Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Wait – Chapter 6

Ajoke’s letter got delivered to Kokumo’s department a day before his exams were about to start. He was handed the letter by the departmental secretary. As he collected it, a smile played on his lips as he recognized Ajoke’s handwriting. He closed his eyes briefly and imagined being right by her side. He had missed her so much. He put the letter in his book folder and quickened his steps towards the hostel. He longed to read from her and he wanted to do it while relaxed. He knew she would have written to fill him on the happenings in her village and also gists about her friends.

As he hastened towards the hostel, he thought about when next to pay her a visit. Exams were scheduled to end in a month’s time and he looked forward to going home just to be with her. This time, he was going to take her home and make sure his mother accepted her. He was now a grown man and if he wasn’t in the University, he knew she would have been asking about his marriage plans.

He sauntered into his room, all his thoughts on his beloved. He took out the letter from the book folder and dropped the folder on his mattress which lay by a corner in the room. As he lay on the mattress, he tore the envelope carefully.  He took out the letter and began to read.

“My darling Kokumo,

How are you and school? I hope you are doing well.

I am writing this letter with so much pain because my father is marrying me off very soon. The man to whom I will be married to is coming for my mo mi mo o in two weeks’ time.

My eyes are filled with tears as I have no choice in this matter. I wish it did not have to be this way.

I don’t know what to do any longer. I am confused. I love you with all my heart.

See you whenever you come home.

Ajoke.”

 

Kokumo must have read the letter a thousand times but each time, he failed to understand what he had just read. Marrying her off? To who? Why? What about their plans to get married once he graduated? Then it hit him like a thunderbolt. Ajoke had mentioned during his last visit that she had overheard her parents discussing about getting her married. The moment it dawned on him, tears dropped down his cheeks. Ajoke, Ajoke, I can’t afford to lose you. He said to himself. God why? First, you took my father. Now, you want to take Ajoke away from me. He put the letter on his chest as he cried silently, hot tears making their way down his cheeks. Ajoke wasn’t the only one confused; he was as well. His exams were starting tomorrow and it did not make sense to go home now. Besides, from the date on the letter, the introduction had already been done. His mind was in disarray as he thought of what to do.

Throughout that evening, Kokumo could not concentrate. He knew he was meant to read for his paper the next day but every time he did, he saw the words in Ajoke’s letter dancing before his eyes. As much as he tried to get his mind off it, he kept on seeing the words; the man to whom I will be married to is coming for my moomi mo in two weeks’ time.

After a fruitless hour of not being able to concentrate, he decided to pack up his books and go to sleep. Maybe when he woke up, he would realize it was all a dream; and Ajoke would still be waiting for him to finish school and they could get married.

Kokumo woke up fitfully the next day. He could not remember how he slept or if he did at all. He kept on seeing Ajoke crying out to him for help. While she did, he stood afar with his arms folded and watched as she struggled with someone he couldn’t recognize. The person held her tightly by the hand and he made no attempt to rescue her. Her cries filled his ears calling him and pleading with him to save her from her captor but he shook his head, turned back and walked away.

As he was walking away, he saw his mother walking towards him. She pulled his ears as she got to him and repeated their last conversation over and over again.

“Sé bàbá ömö náà mò é?” (Does the girl’s father know you?)

“Rárá mà.” (No ma).

“Kí ló wá fi é lókàn balè pé to bá padà láti ilé ìwé gíga, o yì ma ba l’ómidan?” (What gives you the assurance that when you graduate from the University, she would still be single)?

“Àdéhùn t’émi àti è jö ní ni.” (That is the agreement between us).

“Ölórun á bá ë sé o.” (God will do it for you, I hope).

He sat up on his mattress and noticed that the tee-shirt he wore to bed clung to his body. The tee-shirt and his mattress were wet with sweat. He shook his head as he sighed deeply. What sort of nightmare did he just have? He would do anything within his power to rescue Ajoke from danger but why didn’t he do that in his dream. It made no sense to him. He loved her and would never allow anyone endanger her life. Who could have been holding on tightly to her? Was it her father or the man she was to be married to? Why had he made no attempt to save her from her captor? Instead, he had turned his back on her when she needed him most. The dream was all so confusing and he could not fathom what it meant.

To Love & to Hold 40

He stood up from his mattress and stretched. He looked at his other room mates who were still sound asleep. He needed to concentrate if he wasn’t going to fail his exams. He thought about responding to Ajoke’s letter but words were not enough to convey everything he had to say. He would rather see her in person and they could discuss their next line of action. Just give me three weeks and I will be with you, Ajoke. He said to no one.

He picked up his bucket and decided to get ready for the day ahead. As much as he loved Ajoke, he also wanted to make her proud and graduating with good grades was of utmost importance to him. Her friends who had gotten married had been given out in marriage to secondary school certificate holders and artisans. Just like Ajoke whose parents could not afford to send her to the University, most of them either could not afford to do so or did not see the importance of sending their daughters to a tertiary institution. Those who did not see the importance believed it was a waste of funds as she would eventually get married and be confined to taking care of her husband and her children.

Kokumo reckoned it would be a thing of pride when Ajoke stood in the midst of her friends to say she had gotten married to a graduate. She would become the envy of her friends just as his mother’s friends envied her in the market where she sold her fruits. She was no longer referred to as Iya Kokumo. She had been given a new name and was now called Iya Gradue. Even though, he had tried to correct them that he was still an undergraduate, it did not matter to them. The fact that he was even in the University had upgraded his status and that of his mother. He also wanted the same change of status for Ajoke and he was going to make sure he worked towards not just being a graduate but one that finished with good grades.

He walked towards the bathroom to take a shower. Once he was done, he sat down to read as he pushed the contents of Ajoke’s letter behind his mind. In three weeks, he would be done and if he needed to present himself to Ajoke’s father as the man who loved his daughter and wanted to get married to her, so be it.

——
The story continues…..

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

Wedding Chronicles – Red Rain

The church wedding had been concluded successfully. The bride and the groom had been joined together as man and wife. There was a massive hall adjoining the church which had been decorated in the colours of the day. Musicians were already dishing out music from a corner of the hall. Guests, family and friends trooped into the hall as they awaited the arrival of the couple.

Close friends of the bride and groom hung around waiting for the couple so they could accompany them into the hall in grand style for the wedding reception. All of a sudden, a close friend of the groom pulled another friend of theirs to a corner. “Do you have a pad with you?” He asked both confused and embarrassed.

“Pad ke? What do you need one for?” She queried.

“Erm….erm…her period just started and he said I should ask you.” He stuttered.

“Who? I don’t understand.” She asked looking confused.

He looked at her wondering why she failed to understand. “The bride nau.”

“Wo-hoo!!!” She exclaimed, understanding his dilemma. “I don’t have one. I doubt anyone will carry one in her purse. We may need to go outside the church to buy.”

The two friends got someone conversant with the area to quickly get a pack of sanitary towels, thereby saving the day for the bride.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

The Wait – Chapter 5

Kokumo went back to school a week later. Immediately he arrived campus, he sat down to write a letter to Ajoke. He informed her that he had arrived school safely and that he missed her already. He told her he couldn’t wait to complete his education so that they could be together forever.

Ajoke smiled when she received Kokumo’s letter. She placed the letter on her chest and day dreamed about her marriage to Kokumo. She was still lost in thought and did not realize when her mother walked into the room.

“Ah ah, kí ló n se ìwö ömö yìí? O jòkó sí ibí bayìí, tó yë ko wá bámi dá iná.” (What is wrong with you, this child? You sit down here when you should be helping me prepare food.)

Ajoke was startled when she heard her mother and quickly put the letter under her pillow.

“Kíni ìwé to tójú sí abé ibusùn ë?” (Which paper did you just keep under your pillow?) Iya Ajoke asked.

“Kò sí mà.” (Nothing ma). Ajoke replied looking scared.

“Sé ìdáhùn sí ìbéèrè mi nì yën?” (Is that the answer to my question?)

“Rárá mà.” (No ma). “Ìwé…ehn…ìwé yën.” (Paper….the paper). Ajoke stuttered as she looked at her pillow and looked back at her mother.

“S’ó ò lè dáhùn ni?” (Can’t you answer?) Iya Ajoke shouted.

“Ìwé tí wón fi ránsé sí mi láti ilé ìwé gíga ni.” (I was sent the letter from the University).

“Ilé ìwé gíga? Sé bàbá ë o sò fún ë pé kò s’ówó láti rán ë lö sí ilé ìwé gíga ni? (The university? Has your father not told you that there are no funds to send you to the University?)

“Wön ti so fún mi, mà.” (He has told me, ma). Ajoke said looking at her feet.

“Kí lo n wá da ara ë láàmú fún?” (So why are you disturbing yourself?)

“Mi ò ní rò ó mó.” (I won’t think about it again). Ajoke replied as she stood up.

Her mother pulled her close and hugged her. “Ilé ökö ló yë kí o ma rò ní ìsìnyín. To bá ti lo sí ilé ôkö ë, o ma gbàgbé nípa ilé ìwé.” (You should be thinking about getting married. Once you get married, you will forget about schooling.)

“Mo ti gbó Màámi.” (I have heard, my mother).

 

That night, as Iya Ajoke and her husband were about to retire to their tattered mattress, she mentioned the discussion between her daughter and herself to Baba Ajoke. She told Baba Ajoke that she was beginning to see reasons with him as regards giving their daughter out in marriage. She told her husband that even if Ajoke was interested in going to the University, she would be better off doing that from her husband’s house; as he would bear the sole responsibility of financing her education.

Baba Ajoke told his wife that he was happy that she understood his point of view. He informed her that a friend of their first son, Adisa who was an engineer had indicated interest in Ajoke but since she refused to give out her daughter, he had asked him to hold on for a while. He also mentioned that he had even gone ahead to make investigations about his family and that they were good people.

Iya Ajoke was surprised that her husband had made all the inquiries needed prior to the marriage of their only daughter without her knowledge. She was however, happy that they had found a suitable suitor – an engineer. That meant her daughter would be referred to as “Iyawo Engineer” (wife of an engineer). She smiled as she thought about the title which was much better than hers – Iyawo Baba Elemu.

 

The next day, as agreed between her parents, Iya Ajoke called her daughter aside and informed her that a young engineer had indicated interest in her. She told her daughter that she and her father had agreed that this was the best time for her to get married. Most of her friends were already married and they did not want their daughter to become an outcast. She informed her that the young engineer was her elder brother’s friend who frequented their house in search of her brother. She also assured her that he would take care of her and make her a proud mother of many children.

Ajoke looked at her mother, unable to utter any words. I warned Kokumo. I warned him. Now what I feared is eventually coming to pass. She thought. Oh Kokumo, where are you? How am I going to fight this battle alone? Her heart cried out.

“Ajoke…Ajoke, so gbó gbogbo nkan tí mo sö?” (Ajoke, did you hear all I have said?)

Ajoke looked at her mother as a tear escaped her eyes.

“Mo gbó ö yín Màámi.” (I heard you, my mother).

“Kí ló n wa pá é ní igbe? Nkan ìdùnú kó ni mo bá ë sö ni?” (So why are you crying? Isn’t this discussion a thing of joy?)

“Mi ò tí ì fé lö sí ilé ökö.” (I am not ready to get married now).

“Kí lo fé ma se ní ilé Bàbá ë? Sé orí méjì ni àwön òré ë tí wón ti lo sí ilé ökö ní ni?” (What will you be doing in your father’s house? Do your friends who have gotten married have two heads?)  Iya Ajoke asked irritably.

Ajoke looked down as the tears flowed freely.

“Ya nu ojú ë kíá kíá, ko múra láti pàdé àwön ëbí ökö ë ní òsè méjì sí èní.” (Better wipe your tears and get ready to meet your husband’s people two weeks from now). Iya Ajoke concluded.

 

As Ajoke lay on her bed that night, she thought about the promise Kokumo had made to her; the promise to get married to her immediately after his graduation. Since eavesdropping over her parents’ conversation about marriage, she had been uncomfortable with his decision to wait till he graduated. But his dream was to become a graduate and she knew denying him that dream would be selfish of her. With the turn of events now, she wondered if his decision was the best. Her parents were giving her out in marriage and there was nothing she could do about it. Most of her married friends also had their marriages arranged by her parents and thinking hers would be an exception at this point was laughable.

Early the next morning, before her brothers woke up to prepare for the day’s job, Ajoke tore a sheet of paper and wrote a lengthy letter to Kokumo. She informed him about the decision taken by her parents, the date set for the introduction by her prospective husband’s people and her fear of living a life of misery married to someone she did not know. She put the letter in her pocket and waited till the right time to go to the local post office.

 

 

Two weeks later, Adejoro and his immediate family came for an introduction. They came bearing gifts of foodstuff and told Baba Ajoke that they had found a flower in his house which they intended to pluck. Baba Ajoke welcomed them into his abode and asked Iya Ajoke to entertain the August visitors.

“Àwön ëbí ökö ë ti dé.” (Your husband’s family members are here). Iya Ajoke said excitedly to her daughter who was pounding yam at the back of the house.

Ajoke refused to look up from what she was doing but continued to hit the mortar with the pestle in her hands with force.

Iya Ajoke assuming that her daughter did not hear her moved closer to her. She repeated herself again.

Ajoke ignored her mother and continued to pound.

“Sé o ti di adití ni?” (Are you now deaf?) She asked her daughter.

Ajoke stopped and wiped her brow with her forefinger flicking the sweat away. “Mo ti gbó yín.” (I have heard you).

“Wò ó, ya só ara ë, tí o ò bá fé kí bàbá ë bínú sí ë.” (Look, you better be careful if you do not want your father to be cross with you). Iya Ajoke said as she pointed a warning finger at her daughter.

She walked into the kitchen and started dishing the efo elegusi that she had prepared that morning for their visitors in bowls. When she was done, she called Ajoke to scoop large mounds of the iyan into plates and bring them into the kitchen. Iya Ajoke called her youngest son, Akanni to assist her so she could serve their visitors. It was not yet time for the prospective husband to see his intending bride.

Akanni and his mother went ahead to serve the visitors while Ajoke went to her room to await her parents call. As she sat down on her mattress, a tear slid down her cheek. She was at a loss of what to do. She hadn’t heard from Kokumo and she wondered if he had received her letter. She was half-expecting him to show up in her house any moment from now to disrupt the marriage rites. She was still in her state of dejection when she heard her mother’s voice. “Ajoke, Ajoke, ó ti yá o.” (It is time).

She quickly cleaned her eyes and stood up. Her mother had given her one of her most expensive iro and buba to wear. The attire was always at the bottom of her portmanteau as she only wore it for special occasions. Ajoke’s introduction was one of such and she told her daughter that she deserved to be dressed expensively. Even though the attire looked a little big on her, Ajoke had cared less about the fit. She was not interested in looking attractive to her prospective husband’s people.

Her mother took her hand and led her into the small courtyard where everyone waited for the beautiful flower to be plucked. As taught by her mother, she knelt down in front of every member of her prospective husband’s family greeting each one of them. Adejoro smiled broadly as he nodded his head. He raised his shoulders with pride as she took turns to greet every member of his family. He was the last to be greeted and as she knelt down in front of him, he pulled her up into a hug. Every one clapped at Adejoro’s gesture while Ajoke boiled inside. She refused to hug him back but Adejoro was too caught up in the moment of adulation to notice.

He had eyed his friend’s younger sister for years. She was still in the junior secondary class when he had mentioned to his friend, Adisa that his sister was beginning to sprout into a beautiful lady. Adisa had mocked him when he said he would not mind marrying her one day. Adisa told him she was too young for marriage and that their father wanted her to finish her secondary education. Adejoro had agreed with him on the importance of education. He had also finished his secondary education the same year as Adisa but from different schools. While Adisa had gone ahead to trade in shoe making, Adejoro had gone to a technical college to fine tune his engineering skills. He was still in the technical college but also made a few cash helping out with sub-contracted jobs. His side job had earned him the title “Engineer” within the village and he prided in it jealously. He had also earned the admiration of the young ladies in the village and each one of them sought his attention.

 

The two families agreed to wed their children in four weeks’ time. A list of items to be bought by Adejoro’s family was also handed over to them by Ajoke’s family. Baba Ajoke reckoned that since his daughter was getting married into a family which stood better than them in terms of means, he needed to make sure he requested enough to cater for his own family.  He therefore demanded for an increased number of food items than the usual tradition. His wife also needed to have a change of clothing, so he demanded for expensive clothing items as well.

This was the only chance he had to upgrade his family and he was ready to go the extra mile to ensure they were well catered for.

——–
The story continues…..

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

Wedding Chronicles – The Promise

She had gotten the new job in the same month in which her wedding had been fixed. She thought about deferring her resumption date till after the wedding but she realized she needed the extra cash. Besides, instead of a long break prior and after the wedding, she was advised to make it short so as not to seem insensitive. The company was solely run by her boss and she had been recruited to assist her. A junior colleague who previously worked her job put her through everything she needed to know about the company.

A week after resumption, she informed her boss that she was getting married at the end of the month and would appreciate if she could be given a five-day break (one day before the wedding and four days after the wedding).

Her boss had been happy for her; or so she seemed. She congratulated her and wished her a happy married life. Her boss asked her what she would love as a wedding gift and she became confused. She hadn’t thought about it. Her boss noticed her confusion and told her not to bother; she promised to get her a microwave.

Even though she was happy about the offer, she made up her mind to hold on to it with a pinch of salt. She was aware that people made promises but fulfilling them was always a different story. She was granted her request and she made sure she put in her best on the last day in the office prior to her wedding. She stayed back to work long hours ensuring that nothing was pending.

Her wedding went smoothly and five days after as agreed, she resumed back at work. She however, got a rude shock when at the end of the month; she received her salary less five days. She smiled as she read the letter which had been typed by her boss stating that her salary had been prorated. No explanations were given and she did not bother to seek for one.

Her salary was barely enough and now, she was getting a pay cut. She remembered the microwave that she had been promised but knew that getting one from her boss would only happen in her dreams.

She shrugged as she counted her salary. Tomorrow was another day and it definitely held promise.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

The Wait – Chapter 4

Ajoke picked up the water pot she had hid in the bushes behind her house. She brought out a filled keg of water from the bushes and filled her water pot. She searched the bushes as she retrieved a small wrapper, rolled it into a ball and balanced it on her head. She bent down to carry the water pot as she placed it gingerly on her head.

As she walked the short distance to her house, she smiled as she thought about the kiss she had shared with Kokumo. She had never been kissed before and it made her ecstatic. He had turned back at the junction that led to her house. She had hoped he would kiss her again before leaving but she knew he did not because he had to be careful. Anyone could be watching them and later report her to her father or her elder brothers. She prayed in her heart and hoped he would not get into trouble with his mother when he got home.

 

Ajoke placed the pot of water in the small kitchen and walked to the front of the house to look for her mother. She saw her bent over a basin of garri which had just been fried. “Ëkú’ròlé màámi.” (Good evening, my mother).

“Ibo lo lö lát’àárò?” (Where have you been all day?)

“Mo lo pön omi ló’dò.” (I went to fetch water from the stream). She lied.

“Lo wá pé tótó yën?” (And it took you so long?)

“Ë má bínú. Mo rí àwön òré mi, a wá n sòrò nípa ilé ìwé. A ò mò pé àkókò ti lo.” (Don’t be angry. I saw my friends and we started discussing about school. We did not realize time had been spent).

“Kò burú. Sáré lô gbé óúnjë sóri iná fún bàbá ë àti àwön ègbón ë.” (Okay. Go and prepare food for your father and your brothers and be fast about it).

Ajoke placed her hand on her chest, wiling her heart to be still as she turned to go into the kitchen. She knew she could not afford to do this again but she was glad her journey today had been successful except for her encounter with Kokumo’s mother. She sighed as she thought about her. She hoped the woman would be more receptive to her the next time they met.

 

Kokumo walked into his compound and saw his mother seated outside on a low stool in the veranda. As she saw him walking in, she stood up and entered into the house. Kokumo sighed deeply as he took quick steps into the house. His mother was in the kitchen when he walked in.

“Màámi.” (My mother). He called.

She turned to look at her son. “Kí lo fé?” (What do you want?).

“Ëni tí mo fé fé nìyën.” (That is the person I intend to marry).

Iya Kokumo looked on without a response.

Kokumo closed the space between them and held his mother’s hands. “Màámi, nítorí ömö yën ni mo sé n tiraka ki n lè lö sí ilé ìwé gíga. Ti bá ti se tán, mo ma fë.” (I am doing my best to go to the University because of her. Once I am through, I will marry her).

“Sé baba ömö náà mò é?” (Does the girl’s father know you?) Iya Kokumo asked.

“Rárá mà.” (No ma).

“Kí ló wá fi é lókàn balè pé to bá se tán ní ilé ìwé gíga, o yì ma ba l’ómidan?” (What gives you the assurance that when you graduate from the University, she would still be single?)

“Àdéhùn t’émi àti è jö ní ni.” (That is the agreement between us).

Iya Kokumo took a deep breath as she removed her hands from her son’s grip. “Ölórun á bá ë sé o.” (God will do it for you, I hope). She said as she walked into her room.

 

Kokumo continued to till his father’s farm day and night with a mission. He hoped he would not have to defer his admission beyond one year and he worked towards achieving his objective. God smiled on him and the harvest season was bountiful. His mother had more than enough to sell and Iya Kokumo had to employ a sales girl to man another table of fruits for sale in front of their house. Iya Kokumo was overjoyed and she sang praises to God each day for not putting her to shame. She also praised Kokumo’s hardwork and told him times without number that he had made her a proud and happy mother.

 

Another school year was approaching and Kokumo was elated. He went back to the University of Lagos and he was re-offered his admission to read Accountancy. Since his house was a distance to the school, he knew going home every day would be a herculean task. He employed someone to manage his farm during the week while he went home every weekend to see to the on-goings on the farm. He quickly made friends in school and asked one of his course mates who had a bed space if he could squat with him. His request was accepted and he put his few belongings in a corner of his friend’s room.

Once he was settled in school, he wrote a letter to Ajoke informing her of his admission. He told her it was only a matter of time. In four years, they would be joined together as husband and wife. Ajoke received the letter a month later. She read the letter over and over, smiling each time she read it. She put it under the pillow and kissed it every night. She imagined that as she kissed it, she was kissing Kokumo wherever he was. Since she shared a room with her brothers, she was careful not to allow her brothers see her anytime she read the letter.

 

Just before the second semester exams, Kokumo wrote to Ajoke that he wanted to visit her. He told her he was aware her father may not allow her receive male visitors, so he proposed a date, a place and a time where they could meet. The venue was in-between the two towns, on the way to their secondary school. He figured that picking that venue would give Ajoke a sense of security and douse any fear of anyone seeing her and reporting to her father.

Ajoke wrote back responding in the affirmative. With that agreed, the wait began and both of them looked forward to the date with excitement. Ajoke had a little diary which she guarded jealously. She had written down the day she received her first kiss from Kokumo. Now, she wrote down the date she was to meet the love of her life after many weeks of being away at school.

 

Kokumo finished his exams and packed his few belongings into his travel bag. He had stopped shuttling between home and school just before the exams started so that he could have full concentration on his studies.

As he boarded the bus that would take him home, thoughts of Ajoke filtered into his mind. He smiled as he imagined how she was going to throw herself on him in a hug. He had missed her so much and he couldn’t wait to see her and have her in his arms.

 

Iya Kokumo was still in the market when Kokumo arrived home. He walked to the back of the house to drop his travel bag and then decided to go to the market. He was still a few metres away when the woman in the next stall to his mother’s shouted; “Ìya Kòkúmó, ömö yín kó ló n bò yën ni?” (Kokumo’s mother, isn’t that your son coming?)

Iya Kokumo looked up from the fruits she was arranging and started dancing on seeing her son. “Ömö mi ti dé o.” (My son is back).

Kokumo closed the distance between them and prostrated. “Ë kú ìròlé, màámi.” (Good evening, my mother).

“Kú’ròlé, ömö mi. Báwò ni ilé ìwé?” (Good evening, my son. How is school?) She asked as she pulled up her son from the floor and embraced him.

“Ilé ìwé wà dada.” (School is fine). Kokumo answered smiling.

Other women started to stretch their necks to catch a glimpse of the University student. They gossiped among themselves about Kokumo’s fortune. A university graduate in the making regardless of his father’s demise about a year ago.

Iya Kokumo began to pack up her left over fruits into a basket.

“Se ti ta öjà tán ni?” (Have you finished your sales for the day?) Kokumo asked his mother.

“Öjà wo ni mo tún fé tà, nígbàti ömö mi ti wálé?” (What else am I selling when my son has come home?) Iya Kokumo responded as she opened her palms.

“Ó da nígbà yën. Ë jé ki n bá yin palèmó.” (That is okay then. Let me help you pack up).

Fifteen minutes later, mother and son walked home with Kokumo carrying the basket of left over fruits on his head. They stopped to greet a number of villagers who were excited to see the University student.

 

A week later, Kokumo told his mother he needed to see a friend while Ajoke told her mother that a friend from her secondary school just came back from Lagos and wanted to see her. The two mothers told their children not to stay out too long. Iya Ajoke reminded her daughter that she needed to get back home in time to prepare dinner for her father and her brothers.

 

Kokumo arrived the venue of their meeting ten minutes early. The spot was a woody area off the road and not easily visible. He sat down on a log of wood and waited patiently for Ajoke. She arrived about five minutes later than the scheduled time. As she strolled into the woods, she looked out for Kokumo. He whistled and Ajoke looked in the direction of the sound. She ran towards him and hugged him holding him tightly.

“Ajoke mi.” (My Ajoke). Kokumo said endearingly as he pulled away from her grip. “I have missed you so much.” He said touching her cheeks lightly with his thumb.

“Not as much as I have.”

“You think so?”

“Prove it.” Ajoke said smilingly sheepishly.

Kokumo pulled her close and kissed her. When he eased away from her, Ajoke’s eyes were still closed and there was a smile on her lips.

“Why are you smiling?” Kokumo asked laughing.

“Because you make me have these tingly feelings anytime you do that.” Ajoke said opening her eyes.

“I love you and would love to make you have those tingly feelings all day long.”

Ajoke’s smile grew big.

“Not today.” Kokumo said as he held her hand and sat on the log of wood pulling her close beside him. “How have you been? What has been happening in my absence?”

Ajoke shrugged. “Nothing much.  The same routine as usual.”

“How is your father?”

“Baami is fine. Broda Adisa has been helping him with his palm wine tapping anytime he has no customers to mend shoes for while the others are doing one job or the other. I still help Maami to sell her garri.”

“So have you been reading? You know, just to brush yourself up.” Kokumo asked as he traced his finger on her cornrows.

“I try to but most times, I listen to the radio. Baami has a small radio that he just bought. I listen to the news.” She said smiling. “How long is your holiday?”

“Just two weeks. I should be back in school by the next weekend.”

Ajoke’s smile faded. “So, I won’t see you again before you leave for school?”

Kokumo blew out air from his mouth as he pulled her close. “No. I won’t be able to come back here. I need to monitor the farm and make sure everything is in place before I leave.”

“How long do I still have to wait?”

“Three years.”

“It’s a long time, Kokumo.” Ajoke said as tears gathered at the corner of her eyes.

Kokumo cradled her face in his hands. “Three years and it will all be over. Please wait for me.”

A stray tear traced its way down Ajoke’s cheek. “My friends are beginning to get married.”

“Don’t worry about your friends.” Kokumo said as he wiped the tear with his forefinger.

“I overheard Baami talking about marriage with Maami but she refused. She told him she still needed me at home with her.”

Kokumo nodded. “That’s good. Just try and convince them that you still need to be with your mother to help her.”

“Okay. I will.”

“I love you so much Ajoke.”

“I love you too.”

Kokumo took her lips in his again; this time he kissed her slowly and passionately. He was leaving in a few days and he wanted to have sweet memories of their last time together.

——

The story continues……

Photo Credit: http://www.clipartfest.com

Wedding Chronicles – Time to bless the Church

The three wedding ceremonies (the engagement, the church wedding and the reception) had been scheduled for the same day. The engagement started early in order to cater for the other ceremonies. In two and a half hours, the engagement was done with the early guests served finger foods and drinks. The church service was to start in about an hour and this gave ample time for the bride and the groom to get dressed.

Some guests proceeded to the church while some who were not present for the engagement ceremony arrived the church and sat down as they listened to the soft praise music oozing out of the church speakers.

The church service had been slated for two hours and the wedding proceedings started right on time. Vows were made, rings exchanged and the wedding register was signed. The couple, their family and their friends were excited.

As the church danced to the music dished out by the choir, the minister stated it was time for thanksgiving. He called mothers who wished to see such celebration in the life of the daughters or sons to come out for a “special” thanksgiving. The mothers danced rhythmically shaking their hips and bums with most headgears raised high as they moved to the front of the church to drop their offerings.

Next, the minister called the fathers to also share in the joy and proceed to the front of the church for their own “special” thanksgiving. A song was raised for the fathers and they all walked to the front even though they were meant to move their bodies to the music.

As the fathers walked back to their seats, the minister called all single ladies in the church who wished to get married someday to dance to the front of the church for their own “special” thanksgiving. Next, he called the single men to follow suit.

The service had gone for over two hours but the minister wasn’t done. He called the friends of the bride to follow suit in their own “special” thanksgiving and reminded the friends of the groom that it would be their turn soon. Different categories of people were called out for “special” thanksgiving; friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances etc before the whole church was asked to come out for a “special” thanksgiving. It was impossible for anyone present not to fall into a category. In fact, it was possible that some people fell into two or three categories.

A service that was meant to be done in two hours eventually spanned over three hours. By the time the service was over, some guests were tired and hungry. Those willing to attend the reception drove to the venue, while a few others just eased into their cars and drove home or stopped by at an eatery to have lunch.

There was no point going to the reception and eagerly awaiting item 7 which would probably take a while to be served. Those guests needed to bless their tummies just like the minister had made them bless the church.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

The Wait – Chapter 3

Ajoke sneaked out of her house through the path that led to the stream. She had been restless all day. She had missed Kokumo and wanted to see him today at all costs. She knew there was no way her father or her elder brothers would allow her visit a man but she had to. It had been about four months since she saw Kokumo. The last day being the day they had written their final exams. They had promised each other to keep in touch by writing letters but she had not received any letter from him in over a month. His last letter informed her that he had been given admission into the University of Lagos and that he would be picking up his letter in a few days. She wondered if getting into the University had suddenly erased her from his memory. She had no idea of where his house was located but she was willing to make an attempt.

She took out the sheet of paper on which Kokumo had scribbled his house address. She smiled as she looked at his cursive handwriting. The same handwriting which many of their classmates had fallen in love with.  She quickly folded the sheet of paper carefully and put it in the pocket of her dress. She had saved up a little change by selling the garri processed by her mum a few naira higher. She reckoned that one day, she would need cash. Today happened to be the day and the few cash she had saved up was coming in handy.

 

As she sat in the public bus taking her towards Kokumo’s village, she thought about the good times they spent together reading, walking home and sharing the snacks bought by Kokumo. She hoped those University girls she always heard about in skimpy wears hadn’t diverted Kokumo’s attention away from her.

The bus arrived at the last stop and she disembarked looking around like a lost child. Who could she ask for directions?

“Excuse me, ma.” She said to an elderly lady who was about disembarking from the same bus.

“Yes.” The woman responded looking at her impatiently.

“Ë jò ó mà. Àlejò ni mí ní àdúgbò yìí.” (Please ma, I am a stranger in this town). “Títì Alábéré ni mò n lö.” (I am going to Alabere street).

The woman looked at her and pointed to her left. “Títì Alábéré nì yën bèun.” (That is Alabere street over there).

Ajoke curtsied to indicate her thanks before proceeding to walk towards Alabere street. As she got to the beginning of the street, she took out the sheet of paper again to reconfirm her destination. As she walked down the street, she thought about what she would tell Kokumo’s parents. What would be her mission in his house since he was in school? How would she introduce herself to them? She suddenly realized that she hadn’t thought about all these before leaving her house. Now that she was almost at her destination, she suddenly felt foolish that she had been spontaneous about her decision to visit Kokumo’s house.

She saw the number 23 glowing in red paint from afar and knew that she had arrived her destination. The modest house was built far away from the road. Compared to other houses, it looked modern. She stood on the road and continued to look at the house. She suddenly developed cold feet and wasn’t sure she had made the right decision. She was still contemplating on what to do when she heard someone whistling a song behind her. She would recognize that voice even in her dreams. She turned back and walking towards her was Kokumo. He had a hoe over his shoulders and his brows beaded with sweat. Her jaws dropped as she looked at him.

Kokumo stopped whistling immediately he saw Ajoke standing by the entrance to his compound. He used the sleeve of his buba to wipe his brow as he dropped his hoe on the floor. Was it truly Ajoke? He wondered. He stood still and bowed his head, expecting to be scolded by her for not going ahead to fulfill his dreams but was surprised when he heard her sobbing. He looked up in shock, unable to form words.

“Kokumo, why?”

Kokumo shook his head in confusion.

“You were supposed to go to the university, so we could have a better life together.” Ajoke said sobbing.

Kokumo closed the space between them and hugged her. He had missed her so much but had felt ashamed to write to tell her about the change of plans. “Let’s go inside and talk.” He said.

He picked up his hoe from the floor and held her hand as they walked into his compound.

 

Kokumo entered into the house, kept the hoe in its place and retrieved a low stool. He put the stool on the floor in the front pavement of his house and asked Ajoke to sit down.

Ajoke shook her head. “I can’t afford to stay late. I did not tell anyone where I was going.”

Kokumo sighed. “I would not delay you, Ajoke. I need you to sit down so you can listen to what I have to say.”

Ajoke sat down reluctantly.

“My father is dead, Ajoke. He died on the day I received my admission letter from Unilag.”

Ajoke looked up at Kokumo, tears filling up her eyes again. “I’m sorry. I did not know.”

Kokumo smiled sadly. “Yes, I know. I couldn’t bring myself to write to explain everything to you. I had to defer my admission till some other time so I could earn a living.”

“How naïve I was to have thought you were getting distracted in school.”

“I love you, Ajoke. Nothing and no one can get me distracted from you. I was only ashamed that I had to forget about school in the meantime and go to the farm.”

“There is no reason to be ashamed.” Ajoke said as she smiled despite her tears. “I am proud of you.”

Kokumo moved closer to Ajoke as she pulled her up into a hug. They sobbed on each other’s shoulders as they stood together locked in an embrace.

As Ajoke continued to sob, Kokumo lifted up her face and was about to plant a kiss on her lips when he heard someone cough. He stopped and looked as he noticed his mother watching them. In their grief, they had failed to notice that she had walked into the compound.

 

Iya Kokumo had decided to go home early. She wanted to rest as she noticed she was getting tired easily these days. She put the blame on her sleepless nights thinking about Baba Kokumo. As she trudged home, the only thing on her mind was her bed. She was therefore taken aback when she saw Kokumo in an emotional embrace with a young lady. He had never mentioned having any woman, so the sight before her had been shocking. He was about to kiss her when she knew she had to announce her presence.

 

“Màámi, ë káàbò mà. Ë kú àt’àárò.” (My mother, welcome back). Kokumo said suddenly startled. “Ë mà tètè dé lôní.” (You are back early today?).

“Ëkáàsán mà.” (Good afternoon ma). Ajoke said getting down on her two knees to greet Iya Kokumo.

“Káàsán o.” (Good afternoon). Iya Kokumo said as she looked at Ajoke and ignored Kokumo’s statement. “Ömö tani é o? Látì ibo lo ti wá?” (Whose daughter are you and where are you from?). She asked with sarcasm.

Ajoke looked up but swiftly bent her head again, still on her knees. “Ömö Bàbá Àdìsá ni mí láti ìlu Ìpájà.” (I am the daughter of Baba Adisa from Ipaja village).

“Hmm……” Iya Kokumo grunted.

“Màámi, ë jé ka wölé.” (My mother, let us go in). Kokumo said to his mother, uncomfortable with the way she eyed and questioned Ajoke.

Iya Kokumo looked at her son, her eyes intense. “Sé ìwö ni mò n bá sòrò ni?” (Was I talking to you?).

“Rárá, máámi.” (No, my mother). Kokumo responded uneasily.

“Óyá ní ilé bàbá ë, ki n tó la ojú mi.” (To your father’s house before I open my eyes). Iya Kokumo closed her eyes as she pointed towards the entrance of her compound.

“Màámi!” Kokumo protested but Ajoke was already on the feet and running out of the compound. “Màámi!” Kokumo said again as he looked at his mother in anger.

“Àfara sí inu’lé báyìí.” (Into the house right now). She commanded her son.

But Kokumo stood rooted to the spot refusing to heed his mother’s command.

“Sé ò gbó mi ni?” (Did you not hear me?) Iya Kokumo asked her son.

“Mo gbó yin màámi, sùgbôn mi ò kín s’ömödé mó.” (I heard you clearly my mother, but I am no longer a child).

With that, Kokumo walked away from his mother. He ran towards the direction Ajoke had gone in a bid to catch up with her.

 

Ajoke was at the bus garage already when Kokumo found her. It was obvious that she had been crying as she still sniffed and wiped her eyes intermittently with her hands. A bus going towards her destination had filled up and was about proceeding on its journey. The next bus moved forward to take the space of the previous bus. Ajoke opened the passenger door and was about to board the bus when Kokumo closed the distance between them. As she eased into the bus, Kokumo climbed in after her.

She hadn’t noticed anyone was waiting and she had been surprised. She turned to see Kokumo taking the seat beside her.

“Kokumo?” She looked at him with surprise. “What do you think you are doing?”

“I meant it when I told you that I love you. Do you need me to prove it again?”

Tears gathered around the corner of Ajoke’s eyes as she looked at him.

“I promise that I would make enough money to go back to school. And when I am done, we would get married.” Kokumo said as he cradled her face.

The tears that had been threatening to spill made their way down Ajoke’s cheek as she nodded.

Kokumo looked around him. When he noticed no one paid attention to them, he planted a full kiss on Ajoke’s lips.

Ajoke shivered and Kokumo laid her head on his shoulder.

The bus started to fill up with passengers. Ajoke raised her head and looked at Kokumo. “When are you going back home? The bus is almost full.” She asked as she looked behind them.

“I will return when I know you are safely in your father’s house.”

“You are what?” Ajoke shouted. “You can’t go home with me.”

Kokumo smiled as he held her hand. “Stop shouting. Other passengers may hear us. I have not said I am going home with you. I only said I will return when you are safely in your father’s house.”

Ajoke exhaled as the driver shut the door of the bus. The driver took his seat beside the young lovers as he kicked the engine of the bus.

The journey to Ajoke’s home began as the couple hugged each other. Even though other passengers chatted all through the journey, Ajoke and Kokumo stayed quiet savouring the closeness of their bodies. No words were spoken between them till they arrived their destination.

——–
The story continues…..

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

Wedding Chronicles – Thou shall be prepared

The wedding ceremony in church lasted just an hour. Three members of the choir were getting married and the choir director advised that there should be representation in the receptions of each of the members. The choir members in attendance were split into three and advised on which reception to attend.

The choir members began trooping out of the church; easing into their cars, attaching themselves to those who had cars or simply finding their way to the reception they had been assigned to attend. I found myself among the latter category. My friend and I decided to take a walk. The reception venue was a distance from the church but as we gisted, we realized we were soon at the venue.

We took our seats and waited for the commencement of the reception proper. The reception commenced with the arrival of the couple. Hours later, the guests began to look out for item 7. It was not forthcoming and the guests began to murmur. The family and friends of the couple noticing the look on the faces of the guests decided to bring out the bags of bowls which contained the food and began to share.

The hall had been arranged in a church setting and all guests faced the high table where the couple were seated. Soon, the friends of the bride took over the sharing of the food. For each row of guests they passed by, they looked at the faces of the guests before handing the food to whoever they deemed fit.

My friend and I watched as food and drinks passed by us. After a while, when all the “very important” people had been served. The bride’s friends went round and served the “less important” people. We were handed a small bowl of food which was just enough to feed a child.

I told my friend we had fulfilled all righteousness by attending the reception and asked that we leave. She agreed. I stood up to leave with a great lesson learned. I was reminded about how my parents ensured that we ate just before leaving for children’s parties’ years ago. And that lesson resonated that day.

Always be prepared!

——-

Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

The Wait – Chapter 2

Ajoke and Kokumo remained friends all through their senior secondary class. They studied in class and walked the long journey home together. Even though, Kokumo could afford to take a public bus home, Ajoke couldn’t. Her parents were struggling to survive and told her that transportation fare to and from school in the next village was a luxury. Therefore, she had to make do with long walks every day. Ajoke was however, not deterred. She loved to go to school and education was a priority for her.

Kokumo’s parents could afford to transport their son to and from school but he preferred to walk the long trek home with Ajoke. Kokumo used his transport fare back home to buy snacks and water which he shared with Ajoke as they chatted, sang and sometimes danced on the road. He knew most times, she was hungry but she never once complained about her parents not being able to give her money to buy lunch at school.

By the time they were in their final year in the senior class, they had become inseparable in school. They were teased by some of their classmates that they should get married immediately after school but Kokumo wanted more than that. He mentioned to Ajoke that his dream was to become an accountant. Ajoke had smiled and wished him well. She knew her education terminated after the secondary school level and there was no point having dreams that were not going to come to fruition.

“So you won’t even bother to make any attempt at the university by writing Jamb exams?” Kokumo once asked her. They had gotten to the forked junction before their villages but decided to sit down under a palm tree off the road.

Ajoke shrugged. “What is the point of writing an exam when the result of the exams would be useless?”

“At least, make an attempt.”

“Kokumo, both of us know my parents cannot afford a secondary education much less a University. We eat from hand to mouth at the moment and my father is waiting for my brothers to start fending for the family so the burden on him can be reduced.”

Kokumo sighed. “I wish there was something we could do.”

“There is nothing that can be done. Don’t bother about me.”

Kokumo looked at her as he cradled her face in his hands. “Don’t say that. I love you and I want us to get married someday. But I want to go to the university, so that both of us can leave our villages and have a better life in the city.”

“I know.” Ajoke said smiling. “I love you too and I look forward to the day you will make me your wife.”

 

They sat for their school certificate exams three weeks later and their results had been impressive. Kokumo had straight As in all the nine subjects he had written while Ajoke had As in six subjects and credits in the other three. Kokumo sat for his Jamb examinations and also passed with very good grades. He was offered admission into the University of Lagos to read accountancy just as he had dreamed of. Kokumo was overjoyed when he received his admission letter from the University. He couldn’t wait to get home to tell Ajoke and his parents the good news.

He took a public bus from the University gate as he danced and sang. A few passengers in the bus looked at him strangely but he cared not. On getting to his village, he ran towards his house but noticed a strange calm in the environment. He looked left and right and noticed that the traders who lined the road to his house all avoided his eyes or refused to acknowledge his greeting. This was unusual; he thought. They all seemed to be in a hurry to pack up their wares. He looked at his wrist watch. The time read 5.30pm. The traders usually sold their wares till 7.00pm. He wondered why they were all packing up at this time. He scanned through the market looking out for his mother’s stall but noticed that she wasn’t there. Her stall looked untouched; the same way she left it every evening. He stopped in his tracks. Why did my mother not come to the market today? He had left home as early as 5.00am to make the journey to the University. His mother was already up as she had insisted that he ate a small meal before leaving. She had prepared a bowl of eba and egusi soup for him and his father. He hadn’t been able to eat much as he had been anxious to leave.

The airs on his neck rose as he inched closer towards his house. There was an eerie feeling in the environment which he couldn’t shake off or place his finger on. He got to his house and saw his mother seated on a low stool on the front pavement. She had her arms across her chest as tears streamed down her eyes. She was lost in thought and did not see her son walking towards her. Kokumo noticed that she did not acknowledge his presence.

“Màámi.” (My mother). Kokumo said shaking his mother by the shoulders.

She shook all of a sudden as she saw her son. She burst into tears as she stood up and hugged him.

“Màámi, kílódé?” (My mother, what is wrong?) Kokumo said tearing himself away from his mother.

“Bàba Kòkúmó ti kú.” (Kokumo’s father is dead). She said as she put her hands on her head in lamentation.

Kokumo stood still unable to grasp what his mother had just told him. His father? Dead? He looked around him for an explanation. How could his father who was hale and hearty when he went to bed yesterday night be dead? The traders who had ignored him at the market started trooping into their compound to commiserate with his mother. Some walked in crying and lamenting while others shook their heads in pity. Was this a dream? He had been happy a few hours ago about his admission into the University. His admission letter still sat untouched in the knapsack slung across his shoulders. He had brought good news home to his parents; only to be welcomed with the opposite. No, his father could not be dead. He started walking away from his mother and everyone around him.

“Kokumo! Kokumo!” His mother called. He looked back at her strangely before turning back to walk away.

“Ë má jè kó lö o.” (Don’t let him go). Someone shouted amongst the now teeming crowd.

Kokumo continued to walk away without looking back. A man ran after him and grabbed him by the hand. Kokumo flung the man’s hand away as he continued walking.

Iya Kokumo stood up and started shouting. “Ë gbà mí. Ë má jè kí ömö mi lö.” (Please help me. Don’t let my son go.)

Two men ran after Kokumo and held him firmly. Kokumo tried to struggle with them but was overpowered. They dragged him towards his mother and made him sit at her feet.

Kokumo was not allowed to step out of his house that evening. His mission at the University was also not discussed. For three days, Kokumo looked at his mother as she wept. He was unable to console her as he was also yet to come to terms with his father’s death. His mother told him that after he left for school, she had gone to wake up his father. It was unusual for him to sleep for so long and she had been worried. He had woken up and complained about a headache. She gave him the meal of eba and egusi to eat and asked that he stay home and not go to the farm. He had nodded as he ate. She also decided to stay home and take care of her husband. He took some herbs to ease the headache after his meal and he went back to sleep. He never woke up.

The burial rites began in earnest as Kokumo’s paternal uncles took over the responsibility. A week later, Kokumo’s father was buried in his house. Two days after his father’s burial, Kokumo took out his admission letter and looked at it. Was this the end of his dream? He still had the letter in his hands when Iya Kokumo walked into his room.

“Kínì yën?” (What is that?) She asked him.

“Ìwé tí mo lo gbà ní school ní öjó tí bàámi lö?” (The letter I went to collect in school the day my father died).

Iya Kokumo sat down gently on the low mattress in his room. “Kí ló wà nínú è.” (What is written inside?)

Kokumo sighed. “Wón ti fún mi ní admission sí University.” (I have been offered admission into the University).

“Hmm….Yunifásítì t’èwo? (Which University?)

“University ti Èkó.” (The University of Lagos).

Iya Kokumo took a deep breath and bowed her head.

“Màámi, èmi náà mò pé University ò sé lö mó. Màá ló wá isé ki n lè rí owó rán ara mi lö sí ilé ìwé.” (My mother, I know going to the University is no longer possible. I will go look for a job so that I can sponsor myself to school).

Iya Kokumo looked up at her son as tears spilled down her cheeks.

“Màámi, ë jò ó,  ë má sunkun mó.” (My mother, please stop crying). Kokumo consoled his mother.

“Ah, Bàba Kòkúmó, n kan ta jö sö kó nì yíi. Àdéhùn ta jö ní kó le léyìi o.” (Baba Kokumo, this is not what we talked about. This was not our agreement). Iya Kokumo lamented as she bit her forefinger in tears.

Kokumo pulled his mother into a hug and rocked her like a baby. “Ó ti tó Màámi.” (It is okay, my mother). He said repeatedly.

When Iya Kokumo was spent from her tears, she removed the end of her wrapper and untied the knot. She took out all the cash she had in the knot and gave it to Kokumo.

Kokumo shook his head as he looked at his mother. He held her hand and said; “A ma jëun, Màámi.” (We will eat, my mother).

Iya Kokumo looked at her son as her body shook with sobs. Kokumo wrapped his arms around his mother again as he looked heavenwards. Baba Kokumo had left but he was going to make sure his mother did not suffer.

 

The story continues…….

———–

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com