Friends in and around Eagle Island came around and they were all asking for ’gist’. According to them, it was my turn to share a personal experience with them. They started throwing questions at me. These are some of them.
Person 1: We would like to know the cause of the change in your mother’s looks.
Me: It is a long story.
Person 2: Okay then, you can make it brief.
Person 1: We would like to know the whole story, please…
Person 3: At least you can tell us the main points.
Me: In order for you to understand I have to tell the story right from the start.
It all started nine years ago, on the 8th of March, 2005 in Eagle Island, Port Harcourt where we lived. It was a day to mama’s birthday which is the 9th of March. Unlike previous years mama seemed to have forgotten her birthday was around the corner. She went to pay a visit to one of her sisters that lived down town and to also pick two of my cousins who were to spend some days with us. We happily seized this opportunity to discuss and prepare for mama’s birthday. My two elder siblings were quite delighted that Daddy wanted to throw a surprise party for mama. I had a shallow picture of when, where and how it would be done.  They knew the details and  they were more involved in the preparations for mama’s Birthday party. That would be a great opportunity to hear more of the phrase we heard often: “Your mother is really beautiful”. I was a bit fascinated but my thoughts were on what best I could give my mum for a birthday gift.
Mama came back home with my cousins but instead of two she brought home three. She gave a brief explanation as to why they were three but I was more concerned with the fact that the person-person bed space would decrease a bit and that could affect how much I would roll and turn in my sleep. Earlier on I designed a birthday card for my mama and felt really fulfilled. Stayed in my room for a long time trying to decipher how best I could win my mama’s heart. I wanted to be the first to tell her ‘Happy birthday’ so I laid quietly on my bed pretending to be asleep but actually waiting for my elder siblings to sleep off so that there would be no one standing in my way. I felt even if Dad tells her before I do, at least I would be the first child to tell her ‘Happy Birthday’.
Dad had gone round to check every room to ensure all was intact before leaving for his room. Everywhere was quiet and this boosted my hope that very soon everyone would be asleep and then I could get my wish granted. I was so concerned about every other person falling asleep I didn’t even take notice of when I slept. My dream even helped to satisfy my thoughts though it was a bit forward as it was already time for the surprise party. Unknown to me it was a different story in the real World. There were minor problems with the transformer involved in the supply of electricity to the different houses in that avenue and was going to be corrected very soon. Recently, we had noticed decrease in the voltage while some neighbours noticed step up. No one envisaged that it was going to lead to something really hazardous soon.
There was a spark somewhere and this generated fire. Since there was no fire alarm, we were still sleeping in the peace of our rooms unknown to us that the house was beginning to be surrounded by fire. My dad woke up to go  to go and make use of the toilet when he saw the fire. I can imagine how much shock that was; must have been enough to dismiss the urine call. He hurriedly woke my mum up and ran to the children’s room. The shout was enough to wake my elder sister up. She hurriedly woke the others up counting to ensure that they were all five in number. She forgot that three of our cousins came over and so she thought I was part of the five people that she counted. Unknown to her, I had rolled to the side of the bed and was very far away in dreamland in the comfort of my fluffy blanket.
They all ran out from the exit at the back and managed to escape the fire that was burning at great speed. The fire team that was called was nowhere in sight. Mum rechecked to ensure that everyone was present only to notice I wasn’t there. The heat of the fire was really intense and it was almost closing the little entrance. She started running towards the house to save me. Dad tried to stop her but she refused and shoved him off. She just couldn’t swallow the thought of loosing me. To her it was totally unthinkable. She sped off without hesitation; one would think it was her life mission to save me.
Mama had managed to come into the burning house. Still asleep, I was having a nice time. It was my turn to present to mama her birthday gift. All cheered; ‘Chioma, Chioma! Mama beckoned on me and I shouted happily; ‘Yes mama!’ unknowingly shouting aloud. This response was right in time since mama heard me shout. From the entrance she shouted again: ‘Chioma, Chioma!’ This was different from the first one. From the voice one could easily sense feelings of hope mixed with fear. Trying to wave off the sleep, I opened my eyes slowly. The sight of fire close by was really scary. So I screamed; ‘Mama!’ This response was clear enough. So many things went through my mind in a split second. Although I screamed for mama’s help I doubted she would come since the room was almost surrounded by the raging fire. I kept on screaming each scream louder than the former.
Unexpectedly, I saw mama. She ran through the fire and quickly grabbed me. She covered me with the blanket next to me and stooping low she covered the blanket, to prevent the flames from reaching me. She found a little opening and still carrying me she ran out of the house, the flames finally closing the entrance after us. The voices I heard depicted surprise. It was unbelievable- Mama just saved my life. I had this confused look. It felt like being half way in a dream and reality yet to find the boundary line. Turning back, I bounced back to reality. Mama fainted! She had inhaled a lot of carbon monoxide and had burns all over. Everywhere felt stuffy and I kept on coughing but besides that I felt okay. That made it harder to believe I just escaped the strong steaming pawns of the flames.
Mama and I were rushed to the hospital. Mama’s treatment commenced immediately and she was admitted. Just as I expected, my case wasn’t as severe as mama’s own since I had few bruises and needed medical attention for what I interpreted then as minor breathing issues. The doctor said that Mama had to stay in the hospital for proper health care and recovery. It was so depressing how tragic her 35th birthday could be.  She was meant to be celebrating her birthday but there she was going through immense pain. Starring at mama I felt really guilty. She must have a heart of gold. She sacrificed her beauty and put her life at great risk to save me. How much more beauty can one possess? I was greatly touched; couldn’t help but cry. Then I realized how much mama loved me.
I went through the treatment pretty fast but things were much different for mama. She had to stay in the hospital for months through which we visited her occasionally. More frequently, Dad and I came to visit her and sometimes spend the night with her. After many months of treatment changes began to emerge. The burns were starting to heal and she was getting much better. However, something was different. Mama’s face had changed. The burns affected her face and according to the doctor some of the changes are still going to be present even after complete healing of all the burns. She didn’t want to go for a cosmetic surgery. She was still pretty but the difference was clear. After the recovery, one thought in the minds of many was that she was no longer strikingly beautiful outwardly. Nevertheless, her inner beauty became more projected.
Today, the 9th of March, 2014 marks nine years since the fire incident. If I wasn’t saved by mama I would have been out of the picture a long time ago. The possibility of living nine more years would have been totally zero. My mum has a beautiful soul and she has given me different perspective of beauty which is expressed by love and compassion. On her birthday, God used her to bless me with the most precious gift: the gift of life. What more could I ask for? Mama is someone I can never forget. I love my mama beyond words can say and I thank God for her every day of my life. This is the story of my mother and for me she is the most beautiful mother in the World.
I am the writer of the above story which is a work of fiction. I can relate to the story because my mum has been and is still a huge part of my life. She has sacrificed a lot for my siblings and I. She is an amazing mother and wife. She has taught me a lot and is the prime wire behind many of my life ethics and principles. I love my mum. If life could start afresh and we are given the opportunity to choose our mothers again, I would choose her again, again and all over again.
I hope this can make you pause for a while and think of the love, care and devotion of your mother. Thanks to all the good mothers all over the world whose service is beyond our appreciation.
Sender: Chioma
•Theme: My beautiful mother
•Content: The activities revolved around the family talked about with regards to the birthday of the mother. It lays emphasis on the love the mother has for her child (Chioma) which she had shown in her action of saving her daughter from a fire incident at the expense of her beauty and life.
•Time: 2005 and 2014.
•Place: Eagle Island, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
The story reflects an average family featuring basically children who loved their parents, a father who loves his wife and a beautiful mother who has great love for her children.
Channel: The story was narrated by the use of words and tools of non-verbal communication such as; facial expressions, mimics, gestures and the tone of her voice.
Receiver( In the story): Friends in and around Eagle Island.
Emotions and mixed feelings of surprise and pity expressed non-verbally and by words.


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