I lost my biggest mom; Mrs Oluwatoyin Randle on the 10th May 2015. I still can’t find the words. I just pray she rests in the bossom of the Lord eternally. People say there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,but this one,I can’t find any,maybe I’m just blind to the existence of any.
And June the 13th was my late friend Ekelemchi’s birthday( would it be a happy birthday?)
I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a long time. My life has been in a flux.
I guess I’m back.
…Aunt Caro was evil in its most processed form,customers at her pepper soup joint referred to her as “Iron Lady” or “Madam cash”. If there’s a word more wicked than wicked,Aunt Caro would be it. She once scarred Oluchi;one of her waitresses,around the wrist,with a piece of broken plate the young lady had accidentally dropped while washing,she also imprinted an iron mark on Ekene’s thigh for burning her cheap ‘ready-made’ attire(red-made as you all will call it) .Aunt Caro lived in a 3-bedroom apartment in the Oshodi area of Lagos. One room to herself;the same one where she hosts several of her male guests who sometimes stayed the night, another to her equally evil son Chike;my cousin,who lazied about doing nothing. He neither goes to school nor does anything at all. He only stays at home all day watching tv and comes to the pepper soup joint at night to eat and order people around. The other room housed the two other waitresses from Aunty’s shop and myself. ‘Smallie’ was my new name ,no one cared to ask what my name was, they just referred to me as Smallie. I resumed school;SS1,several weeks after getting to Lagos as promised and before long I was in my final year in secondary school.
Three years passed;1095 days,such a long time…and the strides that brings me out of the restaurant kitchen in no sunny sentence are long and three. They are as sunny as three(3) in the afternoon. “I was now 18years of age,no longer the “Smallie” from 3years ago,I am now grown,“Smallie” plus three…see”.
Before long,several customers of Aunt Caro’s started making advances at me. Some of them even tried to touch me in unspeakable places,which I reported to Aunt Caro on numerous occasions. She would scream her head off stating that I never report such to her again “Use wetin you get,collect wetin you need,abi you go talk say you never do am before.Your mama and papa dey village,shey dem no need money.” ,she would say. She was unconcerned about what I did,what she was particular,perhaps too particular about was how her customer base wouldn’t deplete. While all this was going on,mother was very unwell with no one to really take care of her, Chinelo was married with kids and stays in far away Enugu,Ndidi was also married to a trader in Aba. They both weren’t doing so well,they were living from hand to mouth. First, it was constant unending headaches,then several bouts of flu and fever,fatigue from doing almost nothing and rashes. Mother’s once smooth,though pale skin,was now desecrated by huge rashes and boils which won’t just disappear. Papa already lost faith in Akachi,so he consulted the village diviner “Ibudu” who claimed the sins of mother’s forefathers were being revisited on her. And as it was a disease unknown,only a god unknown;their gods,could inflict such on a person and heal such a person. Ibudu like Akachi,claimed that sacrifices alone could appease the gods. Several items were required to create a potent herbal mixture which mama would both drink and rub on the affected parts of her body. The items were the urine of a 2week old cat,the fore skin of a snake,water and earth(sand for the uninitiated) from 7 different rivers and villages, blue sheabutter,the sweat of a dead body and several other outrageous items. Owing to the precarious situation we found ourselves, we were precariously bereft of reason and wisdom. What happened to the hospitals? Money was needed and papa had no money or he claimed not to have.
Aunt Caro visited the village to see mama on one occasion and returned with news of mama’s deteriorating state of health and her apparent discomfort. She also claimed not to have any money,she said the ball was in my court and that if I truly loved my mother,I would do what she asked me to,“Sleep with just one man,just this one man and you will see how he will spoil you with money. Abi no be Chief again. You will have more than enough money to take care of your mother. Be smart Kezie,you are your mother’s last hope.” She said.
I reckoned mama’s life was in my hands and I had to help. I agreed and decided to sleep with Chief;sloe-eyed and thick-lipped Chief Amuche;this bald -headed ‘money miss road’ with belly the size of an 8month pregnancy. This man who couldn’t pronounce a word of English right and yet is far richer than the king of my village “bebi garl,don woli,now tha you haff agleed to be mine,I wili spoili you wit moni,ego.”he would say before laughing hysterically “hehehaha”. We did the needful,he probably enjoyed it but for me it was horrific,that disgusting pig pounding the walls of my vagina and clinging on to my breast and other delicate parts of my body with his mouth and hands,eww .This old fool was every bit the animal I imagined him to be,even worse. I got back to Aunty’s,took off all my clothes vowing never to wear them anymore,I washed myself from head to toe meticulously like an oil stained favourite shirt,paying close and serious attention to my genitals,which I scrubbed slightly too hard. I clothed myself in a new white attire,trying to forget all that transpired between Chief Amuche and I but no matter the amount of acting classes I take,this guilt will not fade away with the lights. I had just slept with someone the age of my father for money and as if that was not bad enough,I had lost my virginity to him…
He indeed spoiled me with money as he promised but that was little consolation,Aunty Caro got most of it. I traveled to the village to see mama and pay for all her herbal expenses. I ensured that she religiously used all Igbudu’s herbal mixtures and concoctions, I stayed a further week to ensure all was well with her and returned to Lagos to make some more money. In my two weeks of staying in the village, I saw Papa only twice,the day I got to the village and on one particular night when he returned drunk. Leaving the sick woman to the care of her young niece;Ezinne. On getting to Lagos,I was met with the news of my mother’s death and Aunty’s sickness. I was distraught,my world was turning upside down. I still saw mama last night before I boarded the night bus from the nearby village park to Lagos and there was no funeral air about her. Infact she smiled at me and prayed lengthily before I left. “Why has mama done this?Why mama? I sold my body for this?Why?” I said to myself. Though my mother just died I still had to be strong for Aunty Caro no matter how evil she was,her equally evil son had absconded with a huge amount of her money;her life savings as Aunty never used the bank, leaving her with only a meagre amount insufficient for even the day to day running of the joint. Such callousness. A few days after mama’s death,she was buried and after a week we all returned to Lagos. Aunty’s condition deteriorated,in a matter of days her
skin began to peel and her body stink. We asked to take Aunt to the hospital,but she blatantly refused. She had it all sussed .She was going to die;it was knowledge not an idea. She had apparently been used as a money ritual renewal. She died after a few days and was buried almost immediately.
Like a chain of unfortunate events,papa also fell terribly ill. His happened so fast,it was too hard to swallow. Words spread round the village of Papa’s illness,several herbalists from different villages were consulted,some visited themselves and they still came back with the untenable news of the oracles and their powerless gods having a hand in it. I suggested that we took father to the hospital but he refused,saying he would not be a guinea pig for the test of the white man’s witchcraft. The papa I knew as a little child was still the same papa now,as headstrong and obstinate as ever. Until Papa’s Americana friend,Mr Okafor visited from ‘Ogbodo Oyinbo’ and advised that he be taken to the hospital did he agree it was necessary to visit the hospital. Papa was tested and it was discovered that he was HIV positive,for a very long time too. He must have been infected from having unprotected sex with one of his numerous concubines and he had equally infected mother on one of those rare nights where he decided to come in sexual contact with her. It was not a rare occurrence for the main carrier of the virus to live longer than a person he/she infected. It depends on the strength of the carriers immune system. Papa’s immune system was reasonably stronger even with his frequent intercourse with alcohol and the likes. We were asked to purchase some retro-viral drugs worth several hundreds of thousands which we couldn’t afford. I had to do something about it as pretending that I wasn’t concerned is becoming increasingly difficult,I am actually concerned;I am the most concerned of all,if nothing was done soonest papa would die. As much as I do not like him,I do not want him dead.
I decided to go pay Chief Amuche a visit to see if he could help out and if I had to endure another round of vaginal ramming,I won’t mind so much. Instead I met with something else,Chief wanted I and a few other girls to transport cocaine,heroine and other psycho-tropic drugs to Germany for him as soon as possible,our visas and other traveling documents would be ready in a few days. I refused to be part of it. I changed my mind after Papa started manifesting symptoms similar to those of mama before she died. Papa was in pain,” Chikezie,my daughter, I know I have wronged you a lot and I’m very sorry. I am in pain,please help me. Don’t let me die.” He said. I pitied him,I gave Chief a call. He asked that I came the next day,we had to leave in two days. He had carried on with the processing of my travel documents as he was sure I would come back,he had also extracted my picture from the CCTV footage and sent it to his passport guy. The ‘D’ day came,I chose the option of hiding the consignment in my luggage as I was good at keeping stuffs,the other girl had done this before so she chose to swallow the consignment. We got to the airport and were about to board,when luck decided to screw us up. We were both asked to step aside,I was somewhat jittery from the moment we got into the airport and my partner was too touchy,shouting at different intervals. “Abeg watch where you are going? “Leave the way” “Don’t touch me.” My luggage was searched over again,they found the white powdery substance,my partner denied having anything on her,so she continued to be interrogated and was locked in a room. It was past 12hours and the consignment had overstayed its normal period in her system. So she started feeling sick,in a few hours she died. The drug had burst in her system causing damage to her intestine. It was the end of the road for her and me too…
Things were happening too fast,Father died yesterday,my efforts eventually came to naught. I close my eyes,pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming…CUT!!! No matter how many times I shut my eyes,like the lens of a movie scene camera this mistake of mine would not disappear,it would remain;hovering,menacing and unchanging by the time the lights come on and the unceasing camera of my eyes begins to roll again. What then do you do with the empty spaces that fills you up with holes? How do you deal with the streams that flood the pathway of your thought without draining yourself of every form of sanity?
How long can you argue with the dead?Mama,Papa, Aunty Caro. What do you do with questions without answers ? What then do you do when you are at the tail end of the tunnel without any light in sight?No light but the sunlight that filters through the bars between you and freedom and nudges you awake. Of what use is repentance without a shot at salvation? Of what use is the lights when the show is over and the camera has stopped to roll?Of what use is the lights?Of what use is the lights?