Monday, 25 June 2007

Iya Ololufe Mi

So we were living together, I was amazed at how easily we slipped into those roles. By the end of the first week, it felt like we had been living together forever. My friends started to complain that they never saw me, I was always rushing home. I didn't mean to alienate my friends but after a long day, it was your face that I wanted to see.

If my relationship with my parents was strained before, it was non-existent once they found out that I had moved in with you. I had to change my number because I couldn't take all the phone calls from "well wishers" advising me to resist the devil, not to shun my parents and to leave that Muslim alone.

Do you remember the day your mum came round? It was a Saturday and you had gone to play footie. I wasn't expecting anyone so I was surprised when the bell went. I was more surprised to see your mum at the door. We hadn't spoken since our relationship became public knowledge and even though you tried to down play it, I knew that she was on your back because of me.

"Good afternoon aunty, please come in", I said as I stepped to one side to allow her in.

She walked in without acknowledging my greeting, I sighed. I wasn't in the mood for a fight.

"Where is my son?" she asked. I fought the urge to kiss my teeth. No how are you doing. Straight to business. "He is playing football today aunty, He should be back in an hour or so. You are welcome to wait." She kissed her teeth. "I do not need your permission to wait in my son's house" I didn't rise to the bait. She sat down. I went to the kitchen and said a silent prayer for the patience I needed to tolerate your mum.

"Aunty, would you like a drink, juice, soda"... "Tinuke, I didn't come here for all this niceties. I do not know what you are playing at. Because of you I have endured insult upon insult. Is it by force to marry my son? Go home to your parents abeg. Let Seun get on with his life."

I kept quiet. I didn't want to be rude to the woman that gave birth to the man that I loved. She kissed her teeth again. I walked back to the kitchen and stayed there until I heard the door.

"Seun, so you have decided not to pick my calls abi, because of this useless girl. What kind of girl lives with a man out of wedlock. Do you know what they are saying about her outside? So you want to marry her. Let me tell you something Seun, Over my dead body. If it is juju that she used to trap you, it will not work."

At this point I heard you mumble something, I couldn't hear the words but I knew that tone. You were angry.

"Don't shh me jo, So what if she hears. Her mother called me and rained abuses on my head. I told her that if she knew what was good for her she would never call me again. nonsense. I had a dream that you were in a calabash and you were crying out. I am sure this girl is up to no good. A word is good enough for the wise. I have said my own"

And with that she left.

You came to find me the minute she left and started to apologise. "Papa, there is no need really, we are both in this together, I never thought it would be easy."

I had to laugh. "A calabash? Seriously, your mum is a tad strange", I said , picking my word carefully. Truthfully, strange was putting it mildly, I wanted to say demented, crazy, senile. But I had to remember that she was your mum.

Later that night Aramide came round, she had heard what happened. "Tinuke, I just wanted to let you know where I stand on this whole thing. My brother is lucky to have you and I am proud that you want to be a part of my crazy family, and as for my mum, I have told her to let him be." Having Aramide come out in the open to support us felt like winning the lottery. I knew she was fond of me but I thought that the rift between your family and us would force her to choose sides.

I remember one summer when I came to your house with Toks a few years before we got together, Your mum hugged and me and called me an angel. "The man that marries you better deserve you" where her exact words, Its funny how things change. How I went from being an angel to being the one that jazzed her son.


Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Thank You

I was reading a story today about someone who had gone through hell and highwater, not with her boyfriend, but because of him. The story she told papa, the things he did to her. He broke her spirit, he broke her heart and he destroyed her soul. Reading about the broken promises, the lies and the deceit, I was overcome with anger. I was angry that this guy had hurt her so badly.

When my anger had subsided, I was overcome with immense gratitude. Why? I was grateful for you Papa.

I am grateful that in your eyes we were always equals, I did the dishes, you cooked and vice versa

I am grateful that although you cooked, you didn't do it too often because there was only so much of your "legendary stew" I could take.

I am grateful that you didn't act one way with company and another when we were alone.

I am grateful that you didn't love me in spite my flaws but because of them.

I am grateful that you respected my opinion and always sought my counsel.

I am grateful that you didn't desire me any less as sexy negligee gave way to old sweats.

I am grateful that you were always willing to talk, not just to shut me up,but to get to the roots of our disagreements and misunderstandings.

I am grateful that you didn't hold me to ransom for the rift between your parents and you but bore the cross for the rift between my parents and I.

I am grateful that I never had to doubt your love for me or justify your behaviour in order for me to stay.

I am grateful for your spontaneity and the romantic in you.

I am grateful because you were never scared to be seen as "whipped" and always put me first, but papa, you were sooo whipped :-)

I am grateful for your intuition, and knowing when I needed a hug and when to just leave me alone.

I am grateful for the balance you created between Mr Macho and Mr sensitive.

I am grateful for all the things that you have taught me, the lessons we learnt together and the wisdom these experiences have afforded me.

I am grateful for you taking the blame when I farted at Tunji's, Although I am unsure how much wass chivalry and how much was not wanting people to know that your baby farts too:-)

Most of all, I am grateful because you loved me, unreservedly and unashamedly.


Thursday, 14 June 2007

Moving On, Moving In.

Leaving home was not as hard as I thought it would be. Granted, it would have been much harder if I didn't have you and Labake in my corner. Labake, bless her heart was so supportive. She gave up her study so that I could move in, she decided to be my voltron when all those over-sabi church members kept calling me to give their two penny advice. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, But it was hard.

I was angry that my dad had found it so easy to throw me away, like I was a used tissue, that my mum never stood up to him and went along with whatever he decided, surely she didn't agree with his decision? I was angry that Tokunbo didn't want to get involved, Tokunbo always sat on the fence. I was angry but I knew that even if they said I should come home, I wouldn't. Unless they accepted you and the likelihood of that happening was a million to one.

A couple of months after I moved into Labake's, you announced that you were getting your own place, I was glad. It was about time too. You came to pick me up from the station one day after work and drove me to this nice street in Golders Green. Inside, the first thing that hit me was not how spacious the living room was, or how warm and homey it already felt. What hit me was how familiar the place was. Upon closer inspection, I realised that it felt familiar because a lot of my things were there. My pictures were on the unit, My cushions were on the sofa. I walked to the bedroom and pushed the door open; on the bed was the teddy you had given me last Christmas, my clothes in the wardrobe, my towels on the rack.

I understood what you were trying to do but in that moment, I felt anger rise inside me like bile and straight out of my mouth. "Seun, how dare you invade my privacy like this, moving my things, assuming that I was ready to live with you. Did you ask me? I don't know the magic you used to get my things here but please use the same magic and return them" With that I stalked off.

I walked out of the house and almost sprinted the five minutes to the station. On the way I started to think; Labake obviously has a hand in this. I got out of the tube and went back to hers. I used my key, Labake looked surprised to see me. "Labake", I started, without even waiting for her to reply, "if you want me to leave your house, all you have to do is ask, you didn't need to go as far as to move my things for me"

Labake looked at me for what felt like forever before speaking."This babe, before you sabotage yourself, let me give you some advice. Don't push those closest to you away because you are afraid. That poor boy went through hell and high water lugging your heavy things over to that house, making what he thought was a sweet, heart felt gesture. If you are not ready, then say you are not ready. Have I ever done anything to make you feel unwelcome? You owe Seun an apology, and me for that matter"

I was scared. You were the man I wanted to spend my life with, I had given so much up for you but moving in seemed so final. I had panicked and although I realised you were trying to be sweet, I felt that you had excluded me from what was a big decision. I wasn't ready for such a move, not yet anyway.

I called you. "Papa", I said once you had picked up. "Baby, are you okay", you asked. In that moment, I remembered why I loved you, why I was willing to fight to be with you, I knew my outburst had hurt you and I wished I could take it back.

"I am fine", I replied. "Papa, I am so sorry for the way I behaved, I know you were trying to be sweet and I know it must have taken you all day to move my things "

"There's no need to apologise, I made the wrong call, you are not there yet, I understand."

I started to think; What was I doing? I love you, there will never be a right time. "Papa, I am ready. I'm coming back."

"I'll pick you up"

I picked up my bag and tried to ignore Labake's smug I told you so smile.

God really did bless me with good friends, who always tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not. And you, God blessed me with you.


Thursday, 7 June 2007

What Fan? All I See is Shit.

I have been wondering what you must think when you read my letters. Do you laugh? Do you cry? Do you wonder why I am still holding on to the past? I will never know the answers to these questions. But when I am writing these letters, I feel close to you. So I will continue to write you until I have nothing left to say.

Our trip down memory lane stopped when we came out of the closet. Let me continue....

The next few weeks were really horrible, I was treated like I came home and told my parents that I was pregnant. They stopped talking when I walked into a room, They no longer asked how I was and barely even spoke to me; except to make sure that I wasn't going to see "that boy" every time I ventured out of the house.

Of course I was going to see that boy. Before nko? But it did make it harder for us to spend time together. A few stolen hours here and there but never enough. When my dad announced that he was going for a convention in New York and that he would be gone for a few weeks, I was over the moon. It meant that I could have breathing space. Momsi wasn't so bad. It was my dad that was bent on punishing me.

On the day when he was supposed to be travelling, I woke up with a smile on my face. Freedom! I was so helpful; I ironed his shirt, I helped him look for his ever elusive glasses, I even volunteered to go to Boots to by some last minute gifts for some people. On my way back from Boots, I called you to let you know that popsi would soon be en route to Yankee. My mum was going to night vigil and Toks Jnr was in Warwick. We arranged to go to the movies, something we hadn't been able to do in ages.

Popsi's cab came and then he was off. I tidied up the house , then I jumped in the shower and got ready, you were going to come and pick me up. I had barely gotten out of the shower when I heard my phone ring. "Papa, I am not even dressed" I said as I answered the phone, "do you want to come in?" "At all , I am alright where I am oh" you answered as if I was stupid for suggesting such a thing. "There is no one at home, popsi is on his way to NY, momsi is at a night vigil and Tj is in Warwick.". As I was talking I walked downstairs and opened the door. I couldn't see your car, obviously you had parked down the road. I laughed. All this cloak and dagger rubbish.

I left the door open and went back into my room. I heard the door bang and footsteps lead up to my room. You opened the door and came in. I continued changing and then I felt your hands around my waist. "mhmm you smell so good", you said as you turned me around. I lifted my head to kiss you and then I heard the front door slam shut. We both froze. Oh my God, I was hyperventilating. I pulled a jumper and a pair of jeans on as fast as I could.

We were in serious shit. We kept quiet hoping whoever it was would just leave. No such luck. "Tinuke Tinuke, where did that girl go" Double shit, popsi... What happened to his flight, why was he home? I looked at you, you looked as scared as me. I bit the bullet, "yes daddy," I said as I exited my room, closing the door quietly.

"Did you not hear me call you?" he asked without even looking at me. " I was in the shower" I answered. "Do you know that my flight is tomorrow, I was already at the airport when I realised, what a waste of money, anyway, where is that money that I gave you earlier, I need to pay the cab, I only have dollars." Triple shit.

I will go and get it and pay him, how much is it" I said as I backed out of the room. "Never mind that, just give me the money" My dad replied as he followed me out of the sitting room and down the corridor to my room. "Seun pls, be hiding, be hiding " I kept repeating this prayer as my dad and I approached my room. I held my breath and opened the door. No Seun. Phew!

I walked into the room with my dad in tow, I found my wallet and as I turned around to face my dad, I saw you hiding behind the door. There was no way my dad wouldn't see you when he turned around. As popsi was counting the money with his back turned to you, you tried to sneak out. We would have gotten away with it if he hadn't turned around very abruptly.

The look on his face was frightening. without even turning to look back at me he walked out of the room, as he got to the door, he turned round and adressed you directly. "Since you have decided to spoil my daughter for me, please take her, I will not have a rotten child under my roof. I do not want to see her here when I return" And with that he stormed off.

We both stood there in silence for a minute. Then with a sigh I pulled a suitcase out from under my bed and began to pack. "what are you doing" you asked me. "what does it look like, I am packing a few of my things, you know my dad does not joke. If I am here when he gets back I am dead, so I'd rather be homeless and alive, wouldn't you agree?" You sighed and started to help me to pack. I called Labake and told her that she had a new lodger.

This was the last time I set foot in that house for three years. When people ask me why I didn't beg, why I left so easily, my answer was always the same. " They wanted me to give up something that was a part of me, I didn't chose my family, they chose me. But him, Him I chose"