I sat on a stool, grumbling and angry at the fact that I have to wash so much clothes on a day I was supposed to rest. Why couldn’t I give a dry cleaner, you ask? Well, money no dey at the time. I washed a shirt, picked up the second one with my face still squeezed.I still had like twenty-one other pieces to wash. On the other hand, I had ‘Muslims pray for a peaceful election’ to attend later in the day. Then something caught my attention. The expression on my face turned from squeezed to curiosity/pity.
She was girl of about 8-10 years and she stood in front of the entrance door, crying and pleading: “mummy ejoo” (mummy please). I didn’t see her mum but I heard her voice saying: “iwo omo oshi yi, ma fe gba emi e leni” (you this stupid child, I will nearly kill you today). After several minutes of unbelievable curses and verbal abuses from the mother and the continued pleading from the little girl, things went silent for a while. I quietly asked the little girl what she did, apparently her mum had given her 10 minutes to run an errand and she spent an extra 5 minutes. I asked her why she exceeded the allocated time she explained that she had to wait for her balance (she showed it to me - N80 in 50, 20 and 10 Naira notes respectively). I had no right to judge but I felt she was telling the truth. She was so scared but I was able to convince her to go inside. I knew she wasn’t going to escape the beating or the abuse (which is what I think it was). I was kind of worried about this young girl and couldn’t get her off my mind. Just when I thought I was wrong, I heard a loud scream of plead. What followed sounded like two heavy bodied men in a fight. Is this discipline or torture?
Personally, I have never supported beating a child to instill discipline. Most times, I equate these beatings to abuse. I mean - why use koboko or belt to beat a child all because you want to make a point? There are ways to esteem, encourage, teach and build a child without the cane. My story is no different. My dad was (and still is) the calm type. Always listens and interacted with me. Back then, I always longed to see him come back from work. My mum was opposite - the disciplinarian. She was that type that believes a child listens more when he is spanked, whipped or hit. It doesn’t really matter what he is struck with. Two things mattered - the child fears and learns.
My mum used to beat me for any and every kind of reason; from bringing the wrong item she instructed me to bring or mistakenly breaking a plate or taking too much time to find the TV remote or taking too long to open the door when she knocks. There is this one that never leaves my memory: “lo mu magi fun mi (go bring maggi for me). That was a nightmare errand for me. Why? A slap was almost assured. There could be two to four brands of maggi in the bowl. Before being sent, only Allah and my mum knew which brand of maggi she needed at that time. If luck wasn’t on my side and I brought the wrong brand of maggi, the right one would be communicated to me via a slap to make sure I don’t forget.
For so long, I hated my mum. It was stupid but that was what I felt. Sometimes, I wished she goes out and never come back. Then I started to grow tall and strong. Shortly after my 17th birthday, my mum wanted to do the usual. I held the cane, took it from her, broke it into pieces, and shouted at her. Yes, I finally snapped. I broke things in the house and she hid herself in the room till my dad came back. It took my dad’s very soft and calm approach to make me understand I had done a bad thing. I didn’t feel sorry completely because I felt I just had my freedom.
The awkward relationship with my mum continued till my mid-twenties. Then Islam beaconed. I was born a Muslim but we didn’t have that strong Islamic practices in my home. My parents never prayed. Islam came to me and I accepted it. I began to see lots of things from a different angle. I stopped drinking alcohol. It took me a while but I started observing salaat regularly. I attended lectures and read the Qur'an. Finally, I realized I should be loving my mother rather than hating her. Walahi, I cried and then asked Allah for forgiveness.
Today, I have a fantastic relationship with my mum. Imagine if she had used her energy to teach me Islam rather than beat me. Just imagine if I had known Jannah was under her feet from my early years in life. Yes, there are times when you would have to beat him/her but the most important thing is teaching the kids the Qur'an and the ways of holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). When a child knows and understands the Qurán well, there is the tendency to always be well behaved and be rational in thinking and in approach to issues and situations. I hope the little girl’s mum (my neighbour) understands this and change her approach to discipline. And yes, I was able to make the event and it was a beautiful one.