Oníkálukú jèjé ewúré
Oníkálukú jèjé àgùtàn,
Olúrónbí jèjé omo re
Omo re a pón bíi epo
Some offered a goat,
Some offered a sheep,
A healthy sheep.
Oluronbi offered her child
Her beautiful fair child,
Unlike Oluronbi I never begged for a son, neither did I offered a son, my son! My feet never visited the house of Babalawo, Ifa did not ask me to sacrifice a white pigeot, bails of white cloths, sheep or ram. I was just a young maiden, Omidan! when Duduyemi saw a flower at Baami’s orchard. With Baami’s consent he plucked me, “I was the fairest of them all” he often teased me, he even told me the radiance and the glow of my skin is enough to compliment is charcoaled skin which fetched him the name, “Duduyemi”
He told me how succulent my breast are; a delight to behold the ileke that lays seige on the thrones of my meloned buttocks. Duduyemi was a sucker for sweet words. He was the centre of my world. I graced his bed undefiled, he told me on the night of our wedding, after he knew me, how my blood stain, the proof of my chastity had drew the map of his heart on the floral patterned bed sheets we laid on.
Duduyemi, Ololufe mi atata, dark like a charcoal, the brightness of his teeth can blind you if you stare too much, he never speaks, but when he does, he sings of my praise. His mum said, I opened his mouth. Mother to him was a goddess, I needed no prophetess or Alfa to warn me never to cross path with his mother. To please him was to please her mother. I did all to please Mama Labule as we fondly call her.
Mama Labule is a widow and Duduyemi her only son. Duduyemi told me they had lost his Father during the Ife/ Modakeke war. He died protecting us Duduyemi told me. Mama Labule was all that he has left, of course I later became part of his life.
Just like I became part of his life, Durotola came to join us, the joys of motherhood never eluded me. Mama Labule’s joy knew no bonds when I gave them Duro!
He looked just like his father, My mother said when she visted. Duduyemi pampered me, I must not touch or lift a thing, Mama Labule will not let go of Duro. She was always carrying him, with Duduyemi strapped across her back, she would sing and dance. I found peace, I found joy, I found a sense of belonging, I found everything a woman desires for in her husband home. I found home.
Mother instructed me to polish the house,
Father instructed me to polish the house,
I polished and made the house shine,
I glossed the lounge and made it shine,
Mother requested me to bath with the water at home,
Father insisted I should bath at the stream,
I arrived and saw Oluweri (the river spirit) at the stream,
There were three spirits at the stream altogether,
One was sightless, the other was crippled,
And the third was deaf,
When you return home,
Deliver greetings to my mother,
Deliver greetings to my father,
Say they could only see my apparition, henceforth,
Say they could only see me in their dreams, hereafter,
It never lasted long, Èsù, Òdàrà, Èsù, lanlu ogirioko visited, the man of the cross road took away our joy, He took away Durotoye.
He simply slept and he never woke up. If it had been fever,”sebi” I would have taken him to the doctor, if it was an injury he sustained on the field of play, I would have nursed him myself, Mama Labule would have washed his wounds, I would have dressed it and tended it, while Duduyemi would have brought him ice kobi kobi. We could have given us just for him to live
Èsù! Our home was made of glass, but you choosed to hurl a stone at it, we had cooked with grains of happiness and stew of joy, we had picked our spoons of hope to eat, but you came and poured sands of sadness. If it was just sand of sadness, it would have been better, we would have stood up and go back to the kitchen to cook another, but you smashed our plates and pots into pieces, if you had done just that alone, we would have bought new pots, but you stayed back and never left, you sowed a seed of hatred among us, you stayed back and watered it, watching it grow, Èsù! You have not done well. They said Adin is not your food, I never gave you any, They said Ejo you detest, I never offered you any, The route to your abode I know not, why have you choosed to visit me.
At first Duduyemi consoled me, Mama Labule said, it’s amuwa olorun, God understands better, we will have another she pleaded. We consoled ourselves.
Years went by, we never heard a tick nor a tack, my womb was shut like an He-goat’s womb. Duduyemi would pound me like yam at nights, he would fill my deep with his juices, they will ran down my thigh like a stream, still we didn’t hear a tick or tack.
Mama Labule would bring home herbs, making concoctions, some smelt like Durotola’s feaces, still I drank them all to their last drop.
Maami visited Woli, she knelt before Alfa, she gave Fifty Naira as Liberation to Ifa. I even fasted, I danced with Omolanke at night in the market square, I even went to the cross road to have a midnight bath. We neither heard a tick nor a tack.
The days rolled into months, the months birthed years, Mama Labule lost her patience, Duduyemi lost his voice. He never sang me those lovely songs anymore.
Tears became my companion, Duduyemi will not touch me again, Mama Labule had called me a witch.
“She killed Duro” she will cry. She sacrificed him for beauty, “can’t you see Yemi, childless, yet she shines.Baba agba told me she’s from the deepest sea, she’s a child of the ocean, daughter of Yemoja”
Duduyemi will simply stare into the thin air, he never said a word, he never told Mama Labule to stop. Maami never knew a thing, not even Baami got a wind of my woes. I hid them so well, I suffered all alone.
Mama Labule will sing
This is my child
He is my child.
He is my child
Duduyemi is my Son
Tell me Segilola
Where is your son?
She would go to the market, she will buy yams, Just yams; she will cut their head and heap them on my bed.
Go back to your home witch, you can’t ruin me or my son, go back and tell your spirit world that you have failed, go back and tell them, our blood is as bitter like bitter leaf, you cannot suck, our flesh is as bitter like bile, you cannot eat. Go back and tell them! “
Duduyemi watched on he never said a word. By now Adubi the rumor monger must be picking every bits and shreds together. Tomorrow she will go about telling our neighbours in her diluted version as if they never heard themselves.
Mama Labule would not stop, with the rising of the sun the next day, she brought in a new lady, she sprinkled her with Holy water, she sprinkled the house with the liquid. She would never stop, she went into my room, brought out my belongings out into the open and blessed them with fire.
“Witch be gone” she screamed. Yemi never said a word. I looked into his face as Mama Labule dragged me out of the house. With tears I stared right into his face, I saw guilt written all over him.
The new lady has come to stay. The neighbours will not take me in, for they believed Mama Labule’s words. I killed my son, offered him to the sea goddess, shut my womb for beauty.
I walked the pages of our street like a destitute. I walked the earth like a plague, no one will touch me. I was fortunate to see a neglected dilapidated house. There I had myself when the moon came.I slept, I dreamt of Durotola, I saw him carrying me, I saw him singing to me just like Duduyemi once did. I felt a stirring, I woke up to see a man panting on me, I thought it’s part of my dream, his breathe smelt of alcohol. It seemed so real, so real, it became more real when I felt his seeds deep within my deep. A drunkard had just raped me.
I saw Èsù everywhere I looked, I saw his face on the trees, on posters of politicians, on cars parked on the streets. I saw him in the thick of the dark blaring his teeth at me, I walked away from the man who had raped me, I walked as fast as my legs could carry me, until I fell down the tarred roads.
Maami said I had lost consciousness for three days. I woke up staring at her face, How I got there I knew not. Tears found a playground in my face. Nobody asked me what happened. They knew. I saw Adubi seated wth Maami giving her the full account in her own version. I was told she was the one who came to tell my parents what happened. They had organised a search party for me and found me lying unconscious by the road side.
Duduyemi never came. Maami cursed the day I married him. Baami cursed the day he gave his blessings.
I told no one about the rape, not a soul. Everything seemed meaningless to me. Everytime I slept, I dreamt of the drunkard raping me. The smiles of children made no meaning to me, not the sight of the rainbow. Nothing made meaning to me. What’s life without meaning!
I waited till they left for church, I went to our backyard, removed the rope from our fetcher. I made my way back to the Living room. Using a stool, I tied the rope around the ceiling fan, inserting my head on the knotted hole I made. See you in Hell Èsù!
I kicked the stool, I began to grasp for hair as I dangled in the hair, the rope snapped. I came crashing on the floor. Their I laid again unconscious.
I woke up to hear the cries of Maami, Segilola! Segilola has killed me.
Why! She sobbed.
I laid quietly, again Adubi was their consoling Maami. How she got here I knew nothing of.
The doctor came in, told Baami I should be fine in few days. He told Baami I was 4 weeks pregnant.
Iro ni o!
Iro ni o!
Maami screamed. Segi is not pregnant! She can never be! Duduyemi never came around!
I remembered the rape. The drunkard, I sobbed uncontrollably.
I was raped Maami, I was raped the night I was driven out by Duduyemi and his mother.
Invisible clouds of silence fell on everyone, not a word. Adubi must be excited, her cocoa plantation yielded well, for I have given her enough to tell the neighbourhood.
Oh! He never told you right! Dr Lawson asked me
Who! I replied
Mr Duduyemi! He said.
Dr Lawson was our family doctor, “Mr Duduyemi was here sometimes ago for treatment, I discovered that he was suffering from Undescended testicles, also known as cryptorchidism. This is a condition in which one or both of a baby boy’s testicles have not moved down into their proper place in the scrotum .
I told him the birth of your first son which you lost was a miracle and that he will need a surgery to correct it. He never came back. I thought he told you.
I was dumbfounded. I stared back at the doctor’s face, my gaze moved to my mum, from my mum to my dad, then to Adubi, her face shone with sheer brightness at the new piece of news at her disposal. I was glad she was here. I was happy for I knew she will tell the whole neighbourhood, I was glad she was good at what she does.. She would not fail me.
I remembered the baby inside me, my baby! Not a bastard! I was glad the rope snapped. I was glad I lived.
To everyone reading this, Life is sacred. Suicide is no means of end one’s life. No matter how bad it seems, we must never lose sight of infinite hope. Sadness, disappointment, pains… Are nothing but dews, to depart at the first sight of the sun.
You see these thick night you see hovering over your soul! They are nothing, Rejoice for Tomorrow the sun will rise. Your sun will rise, but first you must survive the night.
Spread this message of hope to all and sundry.
Amudipe Opeyemi Marcus.