This story was inspired by Aunty Olu Bunmi‘s post about maids changing their names. However this is the story of Sarah.
Her real name was not Sarah, she came to our house at the age of about 15. She was called Zainab but even that wasn’t her real name. It was the name she bore at her last place of work. Originally from Togo, her family moved to Saki, Oyo State, Nigeria. Sarah came to our house in 2007 and was a delight to all. A relief to my mum who needed help watching my two youngest siblings whenever she was away or at work. I was in uni at this time and my immediate sister was in boarding house. The last two were in primary school and definitely needed someone older with them.
Sarah was technically still young too but we had my older Aunty living with us. My Aunty was also was doing a course so Sarah was perfect to just stay with them after school, give them food, bath the last one and do menial jobs in the house. She never went anywhere or ran any errands as mummy new she was young. She didn’t even cook, just maybe warm up food. Mummy specifically told us all that she didn’t get a maid for us but someone to assist in caring for the little ones and menial house jobs.
Sarah was renamed by our neighbour shortly after she arrived. We were all walking down to church and met my neighbour who was the children’s teacher in church. She asked for her name and she said Zainab, this Aunty then said we would call her Sarah here. We all kind of just stuck with the name cause Sarah liked it. In fact she corrected anyone who called her Zainab until many forgot she was ever called Zainab.
Sarah started learning to read and write with some other young girls who were helps in other homes around. She was very intelligent and a fast learner. With the help of my younger ones, she started constructing simple sentences with two and three letter words. Her spoken English improved drastically that she could pray fluently in English. I remember her praying once and saying “Lord, don’t let there be any fire outbreak”. 😂😂😂
Sarah was a prayer warrior. You would find her praying in the middle of the night when you are going for a pee. Praying for her parents and for us. She grew on us. About a year down the line, she didn’t want to go home again. I remember her coming to me once to ask if she could live with us permanently, I told her that was up to mummy and her parents but she was already a part of the family.
We all went to the same places, ate the same food together, joked together, played together and fought together. Herself and my immediate sister were like cat and dog, because they were agemates. No one came between them, we always let them sort themselves out to avoid taking sides.
Sarah could sing for Africa. When washing or doing chores, her hearty soprano voice would fill the whole house. Sometimes you want to sush her but she wouldn’t bulge, she was that free. We all were brought up that way.
Then almost three years down the line some guy in church started writing her letters and she innocently got my brother to help her reply. Mummy found one of the letters and reported the three of them to the pastor. The guy, Sarah and my brother. Pastor scolded them and mummy did likewise. But a few days later, Sarah left the house. 🙁🙁🙁
We thought it was linked but it was not. After almost 20 days of searching for her. We learnt Sarah’s father had “called her home” with some charm when he heard his daughter was doing so well and was comfortable with us. The person who brought her reported back to her father that Sarah was already part of our family and that if we have to travel out, it will be all of us together. He wasn’t pleased with that and “called her home” with some charms.
Sarah left everything she had ever gotten from us, clothes and personal belongings and took only what she came with. Things she had not touched or worn in years. She left as she came and it was so sad. We never got any help after Sarah as she was not just a help but a part of our family.
She had dreams, and we would all talk about her becoming a big madame in the future. Every time we travelled to my home town and drove through Saki, I would look around just in case I would see her. But there is no way to trace her as her real name is not Sarah (I remember her saying her real name is Donko or so). Sarah was faithful and kind and loving and we missed her sorely.
Here is a prayer for ‘Sarah Zainab Donko’, that God keeps her and helps her fulfil her destiny!