I hope you enjoyed the last series served here titled “Omoshalewa”.
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“Do you Ajoke Omolewa, take this man, Enitan Boluwatife to be your lawful wedded husband; to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, keeping yourself solely unto him, to honour him, submit to him, forsaking all others till death do you part? If so, answer “Yes, I do.” The minister asked again.
Ajoke opened her mouth but was unable to form the words the minister, her family members and Enitan waited to hear. Her eyes were trained on the man who had just walked into the registry and sat quietly at the end of the hall. He had walked in unnoticed but Ajoke’s attention towards him was beginning to attract stares in his direction.
One by one, Ajoke’s family members comprising her father, her mother, her six elder brothers and her two teenage kids looked back to find out what had caught her attention. Enitan also confused at the sudden change in Ajoke’s mien looked in the same direction. He could not recognize the stranger and he wondered why the man’s presence had suddenly affected Ajoke. He turned to look at his bride and saw tears streaming down her made-up face. What on earth is going on?
All of a sudden, there was commotion in the hall. Ajoke’s aged father struggled to get up, his face taut and his jaw set but Ajoke’s brothers were faster. The youngest of her brothers tapped her father on his shoulders and slid his right hand up and down his chest. Their father took the cue and relaxed in his seat. His sons were capable of handling the situation. The six brothers stood up one by one and marched towards the end of the hall.
Ajoke, knowing what her brothers were capable of doing, left Enitan and the minister at the podium and started running towards the end of the hall.
“Ajoke!!!” Enitan called as he watched her break into a run.
She stopped to look back at Enitan, her tears now coming down her face in streams, staining and drawing black lines on her wet cheeks as a result of her smeared mascara. She looked at him, her eyes pleading but it only made Enitan more confused. Who was this guy whose sudden presence had stalled his wedding? He looked at Ajoke’s parents and searched their faces for an answer. Ajoke’s mother slumped her shoulders as she watched an imaginary being in her open hands while her father’s neck was stretched to the back as he trained his attention on the on-goings down the hall.
Ajoke reached the end of the hall just as her eldest brother held the stranger by his tie, rough-handling him. The stranger coughed as Adisa held him by the neck. He refused to hold Adisa’s hand or make an attempt to stop Adisa from strangling him.
“What are you doing here, you bastard?” Adisa asked.
The stranger only looked at Adisa without a word or a plea. All Ajoke’s brothers had gathered round the stranger but none stopped Adisa from his bid to strangle him. Ajoke pushed through the circle and knelt before her eldest brother. “Bròdá mi, ë jò ó, ë má pà á. (My brother, please don’t kill him).”
“Will you go back to the front and continue with your wedding?” Adisa said to Ajoke, his eyes blazing.
“I will but please don’t kill him.” Ajoke said, her face totally in a mess now.
Adisa refused to let go of the stranger.
“Àdìsá, fi sílè. (Adisa, leave him alone).” Their father said. He had trudged down the hall after Ajoke had broken into a run. He reached the end of the hall panting and sweating in the air-conditioned room. His wife had not accompanied him as she now stood, talking to the minister, the groom, his elder brother, his uncle and aunt. Her hands were clasped as she pleaded with them. They all looked at her confusion clearly written on their faces.
“Ehn, Bàámi kí lë sö?” (My father, what did you say?) Adisa asked, as he looked at his father with anger.
“Mo ní ko fi sílè.” (I said you should leave him alone).
Adisa squeezed his hands once more on the stranger’s neck making the man to gasp for air before releasing his grip. The man coughed once more as he loosened his tie and massaged his neck. His face was sober as he looked at Ajoke’s father. As the old man’s tired eyes met his, the stranger dropped his gaze. Ajoke’s father sighed deeply as he shook his head.
“Bàámi, ë jò ó, mo fé ba s’òrò. (My father, please I want to talk to him.)” Ajoke said to her father.
Ajoke’s father nodded and turned back.
“Alone.” She reiterated when her brothers refused to leave.
“You better know what you are doing.” Adisa said to Ajoke. “And as for you” – He said pointing towards the stranger – “I will still deal with you.”
Ajoke watched her brothers as they all filed back to the front of the hall; leaving her and the stranger alone. Her brothers however kept their eyes on them as they monitored their discussion from afar. As she turned to look at him, he knelt before her and tried to hold her hand. “Don’t touch me, Adejoro.” She said.
“I know I have hurt you greatly but please hear me out.”
“Hear you out? What could you possibly have to say? Hmm….Adejoro. What?”
“Adejoro, what did I do to you to deserve this? What was my offence? Tell me.” She sobbed.
“Ajoke, it is not what you think?”
“I gave up everything and gave you my all. But you trampled it under your feet and threw it back in my face. Just look down the hall” – She said nodding towards the front. “Did your children come here? Did they acknowledge your presence?” She asked.
Adejoro looked towards the front pews and sighed. So those are my children? He placed his hands on his head and bowed his head in shame. His children did not recognize him. They did not know who their father was. Fifteen years was a long time for any man to abandon his family. He knew he had messed up but he wanted to make it right if Ajoke could give him an opportunity to.
As Ajoke looked at his bowed head, she remembered how she had fallen in love with Kokumo nineteen years ago. Both of them had attended the same secondary school in the Ayobo village. Her parents had struggled to send her to school as they barely had enough to eat with seven children. Her mother had given birth to Adisa, two sets of twin boys and another boy before having her. Her father tapped palm-wine for a living while her mother processed garri locally. The little they made from the sales of palm wine and garri was used to feed the large family.
As much as her father valued education, he had told all his children that the best he could do for them was to ensure they got educated up to the secondary level. After that, he encouraged each one of them to go learn a trade. Her elder brothers had all learnt one trade or the other but Ajoke being the last child and only girl, had been confined to helping her mother’s business.
Kokumo was named an Abiku child. His parents said he always died at childbirth and returned to torment his mother again. To stop the scourge of death, the sixth child was marked before burying. Even though, Kokumo did not return with the mark (as it was believed would happen), he was still named Kokumo – meaning; will not die again. After his birth, his mother decided to give child bearing a wide berth. Kokumo’s father was a peasant farmer while his mother sold seasonal fruits which were planted and harvested by her husband.
Even though Kokumo and Ajoke attended the same secondary school, they only became acquainted with each other in the senior secondary class. They were both in the Art class and having to do the same subjects brought them close. Ajoke’s parents had been unable to afford to buy her textbooks, so Kokumo was always on hand to assist her with his. They became reading partners and within a short period of time, love found them.
Each day, they both trekked a distance which took them about an hour to get home from school. Kokumo lived in the next village to Ajoke’s and the forked junction before their villages served as their end point before each faced the journey home alone.
Ajoke looked at the man before her, her husband of three years and father of her children. What a wasted life she had lived married to him? She and Kokumo had been denied of their young love and she had been married off to Adejoro. Her father, her mother and her elder brother had thought him man enough to take care of her.
As the tears began to make their way down her cheeks again, her mind is forced to go back in time to when Kokumo meant the whole world to her.
The story continues…..
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