Effiong got home rather late. He tried the door and it swung open. He guessed his mother was back from the market. She always went shopping on Thursdays, in preparation for the weekend. He heard sounds in the kitchen and was sure it was her.

                He couldn’t afford to have her see him. His uniform was all dirty. He had played soccer after school hours and had taken one or two bad tackles that landed him in the dirt. He hurried to the room he shared with his younger brother and quickly changed into other clothes; adding his school uniform to the pile of dirty clothes that never seemed to stop rising.

                 He walked out of the room and started whistling, making his way to the kitchen. His mother was washing the plates the family had used to eat the previous day. He should have washed them last night, but he had been too lazy to even consider it.

                He felt a stab of guilt but he soon got over it as he offered to wash the few dishes left. He noticed his mother didn’t say anything. He knew why. She was so tired of correcting him or shouting at him. Effiong knew he was causing her so much pain but he seemed rather helpless to do anything about it.

                While stacking the dishes, he remembered that he had been given a letter in school to deliver to his parents. That meant his mum, because she was a widow. He knew what was in the letter and was not going to give her. Next week was Open Day and the school was reminding parents.

                Effiong dreaded a repeat scene of what happened last term when his mother had beaten him right there in school. He had been so embarrassed. But it got worse in a different kind of way when they got home. That day, she didn’t speak to him when they returned home but she cried all night and Effiong knew he was the source of her tears. The only person that seemed to bring joy to his mum was his younger brother, Bassey.

                Why am I so lazy? Can’t I just be studious for once? He glanced at his mother who was already preparing Afang soup, which he loved. She was doing all in her power to make all two sons happy but only one was doing anything about it. Tears welled up in his eyes. Effiong was miserable.

                God, I want to make my mum happy. I want to be a son she would boast about. But I feel so useless. Please help me. Teach me what to do and I will do it.

                That was Effiong’s prayer that evening in the kitchen. He blinked back the tears, so his mother won’t see his tears. He then went to the toilet and there he cried until his eyes had no more tears to shed. Effiong was so desperate to be better than what he presently was.

What should Effiong do? Opinions very welcome! Thanks a lot.

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