By Godwin Tsa
Nyanya, one of the satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory is a thickly populated settlement harbouring mostly civil servants. At the extreme end of the T-junction leading to the Nyanya Police Station near the Redeem Christian Church is an open space just at the foot of the towering overhead water tank.
The area, which serves as a mechanic workshop, is a beehive of activities as people troop in and out on a daily basis with mal-functioning generating sets of various kinds for repairs.
At this workshop, the centre of attraction is not the number of the “sick” generating sets on ground, but the ease with which a fair-complexioned woman dismantles the “fire machine.”
The dexterity with which she does this must catch your attention if you are a first-time caller to the workshop. Meet Mrs. Blessing Okeke, a middle-aged mother of four, married to Uzor, a deaf and dumb, who is also into the same business of generator repairs.
The story of the Okekes is interestingly unique. Theirs is a living story of true love running through their hearts. It is also a challenging story and a practical demonstration of the expression that “there is ability in disability,” and that “love is blind.” Although Okeke belongs to the group of physically-challenged, he decided to take his destiny in his own hands by not giving to begging on the streets of Abuja. Rather, he went through vocational training to weather the storm of life.
On her part, Blessing, amidst stiff opposition from family members and friends, pitched her love tent with a physically-challenged in spite of her astonishing beauty in this crazy world of material love. That’s not all. Rather than wait for his man to supply their needs, she puts her beauty and womanhood aside and tows the path of her husband as a generator mechanic. Two years after, the supper lady says she has no regrets towing the path of men as against her husband’s advice of becoming a fashion designer or a hairstylist.
How I met my husband
“My Oga did not know me just as I did not know him. We met through one of our village women. The woman came to me and said there was a certain man searching for a wife and that she has recommended me to him. I told her I would reserve my answer until I meet him. We are from the same village and same Local Government Area –Orji River of Enugu State. Then his sister came for same reason. She approached me and I insisted on seeing her brother in person because he is the one that wants to marry me and not his sister. She assured me that her brother would come personally.
“The day he came to my house with her sister, I was not in the house because I ran an errand for my mother. But I later returned to meet them. Immediately I set my eyes on him, I fell in love with him. The only thing that was an initial problem especially with my parents was his inability to talk. My family members were against our marriage because I’m the only daughter. But I was bent on marrying him because I saw him as a complete man. Thank God it’s over. I’m proud of my husband because I have never seen a man like him. He is honest, loving, caring and I’m proud of him because there is no man like him.”
How I started
When she arrived her husband’s house in Abuja some seven years ago, Beatrice lived as a full-time housewife before making up her mind to go into business to augment the meagre income of her husband: “I stayed at home for five to seven years as a full time housewife. I knew what I passed through. It was not a pleasant experience. I used to tell my fellow women not to depend on their husbands because they cannot give you everything.
“Sometimes, your husband will not have the money to give you at a time you are in dare need of it. But if you have a business of your own, you can augment his income. It is not every time that your husband will have money. I use my money for the upkeep of the house. But even at that, I don’t tell my children that the money is coming from me, but from their father. It is for the above reasons that I was pushed to do what I’m doing today.
“I told my husband that I want to be doing something. He agreed and suggested that I should start saloon business or tailoring. I refused because I wanted to do a strong job, a man’s job. Some people suggested that I should enlist in the Army but I refused because one of my brothers is already in the army. I told my husband that I was going to make my decision known to him soon. After thinking over it, I decided that I would join him in his trade as a generator mechanic.
“Even though he kicked against my choice, I never went back on my decision because my mind had already been made up. May be, my husband thought I was joking. But one day, I just went to his work place and said I have come to start work as an apprentice. He was surprised and never took me serious. But when she asked me to go home, I resisted and stayed behind. Luckily, he was working on somebody’s generating set when another person brought another one for repairs. After he had gone, I just grabbed the screwdriver and started losing the thing. My husband looked at me and smiled. That’s how I started as a generator mechanic. Now, I have learnt everything and there is no part of the generating set that I do not know.”
“I have four children, Chibuzor, Chidera, Chidinma and Chinemerem. We are all living well by the grace of God and we are not complaining. My children are well-fed and well-taken care of. As a mother, it is embarrassing and painful to be in a situation that you cannot provide for your family. Sometimes, children request for little things from you and it would be embarrassing if you don’t have the means of satisfying them. Not that you must always satisfy them, but there are some things you don’t need to deny them. Assuming the man does not have money at that particular time, the mother can provide.”
My husband is full of talents
“My husband is very talented. He started as a cobbler, graduated into motorcycle mechanic and now he is into the repairs of generating sets. He is somebody who doesn’t look at himself as a disabled person. He is creative and doesn’t beg. If you bring your motorcycle to him now, you will be surprised at how he will pieces it and couple it in no time.”
“I have been into this business for over two years now and there is nothing in this generator [pointing to a small size generating set on the table] that I cannot repair. I’m looking unto God and government to assist us to enable us to acquire a big shop.”
Originally appeared in Daily Sun.