Days after my big race I told my mother that I’d completed my first half marathon. And in true typical Nigerian parents’ fashion, she asked me, “did you win?” perplexed by her question. I wondered why my mother would expect me to place first in a 13.1-mile race. After all, this is my mom. So, I think. In the entirety of her knowing me, she knew I never played any sports; not in Kindergarten –which by the way, I attended four times in the school year, not in Primary School, and most definitely, not in High School. Speaking of high school, except, that one time my sister persuaded me to try out for our school’s soccer team with her. Although, I didn’t have any prior experience playing soccer nor did she, but I figured how hard can it be? I have seen one too many groups of gorimapa (bald-headed) boys in my neighborhood playing in the compound before suppers and on other occasions on the grass field during lunch breaks and inter-house sports at school in my beloved country, Nigeria. To my conclusion, it was not too difficult. Besides, I am African. Aren’t we all genetically built to play like Pele? Presumably, as the two only black girls trying out, our spot on the team was guaranteed. To cut to the chase, the answer is a speedy NO. Anyway, I kicked like a girl, shielded myself from flying balls, and instead of tackling the football from my opponents, I was more worried about my shins getting kicked! Two weeks after, and the tryouts were over. At this point, I was satisfied with settling for a spot on the Junior Varsity’s team even though I expected to be the star player on the varsity team. The list of the names was out. I looked at the JV list, and to my pleasant surprise, my name was not on it. In my silence gleefulness, I shifted my gaze to the varsity’s list, I searched for my name, and there, it was not there too. I was pissed. Not because I didn’t make either of the teams, but because my effort for waking up at 5 am on two Saturdays to attend a 6 am soccer practice was not put into consideration. Shege!
For what? To endure physical aches and pains from running after a passing ball. So, back to my mother’s question, did I win? Yes, mama, I did. I won a Medal!!!!
I dedicated each mile ran to my niece and nephews. My inspiration and source of joy.