Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Church today. Abigail is preaching. Or not. I am learning that she is a teacher, like Sunday school, but it goes by a different nomenclature here. I don’t know what I am doing here. Immediately, she asks somebody in our group to pray so she can bring the class to a close, I find my way to the door. But it seems like Enkay has guard duties and so she stops me before I can slip out of church quietly.
I shrug my shoulders. ‘I waited to the end’
‘We are serious. Let us help you. Mario. Please.’
I shake my head. ‘See you around.’
Watching Tv. But that is not really possible now? Can I watch and write? Absolutely not. I put of the TV and dragged my laptop to my bed. I watched ‘Me before You’ twice. The fantastic movie about a handsome guy who ends up in a wheel chair becomes an arse, but is rich enough to hire a caregiver who needs his money and so can put up with his attitude. They fall in love but guess what? She is still not enough for him. He decides that he is better off dead. I love her wardrobe. Let’s keep this between the both of us but that’s me, and her cheerfulness is infectious. I could use the sunny disposition. After watching it, I wander about in my room. I am really restless. I put Taylor Swift’s Love Story on replay until I remembered that, that is an 18 year old singing about love. I don’t want to talk about Church today. I feel like I have a permanent seat in hell, and my friends are trying to get me out of it. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t follow men.
I have been craving garden egg sauce with boiled yam. I can’t recall how it came to be one of my favourite foods. I sigh as I throw in the pieces of fish into the pot cooking on the cooker. I get a plate from the rack and put pieces of cooked yam on it. This time it takes me down memory lane.
It was the week following one of my Dad’s usual misadventure. By the way, my Dad’s life is like the life of the protagonist in one of those Lantern books. I think the title is, ‘one week, one trouble’. My Dad’s never ending desire to travel abroad cost us a lot. We never recovered from it, and in a way it has moulded our lives today. Of the four of us, only one of us might be resident in Nigeria after all – Ireti. I don’t know if am coming back. My brother isn’t until he is able to get the citizenship deal, and my baby sister isn’t coming any time soon. I won’t even support it. I remember the wonder in my brother’s voice, the first few months. He was always in awe. But we are talking about my dad, aren’t we…
So my Dad. My Dad finished from a polytechnic. He always wanted to further his studies abroad, move out of the country with or without my mum. Those arrangements that used to be popular then, either the husband or the wife would go under the impression that it would be easier for the other to join. Apparently being a bus driver paid much more that being a polytechnic graduate. So what my Dad thought he would do for a year max turned into nearly three decades, okay slightly over two. He’s been dead for like seven years, but we never got over it. I digress again. My Dad was unrepentantly convinced that his destiny lay abroad. And so week after week, months after months, my parents lost their earnings to my Dad’s susceptibility to visa scam artists and false travel agents. It was during one of really severe ‘famines’ following one of the major scams that I discovered the garden egg sauce. It was miserable and bitter. The palm oil was so thin, and there was just dry pepper and crayfish. It lasted us for a week, whereas the normal stew of the same amount of money would have finished in two days. The week my father died, he had taken money for the house rent and my youngest sister school fees, and put it into some visa lottery scheme through one of his friends. The day he died, I was frying some boiled garden egg paste for the sauce. My mother had gone a-hustling. Daddy Bade, the NURTW Chairman, of my Dad’s bus route parked roughly in front of my house. Some of the boys from the park carried a body in wrapped up and dumped him unceremoniously in the parlour of our room-and-parlour setting. He had been killed by a stray bullet. Some boys at the park got excited and things went out of hand. I was dryeyed for two weeks. My mother did not recover. She lost her will to live and succumbed to stroke a year later.
This story would be incomplete if I don’t mention Malik. Malik was the unfortunate fellow that got his hands on our last savings. It must have been huge. Probably, Daddy Bade and some park touts convinced him to show some mercy. He gave us 500k, a bit belatedly, too. I cursed him. His suffering is just starting. And he had the guts to be dropping hints that he wanted to pimp me. I told him that no female descendant of his will amount to anything in life. They will die in penury and prostitution. It is not a curse. A man reaps what he sows.
I take a forkful of garden egg sauce, and look at my scribbling in my diary. The bitter taste is still there, no matter how much I season the sauce. I pick up my phone hoping secretly that I will see a message from Phillip. But instead, I receive an erotic, yes erotic, message from Ade. The sexual attraction is almost animalistic. I feel like a bitch in heat around him. I delete it without reading. Maybe one day if I get the chance, I will write in my diary my ideas about marriage, and why sex is not all that. Or maybe I am just asexual, you know, a deviant, or maybe I am gay, or maybe I am romantic enough to think of myself as a gift for my husband on the wedding night (I have a theory about this too) or maybe it is just a decision to keep within my control things that can be within.
I move to a text from Abigail, and two missed called from Enkay. I missed a video chat from my brother. My departure looms over me. I place the last piece of yam into my mouth, and drop my plate at the foot of my bed. I shift my diary with my left foot towards the edge of the bed, and I bury myself under my bedsheets and duvet. Alone and lonely. I pick up my Bible and tell myself, ‘this Jesus may be worth a try’