User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Poverty starts with understanding. It is never inherited. It is learnt, eaten up like words from a tome or dictionary. It begins when you realize that you are impoverished, and as such, decide to desensitize yourself, remove wants and embrace the redundancy of needs. Poverty started with my silence. First, I silenced the drums beating in my head, aching, killing me. I need more than a hospital, but I shall not seek help. Poverty is clenched between my upper and lower teeth. I shall not sing of my pain through tears. Poverty teaches you how to reject gifts, and how to say no, to goodwill. You hope to keep it for another day. Poverty is not the absence of wealth. Grandma says, "Poverty is the absence of ideas". The poverty of her generation's ideas, and also of Mother's generation, has led to that of my generation. It is a tree, grown for too long: a tree that needs to be buried beneath the strength of novelties. 

Poverty lynched my father. Mum had been ill—so ill that she began to toss her goodbyes. Dad could not agree with her resignation. He spent every last penny on procuring medicine for her, and then swallowed by desperation, he had sought the pharmacist's aid. She had refused to offer him a credit sale, and he had thought shoplifting to be the best course of action. Yet, he was caught and lynched beneath the soaring flames made of obsolete car tires and diesel. He died from a piddling sachet of paracetamol. We escaped the town in the silence of a tragic night. We were not given the luxury to mourn our loved ones. Poverty transcended thus into displacement. Being a refugee showed me how it is that one gets lost, hoping to be found someday.

Now, we live elsewhere, somewhere wherein I see in people's eyes the reflection of myself. I see broken people, uncaring people; people who toss danger like balls. Pneumonitis sits deep in my lungs, eating me up. This pain is a fruit of my past, something tossed at me by bad air—polluted air being distributed by the localized manufacturing industries. My mum has struggled, but with weak legs, out of her ailment. She was able to pay for my diagnosis, but not for the treatment which should have been a sequel to it. I try to breathe and try as well not to cry as this pain clouds my being. My life flashes constantly before my eyes. 

I am addicted to escaping my fears, and education has offered me a choice for escape. As such, I attend a government-owned school, feasting excitedly on the knowledge of what was and what there is to know about this country wherein I reside. In my Civic Education classes, I have learnt that there was a Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) in 1948, wherein the then President of the United States of America, Franklin Roosevelt, had stated seven core freedom proclamations. The third article was "Right to life, liberty and personal security ". I still ponder what living is, because, in poverty, one doesn't live, one only survives. Next, I read about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), wherein the idea of poverty being extinct was debated. I do ponder over the possibility of this becoming a reality, because more than an inheritance, poverty has become a religion. The rich are dispelling poverty on the poor, and the poor lack the independence to seek ideas that would ensure they win together. Every poor man who seeks to be liberated tramples upon his neighbours, making ladders of them, to reach for the stars—success.

When I am not being ground by misfortunes or being eaten up by an illness, I write. I want to become a writer like a little Jewish girl I read in a history book—Annelies Marie "Annie" Frank was a teenager who had kept a diary during the second world war (1939-1945). She named it "Kitty". It was published in 1947, after the war, as the "Diary of a young girl". Like her, I am keeping a journal, but I did not make it about me alone. I am writing about the world of hurt people around me. I have also infused my ideas of what change looks like into it. I call my journal "Change". In it, I have written about how poverty cannot be extinct, but how hunger can be killed. It starts with the conviction that you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself. My faith explains that the cure to our greed is charity, and it is as well the main tool of poverty alleviation. Hunger has not made me lose faith. It has strengthened my faith and has given me the will to carry on with much-needed vigour. 

I have written what I know. I had written of poverty and its orchestration, of how it is a function of bad leadership and of how our leaders rise from amongst us and how they rule us with the values they have earned from us. Poverty alleviation starts from understanding that "The hate you give is the water tide, it would come back as a typhoon to haunt everyone". Poverty is simply the hate we have given, as jungle justice, as greed, as anger and as miserliness. Poverty is birthed from everything unfair and insensitive, and it shall not be changed by laws or policies, but only when everyone becomes humane. I want to write as much as I can about eradicating poverty, and educating the impoverished of ideas, but I do not have much time left. My inflamed lungs are a testament to what would become of me.


I am Mahmoodah Oyeleye, 17, a Nigerian Writer. I write from Lagos, Nigeria. I have authored a book of prose, Faded Blues, "22. My publications have appeared in literary magazines including the Kalahari Review, GHLL, Writefluence Anthology and others. 


Donate a little?

Use PayPal to support our efforts:


Genre Poll

Your Favorite Genre?

Sign Up for info from Short-Story.Me!

Stories Tips And Advice