Read the earlier parts here
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
I prop myself up with my pillows. I am (or rather was. Because you won’t believe it, the heavy rain disrupted the signal) watching African Magic Yoruba, and it is raining heavily – cats and dogs, I believe. My phone’s light comes on and I practically scramble to pick it up. Yes, loneliness does that you. It makes you very thirsty. It is a different kind of thirst. And by now I feel like I should have gotten used to it, but guess what? Every time is like my first time. I slide my finger across the screen to pick the call. It is Ade (we used his Breathless as my birthday party spot). The line keeps breaking and I can’t hear a thing, plus his voice was sounding really husky. I guess I found a kindred spirit.
I place my phone at the base of my bed and I burrow deeper into my duvet. My bed looks like a bed in a typical hotel room – three star. I spared no expense. The first time I got to sleep in a hotel, I was hooked after that. I just couldn’t go back to sleeping on a mat – yes, I slept on a mat for the greater part of my life – all through childhood and adolescence and a bit of my adulthood. I love my bed. But I am restless, and that’s what happens at times like this. It involves a kind of cold that no duvet or blanket can take away. It is that cold that can only melt at human touch. I walk to my dresser and pull out my diary. Maybe something could come out of it. Something like what?
It is raining cats and dogs. I like the sound of that. In Yoruba, I think the direct translation of a similar phrase is, ‘the rain can exhume a lazy corpse’. Or maybe I don’t really know. And so, what can I write about? My feelings? I am a bag of feelings right now. I just want to be held and touched. There, it is out. Is it something to be ashamed of? And I want to talk shop with someone, and have them laugh at my dry jokes, and just talk you know and listen and have a genuine exchange. And you are okay, its just that you are a bit greedy. You don’t tell me anything back, except what I have told you.
What else? The rain? Yes, the rain. My mummy was a Yoruba woman. I think I heard her use the phrase about the rain. And back then, we had to fetch water into drums for a few days. If there was extra cash we could pay the Malo who sold. But there was heavy rationing. So we(my siblings and I) loved the rainy season because it meant we could play in the rain and fill the drums with water and not go to queue in front of the borehole at the Local Government Chairman’s house and get into beat up over who should fetch water and who should fetch more than one bucket or keg. It was so much fun. The water was always cool, a bit dirty sometimes, if the rainy season had just begun. It had some of the dust of the roof. By the time it had rained a few times, the water was clean enough. The best feeling ever, is to take your bath with some of it after a long day. It was refreshing. But it had this slimy after effect on your skin after you took your bath. It still does. When I moved into this house, the water supply was erratic. Now the water supply is fair. But I still collect rain water in the drums. I brought two of them here after my mummy died. And my co-tenants wonder. I love everything about the rain water – sliminess and all, especially the coolness.
We are still talking about the rain right? Leke, you remember him, at my birthday party. I think I was in my second year. Leke had come to see me, we found out that his mother sold pap, akara, fried yams, sweet potato and plantain at the first junction after my house. He helped out every now and then. Leke was in my faculty but was in another department. He came to the house with some fried sweet potatoes and plantain. But it started raining and he couldn’t leave. I had to invite him in. I was always ashamed of our room and parlour, but my Mummy tried to keep it neat. And I would say she did an excellent job. I had seen the rooms of some of our co-tenants, so I knew that ours was different but it was still little space for a family of six. Anyway, I had no choice I couldn’t leave him on the corridor. Leke had asked me out severally prior to that time. And we were friends, and we talked well. But that day, we really really talked and it was like I was seeing him for the first time. So he told me he loved me. My stomach did this pirouette thing. I liked the feeling a lot. And I didn’t mind hearing it again so my stomach could do its thing. So I pretended like I didn’t hear and he said it again. And my stomach didn’t disappoint. That’s when my mummy walked in.
‘Ta ni iwo?’ (Who are you?’)
‘My name is Leke, ma’
I had my eyes glued to the floor the whole time. And my heart, oh God, it had totally forgotten the effect of Leke’s declaration of love and was afraid to beat.
‘Ahn ahn. Mo mo e now! Iwo ko ni omo Iya alakara?’ (I know you now. Is your mother not the one who sells Akara?)
‘Mi o gbo oyinbo o. Ki lo wa de ibi?’ (I don’t understand English. What brought you here?)
He actually took my hand and held it in the presence of my mummy. I knew the look on my mother’s face too well. I was in big trouble.
My mummy clapped her hands three times, alternating it like this – left on right, right on left, then left on right. She then stood with her hands akimbo.
‘Se o ri pe o ni lakaye? Iwo’, she gestured with her hands at him, while looking at him from head to toe severally, ‘si omo temi? Se iru e lo ye ki o ma wa toast omo mi? Se owo akara naa lo maa fi toju e? Mi o ti e ba e l’oro. Oya, Afara.’ (Do you see you have no sense? Someone like you to my own daughter? Is it your sort that should be wooing my daughter? Is it with the money from the sales of Akara that you will take care of her? I dont even have anything to say to you. Leave, now!)
My mother turned on me, ‘Se o mo pe omo ale ni e? Mi o ro pe mo bi e sha. Emi ko. O da bi pe won paro e ni ile iwosan. Oju e fo? Ehn? Damilohun! Oju e fo! Se o ri nkan ti baba e so mi da? Ko si okunrin ni ita mo? Talika ti o je pe a tun better won lo ri gbe wa si ile? Ride on. O ma ba lojo waju. Ti o ba wun e, ki o di animashaun. ‘I love you oya talk your own’. O ma ji ya, igba ti o je pe o fe maa rori.’ (Do you know you are a bastard? I don’t think I gave birth to you. I didn’t. You must have been changed at the hospital. Are you blind! Ehn? Answer me. You are blind?! You can see what your father has turned me into. Are there no men out there? You brought home a wretch that we even live better than. Ride on. You will reap what you sow in the future. If you like, distribute yourself around. ‘I love you, say your part’*. Since you are not ready to think, you will definitely suffer.’
There were one or two slaps and my mum issued me a very important warning. ‘Ko ya gbe oju lo si oja ni o.’ (That I should take my eyes to the market) So I guess she was expecting me to bring home a rich Alhaji that would take us away from the poverty and suffering. I wish she were alive to see me, us, my siblings too, now. But I got the point.
So when it rains, I think about that day, and my mummy, and Leke. Leke because he would always be a part of my life. And my mother because I find that I am like her…
Maybe it was a mistake to think about Leke and his earnest declaration of love, because my stomach desperately wants to pirouette again, and my heart is longing for the caress made by the sound of those words. I need to keep my hands away from my body. Because the cold is winning this war, and I can’t let it win…
* this is an expression used to make jest of people who say they are in love…
P.S Dedicated to all mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!!!