I drew out the wooden box under my bed and unlocked the rusty padlock.
I took out some currencies and counted, "5000… 6000… 6500…" I had just six thousand five hundred naira and I needed an extra one thousand three hundred and fifty naira to complete the rent before the week ran out. I was still lost in thoughts when I heard a knock at the door, "Who is that one that wants to break down my door? or doesn't that person know that this is somebody's house?" I asked as I walked quickly to see who it was.
"Let thunder fire that your mouth mama Mercy. Is it me you are
running your mouth like that for?" I heard mama Chinedu say as I opened the door.
"Ah! I’m sorry o. I did not know it was you. I was thinking it’s those jobless children that usually bang my door." I said to her and quickly dusted a stool for her to sit.

"I am not here to sit down. I just came to remind you that my money is long due. No money, no house!" she said and walked out.

“God!” Mama Mercy screamed gnashing her teeth, "How long must I continue to face this?"
"Mummy! Mummy!! I am hungry" her daughter, Mercy called to her in anguish. Anger and frustration welled up inside her as Mercy called ou again "mummy I am hungry".
"Leave me alone. Can’t you see I am thinking?" She snapped
involuntarily. The child recoiled on hearing her mother’s tone. The unshed tears hanging by the side of her child’s eyes also brought tears to her eyes.
Since she had her daughter out of wedlock with the man responsible disappearing like smoke, she had struggled to provide her a comfortable living, but it was snatched out of her hand by a major fire outbreak caused by an electrical fixing. Now, with no shop and the loss of her goods worth tens of thousands, she had not been able to recoup her losses and she had to scratch and scrape just to feed. Never a defaulter in paying her rent, she
has become a serial debtor. Never one to deny her daughter anything, she couldn't provide now her basic needs.
"God", she muttered "When will this nightmare end?" the tears finally flowed freely as she thought to herself, "I will continue to struggle if not for anything, but my daughter's sake. I won't give up", She vowed.

Ten years old Mercy could not understand her mother's strange tone. She had always been an indulging mum, so Mercy was sure she must be the cause of her mother's anger. Thus, Mercy decided to do something to end her mother's unhappiness. She thought about running away, but she was scared of where to go, or who to run to, since she and mother had always
been alone.
"Maybe I should drink that rat poison, Isioma said makes people die.
I'm sure mother would be better without me in her life". Then she recalled that the priest had preached that people who take their own lives, go to hellfire where they burn forever and ever and. "No! Killing myself will make God angry. Even though mother may be happy, I do not want God to be angry with me too."
She remembers her encounter with a woman on her way from school the other day; that is how bad it has become; she treks to school and back these days because mother could no longer afford the school bus fee, nor even the school fees. Should she accept the woman's offer to go with her abroad?
Thoughts like these sought for dominion on Mercy's young mind as she left home that morning, without breakfast and bade her mother, who didn't seem to have heard her, "goodbye Mum".

“Oh! The clouds are so blue and the environment serene. This is
surely not Nigeria.” Mercy looked around hastily as though forgetting something “Wait! I don't know all these girls. I could have claimed that I finally made it to the school's list of scholarship yet I couldn’t even make the first twenty in class. I seem to be the youngest but the others were older. I have been taught to dress decent but all I see here nudity. It's so cold here, I'll need an armor to cover my fleshy body. Huh! I need to get a
taste of the delicacies set before me. Chicken lap with a plate of macaroni; so tasty" Mercy smacked her lips as Miss Irene watched on. She picked her cane and cat walked the classroom row to flog her latest culprit. Mercy returned from her dreamland on the second lash by her class teacher.
"You can't just disturb me with your useless sound when others are out there playing. My head aches standing there for hours yet my little rest has been cut short by your snoring"
" No food to eat at home, I can't just enjoy my break with my dream again" Mercy muffled and wept



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