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“As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day

A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray

Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,

For the people hear us singing, “Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_Roses

I sat on my bed pondering these words, feeling rather uncomfortable with the very sunken nature of my mattress (all because I’d rather lie on that one side for ages than sleep on the right side of my bed). Lol.

But moreso, feeling much more appalled that for what’s now more than a century plus one decade since Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day in 1910, we still have to justify why we deserve the barest minimum. That we still have people holding imaginary placards screaming at us, telling us to know where ‘our place’ is.

Our place? Let me tell what would hopefully be a very short story. Stay with me.

I sell everyone’s favorite morning snack — our Nigerian akara and pap in that little corner just south of the Federal Secretariat office building. Fanning my morning flames, with soot flying all around being stuck in every fiber of my hair but I pay no mind, really. That savory smoky smell now entwined between each stitch and thread of my wrapper and oversized shirt that I begged my husband for this very morning? That smell is the perfume I wear on a daily and with pride, I must add.

I am overjoyed at the thought of returning home and then running off proudly to Model Elementary School. Standing face to face with Oga Principal (as we all call him), ignoring his scoffed looks and eyeglasses tilted ever so slightly on the bridge of his nose and having these words come out of my mouth, “I don show with my shilderen skool fiz o”

Translation: I have come to pay my children’s fees.

That ought to shut him up good! Now, I am not known for trouble. These days, however, trouble but seems to find me.

Remember when I said I had to borrow my husband’s shirt? Well, another short story there.

Between shuttling the market for my weekly buy, paying sick Mama a visit over the weekend,  getting them pikins ready for school, dropping them off whilst hurriedly preparing food for my house roommates. . . Thankfully, Amaka is of age now and is able to wash her and her younger brother’s clothes. Just Imeala!

You see asking for my husband’s cloth was like receiving a dirty slap across my face, as dirty as the pile of my clothes that have been staring at me eyeball to eyeball for a few days now. 

‘What were you doing all weekend?’ was my first lecture.

Doin…What was…What was I? What?!!! 

I could feel the fumes coming out of my eardrums as my brain was about to implode. Exactly as in the cartoons, if not worse.

Instead what I offered was a smile. I gently rubbed his head, made my request known and blew a kiss in the air as I ran out of the room before Mama Alero takes all my customers from me this early mo-mo.

Translation: Early mo-mo means very early in the morning

To be continued…

You see, THIS, this is to the woman who breaks her back yet not breaking a sweat.

The ‘everyday woman’ who wakes up first thing in the morning but is the last one to go to bed. Or the one who has to rush off to work and barely gets to kiss her kid goodbye because Oga is just waiting for her to slip up only to compare her to Deji.

The one who sits and washes her infant’s hair, who’s a stay-home mom and pumps her blood into the veins of her family.

The one who chooses that her own kid is not her path but rather the hundreds out there, she decides to mother and father.

The one who is called Madam to her face but vile whispers are spewed behind her back because she doesn’t deserve that position.

This is to the women who are equally fighting in our armed forces laying down their insecurities just to take up ours. The women in sports who are told every time their value is less than their counterparts…

This is to she who is denied education, denied a voice, a life and pretty much even oxygen to breathe if it were well within their powers.

This is to us, “GENDER EQUALITY TODAY FOR A SUSTAINABLE TOMORROW”. 

As Mary Kom put it, don’t let anyone tell you you’re weak because you’re a woman.

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