“Thank God, she’s here finally! Iya Goke exclaimed the moment I entered our family house at Ibadan.
‘Good afternoon, ma.’
‘You’re welcome, Dabira,’ she smiled, ‘you gave us a scare; I called your line severally, but…’
‘Please where is mama?’ my gaze darted around about the sitting room, somewhat uncomfortable at the unusual tranquility. What could have happened to mama? My head began throbbing in the manner reminiscent of the day I received the news of my father’s demise.
‘Oh, my God! Not again!’ I yelled, ‘this cannot be happening…’
‘What?’ Iya Goke roared as she grabbed my arms.
‘Where is my mama?’
Mama staggered into the sitting room just at the nick of time before I exploded.
Clad in a wrapper over her bare shoulders, mama looked like a ghost of some sort. The degree of blisters on her lips confirmed she suffered heavily from acute fever.
‘There is no cause for alarm, my daughter,’ mama uttered with a broad smile amidst her state.
‘I’m still alive; I won’t die until I nurse your children.
I hugged her passionately until she winced.
‘I’m sorry for your pains, mama.’
‘If you’re truly sorry then you would hurry up and get married before you send your poor mother to her early grave,’ Iya Goke remarked as she retired into the bedroom.
Those words stung me like bee. One expression on mama’s face told me that the duo had been discussing me before my arrival.
‘That’s okay, Gbemisola,’ mama cautioned her, but the tone in her voice belied she was not on my side.
Iya Goke travelled back to Ede early the next morning. Mama and I saw her off to the park and the only discussion the entire time was centered on Anna; Iya Goke’s third daughter.
Anna’s wedding engagement had been fixed for December that year. As mama’s younger sister spoke with much excitement about the event, mama’s-tired face kept turning towards my direction. Her message was as clear as crystal – Anna was just in her early twenties!
Lord, when would it ever be my turn? I mused.
Back at home, mama made my visit more ‘unbearable.’ Each waking moment she would reel out a list of one marriage ceremony of either a relative or a neighbour.
‘I thank God that Mayowa made me a grandmother early, otherwise, tongues would have started wagging,’ mama remarked one morning as we were both checking the family album.
I remained silent.
‘Early marriage gives a woman the opportunity to give her children the best while she is still young and agile,’ she continued.
‘How long is your vacation?’ she switched subject.
‘One month,’ I answered, happy at the diversion.
‘Then why are you in a hurry to go back tomorrow?’
‘Mama, you remember I told you about the job I got as an international sales representative,’ I reminded her.
‘My flight to Venezuela is in a week’s time, and my boss wants me back to Lagos at least a week before that day.’
‘Why don’t you call your boss and tell her you would be back in two days’ time?’
‘Unfortunately, Mama, I lost my phone on my way home from Lagos and I don’t have her number offhand,’ my defence grew strong.
‘I see,’ She nodded, ‘what is the nature of these products you would be selling?’
‘African cloths like iro and Buba, Danshiki and so on.’
‘What is the name of the country again?’
‘Venezuela.’ My impatience soared.
‘Ven..asu..uala?’ she tried pronouncing it.
‘No Mama, Venezuela,’ I giggled.
‘I haven’t heard that name before. Sade, I have heard of America, London – where Goke, Mama Goke’s son is studying. I know India – yes, India that shows us good films like Snake girl, burning train, to mention but a few but this Vana…osua.la is a strange name. I am afraid, I must confess.’
‘There is no cause for alarm at all mama; just relax.’
One look at her, told me she was not delighted, but then, I couldn’t help it; I had to go, I was sure by now chief Mbadiwe and his wife would have tried my number a thousand times!
One look at my mother told me she was anything but excited to release me the next day.
But what mother wouldn’t be excited to have a child with an international job?
TO BE CONTINUED…