“Living in other’s shoes”

I oftentimes like to imagine how people who do not have as much privilege  as I do cope with everyday  ordinary things, especially parents mothers that have children with disabilities, not just cerebral palsy. I am talking of basics which are viewed  privileges in this country; going to school beyond secondary school, having a car albeit a jallopy, knowing what disability your child has, accepting it, yes I think acceptance is a privilege, being informed about the condition, having the opportunity to daily access information on it and taking  or attempting to take positive actions to improve on the child’s condition. Sometimes I do not just imagine it, I try to live it for that is the only way I can better understand what such  mothers go through.

Monday the 14th of November, I decided to go to see the people at a palace on an issue that has been unresolved for about six months now. I had sent people to talk to them in the past but they have not been understanding. I had gotten a “daughter of the soil” to take me there and they were making unreasonable demands. So I decided to go myself, taking my angel, my good luck charm, Ziim. I did not want to drive for one the roads to place are very bad and secondly I wanted to experience what a mother with a child like Ziim who does not have some the privileges I mentioned above would.  The road to the place is so bad that even taxis do not attempt to go there, the only option was to go by keke Maruwa . As soon as I came out, I saw one and hailed it, I wanted to take it on “drop”, but I quickly thought otherwise when the driver told me the price, N400, that’s too much, besides I would not gain the experience I envisaged. So I decided to take the regular though it will entail making  two changes and walking part of the way nut cheaper in terms of cost.  We walked to the bus stop, well I walked  carrying Ziim.

In a short while, one came along,  and we went in. The journey to the palace was not as stressful as I imagined, apart from Ziim’s shoe falling off without my realizing (but the driver of the Maruwa ran after me and I went back to pick it) and the constant calls by people, mostly women to “carry my baby well” or “put her down to walk”, “why are you carrying that big girl”, “put her head well she is sleeping”, nothing dramatic happened. As soon as I walked into what I will call the office in the house boldly written “the palace of XXXX” the drama started. I recognized the “oga” from my previous visit, but he apparently did not recognize me, he probably was distracted by the child I was carrying.  He went,why are you carrying this baby like this? is there a problem with her? I asked, may I sit down? Yes, sit down abeg, but wetin make you carry this child come here? I took my time, trying to arrange Ziim on the chair while the man and others therein watched us. Madam, why you carry this kind pikin come here, this na palace, such children should not come in here. I could see panic or is it fear on his face. Well, this is my baby, she has a condition called cerebral palsy. Cee wetin? Cerebral palsy sir I have to come with her because there is no one I can leave her with. Abeg madam wetin you want. At that point one of the men in the office recognized or may be remembered me and informed him. Oh madam, please what do you want? I stated my mission. Ok, madam just go, I will take care of it today. As I made to go, he said, Se’ dis your child you dey go spiritual for am? Oh yes, I take her to church. Big loud hiss, nose turned up….we are talking of spiritual matters im dey talk church, you better go look for a strong spiritualist to help you, this no be ordinary matter oo. Ok sir, but what of what I came for? Oh, sure madam, that is done, no worry, bye. He could not wait to see us leave.

As we left, I could feel their stares, I made effort to withhold my laughter. Foolish and  fetish people!! We went back just as we came, receiving the same “advice” from people. I was happy, I got what I wanted, saved money,(spentN200) though I was tired from carrying logging Ziim along. Why did it not occur to me to take Ziim there all these while? Well I guess it never did until a mother whose son has hydrocephalus shared her experience in the hands of  some traditional rulers. Fetish men & women!!!

Anyway, as I got home, having for a while lived in the shoes of some of these mothers, I could better understand why some tell me they just leave the children at home and go to church or party and come back. How does she carry the child from point to point, the weight of the child, the unsolicited advice from people. The uninformed sometimes heed to some of the advice. I have seen some mothers tie all sorts of things around the waist and arms of their children to what I call “wad off” CP. Now I understand better why they do that, advice from “highly placed” people or how will you describe an “oga” in a palace?

Living in others shoes always does bring gratitude, gratitude to God fro those little privilege He has given me. Do you sometime try to leave in other people’s shoes, especially those not as privileged as you? It could be a rewarding experience, you could just try it and do share your experience.



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