle for the first time. The woman loved Nina, she loved Nina’s zeal to succeed in life and maybe that was why she supported Nina by giving her some money to complete her external exam fee. Nina shed tears of gratitude and promised herself never to forget this woman who gave her a place to lay her head for six years, fed and clothed her.
Nina wrote a series of exams that would qualify her for admission into the university. To her delight, she passed her exams and was given admission to study mathematics at the university. Nina was uncontrollable when she was about to leave her madam, where would she stay? Her madam too cried, she loved Nina with all her heart and did not want to let her go. Her small buka with Nina had been transformed into a popular restaurant, nevertheless, she knew it was time for the little bird to fly.
What can I do to be a successful woman
Nina moved to school with her little luggage and her small savings amidst anxiousness, sadness and happiness. She knew she had to do something to keep body and soul alive in school. Her six years with her madam was not a waste. She had learnt how to make delicious meals and so she started making them and selling them to classmates who did not want to stress themselves cooking. It was difficult combining her studies with her side hustle but it had to be done if she wanted to finish. In a short time, Nina had become popular for her delicious meals. She was able to get a stand where she sold her meals. With the money she gained from her food business, she set aside some for her future and with the rest, took care of herself and every other expense.
Nina finished with a distinction and clinched a scholarship. When she cast her mind back on how far she had come, she wept in gratitude. She passed her restaurant to one of the trusted workers she had employed while she was still in school. She went back to the slums to visit her madam who rejoiced with her on her success.
Nina saw some of her mates with whom she had once scavenged the streets. Some of the males were still begging, some had become thugs and some of the females had become prostitutes while some had been put in the family way. Nina shook her head and thanked her stars. Nina gave her madam a substantial amount of money and promised to come to see her whenever she was in Nigeria. She left the country to resume her master’s degree at the age of twenty-five.
Lifestyle of a successful woman
There Nina was a smart student and that was where she met Chris. She and Chris had a whirlwind romance and was soon set to tie the knot. They came to Nigeria to meet Chris’s parents who proved to be an obstacle to their love. Chris’s parents did not want him to marry Nina because Nina did not know her parents. However, Chris was adamant about not breaking up with her, it didn’t matter to Chris that Nina was an orphan with no trace of her family. According to Chris, Nina inspired him to be better, to push forward, and not give up and that was the kind of woman he needed in his life. Chris’s parents had to give in when they realized they were pushing their son away.
At the wedding, Nina got her madam to stand in as her mother. The woman was humbled to have been given such a position at the wedding of a girl that was not her biological daughter. She made sure to make it a memorable day for her adopted daughter.
How to be a successful woman in Nigeria
Nina was set to go back to the United States with her spouse, she moved her madam to a better house that was bought in her madam’s name. Nina furnished the apartment for the woman who kept saying what Nina was doing for her was too much. Even her children had not done something like this for her. Nina had taken her madam to be the mother figure in her life and she was going to give the woman a better life.
Nina had her child and for the first time flew her madam to come and see the child. With the concession of her husband, Nina told her to remain in the States with them with the promise of helping her open an African restaurant and the woman readily agreed. Nina would often remember how she struggled to make something of herself in life, she would look at her husband, her child and her mother and would thank the universe for dealing her the cards fairly.
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