One Saturday morning, something happened that altered the course of my life forever. It was a pivotal and defining moment. My cousin, a few other boys from Bubulu village, and I went to the beach to see a tourist boat berthing in the harbor. Having a tourist boat in the harbor for the first time in thirty years was fascinating. On our way back from the beach, we walked through a cocoa plantation. There was a pile of cocoa fertilizer packets piled beside the path. They looked pretty much the same as a packet of salt for seasoning because of the wrapping and color.
Adam Mola, one of the boys, thought they were salt and took a packet home. He hid it under his shirt from the other boys because he thought they might report him to the owner or his mother for stealing. Taking other people’s property doesn’t reflect well on the reputation of parents. In the public eye, it is thought to be a failure of parents to apply discipline at home. Adam could not read or write, and so he thought it was a packet of salt. He got home and poured the whole packet into a salt container without his mother’s knowledge. His mother couldn’t read or write either. She returned from the river and poured two spoonfuls of the white stuff into the soup she was cooking. After eating the soup, they both vomited profusely and were rushed to the hospital. They passed away a few days later due to internal complications. If Adam and his mom had been literate, this tragedy could have been avoided. Especially Adam since he was the one who took the packet of salt home that day.
The bodies of Adam and his mother were buried in a graveyard close to the hospital, but far from home. The hospital’s ambulance was broken down; it had a mechanical fault in the ignition system. The part had been ordered but wasn’t expected to arrive for two weeks. The family had no money to transport their bodies home for proper closure. Family members and relatives didn’t have a chance to pay their respects or bid them farewell. There was a truck that could have transported them home. It was hired to carry people and goods to a wedding on the east side of the island. Torrential rain, however, made it difficult for the truck to make it to the hospital in time to transport the bodies back home. The road was waterlogged, and the possibility of getting bogged down was inevitable.
I was heartbroken and devastated when I learned that being illiterate was the major cause of their deaths. And not bringing them home because there was no availability of transport was just unacceptable. There was private transport, but Adam and his mom’s family just didn’t have the money to pay for the hire. They didn’t have the money because they were poor. I resolved and determined from that moment to find solutions for these issues: illiteracy and lack of money. I made up my mind to rise to the challenge and pursue it with everything within me.
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