I was born with a silver spoon; my parents were the crème de la crème of society being that, my mother was the only daughter of the Oba of Lagos, and my father, the chairman of Balon Oil group. Suffice it to say, I was destined for a good life… or not.
I was six years old when mother died. That day was the worst day of my life, it was the day that the stars aligned for evil, and the Universe changed my lot. The day before mother died, she had taken me, her beloved son on a shopping spree because Christmas was in two days. She had been so busy with her fashion house, that I had thought that this year’s Christmas would be my day of mockery as I would not be wearing any new clothes. We shopped the length and breadth of Balogun market, entering only the exclusive stores with their expensive, state-of-the-art interior décor. In this kind of stores, you must be alighting from a 2016 model of car, and be dressed in new season clothes, for any of the salesperson to attend you. After shopping, the six years old me needed a break; mother took me to a fast food restaurant, where I had lots of ice cream and pop tarts to satisfy my little heart. How would I have known that this would be my last time with mother? It was like the biblical last supper.
I slept like a prince, counting the days to Christmas, when I could show off my new expensive attire to the other rich kids in the estate. I always wore the best even when the other kids had richer parents because, when money meets a fashionista, a novel idea is birthed. Mother was fashion oriented so she had an eye for design and fabric, with this precision; she picked my clothes at the store. I was in lala land when I heard a piercing scream; it was unmistakably my mother’s. I Jumped out of bed and hurried down the lit hallway, down to my parents’ wing. Before I could turn the door knob, a hand gripped me and scooped me off my feet.
Me: “Leave me alone, I want to save my mother” I cried because, so close to my parents’ room, I could hear mother’s groans, amidst other voices. I turned and saw Mary, my favorite nanny. Her eyes were red rimmed like she had been crying.
Mary: “Leke bobo, your mother will be fine, your dad will take care of her” she whispered and stroked my head as she usually did on those nights that mother was out late and I was unable to sleep. She took me back to my bedroom, and pressed down a door knob by the bedlamp, which brought a maid to the room.
Mary: “Bring Leke, his favorite hot chocolate” she instructed.
Leke: “I don’t want chocolate, I want my mummy” I wailed. We all heard footsteps coming down the hall to my bedroom, the door opened and there was a young lady glaring at us. She was lithesome, with very fair skin, and deep dark eyes. She had long black wavy hair, and she looked like the people my science teacher called “half caste” when she was teaching us the races of the world. She would have been beautiful, but the aura and the permanent scowl on her face, made it hard for me to associate beauty with her. My nanny Mary was beautiful, even though she didn’t have the body that this woman had, even though she did plain sade braids, even though her hands were callused from all the hard work she had done in her life. But she, not this woman was beautiful, because where this woman inspired fear, Mary inspired love and security. So, I saw her as ugly and in one of my moods in the future, I would call her that, to her face.
Woman: “You will have chocolate and keep your mouth shut”
Leke: “Who are you to tell me how to act in my father’s house, go away, I want my mummy” I retorted, fat tears streaming down my eyes. That was my first encounter with the woman who would turn out to be my tormentor. She did not reply me, but the look she gave me, caused fear in my little heart. I hid my face in Mary’s arms and bawled my eyes out. I knew in my heart that something was very wrong with my mother, if not, who was this woman? And why was she ordering me around in my house.
When I woke up, the room was empty; Mary was nowhere to be found, she had pulled the curtains to give the room a cool ambience, but my dreams had been filled with scary scenarios that involved my mother. I remembered I had heard my mother scream last night, so I jumped out of bed, in my Tom and Jerry pajamas, and rushed to my parents’ room. My parents’ room was also empty, so I rushed downstairs to the living room, and saw that my mother’s family had arrived, father, Bamidele, was sitting alone on a couch, and his face was sober, his sister Aunt Jumoke was sobbing and retying her wrapper a thousand and one times. Something had gone wrong while I was asleep.
Leke: “Father?” I called softly, but my voice carried and everyone turned to look at me as I stood on the last stair, afraid to move forward into the room. My father stretched out his arms and I ran, all the way into his arms. He began to weep, holding me tightly like I was his lifeline. Mother’s dad, my maternal grandfateher, the Oba was sitting with his wives; he looked at me and sighed, a long and sad sigh.
Oba: “Ha death, why are you so wicked, could you not have spared her for the sake of this little boy?” he lamented. I turned to my father and asked for my mother. At this question, the women present, began to sob and sing a sorrowful song in Yoruba, iya ni wura.
Leke: “Where is my mother?” I asked again, crying. I was having a bad feeling, and I knew at that moment that something had happened to my mother.
Bamidele: “Your mother has gone to meet the Lord” my father replied me.
Leke: “My mother is dead?” I burst into fresh wailing. I was just six years old, but I was wise beyond my age. My parents were business people, so I was left to myself most of the time, fending for myself meant, what I read was not censored, so I read anything I laid my hands on. I had begun to read books about Metaphysics, and I was also beginning to question the existence of God. So I knew people died and we would never see them again, I also knew people died not because they wanted to. Also, having heard my mother’s screams, I knew she had died a painful death. Telling me “she had gone to meet the lord” was not going to obscure things for me.
Leke: “What killed her?” I asked between bursts of sobs. The room fell quiet at my question; it was a big question coming from a child such as I was.
Oba: “Somebody should take this child away from here” my maternal grandfather said in a strong voice. Mary took me from my father’s arms and up to my bedroom.
On the day that my mother would be buried, I saw that same woman who had shunned me the day my mother died; she was hovering around my father. I was walking beside Mary, so I asked her.
Leke: “Who is that woman?”
Mary: “That’s your father’s personal assistant”
Leke: “What is she doing here though” I murmured under my breath.
Mary: “Don’t be silly, she and other staff are here to condole with your dad”
Leke: “And was she also condoling with dad on the night mother was screaming?” I asked. Mary looked at me and shook her head pitifully. While I was conversing with Mary, the object of my discourse walked up to me and took my hand. On her face was plastered a forced smile.
Woman: “Adeleke, I am Nora, you will be seeing me a lot in your house, I have to help your dad cope with the loss. I suggest we get to know ourselves” her red painted fingernails dug into my supple flesh.
Leke: “Everyone calls me Leke, and please you are hurting my hand” I mouthed off.
Nora: “Aren’t we a tad ill mannered, which will change in time” she replied, letting go of my hand.
Mary: “Stop taunting the child’ she said simply, pushing me behind her. Nora turned to stare at her and my champion, Mary stared her down. But Mary would not be there to save me from subsequent attacks. Mary would be evicted from the house in a fashion almost like my mother’s.
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