Yesterday Lives – Chapter 16

“Stop crying nau. Don’t let Mama T start wondering what the problem is.” Ayorinde said for the umpteenth time. He tapped the bell at the gate as Ayotunde used the back of her palm to wipe her eyes.

Mrs. Taiwo opened the door smiling. She walked towards them and stopped abruptly. “What is wrong with Ayotunde?”

“Nothing ma. Something flew into her eyes as we were walking down here.”

Mrs. Taiwo opened the gate with a questioning look. “Hmm….Ayotunde, something flew into your eyes?”

Ayotunde nodded without looking up.

“Let’s go inside so I can have a look.”

As Mrs. Taiwo closed the gate, Ayorinde looked at his sister and gave her a pleading look.


“So, let’s see that eyes before you do anything.” Mrs. Taiwo said as she sat down and tapped the seat beside her.

“I think her eyes are fine now, ma. I have looked at it.”


“Yes ma.”

“Sit down.” Mrs. Taiwo ordered. “Come here Ayotunde.”

Ayorinde obeyed and sat with his hands in his laps while Ayotunde walked towards Mrs. Taiwo.

Mrs. Taiwo tapped the seat beside her and Ayotunde sat. “I don’t condone lies.” She said looking at both of them. “I want the truth.”

Ayotunde burst into fresh tears. “Ma….ma…..some….someone stole my money.”

“Which money?”

“The…the…I was….I was saving it….for my….school fees.” Ayotunde said in between gasps.

Mrs. Taiwo looked at Ayorinde. “Can you please explain?”

“We have been saving the money you pay us inside her kolo. She has written the exam for Government College and she passed. So she wanted to break the kolo today. We have searched the whole house, we can’t find it.”

“Oh dear!” Mrs. Taiwo said as she pulled Ayotunde close and hugged her tight. When Ayotunde stilled from her sobs, Mrs. Taiwo held her face in her hands and looked at her. “You want to go to school?”

Ayotunde nodded.

“You will go to school. I assure you of that. I didn’t realize both of you had started planning towards this.” She said as she looked at Ayorinde. “I had already made arrangements for her to attend my school in the new session. I just needed to speak with you so I could get permission from your parents if they wouldn’t mind Ayotunde living with me.”

Ayorinde’s jaw dropped as he looked at Mrs. Taiwo. He had no idea that she had a school. And now, his sister was getting a scholarship they didn’t work for plus a beautiful home to live in. She would leave the shanties where they lived and get a proper education. He was overjoyed. He prostrated flat on the floor before Mrs. Taiwo.

“Ayorinde.” Mrs. Taiwo laughed as she tried to raise him from the floor. “C’mon.”

Ayorinde was in tears. He couldn’t believe their fortunes could change so quickly.

“C’mon Ayorinde. Get up and stop crying.” He obeyed and knelt before her. He placed his head on her laps as he continued sobbing. Ayotunde was also in tears as she hugged Mrs. Taiwo’s waist.

Mrs. Taiwo took a deep breath as she patted both of them. They could pass for her kids.


Kevwe stamped her feet round the room. “She no dey go anywhere.” She kept repeating. Ayotunde sat at her father’s feet crying while Ayorinde stood by the door.

“You haven’t exactly said what the problem is. You keep repeating that she is not going anywhere. Don’t you want your daughter to be educated?”  Ayo asked his wife.

“Edu-wetin? Wetin all your education do for you?” Kevwe sneered. “Since I don know you, which real work you get?”

“Mama?” Ayorinde shouted.

“Wetin? Why you dey call me? Na lie I talk?” She raised her hands to hush her son as she eyed him.

Ayo put his head in his hands and took a deep breath. Times like this, he wish he were dead.

“You no want make she go school, Mama? I sure say na you take the kolo wey she keep for behind curtain.” Ayorinde spat.

“Me? Ayorinde? You dey call me your mama; thief?

“How many of us dey dis house? I no say Papa no fit take am.”

As Kevwe stepped forward to slap her son, he held her hand and gave her a stern look.

Kevwe snatched her hand and took a step backward. She beat her chest. “Ayorinde, na me you dey take play. The thing wey your papa no fit do.”

“Enough!” Ayo shouted. “I have had enough of you Kevwe.” He looked at his son. “Which kolo are you talking about?

“Mama T usually paid us money every time we cleaned her house. Ayotunde was keeping most of the money in her kolo so that we could use it when she wanted to enter secondary school. We have searched the whole house and can’t find it anywhere. Mama T noticed Ayotunde must have been crying the day we went to clean her house and she asked us to tell her the truth. That was when she offered Ayotunde the scholarship in her school and also asked that we seek your permission that she lives with her.”

Ayo took a deep breath. “Hmm….she seems to be a very nice woman.”

“Yes, she is sir. Please let Ayotunde go and live with her so she can go to school.”

Ayo looked at his daughter. He wiped the tears on her cheeks and hugged her. He was going to miss her but he had to let her go. “You can go Ayotunde. I will miss you.”

“I will miss you too Papa but I will come home sometimes to visit you.”

“No, I want you to stay there and read your books. I will be fine here.”

“Thank you Papa.” Ayotunde said as she started sobbing again.

“Thank you sir.” Ayorinde said.

“Ayo, Ayo, no try me oh. I dey tell you. No try me oh.” Kevwe shouted as she pointed towards her husband.

Ayotunde looked at her father’s face.

“Don’t worry yourself. Let your brother help you pack your things.” Ayo concluded.


The next morning, Ayotunde, Ayorinde and their father set out early to Mrs. Taiwo’s house. As Mrs. Taiwo opened the gate for them, she scolded the children. “You shouldn’t have brought your father, I would have come to your house.” She looked at Ayo. “I’m sorry the kids made you go through the stress to get here.”

Ayo did a half-prostrate. “It is not stress ma. Thank you very much ma. I am very grateful.”

“Oh, it is fine. I take them as my kids.” She said as she led him into the house; Ayotunde and Ayorinde already ahead of them.

“Please sit down.” She said as she pointed to a couch. “What can I offer you?”

“Nothing ma. I am fine. I just wanted to escort them here, that’s all.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to make a quick breakfast?”

“No ma.” Ayo said standing up. “I should take my leave now. I also need to get to work.”

“Okay then. If you say so, let me get the children. They must be in the kitchen.”

Ayo opened his mouth to say something but Mrs. Taiwo had already turned her back and disappeared into a corner of the house.

He wondered how his children met such a kind woman and was surprised she mentioned that they were already in the kitchen. Cooking, cleaning or eating? He looked round the living room. There was a picture of Mrs. Taiwo and a man with a teenage girl. They all had smiles on their faces and were well dressed. He assumed the man was probably her husband.

He looked towards the credenza and saw another picture of the girl; this time in a University matriculation gown. Mrs. Taiwo was all smiles as she stood beside her but the man was absent.

Ayorinde and Ayotunde walked into the living room. “You are ready to leave Papa?” Ayotunde asked.

“Yes, I need to go to work.”

“Okay Papa.” Ayorinde said as he opened the door to let them out. When they got out, Ayorinde took out a brown envelope from his pocket and handed it to his father. “Mama T said I should give this to you.”

Ayo opened his mouth in shock. “Ah! God bless this woman. Her children and children’s children will never know lack. The eyes of the enemy will never find them.”

“Amen!” The children chorused.

Ayorinde opened the gate for his father and let him out.

Ayo looked back at his children. “You children are the only source of joy I have. Both of you give me a reason to continue to live. Ayotunde, don’t let your guardian down. Please make her proud.”

“I will Papa.” Ayotunde said as she waved to her father.

She wiped a tear from her eyes as she walked back towards the house. Ayorinde stopped her and looked at her. “I know you will make Mama T and Papa proud. I trust you.” He said as he pulled her into an embrace.

Mrs. Taiwo stood at her bedside window looking at the two children and wiped a tear from her eyes.


The story continues…

Yesterday Lives – Chapter 15

As the rooster crowed at 6.00am, Ayorinde rose up from the floor and tapped his sister. Ayotunde shifted and turned away. Ayorinde tapped her again and pulled her up.

“Ohhhh….” Ayotunde protested as she whimpered.

“Open your eyes.” Ayorinde said as he bent down to look at her.

“Why should I open my eyes? I still want to sleep.” She replied; her eyes still shut.

“C’mon Ayotunde, there’s no time for this. We need to set out early before other people get there.”

“I’m tired.”

“You can’t be tired. Didn’t you say you wanted to go to secondary school?”

Ayotunde opened her eyes wide. “I want to go to school. I don’t want to wash and iron clothes for university students again.”

Ayorinde sighed. He sat down on the mattress and pulled his sister beside him. “I am trying everything I can. Please don’t give up on me. You know papa‘s situation with his job right now. We need to help him.”

Ayotunde looked up at her brother. His eyes were misty. She hugged her brother. She did not need to speak again. He understood.

Ayorinde stood up and helped his sister up. He carried the pail of water behind the door and walked towards the bathroom. He set it inside the bathroom and walked out. Ayotunde knew she had just five minutes. She hurried towards the bathroom with her towel in her hand.


In thirty minutes, Ayorinde and Ayotunde were standing in a Molue on their way to the University of Lagos. They arrived on campus as most of the students were beginning to get dressed for lectures. Some of the girls had been waiting for them to arrive and they handed over their clothes to Ayorinde and Ayotunde as they rushed to lectures. Ayorinde looked on as the girls hurried to class. I should be going to lectures as well, but that is a luxury I cannot afford right now. Both of them got to work and by noon, they had washed and dried clothes for six girls. They hung around to see if there was any other chore they could do while they awaited the girls to come back from lectures to pay them. Ayorinde bought his sister a loaf of bread and a bottle of coke. He watched her as she ate hungrily. They sat on the stairs in front of the hostel watching students go in and out.  How am I going to raise enough money to send her to school? How much more would we need to steal? His mind wandered.


Four of the girls arrived from their classes and each of them paid Ayorinde five hundred naira. He waited patiently for the other two girls. An hour later, they arrived and also handed over five hundred naira each. Ayorinde and Ayotunde said their goodbyes and were about to leave when one of the girls called them back.

“My mum needs someone to clean the house for her once every week. I don’t know if you would be interested.” Nana said.

“We are interested.” Ayorinde spoke up quickly. “When do you want us to start?”

“I will have to ask her. Just give me your phone number; I will call you once she confirms.”

“I….I.…ermm….I don’t have a phone.”

Nana gave him a puzzled look. “You don’t have a phone?”


“Ah, is there anyone who doesn’t have a mobile phone nowadays?” Nana exclaimed. “Okay, you would have to come back here then or let me give you my number. You can call me from a business centre.”

“Thank you.” Ayorinde said.

Nana tore out a sheet of paper from one of the books in her hand. She scribbled her phone number on it and handed it over to Ayorinde.

“Thank you very much.” Ayorinde and Ayotunde chorused.

“It’s fine. Call me early tomorrow morning before I go for lectures.”

“What time would that be?”

“Call me around 9.00a.m”


Ayotunde was silent as they walked home. Ayorinde noticed but decided to let her be. He had an idea of what could be going on in her mind but he wasn’t ready to broach the topic. Right now, she needed to understand that they had to work extra if her dream of attending a secondary school was ever going to come to pass.

Their father had lost his job in the manufacturing company years ago when the organization closed down as a result of the high rate of expenses incurred in production. At a point, salaries became delayed. They laid off some staff to be able to rise above their overhead costs but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, the company shut down operations.

Ayo was back to square one. At a point, he was so depressed, he almost took his life. He couldn’t send his children to school anymore and he felt like a failure. Kevwe also did not make things easier for him as she became extremely troublesome and complained about everything. The situation pushed his kids to become petty thieves. Ayo decided to start washing cars for a living.

Ayorinde knew his sister’s dream was to go to secondary school. She once mentioned that she would like to be a nurse in the future and he was determined to put his all into helping Ayotunde accomplish her dreams.


The next morning, Ayorinde woke up early, had his bath and walked briskly to the business centre close to the house. The operator dialed the number Nana had scribbled the previous day and handed the mobile phone to Ayorinde. She picked up after the fourth ring. “Hello.”

“Good morning. This is Ayorinde. The guy that washes for you and your friends.”

“Oh, Hi. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. You asked me to call you this morning as regards your mum’s house.” Ayorinde spoke quickly.

“Yes, I remember. She said you can come to the house with your sister. She wants to meet both of you.”

“Thank you. I am very grateful. Can we go there today?”

“Yes, you can. Do you have a pen? I will give you the address.”

Ayorinde signaled to the operator for a pen and paper. Nana reeled out her address and Ayorinde scribbled it down quickly.

“We would go there today. Thank you very much.” Ayorinde said as he dropped the call. He paid the operator and smiled as he walked home. It was going to be a good day.


Ayotunde was awake by the time he got home. He told her to go have her bath quickly as they had a job to do. She was about complaining when he whispered into her ears that they were not going to the university. They were going to clean a house. She didn’t look happier but she refused to complain. She did as she was bidden and they set out immediately.


In about an hour, they arrived at their destination. The house was a modest bungalow in an estate. It had a low wooden gate and the front door could be seen from the gate. Shrubs lined the fence of the house and Ayotunde’s eyes grew big. She tugged her brother’s arm.

“The house is beautiful.”

Ayorinde smiled. “Yes, I know.” He tapped the button at the gate and waited.

He was about to tap it a second time when a woman opened the door. She wore a brown blouse and wrapper and had her hair packed up in a bun. She was greying at the temples and had laugh lines on her face.

“Good morning ma.” Ayorinde said as he bent his head a little.

“Good morning. How may I help you?”

“I’m Ayorinde. This is my sister, Ayotunde.” He said as Ayotunde curtsied. “Your daughter in Unilag asked us to come here to help you clean the house.”

“Oh yes.” The woman said as she closed the door behind her and walked to the gate. She opened it and let them in. “Go on inside.” She said as she closed the gate.

Ayorinde held Ayotunde’s hand as they walked into in the main house. They stood by the door and looked around.

“Yes, Nana mentioned you were coming.” Mrs. Taiwo said as she walked in and closed the door behind her. “But I wasn’t expecting her to be so young.” She said pointing to Ayotunde.

“I can clean and wash very well, ma.” Ayotunde said; curtsying again.

Mrs. Taiwo sighed. “My dear, you should be in school. How old are you?”

“I’m twelve, ma.”

“She is very good at cleaning ma. She also washes clothes for your daughter in school. Please ma.” Ayorinde begged.

Mrs. Taiwo sat down and looked at the two of them. “When Nana said she was sending both of you here, my assumption was that she was sending adults.”

Ayorinde knelt down and Ayotunde followed suit. “Please ma, don’t send us away. We can work very well.”

“Have you had breakfast?”

“Ma?” Ayorinde asked; surprised at the question.

“I asked if you have eaten today.” Mrs. Taiwo repeated.

“No ma. We wanted to finish working before going to eat.”

“Get up and follow me.” Mrs. Taiwo said as she stood up and walked towards the kitchen. She scooped some egg sauce into a flat plate and placed it on a tray. She handed over the tray to Ayorinde as she pointed towards the dining room. “There is bread on the dining table. Cut as much as you want. You need to eat before you can do any work here.”

“Thank you ma.” They chorused as Ayorinde did a half-prostrate while Ayotunde knelt down.

Mrs. Taiwo dismissed them with a wave of her hand.


Ayorinde and Ayotunde walked to the dining room just adjacent the kitchen. Mrs. Taiwo had disappeared into the house. The siblings looked at each other as they got to the dining table. They were mesmerized by the simplicity and beauty of the dining room. The room had a glass table with four chairs around it. A painting of a waterfall adorned the wall. There was a credenza by the side which ran from one end of the wall to the other end. A jar of coffee, a pack of chamomile tea, a jar of sugar, a box of cereal and fresh flowers in vases lined the credenza.

Ayo handed over the tray containing the plate of egg sauce to his sister. He saw another flat plate and a bread knife on the dining table. He opened the bread nylon and cut a large chunk onto the flat plate.

“Are we eating here?” Ayotunde asked as she looked round the room.

“No. We are going to eat in the kitchen. I don’t want anything to happen to the glass table.” Her brother replied as he shepherded her towards the kitchen.


When they were done eating, Ayorinde and Ayotunde cleaned up Mrs. Taiwo’s house to her satisfaction. They asked her if there were any clothes that needed to be washed and she said she had done that with the washing machine earlier in the day. While Ayorinde was taking out the trash, he noticed her car was dirty. He immediately asked Ayotunde to join him and they washed the car together. Three hours later, they were done with everything that needed to be cleaned in Mrs. Taiwo’s house. They told her they were about to leave and she asked them to have lunch before leaving. She had made rice and beans while they were working. Ayorinde said they were not hungry as he did not want to feel they were being greedy but Mrs. Taiwo insisted that they ate. She gave them five thousand naira and asked them to come again in two weeks.


Ayorinde and Ayotunde could not believe how their day had panned out. Their stomachs were full with food and the money they had received was beyond their imagination. When they arrived home, Ayorinde pulled Ayotunde to a corner of the house. He pulled out the money from his pocket and counted it again. It still felt like a dream to him. He smiled as his sister hugged him. “I will be able to go to secondary school.” She said with tears in her eyes.

“Yes, you will. Bring out your kolo, let’s keep four thousand in it. We don’t need to buy food today. I will keep one thousand in my own kolo.”

Ayorinde made his sister the custodian of their treasury so that seeing it would give her a hope for the future she desired.

They continued working for Mrs. Taiwo for the next three months and each time she paid them five thousand naira.


When the forms for the state government colleges came out, Ayorinde broke his own kolo and counted nine thousand, five hundred naira. He purchased the form for his sister, filled it and submitted. Ayotunde wrote the exams and passed with high grades. She was overjoyed as she danced. Her dream of going to the secondary school was eventually coming to pass. The children informed their father of the good news and he gave a sad smile. How was he supposed to pay the school fees? He knew his children were working but it was a disgrace to him that he couldn’t afford to pay for their education. What he made from washing cars daily, he handed over to Kevwe to feed the family.

The next morning, Ayotunde woke up very early. She was excited. Today was the day she was going to break her kolo. She went to the corner of the room where she kept it. It wasn’t there. She assumed Ayorinde must have moved it. She tapped her brother and asked him.

“Your kolo is not where you keep it?” He asked her.

“No, it’s not there.” She replied as she began to tremble.

Ayorinde jumped up from the mattress. “I don’t understand. Did you change where you usually keep it?”

“No, I didn’t.” Ayotunde said as she began to cry. “It is always behind that curtain there.” She said pointing.

Ayorinde swept the curtain aside and began to turn everything upside down. He searched the whole room. Ayotunde’s kolo had disappeared.


The story continues…