Hello darlings! I hope you had a nice weekend and your week is already making sense. I wrote this story for a friend last year and was not going to post it, but with her permission, I have decided to post it. It just might speak to someone reading…
Have a beautiful week 🙂
“You are lucky. You are better off. So instead of sulking, get on with life already. You have so much ahead of you. Smile Oluwabukola. You are better off.” She looked at her grandma with teary eyes as she picked up more wood to make the fire burn faster. “Get me that pot of water Bukola and help me make this food or will you rather your old grandma make the food alone and eat alone?” With that said, she used the end of her wrapper to wipe her eyes and got up to help her grandmother wondering what the woman meant by ‘she is lucky’. How can she say that? She always thought her grandma to be wise but, with the statement she uttered, she doubted her wisdom in that moment.
Ten years later, she was back at her grandmother’s hut watching the woman as she gracefully carried firewood. Her strength makes her wonder. At eighty-five years of age, she is still very agile. “How is life in Lagos Oluwabukola?” she asked while exposing an almost toothless mouth. She is the only one that calls her by her full name. “Very fine mama. Let me help you with that. Besides, you are too old for all these. I should get someone to come and be helping you out.”
“Very thoughtful of you my daughter but, don’t waste your money on an old woman that will soon die. I have been doing all these for as long as I can remember. A few more years are nothing.”
Bukky stared at the plate of Eba and Efo-riro before her completely lost in thought, not hearing her grandma tell her about the things some of the women in the village are doing and how the youths are now so corrupt it bothers her. In the dim moonlight, Abeke could see her granddaughter was only staring into space with eyes clouded with tears. The old woman set her food down and moved her stool closer to Bukky’s own.
“What do I have here? The child that left me 10 years ago or a woman who is happily living life and letting the past remain the past?” she looked into her eyes and held it until Bukky looked away … “she called me mama. How can the past remain in the past when she is still making her way to my present to hurt me?”
“To hurt you, you say.” Abeke chuckled as she clapped in an attempt to kill a mosquito. “How can she hurt you when you don’t allow it ehn Amoke?” she only calls her by her oriki (praise name) when she wants to drive her point home.
“Mama, she called me asking for some money. She said her son was sent out of school because she could not afford his school fees. Has she no shame? She never sent me to school. She never did anything for me. Yet, she called me to help her. It opened fresh wounds I tried so much to get rid of.”
“You tried so much to get rid of it, how? Have you tried love and forgiveness? Do you love yourself Amoke? Because if you do, you will cherish your happiness too much to allow an ordinary human being take it away from you. What do you want to do about your life? Will you live a life full of bitterness and under the control of the past? When are you going to learn Amoke? WHEN? When you are ready to sleep, lock the door. Emi n lo sun ni temi. Odaro.” Abeke walked away shaking her head as though she should slap sense into her granddaughter’s brain.
Bukky stared after her grandmother who took slow strides as her legs could not walk faster. She disappeared inside the house leaving Bukky alone in the dark with mosquitoes and crawling insects. Bukky tried to focus on her grandma’s words but her mind kept going back to the events that surrounded her childhood.
Her mother got pregnant for a man that already had three wives. The man couldn’t care less about her or any other of the children and her mother was no better. Her mother often left her at home from the age of six months to travel and sleep over night with different men. Leaving her at the mercy of the other wives and children who she was rather invisible to regardless of her loud cries. As she grew older, she would go days without food as each wife had to cater for the needs of their children because, the father spent all the money he had on cheap alcohol and women and her mother was never around. She was the only child of her mother. Often looked unkempt, attended no school and was already stealing quite well at the age of four. She was known as a trouble maker and her mother’s clients often made advances to her which only aggravated her mother as she felt she was competing with her. This made her mother take her to Bauchi to be married to an old man at the age of 10. The man already paid her mother. So her mother dropped her in a strange land and left her there not even looking back once. She cried for days but, she was already street smart so she thought of ways to escape. The man violated her and while he climbed her like an old pig that he was, she would stare at him, her eyes void of emotion. She never cried; not even when the man physically abused her. She was able to run away and was able to get enough money after working as a maid to her grandmother’s place at Ijebu. Her grandmother took her in and showed her the love she never received from anyone. She started training her and helping her to let go of her behavior in exchange for a new one. When her mother discovered she had ran away from the man she took her to because, the man was no longer paying her; she went to her mother’s place at the village. Beat her senselessly as her grandma wasn’t around and left with her without Abeke knowing. On getting home, Abeke became distraught until people told her, her daughter had come to take her granddaughter away. Her mum took her to Kano where she was re-married to a rich man. The man liked Bukky genuinely but the mother thought something else was going on. She sent Bukky out of the house in the middle of the night leaving her with no money. She slept outside the gate of the house and when the man saw her in the morning, she narrated the story to him. He apologized on his wife’s behalf and gave her some money to get back to her grandma.
She wept bitterly as she remembered the abuse she was exposed to that her grandma knows nothing about. She went in at the sound of the first cock crow with a heavy heart. She was to go back to Lagos that afternoon. So her grandma prepared some soup for her insisting she takes it to Lagos. When she was about to leave, Abeke sat her granddaughter down.
“There comes a time when you have to let go though it’s hard and painful. You just have to stop looking back and start looking ahead so the darkness of the past will not suck you in again. It is time Bukky. It is time for you to release your mother. Release her, release your father. Release the past and count yourself lucky. I said you are lucky because you truly are. She did you a favor by dropping you at that man’s place. If not, you wouldn’t have come here and God knows what would have gone wrong. You have to forgive yourself for all the things you could not prevent. Your mother failed you. I failed you. I should have taken you away from her at a younger age. None of it is your fault and you have to know that so you can release yourself.”
“Mama, I want to sleep every night and I look at my body and the tears come rushing, I feel hatred rising up in my heart. Mama the scars can never go. I look at them and I see an ugly child like she always said. I have been hurt mama. Hurt by her words more than her physical abuse. Her words indirectly led me to be hurt by men whom I gave myself freely to because, I see no worth in me. I am worthless mama.”
Her grandma stood to her feet, paced about the room. She stopped abruptly and shouted… “You worthless child that can never do anything right. You should never have been born. You destroy my life and the life of every other person you meet.” … Bukky looked at her grandma, shocked as uncontrollably tears began to roll down her face. Abeke takes a deep sigh and sits … “Are you happy now? That is what you wanted to hear because, that is what you have heard for so long. It breaks my heart Amoke that you cann0t see you. You only see your mother. You don’t see you. I will never say those words to your mother but, those words are meant for your mother and not you. You have given your life over to your mother and it breaks my fragile heart. How can this girl; this girl that has brought so much joy to my heart than any of my 3 children see herself as nothing when she can be everything she wants to be. How can you?” Abeke went to where Bukky was sitting and knelt down before her …
“Ah! Mama what are you doing? It’s a taboo for you to kneel for me”, Bukky said as she stood up trying to get her grandma to stand up. The old woman remained there rigidly … “let it be a taboo but, I have to kneel down for you and don’t waste your time. I am not standing up.”
“It is true you have scars that will always be there in your heart and on your skin but you can choose to rise above them. Let Jesus heal your heart Amoke mi. You are the strongest person I know Amoke but, you have given the key to your life to another. Take back the key, start living. You have been abused and your mother put you in the hands of those that abused you. Your father protected his money and drank more than he protected you but, you have to stop seeing yourself as a victim. Because if that’s all you see, if you don’t see a strong survival, then I am afraid for you. I’m afraid for what bitterness will do to your life. When next she calls you making stupid demands, give her what you can when you can. Release her and take back the joy that is your birthright. Don’t let in just any man. Let in the one that will love you and respect you. A man that will see your scars and protect you with all he has. You deserve more out of life but, it’s only when you reach for it, that you will get more. I love you and I don’t know if I will stick around much longer but, I am proud of you AMOKE OLAJIDE. Your parents don’t deserve you.”
She smiles as her grandmother’s body is lowered to the ground. Her mother is crying profusely and shouting about how much she will miss her mother. Bukky looks at her and smiles… “It’s funny how she was never there for grandma, but she is the one to cry the loudest.” She leaves her husband and children and goes to meet her mother…
“It is okay. Mama lived a very happy life. At the age of 92, she was still a very strong and healthy woman. Take this money and don’t hesitate to call me when you need something.” Her mother hugs her and in that brief moment, she remembers her words ….
“Omo jati jati. You are a shame to me. I should have aborted you when I had the chance, tori omo ibanuje lo je fun mi.” A lone tear drops from her face, but she remembers her grandma’s words … “forgiveness does more for you.”
“I forgive you”, she says as she walks away feeling so relieved and at peace with herself. She won the battle. Neither her mother nor any other person is big enough to take away her joy. She smiles to herself as she understands her grandma’s words when she first went to the village … “You are lucky” and knows she truly is because she had a woman that was everything and taught her everything. Her mother looks at her bewildered, as Bukky kisses her husband and hugs her children, knowing she was never capable of love because she couldn’t love herself.