“Tomiwa, o ma maa gbe battery kini yii wole lalale ni o.” (Tomiwa, you will need to carry the tricycle’s battery in every night.) Hannah advised.
“Ehn, o ye mi.” (yes, I understand.)
“Daddy, daddy, will you carry us to school with this keke?” Korede asked beaming.
“Shut up jare, olodo, it is called a tricycle.” Yejide corrected and Tomiwa laughed.
“Ati keke o, ati tricycle o (Whether you call it a keke or a tricycle), it is the same and yes my son, from today I will be carrying you to school with it.”
“Eh, will you still be giving us fifty-fifty naira to school?” Korede further questioned.
“Shut up ko gbenu e soun (and keep quiet), fifty naira ko, five hundred naira ni.” Hannah countered and Tomiwa just laughed, this was one of the few moments he loved when every member of the family seemed to be on the same page.
“Oya mummy, let us drop you at work, time is going.” Tomiwa announced and Yejide rushed into the house to get her mom’s bag and also lock the door before the family set out to drop the mother of the house at her work place; Tomiwa took his children on a short cruise around the neighbourhood and tried his best to keep greetings short then he made them the breakfast he’d promised, handed them to mummy Sewa (the neighbour they stayed with) and finally headed to the park for the day’s business.
“My dear sister that is how God works, can you see what patience has done?”
“Ah, mummy, thank you for all your advice, I really appreciate it.”
“It is God my dear, only God is capable.”
“He didn’t even tell me what he was planning and the business has been thriving, God had been protecting him.”
“It is God and I hope he’s paying his tithe regularly.”
“Mummy, don’t you trust me? I make sure he pays every week.”
“Ah! Every week ke, that is too much o and besides, tithe is a monthly affair now.”
“Mummy, it is not too much o, Tomiwa earn daily, so paying tithe’s weekly is not too much, even me gan, I pay weekly.”
“Okay o, Mrs Obafemi, if you say so, I should be on my way now, my regards to your husband when he returns.”
“Yes ma, my regards to pastor and the children ma.” Hannah replied as the pastor’s wife stood to leave. Hannah smiled to herself, God had been wonderful to her family; it had been three months since her husband stated his business as a commercial tricyclist and so far there’d been no issue with paying oga Friday monthly, she was glad she’d not listened to her mother even when she’d been tempted on several occasions (and had even voices them to Tomiwa), the new school year had begun and he rwonderful daughter had been promoted to primary six as the head mistress had promised and Korede was now in primary three, Tomiwa too had been doing well, she’d even left the canteen and had rented a stall where she sold foodstuff (small scale though), she and tomiwa had also been planning to hold their ‘tunmigbe’ (remarriage) after they’d settled the keke debts, this decision was not prompted by the need to reconcile with her father and sister but purely because she and her husband wanted to do the right thing and get married properly. (One thing you should know is that Hannah’s father is a very stubborn man and Hannah had gotten her stubbornness from him).
ONE YEAR AFTER
Hannah sat quietly in her parents’ living room, she was super happy that she’d been able to keep her promise to herself and had not gone to her mother for any form of monetary assistance. She waited patiently for her stubborn father to show up, she was not moved, she knew he’d be angrier to see that she’d fulfilled her promise of not begging for his forgiveness. Sooner than she’d expected, Mr Ayodele walked into the room, frowning. He sat in the armchair opposite Hannah, his favorite spot, and stared into her eyes with hatred, anger maybe, that had a tinge of love hidden somewhere. Hannah as much as she’d have loved to, did not have the courage to hold his gaze, her throat felt dry and a sweat broke out on her forehead, her voice failed her and she hated herself for the moment because this wasn’t what she’d planned, she’d planned to walk in, drop the invitation card and their lace and then walk out without saying a word, she’d even gone further to imagine, in her mind’s eye, the look on her father’s face after her display and she’d laughed to herself then but now, there was nothing, she just sat like a child boxed into a corner, she smacked herself mentally for her cowardice, she was beginning to feel like her older sister, Ruth, who could never stare their dad in the face in situations like this and she hissed under her breath; with an inner resolve to break the fear she had for her father and also with the revitalisation of her stubbornness, she looked up and stared straight into Mr Ayodele’s eyes, her father, but she was still dumb struck, the expression on his face was more than enough to melt the strength she thought she had.
“Kini o wa se nibi? (What have you come here for?)” Mr Ayodele asked, calmly despite his fierce features, Hannah hated him for that, how could he sound so calm when she was on edge and losing her mind? she thought.
“I-I-I…” she stuttered, unable to form her words into a sentence.
“Iya Ruth, is this why you called me? Is this what you called me for? To waste my time? To listen to this rubbish?” Mr Ayodele asked, with is voice raised a notch.
“Rara o, olowo ori mi (no, my husband), Hannah has come with good news.” Iya Ruth replied and her husband hissed.
“Oya Hannah, soro (talk) now” she continued. Hannah looked from husband to wife and back again, she really afraid at this point, her dad had always been a strict disciplinarian and it had been difficult to look straight at him. She decided talking was a waste of time and energy so instead, she stood, dropped the polythene bag she’d been holding on the table, curtsied and walked towards the door before her father’s voice stopped her in her tracks.
“Take this rubbish out of my house now!” he ordered and stood to leave, immediately, iya Ruth went on her knees and held her husbands’ legs to stop him; begging him, pleading with him to at least check the content of the bag. Hannah was furious at herself, her plan had come to naught, she stood at the door; she knew at this point that she had to swallow her pride and kneel, not because she was sorry but because she wanted him to witness the success she and Tomiwa had achieved without his help; she also went on her knees without uttering a word as she watched her mom’s desperate plea.
After a good ten minutes that seemed like forever to Hannah, Mr Ayodele finally sat back in his chair and picked the bag to check its content; he let out a laugh that didn’t quite touch his eyes which meant he was bitter then hissed and dropped the bag and the content back on the table.
“I have checked it o, what do you want me to do?” Mr Ayodele asked with a smile which was obviously faked. Iya Ruth signalled to her daughter to talk but Hannah refused and just stared into space.
“Hannah!” iya Ruth thundered when Hannah wouldn’t move “… eti e di ni? (are you deaf)” she asked. Hannah shifted, she was uncomfortable with her kneeling position, she decided to speak for her mother’s sake, left to her, she saw no reason to talk but since her father had decided to play dumb, she might as well just play along.
“Baba, nnkan to wa ninu polythene yen ni aso yin ati iwe iperanse fun tunmigbe emi ati Tomiwa. (baba, the polythene bag contains your cloth and an invitation to me and Tomiwa’s remarriage)” She mumbled after a minute’s hesitation. Mr Ayodele simply laughed then hissed before he went the way he’d come. Iya Ruth jumped to her feet and placed both hands on her head, these were the only two people in the family who always gave her a headache; she turned to face Hannah who was already standing with her hands folded across her chest.
“Ah! Hannah, do you want to ruin my life? Ah! See the way your father looked at you with disgust, your father o Hannah and you think this is life ah!” she lamented and bit a finger. Hannah hissed, she wasn’t ready for her dad’s negative vibes and she was also disgusted by her mother’s exaggeration so she curtsied again;
“Maami, mo ti fe ma lo, maa ma ri yin (mum, I’m leaving, I’ll see you some other time)” she said and left the room immediately. As soon as she’d gone, iya Ruth threw herself on the ground with both hands on her head.
“Ah! Temi bami, aye mi ti baje, ah, omo Hannah olori kunkun yi fe ba temi je, ah, Oluwa, tani mo se… (Ah! I am finished, my life is ruined, this sturbborn Hannah wants to ruin my life, ah, God, who have I offended…)” she lamented amidst sobs. After a while, she got to her feet and joined her husband in the room to plead with him further.
Hannah walked to the bus-stop with shaky legs, she wondered if she wasn’t taking things too far but the truth is that she was past caring, in fact, she was ready to severe what was left of the relationship between her and her father, she just couldn’t take it anymore. Right from when she was a child, she’d always doubted her father’s love for her but now that she thought of it, she had a feeling that he loved her but was just being a coward, maybe he was intimidated by her boldness or most likely, he felt insecure since she’d been the only child to always contest his decisions and she’d never let him decide for her unlike her older sister. She smiled to herself, now she understood her father, Mr Ayodele her dear father was a man with a low self-esteem, she shook her head because it had taken her thirty-three years of her existence on earth to realise this. Soon, she got to the bus-stop and luckily for her, there was a bus waiting for just one more passenger before it moved. When she got home, as expected, her children were back from school and were in mummy Sewa’s room, she got down to preparing the family’s dinner. When her husband got home and had had dinner, she narrated her ordeal with her father to him and a confused Tomiwa sighed deeply.
“But why is daddy acting like this ehn?”
“Tomiwa, don’t bother your head about that man jare, I just wanted to let you know how my day went.”
“Don’t talk like that, he’s still your father.”
“And so?” Hannah asked with disgust.
“Maybe I should go and see him personally.” Tomiwa said.
“See who, no way! Tomiwa, you would do nothing of such, that man is proud, just too proud, what else does he want, we’ve respected his wishes so far and God has helped us so much that we don’t need his assistance for anything, yet he’s still proving stubborn, in my own honest opinion o, if he likes he should attend the wedding or even if he decides not to come, it’s not the end of the world.
“I will just go and rent a father and if the worst happens, I’ll just adopt another father and disown him, what is his problem gan, there’s kuku nothing that is new under the sun so whatever happens is not going to be new too.” She thundered then hissed while Tomiwa smiled, he’d always found his wife’s anger towards her father very funny.
“It’s okay o, don’t wake the children, there’s school tomorrow.” Tomiwa cautioned calmly.
“Tomiwa, you are not going anywhere o, and I’m not even joking, if he can’t swallow that his stupid pride that is slowly sending him to the grave, then so be it, we are having this tunmigbe with or without his consent.”
“Hannah, calm down, you know we want to do the right thing and having your father’s consent is also part of it so I suggest we go see your parents with mum and talk things over with them before the tunmigbe.”
“Tomiwa, we don’t need baba’s consent, he’s sha not sponsoring anything so why bother your head, let him vex all he wants, when he’s tired, he’ll let us know.” Hannah said and Tomiwa grinned.
“Yes madam (pause) Hannah Hannah, you and this stubbornness ehn, only God that can deliver you.” He said.
“See, in all honesty, this is not a ,matter of stubbornness, it’s just a matter of common sense and maturity, it’s been thirteen years and this man has refused to forgive me for getting pregnant at age twenty or maybe it is because I decided to have the baby or maybe because I didn’t go to uni and decided to live with you instead (pause) Tomiwa, I don’t even know my offence and yet maami keeps hammering that I should beg baba for forgiveness.
“… If I can swallow my pride and go to his house to invite for my wedding then why can’t he do the same and at least tell me my offence, honestly, I am tired, really very tired and that is it.” Hannah said sadly as tears ran down her cheeks, Tomiwa immediately sprang from his seat, crossed the room and went to her side by the foot of the bed; he wiped the tears with his fingers and planted a firm reassuring kiss on her temple then held her for a few more minutes before they went to bed.
The next morning, the family went about their business as usual but Tomiwa had other plans. As soon as he dropped his wife in the market, he called his mother and told her to get dressed because he was taking her out then he called his mother in-law to know what time it would be okay for him to visit. Later in the day, around three PM, Tomiwa and his mother were on their way to the Ayodele’s residence. On getting there, they were told to wait for Mr Ayodele because he closed from work by four PM and wouldn’t be home until four-thirty. Finally, Mr Ayodele arrived; Tomiwa’s heartbeat tripled as a cold shiver ran down his spine, small beads of sweat broke out like pimples on his forehead as he saw his boyishly handsome father in-law walk in the front door. Mr Ayodele looked up as he heard greetings, he looked from his wife to the two visitors and back to iya Ruth before he responded to mummy Tomiwa’s greeting (Tomiwa is an only child).
“Ekaasan o (good afternoon o)” he greeted with a straight face and continued on his way into the house. Iya Ruth sprang to her feet, partially stopping her husband from going further into the house.
“Babe, eyin na lon wa wa, won tin duro de yin tipe (baba, they are here to see you and have been waiting for a while.)” she said as Tomiwa quickly prostrated to greet Mr Ayodele for the third time. Mr Ayodele smirked and turned fully to face Tomiwa.
“Ngbo, won ni emi le wa wa, kilosele o (I was told you’re here to see me, what is the matter)” hye asked
“Beeni sah, emi ati mummy mi la jo wa be yin ni sah. “Yes sir, I came with my mum to beg you sir).” Tomiwa replied with a shaky voice.
…to be continued