Monday, 17 October 2016

License to wed.

It all began on the eve of Christmas in the year 2012. I had come to Lagos from Ibadan to spend the Christmas holiday with my older cousin. She is a Lagos big girl, works in one of the oil companies, has a six digit salary and lives alone. What joy beats a house with space void of a mother’s constant nagging, a father’s sound of disapproval and the unbearable sound of fussy children?
 It was indeed a great pleasure and delight when my cousin, Aunty Diana asked me to come around for Christmas. She made the call through to my mum sometime in November and since that call came through I had counted the days. I was excited because I had been at home for two years waiting endlessly for admission and in those two years I was the official maid of the house. The only thing my mother wouldn’t allow me do is cook for her husband and by cooking I mean she pouring the ingredients in the pot to cook because all the pre cooking work would have been done by Motara.
If my mother had plans of cooking Iresi Alasepo (Concotion Rice - I had to write that in capital letter because it is not just a food, it is a life, a proper ever present Life saver, always constant. If we had nothing to fall back on Iresi Alasepo was always there, so respect to the queen of fast food. I think till date I still make the best Irsei Alasepo and this is a title earned by experience, skill and constant practice), she would ask me to bring out all the ingredients and lay then nicely on the table. I would wash the rice, slice the onions and pepper, even remove the maggi from its wrapper, all my mother had to do was to concoct, pour all my preparation into water and the meal is ready.
For me the past two years had just been a drag and honestly I needed the breath of fresh air away from everything. I remember when I wrote my last WAEC paper in 2010, I was full of hope and a lot of prospect, I had my plans and I was sure that by 2015 I would be done with university but here I was without admission and with an aging WEAC result at the age of 20. So you should be able to imagine my excitement when Aunty Diana asked me to come around. Apart from having to stay away from home for a while, I was also hopeful that my visit to Lagos would yield a lot of benefit for me, hopefully Aunty Diana would be able to do something about my jobless state and just maybe I would get lucky and Lagos would be my permanent base. Ehnnn iyen maa ti lo nice ju (that would be really nice)
On Friday, December 7, 2012 I arrived the busy city of Lagos. Even the air could sense my excitement and relief. I remember that I had woken up extra early that morning as my mother had all sorts of chores planned for me, if it were up to her, my leg would not near garage not to talk of landing Lagos. She made me do laundry, wash dishes and clean the whole house but you know that joy you feel when you know that the end is near, even the worse punishment would feel like a dream job. I did all she asked with pure joy, singing and dancing. At exactly 2pm that day, I left our Ibadan home for Lagos. I arrived Lagos at 6pm and my Aunty Diana was already waiting at Ojota to pick me up.
When I saw Aunty Diana, I was like is this how Lagos is? She was so fine and fresh. She was wearing a red dress that brought out all her curves, she could pass for a celebrity anytime anyday and I Motara will forever worship the ground she walks on and if she could just by one little chance get me to stay in Lagos patapata then she had my life to direct.  
I ran towards my celebrity aunty and gave her a very tight hug, she was happy to see me, picked my bags and led me to her car. Hmmmmmmm na jeep my aunty dey drive o. I knew she was big I just didn’t know how big but as they say seeing is believing. As we made our way home she had soft music playing in the background and then she engaged me in a conversation. We talked all the way home and I used the opportunity to share my frustrations with her. I was very sure that my Aunty Diana would have no worries at all except for the fact that she isn’t married, and that shouldn’t even be any problem for a woman who has everything going for her. So her priority should be making me happy at least for now.
She said something about doing a part-time job while I await admission but she said there was no rush and we still had time to discuss at length. When we got to her house, it was something else, to me the beauty was indescribable, it wasn’t super big but you would certainly feel big in it, it was beauty to the eyes, polished floors I could almost see my face in them, the choice of paint was classy, the decoration was out of this world. Entering that house I knew I was home already, this is my final destination, no going back this is where I will make it, here in this house. The inspiration oozing out of it is too great to be denied, you cannot live in that house and not make it, it is almost impossible.
My first night was amazing, we had fried rice and chicken, of course not homemade, my celebrity aunty bought it on her way to pick me. I had a room to myself that alone was comforting. I had everything at my disposal and that was how my big Lagos life started.
After few days in Lagos, Aunty Diana had spoken with her stylist about me and because she was a loyal and big customer, she agreed to have me as an apprentice in her salon. That way when Aunty Diana left for work I also had a place to go, she would then pick me on her way back from work. When this plan was finally cooked, Aunty Diana called my mum to tell her about the development and my mum wasn’t very happy, she said does that mean I would have to be in Lagos longer than expected. My aunty found a way to convince her and also told her it was a lot better than me staying at home and doing nothing. Finally my mother agreed. I was over the moon.
I started working at Madam Happy’s salon and thank goodness everyone was super nice to me. I was learning really fast and I was more than grateful for the opportunity. This was way better than my house girl job with no benefit in Ibadan. Everything in my life was going perfectly well, in fact too well until December 24, 2015, when this young man walked into our salon.
It was a very busy day at the salon as customers where coming and going. Many wanted to have their hair fixed before Christmas. Madam Happy had told Aunty Diana to expect me late. I was outside washing a customer’s hair when he walked in. he greeted me and asked to see Madam Happy, for some reason I just stared with my mouth open, a tap on my shoulder brought me back and I had asked him to go inside. Once I was done with the customer I went into the salon and watched as this young man discussed with Madam Happy. Please this is not about being handsome o because the guy wasn’t all that, dressing nko, not so much he wore a jeans and a fitted top so I wasn’t exactly sure what the attraction was. Could it have been love at first sight? I would never know.
Soon as I saw that he was about to leave, I ran outside and walked into the street. Few minutes later he came out and he must have recognised me from the salon, he approached me introduced himself as Niyi, we chatted a little and then exchanged numbers. I couldn’t have been happier, it was more than I had hoped for, speaking to him alone would have been nice but getting his number was a dream come through.
I didn’t even know why I was so attracted to him, I just loved his appearance and somehow I wanted to be close to him. That night he called me and we started talking, we spoke for long until he ran out of credit. I was using a small Nokia phone so I couldn’t chat with him either on BBM or Whatsapp. The first time I had one of these android phones, it almost gave my mother a heart attack and great was her delight when the screen broke some months back. I was still hoping to get it fixed or get a new one.
On Christmas day my aunty gave me a brand new Iphone 4s as a Christmas gift, I was super delighted, it was as though she knew what I needed. She did all the setting up for me and soon I was rocking my new phone. I immediately sent my BB Pin to Niyi and we got chatting. Niyi lived close by with a friend of his, he owned a barbers shop not far from Madam Happy’s salon. Later that afternoon I asked him to come by the house, Aunty Diana was hardly around on weekends, weekdays for work, weekends for play. She would go and come back at almost midnight sometimes, which gave me a lot of alone time on weekends especially the weekends when I didn’t have to go to the salon.
Niyi came by the house and we talked a lot, spoke like friends who had known each other for long. When he was about to leave, he gave me a really tight hug and as we separated his lips were somehow brushing against mine, if he wasn’t careful in an attempt to kiss me, my heart would just pop in his mouth. My heart was beating so fast and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a kiss or not but I liked him too much to deny him of anything. Luckily for me, he didn’t kiss me, he gently pulled away and then left. The second he was out of the gate, we resumed chatting again, he was a really sweet guy.
All these continued without the knowledge of my aunty, he would visit me when she wasn’t around and I would sometimes hang out with him anytime I got the chance. On Sunday, February 10, 2013, Niyi came visiting. I wasn’t sure what we were, he never asked me out as such, but we were really close and we could pass for an unofficial couple though I longed for the day he would ask me to be his girlfriend.
On this visit, we decided to see a movie. Halfway into the movie all I remember was that I felt his hands all over me and by the time I regained consciousness I was naked wrapped in his arms on the sitting room floor. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t drug me, I practically moved into a don’t act zone because I enjoyed every bit of it. I liked him a lot, I didn’t know what our relationship was but I had hoped that sealing it with my virginity as a gift will automatically make me his. The sound of my phone jolted me to life, It was Aunty Diana and I was sure she wanted me to open the gate, What was she doing home at this time? Quickly I stood up, asked Niyi to get dressed as my aunty was at the gate. I didn’t think losing my virginity would have been so easy, it didn’t hurt much and it only left a little blood stain. I don’t know if the excitement minimised the pain but it wasn’t as bad as people described.
I ran inside for a change of clothes and went to the gate to welcome my aunty. When she came in she met Niyi in the living room, she wasn’t upset that I had a friend over in fact she had no issues with it at all. She said she wasn’t feeling so well and she had to come home to rest. Niyi left almost immediately and I made something for my aunty to eat so she could rest.
Not until later that night did I feel remorse for my actions, I laid on the bed and started to think of my actions. I think I had lost my virginity so quickly because I didn’t even know why I kept it in the first place, it was just a case of the sex will come when it came. But somehow I missed being intact and untouched. I felt empty and just wasn’t sure what to do anymore. That night Niyi called and said he didn’t know I was a virgin, and that made him excited, he made so many promises and said we would be together forever. That came as consolation and relief but I was still shaken about loosing my virginity. I remembered how my mother would say ‘that is your pride, loose it and loose all’ I would just smile because I didn’t give count to it.
My relationship with Niyi blossomed and it seemed like we were in love. We didn’t get intimate after the movie day though we would share passionate kisses every now and then, my aunty soon got to find out that we were in a relationship. She encouraged me to thread softly, not to sell myself cheap to any man and wait till the time was right. If only she knew, but truth is I was now determined to wait, that was the first and last time until I finally got married to Niyi just like he promised.
About two months after our intimate session as I would like to call it, I fell very ill, it was so bad my aunty had to take me to the hospital. I was admitted and the doctor ran some tests. Cut the long story short, that first and last time was equals to big big bouncing baby. I was devastated, what was going to happen to my world, my mother would die for me, how was I going to tell Niyi, it was happening too fast. I cried and cried and cried. Aunty Diana took me home and immediately told my mum that we were coming to see her in Ibadan, but my mother told her not to worry as she already planned a visit to Lagos by the weekend.
I went to visit Niyi and I told him about the pregnancy, to my amazement, he asked me to go for an abortion. See this murderer o, Abo what? Never ever, I wouldn’t loose my virginity and then die over it. I told him I would never do that and that it is too late because my aunty knows. He was silent for a while and then said he was really sorry he thought of abortion, he wasn’t thinking straight. He promised to stand by me till the baby was born and asked that we move on with our lives.
When my mother arrived Lagos and heard the news, she just burst into tears. She was so devastated, ‘I knew this Lagos trip was all trouble, when you were in Ibadan you didn’t even know the way to a boy’s house, if you will graduate as a result of Lagos influence wouldn’t you start with knowing boys, no you moved quickly to get pregnant, Omotara has killed me’ she cried bitterly. When she was calmer, she called my father and they spoke at length. When she finished on the phone, she called my aunty and told her that she and daddy had decided that I would have the baby and we must start marriage plans immediately because the child will not be born outside wedlock. I tried to say something but my mother shut me out immediately. She dragged me by the hands and told me to lead her to Niyi’s house.
When we got there, she started shouting and saying all sorts. Niyi explained to her that he would take full responsibility of the pregnancy. ‘before, before nko, you will take responsibility of not just baby but mother too and that will only be done under the institution of marriage, my daughter will not have this baby outside wedlock. Since you are so capable, start planning a wedding.’
All plea fell on deaf ears and that’s how true to her words my mum started planning a small family wedding. Niyi is an orphan, but he got his siblings informed and they gave their support. I just couldn’t believe this was my life playing out infront of me, it felt like a dream. I just wasn’t ready for it, I wanted to live, I had plans, and marriage was the least of it. This big big bouncing baby was my license to wed.
June, 9, 2013, here I was a pregnant bride getting married to the man I love but not at the time I had hoped. It was a small gathering and everything went as my mother planned. The smile I had was forced all day, I just wasn’t ready, Niyi encouraged me through it and was as supportive as he could be. I knew he wasn’t happy about the decision but he was willing to take the chance because he loved me. The ceremony came to an end and everywhere was quiet once again. I was left alone in my thoughts with a baby in the belly and a husband to care for.
Prior to the wedding, Niyi had rented a one room apartment where we were managing. He had promised me that we would only spend a year in the house and hopefully in the second year things would be better and we would be in a bigger apartment. On our wedding night, we couldn’t do much, the weight of pregnancy was telling on me and I was already tired. Niyi cuddled me nicely till I fell asleep in his arms.
Few weeks after the wedding, we had already run out of funds and the family who pressured us so much into getting married were nowhere to be found. We had been spending the little money we got from the wedding and now we had exhausted it. I wasn’t working at the salon anymore because of the distance. Business wasn’t moving so well for Niyi and we had to manage. I decided to call Aunty Diana for help. She sent some money into my account and that was pure saving grace. That kept us on for a while and saved us from the shame of begging around.
Things were hard, and I knew soon we would have to find a way to survive. A new dawn of regret came into our home in August. We were broke and we could barely feed. Need I remind you that with the growing baby in my stomach I was always hungry, sometimes I would just cry myself to sleep and dream away the hunger.
One night, Niyi came home, I welcomed him and told him that I was really hungry. In seconds, Niyis eyes were red and he was fuming, he presented me with a deadly slap on my face and asked me to leave his presence. I started crying, I was shocked at his behaviour. His behaviour hurt me more than the slap. ‘You mean to tell me that there is nothing I can eat, I have gone out since morning in search of money, you sit here doing nothing. What do you want me to do? We didn’t have to get married, now we are here alone, no help, nothing. Life is always better when you are single, people will easily help and flow with you, but get married, then you will see how lonely the world truly is.’ He kept shouting and cursing. I moved closer to him just to apologise and calm him down. That was the worse decision of the night. He picked me and gave me the beating of my life. He beat me so much I couldn’t stand up. I was on that spot all through the night, slept and woke up on the same spot.
The morning after, Niyi wasn’t remorseful at all, he walked past me like nothing happened and didn’t utter a word. This became the trend for the coming weeks. Niyi found solace in drinking and womanising. You ask how he had money to drink and womanise, he didn’t do the spending, no, the women did all the spending. He would come home late at night smelling and wasted, he hardly looked at me. My life took a new turn, I was sad and all alone. Who would I tell? Where would I run to? My mother had not forgiven me for the shame I brought on her, she hardly even spoke to me. I was suffering, most times I am at the mercy of my neighbour who brings me food.
My only consolation was the baby. That was the only bond left between Niyi and I. I could no longer understand his behaviour. It is true that when a man lacked money he would misbehave in a lot of ways.
These few months of pain felt like an eternity of pain. I was young, misguided and unprepared. My life was crashing, nothing prepared me for this disaster. I was ready to end it all, I wanted to go back to my parents and have the child there. I couldn’t possible have my baby in this hate filled house. At first I had thought of going to Aunty Diana but I didn’t know what she would say and I didn’t want to bother her anymore. My last resort was to go back to Ibadan. I had planned it all, when Niyi returned that night, I would speak to him not that he would listen but I would do my part and leave Lagos back to my rejected stone, Ibadan.
That night I sat on the floor weeping patiently waiting for the arrival of my husband. As he walked into the house my heart broke, he was in company of a beautiful lady. ‘In this small house?’ I guess the location does not matter as long as the sex is good for it. He ran towards me and my heart leaped for joy, maybe things were about to change. ‘Motara, what is the matter, why are you crying?’ as I tried to speak, he turned to the lady and said ‘this is my cousin, the one I told you about, let me take you to the room and then come back to attend to her’. I knew it was the end. Niyi stormed back into the sitting room and dragged me outside by the hand, I told him about my decision and he couldn’t care less. He started hitting me again and pushed me to the ground.
Love was painful, I was hurting deeply. Niyi went inside leaving me alone outside. Suddenly I started feeling pains all over, unbearable pains, I couldn’t stand up I crawled like a baby to my neighbours window to ask for help. She came out with her husband and started asking questions but her husband stopped her. They rushed me to the hospital that night. I was in pain, I felt bruised, I felt used, I didn’t know what was happening to my body, I was in great distress. I asked my neighbour to please call Aunty Diana.
Then I knew it was happening, I was having my baby. The gift to end my worries was finally arriving. They rushed me in. It must have taken several hours, as I opened my eyes, I felt empty as I laid on one of the hospital beds. There she was, my aunty Diana holding my hands and watching over her little cousin. As I opened my eyes she smiled and I said ‘Aunty what of my baby’ her next words hurt so deep ‘Motara dear you have to be strong, we lost her’
My license had expired. The reason I bore the pain was all gone by morning. I closed my eyes in grief and when I opened them in the morning I was ushered into another era of grief.

MY LESSON: Pregnancy is never a license to wed. If you made a mistake, you can’t correct it by making another mistake in such a hurry, there are so many ways to make better choices even after you have broken your vow. When you miss a step retrace, calm down and have a rethink. Don’t build blocks on the missing step, it may come crumbling. If the foundation be destroyed you can pray and find a new beginning, don’t destroy a tomorrow that can be amended because of a badly handled mistake.
God hears us, don’t let the devil keep you trapped for your mistakes, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. God can repair the past and give us directions on how to live the present. Don’t give up, don’t ‘remistake’ a mistake. You get?

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