Let me formally report everyone to you. Everyone includes my children, grandchildren, neighbors and even all my late friends who chose to leave me at the mercy of these clueless people.
It all started some years back after serving my country in the civil service for 38 long years- 38 years within which I had these same children and within which many of those I started life with began to drop like dry leaves in the harmattan. Mama nurse was the first- the same woman whose hands brought out each of my 4 children on those Sunday afternoons (I had all four boys on Jesus afternoons); they said Mama nurse woke up one morning, dressed up as someone going for a party and sat on the balcony of her cottage home 5 houses away from where OOM (Olowo Ori Mi) and I had built “Ours”. She slept off on a chair in her balcony that morning and woke up for the welcome party in heaven. Soon after her, my elder cousin who had been ill since I could tell the difference between Ìǵba, Iǵba and Íg̀ba suddenly got tired of living from a bed and gently slipped away without notice- her’s they say was a bit of a relief. She had suffered too much- no one thought she would have lived so long- She did not either.
Then one morning OOM woke up and started playing one of Tunde Nightingale’s “So Wàmbè” songs. Our last baby standing had just gotten married to an oyinbo girl from the east a day before. Oyinbo ilewa as we call her is so yellow she would beat the sun arms down in any competition- OOM particularly liked Oyinbo of all his acquired daughters- maybe that was because she was his newest baby, maybe it was because she knew how to bring out the dancer in him or maybe it was because she had this enthusiasm to learn from us. She could now hold a conversation with me for a minute in Yoruba and I could leave her to make Ikokore. When OOM started dancing I thought it was simply a spillover of the excitement from the wedding day so I watched him from the corner of my eye refusing to yell my doctors’ warnings of not being overly excited or exerting too much energy. OOM was a joy to always have around, he loved talking, he loved cooking, and he loved teaching- after he retired from the university he set up an evening class for secondary school students where he taught two courses only- Mathematics and Life. It was a shock to all of us when he was diagnosed with hypertension- OOM had done everything right- he ate right, he exercised, he slept at 11:00 pm almost every night and woke up at 6:00 am almost every morning. Why him we thought- Since then I was his wife, his doctor and his general.
But that August morning, I chose to be his wife only. I chose to let him dance and dance he did until he fell. He was hospitalized for 8 days before he bade me farewell. Just before that time he jokingly told me he would ensure my mansion was right beside his in heaven and that I was not allowed to be remarried- OOM was territorial like that and he knew my 62 year old self was a hottie. In his unassuming nature, he slipped away the moment I stepped out to complain about the creaking sound the fan was making. It was a Sunday Afternoon.
After OOM, many more followed- Uncle Taiye Kanyi, Professor and even his Iyawo kekere and My Spanish speaking bible study teacher – The service of songs were all the same we would troupe to the community center to sing hymns and troupe to our orthodox church to listen to “Paitor wa” preach the same sermon that summarily says “you may be next” after a while I stopped going to those services, soon I stopped going to the women’s gathering too- It was now more composed of women my children’s age, I stopped going to church all together when they asked “Paitor wa” to retire and the service started getting shorter to accommodate the needs of this new generation that always seems to be in a rush.
The church I knew would typically start with Sunday-School from 7:00am to 9:30am then the church service would last from 9:30am to 1:30pm and after service we still had those meetings where we strategized on how to have further meetings at someone’s house, in church or at the community center. OOM often drove out of church at 2:30pm and even then, I would have my big head and bigger gele out the window screaming at the top of my voice as he sped off- that was church but now everything has been collapsed to two hours! That is how long it takes me to dress up for a party!
No more church, or gatherings, I would sit outside “Ours” and watch the world pass by from morning to evening- at a point I lost interest in my tomato farm and later on I just did not want to see people. That was the time the busy bodies reported me to my children- they told them that I was acting suicidal- They said one day I stood too close to the balcony railing like I wanted to jump down- Are they serious? If I wanted to die would I be that stupid to choose death by jumping? Clueless people. One day I chose to disallow everyone access to my house- I let the cleaner go, the gardener and even the gate man- I just wanted to be alone. It was that little mistake that caused DK my first to come see me with a doctor. Even though I was fine and only wanted space from everyone he insisted I come live with him in Lagos- Lagos? I want space and he chose to take me to Lagos? I should have named him Solomon!
This is my fourth month in Lagos. They would not let me go anywhere after the day I chose to go for a walk and got slightly lost; please don’t judge me- It is not my fault that everything moves so fast here; the red car that was parked at the junction of our street had apparently moved before I walked back. I saw the red car parked at the other side of the street so I crossed the road to ask the driver for the details of where he had parked but before I uttered a word, he told me he had no money- “Omo alaileko” I should have given him a piece of my mind but I noticed there was another red car at a junction a few meters down, then another one sped by me. So I got confused and sat with an airtime vendor. Please blame the driver of that red car that moved! DK found me late that evening talking with Helen the airtime vendor who had been trying to help figure out where my son’s cream painted house with black gate could be. Where I come from, we use unique colors and equally name our houses- OOM and I painted “Ours” Light green- no other house had that name and color combination.
Since I am no longer allowed to go out, and the only conversation anyone wants to have with me is on my health, my feeding and my sleep, I have decided to buy a radio; a small one that receives signals from OGBC-2 FM, Adaba FM, Ajilete FM and Orisun FM I would sit on the roof top everyday with my radio and disturb everyone. If they interrupt me, I would give them my beautiful smile that makes our neighbors children cry and if they still do not let me be, I would play those jumping from the balcony games or grandma has fainted games or my personal favorite I can’t move come and carry me! I could even try a new one- scream to passersby that I was kidnapped from the village *wink*.
Hopefully, one day I would be on the balcony like Mama nurse and wake up beside OOM.
Photo Credit: Mick Shippen: http://www.mickshippen.com/2013/09/life-in-black-and-white/