Wednesday, 29 March 2017

At the End of the Tunnel #3

Continued from #2

I even considered running away before the d-day,but to where as I have never gone out of our little town and the surrounding ones in my entire life. That was my London and I couldn’t just imagine life outside of it. I was left with no choice than to resign to fate,hope and pray that the almighty God would guide and see me through whatever I come my way in Lagos.

Eko Akete,ilu ogbon as Lagos was and is still popularly called because of the many heinous things that happen there more than any other city in Nigeria is no place for a local like me as I have heard severally from the few people that have been there from our town. What have I not heard about the city? People being robbed of their valuables in broad daylight? The uncountable vehicles? The too many people,big and giant like houses that lined its streets? I couldn’t just imagine myself in such a strange place.

I remember a popular story we were told by a Lagos returnee about a certain boy who had travelled to Lagos from one of the towns in Ekiti. The boy had left his home town in search of a greener pasture in Lagos without knowing anyone or anywhere in the city only to realize his folly when he alighted from the rickety wooden bus popularly called ‘Tanlese’ in those days and didn’t know where to turn to. He started roaming the streets with no particular place in mind as his destination still swimming in the euphoria of being in the wonderland where he was told housed plenty money. He had been made to believe that money flowed like a river in Lagos and it was on this premise that he ran away from home to come scoop his own portion of the flowing money.

In no distant time,night came beckoning. He hadn’t even realized how long he’s been on the streets savouring the beauty of his dreamland. He started crying when it dawned on him that he had no place to lay his head for the night as people around him started heading to their various places of abode. He was in this state when he was approached by a heavily built man who looked like he could snap life out of him with just a finger. He was so terrified that he started urinating on himself as he had never seen anyone so fierce looking like the one standing before him. He made an attempt to run but before he could put his legs to motion, the man got hold of him, lifted him off the ground with just a hand and threw him to the ground. Where do you think you are going? He asked in the huskiest voice he has ever heard.

"Abode lele yi ni,he continued in Yoruba language. Kiloruko e, Nibo lo ti wa,nibo lo de lele yi ni(Is this one a fool ,what is your name ,where are you from and where are you going to)?"

The boy was too shocked and terrified that he couldn’t find his voice to answer the list of questions thrown at him. Instead,he burst into fresh tears and was on it until Mr. Goliath spoke again.
Se eti ndun e ni? Mo ni ibo lo ti wa,nibo lo de nlo? Ta loro pe o n ba e soro naa? Abi ki n muna leti e ni? (Are you deaf? Who do you think is talking to you? Or do you want me to give you a slap)?"

And before he could think of what to say, an iron-like palm landed on his right cheek with a great sound. He initially thought he had gone deaf from the effect of the slap. Within one minute, he had checked the ear for about a million times to ascertain that it was still present.
Se wa a de soro nsin abi ki n tun ba e wa size e (would you talk now or else I give you your size again)?""

 Baami, the boy began to talk in his thick and undiluted Ekiti accent not wanting another dose of the slap. Ekiti ni mi ti a, Ojo si ni mi n je. Mi a latilu ria sibeyi lati a sise aje kemi naa le doloo tabua. (My father, I came from Ekiti and my name is Ojo. I came here to work so as to be very rich)."
Se Eko de ti di bi ti won tin ka owo loju titi,ehn omo ilu oke? Abi o ro wipe awon ara oko bi ti e ni won awa leko(So,Lagos has turned to where money is picked on the streets. Do you think Lagos is for the locals like you)?"
 Mr. Goliath asked mockingly.We were told that the boy ran back to his hometown the following day.

This,coupled with some other horrifying tales about Lagos were responsible for my reluctance to go with Aunty Kubura.

My departure from home was characterized with emotions. Before we retired to bed on the eve of my departure, all my siblings gathered around me at the backyard of my father’s compound all wanting to have a glimpse and hold me one more time before I left. They made it look like it was my last day on earth as they all took turns to hug me. I had remain unperturbed until it was Segun,my youngest brother’s turn to hug me. He was four at the time and couldn’t reach my height to hug me. Instead, he held on to me crying and wouldn’t leave me.All efforts to pacify him were futile and it was his action that made me burst into tears and so were my brothers and sisters with each of them trying to console me amidst their own tears. What a revival of tears!

I couldn’t sleep all through the night. I was just tossing from one end of the mat to the other while praying that dawn would not come but my prayer was not answered as the dawn finally broke. It was then that I realized that some things would not happen no matter how hard we pray.

Aunty Kubura arrived at our house before 5:00am that morning and went straight to my father’s wing of the compound to announce her arrival. I was instantly summoned by my mother who asked me to take my bath quickly and get ready in no time. 
We left for the motor park at a quarter to six because only one bus goes to Lagos from our district once in five days and leaves as early as six o’clock in the morning.Passengers were taken on a first come,first serve basis.  

The ride to Lagos was characterized with discomfort. The bus was anything but comfortable. We were packed like sardines and I couldn’t close my eyes a bit when sleep came knocking despite being surrounded by sleeping co-passengers. Some people can sleep for Africa sha. I still cannot believe how someone can sleep in such an awkward situation.

Aunty Kubura who throughout the journey didn’t as much as talked to me gave me a tip of the iceberg of what my stay in her house would look like when our vehicle finally stopped at the popular Oshodi motor garage after about eight hours on the road. 

Being a JJC ,I wasn’t fast enough to come out of the vehicle because I didn’t realize on time that we were at our destination. What would my aunty do? A resounding slap ,the type that will make you see stars in their millions in broad daylight and a yell that nearly made me deaf right on the spot were what I got from her.

“Ode osi, arindin,oponu. She thundered in Yoruba language (meaning;fool and imbecile). Can’t you see people coming out of the vehicle,aboju e fo ni?” I opened my mouth to explain that I didn’t know that was our destination but instead of words,it was a flood of tears that had built a mansion in my eyes that started to trickle out ceaselessly.
 I tried to control it but no,the tears were desperate to fall. As if what she did wasn’t painful enough, she added salt to my injury when her her palm landed with a thud on my upper back.

"Ki lo n pa e lekun? She started ranting again. Oo ti mo nkankan. Emi o ma raye osi. Abi e de maa wo oniranu I sha (why are you crying? You don’t know what you are into. I have no time for your nonsense)."

That was when I knew my stay in Lagos would be far from a good life she had described to me and my parents back home.

Who says there’s no reward for every deed? Unknown to me and her, some people in the garage had been watching our drama and were only waiting for the right time to intervene or maybe I should say strike. She was still enjoying tongue-lashing me when an unknown woman walked up to where we were standing and slapped her across the face from behind. As she turned back to see who had dared do that to her,she was met with a bigger dose of the woman’s venomous palm. I was as confused as she was. Did she know the woman from anywhere? What had she done to have been slapped twice? As she raised her hand to slap her assailant in retaliation, about five other people ,men and women  surrounded us  instantly asking her in unison to dare slap the woman.  I began to fear for our safety as many thoughts started running through my mind.
I could see how horrified she became on the spot not knowing what to do. You are wondering what you did wrong? One of the men spoke,obviously to bail her out of confusion.

“You are wicked and an animal in a human skin. What is the girl’s offense that made you treated her in that manner?” He asked . “I don’t think she’s your child.” Another member of the group added.

When it dawned on me that those people were actually there to save me from her claws, I silently smile at her predicament and thanked God for sending me saviours to deliver me from the snare of the Fowler as he had promised in Psalm 91:3 at the appropriate time.

And when she at her own end realized that I was the reason for her torture and ridicule , she looked at me and when our eyes met,I could see fire and brimstone in those big eyes of hers. The eyes spoke of hell on earth and I wished that one of my saviours would ask me if I wanted to return to my parents and offer to take me back home. It dawned on me that my supposed rescue team had actually succeeded in worsening my woes.
Shamefully and remorsefully, she carried the sack containing the things she were given at home and placed it on her head,lifted her travel back to her shoulder while she asked me in the most gentle voice you could ever think off to carry the box containing my personal effects. Let’s go ,she said as she fetched my right hand and hold me .

 To be continued.
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

At the End of the Tunnel #2

 Continued from #1

I was born into a polygamous family in the year 1963. My mother was the second wife of my father and I was her second living child. I have eight siblings,four from my mother and the rest from my step-mother. The major occupation of my family then was farming. I spent my early years in my father’s compound before I went to live with my maternal grandmother in another town not too far from ours.

Living with my grandmother opened a new phase in my life. It was totally different from what it used to be with my parents and siblings. My family wasn’t the very rich type but we were not begging either. Every member of the family was a part of the family business and we get paid for every service rendered on the farms. We were involved in the entire farming processes; from land clearing,bush burning,ridging,planting,watering weeding to harvesting.

You know the thing with a typical polygamous family. The wives are always trying to outdo one another and this was not exact situation in our family. The rivalry was so tough that it flowed down to us the children. We were in the habit of taking sides whenever a fight broke out between our mothers and even when the quarrel would have been settled between them,ours remained hot and fresh until common sense prevailed again.It is not atypical to see a newly married wife in a polygamous family trying to outshine her ‘senior’ or ‘seniors’ as the case may be. This was the case with my mother. History had it that she found her way into my father’s room five nights per week out of seven thereby leaving her co-wife at the mercy of cold and lonely nights and I guess that has always been the major factor in their incessant quarrels.

I was taken to live with my grandmother at the age of twelve when I was in primary three. Surprised? It was in those days when a child is certified old enough to start schooling not for his age but the ability of his right hand to be able to touch his left ear when taken across the head. And as destiny would have it, I was rejected three times before I got admitted into St. Andrew’s primary school,the only primary school that served about ten communities in the area. My late entry into the school system did not affect my intellectual abilities. As a matter of fact, I was always on top of my class.

About a year later,I was forced to start fending for myself when my grandmother  wasn’t doing enough. She couldn’t cater for my needs. I became an all season trader. I sold whatever crops and fruits available per season. And when I was not selling farm produce, firewood and manual labour were the next options. What did I not do to make money? So, I had no reason to bother my parents for anything. The money was not even there anymore. My father had suffered from a terrible loss some years before and he found it difficult to bounce back.  My mother on her own part had this indifferent attitude to life. She took everything the way they come not bothering or making efforts to salvage or change the status quo. She was contented with anything life dished out to her whether negatively or positively. She didn’t care too much about her children as well. She was so engrossed in her rivalry with her co-wife that she barely had a cordial relationship with us. So, I started making decisions for myself in my early years.

I was fifteen when I was taken to Lagos to live with my father’s younger sister. She had come home for one the festivals when my father handed me over to her to give me what he called the good life. I still remember that fateful day like it was only yesterday. The meeting and handing over service took place in my father’s sitting room with my parents,aunty and my humble self in attendance.
Baami as he was popularly called in our household had sent for me the previous day. I had the intuition that something was wrong because he barely sent for me. I quickly rushed through what I was doing so I could go see him. He started eulogizing me the moment I stepped into his chambers.
Abimbola mi adunni
Eyin loju mi
Adu maa dan
Ibadi aran
Ibadi ileke
Eyin fun jowo,eyin menugun,etc

At this juncture,I was confused on what could have warranted the unending eulogies. Not that my father has never been affectionate or tender towards, in fact, he was a great father any child could have. He loved all his children. And when I couldn’t stomach my confusion any longer, I asked him if something had happened or he needed me to do something for him. Hmm, he sighed deeply before he started talking. “You know I love and care so much about your well being as well as how I have always wanted you to have a good life and be the best you can be but my loss wouldn’t permit me give you that kind of life. This is your my sister,her name is Kuburat. Am sure you have heard so much about her from me. She used to bring you plenty gift when you were younger. You were her favourite niece back then. I know you do not recognize her because she hasn’t come home in recent years. You were six or five years old the last time she came home. She lives in Lagos with her family. I have discussed with her and she has agreed to take you along to Lagos so you can complete your education and become the nurse you have always wanted to be.” But Baami,I don’t want to go Lagos. I am okay going to school here.” I said. I am not asking for your opinion on this,it is an already established fact and I know what is good for you.

I expected my mother to say something my mother to say something to rescue me but she did not. Well, I wasn’t surprise. She has never been a vibrant mother in all her life. Aunty Kubura,my supposed guardian angel and destiny helper stood up from where she sat and walked gingerly to my side. She put an arm across my waist and used the other hand to below my chin to lift my face so I could meet her gaze. “Bimbola, I am not taking you to Lagos to kill or suffer. God knows that my intentions are pure. I have my own children which I am sure will like you and vice versa. You are such a beautiful girl and ambitious girl who shouldn’t be allowed to waste away in Ayetoro.” Come to Lagos with me and enjoy the best life could offer anyone. I will take….” 

I didn’t wait for her to complete her sermon when I forcefully freed myself from her hold and hurriedly left the room and ran as fast as my legs could carry me to my grandmother’s house sobbing uncontrollably. I ran straight into my room and fell on the mat. If I could suffer like this while being closer to my parents,what would happen when I live far away in Lagos? Would Aunty Kubura send me to school as promised? What would be my fate if she failed to do so? Those were some of the questions running through my mind when I fell asleep. 
To be continued.
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Monday, 13 March 2017

At the End of the Tunnel #1

Lead vocal:Iyawo abibeji boluwa bafe(The bride shall give birth to twins if the Lord wills it)
Response:Iyawo abibeji,boluwabafe(The bride shall give birth to twins if the Lord wills it)

Lead vocal:Epo nbe,ewa nbe o(There is palm oil and there is beans)
Response:Epo nbe,ewa nbe o(There is palm oil and there is beans)
All:Aya mi o ja,oh eh( I am not afraid )    
Aya mi o ja lati bibeji(I am not afraid to have twins)
Epo nbe ,ewa nbe (There is palm oil and there is beans)
Lead vocal:Ile awa dun(Our family is sweet)
Response:Oko ni nlota(The husband grinds pepper)
Lead vocal:Ile awa dun(Our family is sweet)
Response:Oko ni n ponmi(the husband fetches water)Etc

Those were some of the bridal songs rendered back to back by the iyawo’les of Adewale’s family on the day they came to marry me for their son, Adewale.  Adewale was my heartbeat until things took different turn. He was a devoted and caring husband who would do anything to make me comfortable. He was my adorable.

I remember the first day we met,he was such a good looking man. Oh, he was a sight to behold in the fitted disco shirt and trousers he had on. He was ebony with toned muscles visible enough to see. He had a scythe -shaped eyebrows. His Roman nose and half-dome cheekbones sat above an oaken jaw. His wrestler’s shoulders were part of his burly physique. He walked with a tiger like tread. His derring-do personality and bass voice were a big part of his character.  Who wouldn’t notice such a man? He had a sparkling white set of teeth. They were so heavenly and shone brightly on his dark frame that you would almost use them as mirror. I was instantly drawn to him.

It was in the year 1978 that I met him during one of those festivals celebrated annually in our little town in Ondo State. He had come home from Ibadan for the festive period while I came in from Lagos. We were all at a after party organized by one of the age groups to celebrate those of us in the diasporas.  He was in the company of friends most of whom came home for the same purpose. The whole of our town was agog. And who would miss such a gathering? It gave everyone the opportunity to mingle and possibly find love. A good number of people had met their spouses there in the past years.

I noticed him or should I say he noticed me the moment I walked into the venue of the said party in the company of my friends.  And the moment I caught him starring at me, I said wow, this man’s so cute. He was incredibly good looking.

I was barely seated at the event when he walked to where I sat with my friends and requested to have a talk with me, and of course privately. I didn’t hesitate to oblige him; after all I have been waiting for that moment. I could feel my friends’ curious minds on me as I stood up and followed him. That was how we got talking and he ended up escorting me to our house when common sense finally took charge. We had talked for hours without knowing. He was a smooth talker and he seemed to know a bit of everything. I felt like I had known him all my life.  I really didn’t want the night to end. I forgot totally about my friends.

When we finally got to our house,he held my hands and whispered the three words that could met the strongest heart,”I Love You.” Just like that? I asked him. There’s no point in hiding or postponing how I feel about you, he replied. I was lost for words and became shy instantly. So many thoughts ran through my mind at the same time. My mind became muddled up. “Say something, he interrupted my thoughts. Adewale, this is all strange to me seeing that we just met today was all I could say when I finally found my voice.” Okay,I will give you some time to think this through . Thank God we are both going to be around for a while.” He said. He kissed me slightly on the lips, promised to see me on the next day and bade me goodnight.

I felt like not letting him go. And it became worst when I got into my room and felt empty and lonely as if something valuable has just been taken away from me. I really wish I could go after him.” Abimbola,what is wrong with you?” I asked myself because I couldn’t believe why I was feeling that way about a total stranger. It was as if I was suddenly becoming crazy because it was just difficult to get him out of my mind. I practically dreamt about him and about us all through the night.

He came to see me on the evening of the following day as promised. I had been waiting to see him since I woke up at dawn. I barely slept in the night. The thought of him took away every iota of sleep from my eyes. He asked me to go change into another dress as we were going to a party organized by the Oba’s son of their town. Only the ‘big boys’ were invited to the party. And they were to come with their ‘big girls’. I hurried back into the house and changed.

The outing was far away from what a first date should look like. It was as if we’ve been together for ages. He treated me like a queen. I was on top of the world. The feeling was mutual. He would look at me and smile and my eyes would not stop blushing. Through all our exchanges, I knew he was mine already. He made his intention known that night. Yes, he asked me to marry him. And guess what my answer was? I said a capital yes as if on cue. And that instant, his luscious lips crashed on mine and proceeded to explore my mouth. He tasted so sweet and delicious.

He came with his family to officially ask for my hand in marriage. My family raised no objection to their proposal. His family was well known in our town and the surrounding ones. The traditional marriage came up four months after. It was such a great and memorable day. I was clothed in the finest aso oke that was in vogue at the time. And the Iyawo iles(housewives) in our family had adorned my body with beautiful drawings that you call tattoo now in different patterns and colours. I knew I was gorgeous without being told.  I couldn’t wait to be joined to him as a wife.

The marriage ceremony was held in our compound. And a great number of dignitaries were in attendance. His father was a chief in their town. Adewale looked like royalty in his agbada and sokoto made from aso oke. This is a perfect match, I kept on repeating that in my mind. The ceremony seemed to be taking too much time because we both couldn’t wait to leave to be alone together. I couldn’t wait for his touches and the coming together of our bodies. We have bottled so much in us and were at the verge of exploding.

It was a great relief when the party was finally brought to a close and I was led amidst singing and dancing to my husband’s house where I was welcomed according to traditions. His family had organized another party and the whole town was in frenzy. By the time we finally retired for the night into the confines of his room which had been decorated with different paintings and carvings, I felt like I was in paradise.

My name is Abimbola. I am a mother and a grandmother. Welcome on board as I take you through the story of my life. It’s going to be a long but interesting ride. What is at the end of the tunnel? You need to find out.
To be continued.
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Tuesday, 7 March 2017


It was in August 2015 when I started having mind bugling feelings. It had started one morning when I was in the kitchen preparing a meal of scrambled egg and tea for the family and the nauseous feeling seared through me. I rushed to the bathroom to ease my tummy. I didn’t ascribe any meaning to it because I thought it could have been the onions.

Being an experienced mother of four and nursing a three-month old baby  then ,I was quite sure that the feelings and changes I noticed in my body pointes to only one thing ,pregnancy. Could this be true? What if it is ,what would I do? Abortion? I asked myself rhetorically on daily basis. If this turns out to be pregnancy,how would I cope with the shame of walking around with a three month old baby and another one right there in my tummy? My mother in law would be justified having said several times that all I knew to do was to open my legs for a man and rear babies like a chicken. What would my boss and colleagues at work say about me owing to the fact that I was at the verge of resuming work from my three month maternity leave? My boss would be so mad at me having warned me severally to stop giving birth or put my job as the administrative officer of the company. “The company can no longer tolerate the way you get pregnant and give birth every year. It is not good for our business. So, it is either you stop giving birth or resign your appointment.” Those were his exact words.

God ,let it not turn out to be a pregnancy or better still,let it let it flush out itself. Those were my silent prayers as I laid down on the bed in our matrimonial bed. My husband and the kids had all gone out for the day. I was home alone with baby Elizabeth. I broke down in the room and wept like a baby. I was still weeping profusely when my children were brought home y the school bus. Seeing me in tears,the three of them burst in to tears on entering the house. It was so strange to them to see mummy cry. There was always a smile plastered on my face for everyone. So ,they thought something terrible must have happened to mummy.

We were still in our celebration of tears when my husband arrived from work. Baby,I’m home! he called ,expecting the usual hearty welcome. He was confused when he saw my tear stained face and those of the children. I could see how tensed and restless he became immediately. Baby, whats wrong? You know you can always talk to me, he urged me,but I didn’t say a word. How would I tell him that I am expecting another child?  When I finally find my voice,all I could say was to tell him to take me to the hospital. He didn’t ask any question,he just put a call through to my sister that lived with us to rush home to look after the children.

At the hospital,he stayed at the reception while I met with the doctor and urgently requested for a pregnancy test. Shortly after the test was conducted,the doctor ,being a family friend and knowing how disturbed I could get,told my husband to take me home so that I can rest while he mailed the result of the test to him. Although  I protested , he maintained his stand that I needed to rest.

With the pregnancy later confirmed,I became more confused. I had waited on the Lord ten years after my wedding before having my first child. It was indeed a turbulent time for me. I visited almost all the spiritualist in Ibadan,who I was told could cure me of my childlessness. What did I not do before god finally answered my prayers and took away my shame and reproach? Won’t I rather bear the shame of nursing a three- month old baby while pregnant with another rather than aborting the baby and become a murderer? Right there and then with the support and loving words from my husband,I decided to keep the baby. What is this shame compare to the one you endured during our years of childlessness? He had said.

A few days later,I resumed work . I had walked into my boss’ office after putting my things in my own office and exchanged pleasantries with some of my colleagues who had trooped into my office to welcome me back to work. And the unexpected happened. I felt nausea the moment I stepped into her office ,perhaps because of the meal I met before her. I quickly excused myself to use the restroom . I came back to meet her standing,she had left her food. I was shocked to hear the question that greeted me. Mrs. Frank, this may sound embarrassing seeing that you just resumed from your maternity leave,are you pregnant again? She asked with searching eyes roaming my entire body as if she was practically running a scan to confirm my status. I was still thinking about the answer to give her when she reeled out another question. Why are you throwing up? At that instant,my head dropped and my body was shaking in total confusion . Mrs. Frank,do you mean you resumed work from the three- month maternity leave with another pregnancy after all my warning and counsel that you stop at your last baby? You have to get rid of that pregnancy or bid your job goodbye! He said with a tone of finality.

I almost collapse at that juncture ,but summoned courage and left his office. All my colleagues that I talked to advised that I went for an abortion but I was quick to spurn at their advice, choosing to keep my baby.  The following day,my boss summoned me to her office again and asked if I had terminated the pregnancy. But I told her that I had decided to keep it,even if it means losing my job. He served me a termination letter before the close of work that day and I accepted it in good faith,trusting God to make a way.
Five months after I was delivered of a bouncing baby boy ,which turned out to be the only male child I and my husband had,I got another appointment with a salary four times higher than the previous. My husband also got me two househelps who worked interchangeably to help with the kids and house chores.Thank God i took that bold step. I don't think I would have been able to live with the guilt that I murdered my own child because of my career.

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