Mr. Olaiya’s jaw dropped as he looked at the lady standing before him. She was dressed in a skimpy dress that barely covered her thighs. The man holding her by the waist was wearing a white jalabia and the expression on his face was irritation.
“Moriamo, you deny me your father?”
Chief looked at Stella and also at the strange man. “Mr. man, she say she no know you. What is your problem? You are constituting a nuisance and I fit call the police.”
“Ah! Moriamo, èmi bàbá ë. Ayé mi!” (Moriamo, I am your father). The man exclaimed.
“Chief, let’s go. I don’t know this man and he is embarrassing me.” Stella said.
“Ah! Ah! Sèbí, mo sín gbéré sí ë láyà ní ìkókó. Jë ki n ri? (I made an incision on your chest as a baby. Let me see it).
“What is he saying?” Chief asked as he looked at Stella.
“I don’t know Chief. I don’t understand what he is saying. Please, let’s go.” Stella said as she pulled Chief away from the scene. The strange man was beginning to garner a few stares.
Chief and Stella left Mr. Olaiya whose hand was on his head in lamentation.
The next day, Chief and Stella flew back into Nigeria. Stella convinced Chief that she wanted to cut short her vacation as her encounter with the strange man had made her homesick. She wanted to go home to see her mother and also visit her dead father’s grave; she told him.
Immediately they arrived into the country, Stella took a cab to see her mother in Akute. As the cab took her to her destination, she kept thinking about the encounter she had in the United States. She shook her head to dispel her thoughts as she approached her house.
Stella eased out of the cab, paid the driver and took out her hand luggage from the boot. A woman stood outside an unpainted bungalow throwing corn grains at some chickens. She stopped when she saw Stella walking towards her.
“Ëkáàsán màámi.” (Good afternoon my mother). Stella said as she knelt down.
“Moriamo, ökö mi. Káàbò.” (Welcome, my husband).
“Báwo ni ilé-ìwé?” (How is school?)
“Adúpé mà.” (Thank God).
“Bàámi nkó?” (What about my father?)
“Jë ka wö inú ilé náá, ògiri l’étí.” (Let us go inside. The walls have ears).
Moriamo dragged her hand luggage into the small living room and put it by the side. As she sat down on the single couch, she looked eagerly at her mother.
“Bàbá ë ti lö fa gbùrù ní ilú òyinbó.” (Your father has travelled abroad to hustle).
Moriamo bent her head as she thought of her encounter with her father. She knew he was her father. A man knew his children but how was she supposed to explain her business in the U.S? How was she supposed to explain that she had told Chief she was bored in school and wanted to go on vacation? She had had no choice but to deny knowing him. He was right that she had been given an incision on her chest as a child. When she kept falling ill, her father had taken her to visit a herbalist who had give her the incision and her bout of sicknesses had ceased immediately.
As she went to bed that night, she decided the United States was no longer a country to visit.
Photo Credit: https://www.collaborativelifecoaching.com