The journey from Iwo, Ibadan to the city of Benin was by no means an easy one. Although I was no stranger to this kind of trips, being a third year student of the prestigious purple and gold citadel of academic excellence, the hours seemed to stretch far beyond what I was already used to. All the same, I could never have felt more idyllic by the time I arrived at my lush two-storey hostel overlooking the expressway. With swift deftness, I turned the key in the lock of my condo, pushed the door open and barged right in.
Apparently jolted by the sudden arrival of the looming party popper, the tiny little pests turned and ran; slipping and slithering into the dark corners of the very expansive one- self-con as I myself stood, frozen and rooted to the spot. These annoying little things never ceased to give me nightmares. I could already feel the thin lines of my brow getting up-close and personal with themselves. Gingerly, I tip-toed further along into the corridor separating the kitchen from the toilet, turning right into the lavatory, my olfactory nerves were instantly churned by the odiferous scent emitting from within. Through the dim light that filtered in from the mottled window frame above, I could see the carnage lying around me, littered on the toilet seat, on the sink, everywhere you could look at – dozens of dead, decaying cockroaches, desiccating earthworms and millipedes. A putrefying mass of lifeless organisms; it was as though these insects had warred themselves all to death.
“Oh no!” I cried in disgust. “Not Theresa again.”
Theresa is a distant cousin I had to lodge when she was to write the University of Benin post-ume, a week to my departure from the city. She was a sweet little teenager, lively and inquisitive – the type that reminded me of how I was during my teen years. From the looks of it, she had failed to heed my instructions which were; to tidy- up the house (with special attention given to the lavatory) and keep all windows tightly shut. I myself failed to remind her of it despite our numerous online chitchats. Grudgingly, and with a deep frown still tattooed on my soft-sheen face, I quickly retrieved the long brush from its corner in the corridor and set to work. Just under an hour later, my condo was cleansed – clean and crisp yet again. By this time however, I was pretty weary and exhausted and after I had taken a quick, cold shower, I scampered into the coziness of my bed, abandoning my unpacked bags and half- eaten snacks I had purchased on the way; snugging deeper and deeper into the sheets, seeking to fraternize with members of the elusive world.
It was on the 15th day of November, 2015 that I awoke from dreamland – a very bright Sunday morning, so calm and peaceful it was as though all the evil in the world had faded away, far from the brightness of the irradiating sun. But for me, this day could only represent bleakness,, sorrow and nothing else but pain.
My deeply intuitive elder sister Annalise, once told me, “Amanda if you ever begin to feel sad and lonely, pick up your pen and write……….pour out your feelings onto the paper and leave them there. And so, I write as if this is going to take all the pain away with fair hope that these words of mine would capture my feelings wholesomely – in fluid-like tranquility.
I was born into the home of Mr. & Mrs. Adeleke, a small family of four on the 6th of June 1995. As a young child, I prided myself as the favorite of my Dad. I was in fact his carbon copy – a chip of the old block as some would say. He was a fair complexioned, tall burly man. So fair, that some people often wondered if he was a half-caste. Without any reservations, I had inherited all his beautiful features; the eyes, nose and considerable height. Dad always took a special liking to me. To him, I was his jewel and treasure; his very own “little sisi”. He would buy me lots of gifts and toys – and this usually made Annalise a little jealous. I remember on one occasion, while I was six and she was ten, she snapped the head of my doll right out of its neck, hurling it to the ground and stamping on it as her face puckered into a sardonic smile. I couldn’t help but burst into a fit of tears as my Barbie was cruelly dismantled beyond repair. Anyways, we made up soon after that as we always did. Annalise was my only sibling and although I hardly let her know, I love her to bits and pieces. As a family, we weren’t so rich neither were we too poor but things weren’t so good overall. At the age of eight, I was already old enough to know why the stoutly built landlord often knocked on the hard wooden door of our apartment.
“Go and tell your father that I am waiting outside” he would say in his thick ijebu accent once the door was opened.
But as fate would have it, God smiled upon us and soon enough my father was entreated to a deluge of lucrative business contracts sweeping their way into his hitherto shriveled enclave like sea gulls after a wounded prey. His firm grew drastically in size translating into more disposable income for us. It didn’t take long before we relocated to one of the posh areas of Ibadan – GRA to be precise. Finally, fortune had turned its good side to us.
Life sometimes has a way of wowing you. One moment you could be struggling; sweating it out; barely managing to make one’s ends meet, and another you could be swimming in a sea of opulence. For the family of the Adelekes – my very own beloved family, this was the story. Friends and neighbours alike were left severely stunned and while some chose to grace the housewarming of our new residence with their presence, some preferred to sit back and gossip; a good number of them concluding that my father, the blossoming chief architect of the much vaunted Tophill Architectural designs Co. Ltd, had “gone to do blood money”.
For the following years to come, we lived in pure bliss; changing clothes and cars more frequently than necessity demanded. Mother had in fact gone through some stunning transformation, her skin glowing and sparkling now more than ever – a befitting upshot of her frequent visits to the spa, coupled with her recent employment of expensive creams and skin toners. She had started socializing with the crème of the southwestern society, herself hardly failing to steal the spotlight of most social events she attended, hypnotizing her gawking male admirers with her luminous beauty. The house itself never seemed to get rid of the endless list of dignitaries and “big men” of society that traipsed into and out of it. Obviously, my dad was about to make his debut into the political scene. Little did we know, that the joy and happiness that once defined and delineated the very heart of our family’s existence was about to slip away and never to return again.
On November 13, 2006, I returned home from school to find Annalise sulking in a corner of our room – head bent over raised knees, looking glumly out the large glass window overseeing the garden below. It was quite easy to see the displeasure registered on her face.
“What’s wrong?” I softly inquired of her.
“Everything is!” she bawled out; her eyes dark and glossy with pain. She turned again to face the window. “There was a huge fight…….Mom and dad……it was horrible…you wouldn’t believe…..” she trailed off again.
“Please tell me,” I pleaded with imploring eyes.
I listened avidly as Annalise recounted the worrying details of a fracas that had ensued between dad and mom. It was somewhat hard to gulp down due to the fact that that both of them never had a quarrel over anything as far as I could tell. Dad was always the understanding, easy going person while mom was equally cheerful and submissive. I often thought their love was one made in heaven as the chemistry existing between them was so palpable, even a child as little as I was could tell. Annalise, still looking out the window spoke again; unknowingly snapping me out of my short reverie.
“She said that we’ve been betrayed…”
To be continued…
Get updates on our posts by joining our BBM Channel via C00396EEB, if you are reading from mobile CLICK HERE