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Thursday, July 08, 2010

My Children ( a novel available on www.i-proclaim.com for just $13)

MY CHILDREN


PROLOGUE

“A generation starts from a person, expands to two and

eventually becomes long”.

I, Adefoluke Temidayo Odekunbi was born on the 20th of

October, 1941. My father had no western education but he

wanted us all to be educated in the western way. He was

not a segregationist like one of my uncles, who educated

only his male children and believed that the females would

end up in the kitchen of a man.

Despite the quest for western education, we were all trained

farmers, although hereditary, we farmed before and after

school hours. On daily basis, we did all the fundamentals to

make us complete human beings.

My father gave birth to a lot of children, I was the seventh

and I still have about eight siblings, permit me to say, my

mother was the only source of us. Actually, menopause was

not believed in then having a lot of children was prestigious

and it really helped on the farm. From one generation to

another, my father had family members on the farm. Our

progress was rapid that our school mates found it difficult

to believe that our father was a mere farmer.

We competed favourably with the children of the elites:

Reverends and majorly teachers. They had the wherewithal

to be students; even they were usually traveling abroad

after their secondary school education. Mainly, our father’s

attitude was influenced by his closeness to the Reverend of

our church. When we were not forging ahead as expected

of us, we were referred to the Reverend for encouraging

words.

I went through the normal mode of life, I started from the

primary school. I was not too brilliant neither was I a

dullard, I was an average student. My female teachers were

interested in who I was, they wanted my life to be different

from others, this was as a result of my mother’s association

with one of them in the church, she introduced me to the

other teachers. At times, when we were in the class, I

would be lost in thought, thinking about the undone work

on the farm, but I would be called to order by my lovely

teacher, then, I thought it was wickedness but I follow their

example now.

If you have not forgot, the type of primary school was the

one wherein your hand must touch the ear on the other side

of your head before you could secure an admission. I was

almost a full-fledge girl before starting school. My male

teachers were majorly bachelors, they wanted to maximize

their opportunity seeing innocent girls like me.

Thanks to the protective arms of our female teachers, some

knew their tricks. We were able to confide in them, and

skillfully they always helped us against all of their male

teachers. I was scared of telling my father all of these

because one cannot underestimate his reactions, he could

turn the whole blame on me, he had always said, women

call the attention of men with their gestures. All the same, I

had a pillar to cling to in my trying period.

My Primary School Leaving Certificate was good, I could

not progress straight into the Modern School, I had to wait

a bit for my father was in a financial strait coupled with his

expenses on my elderly ones. I returned to the farm. I

reunited with my siblings and daily activities in full. My

seasons of trails were assumed over. Despite leaving

school, some male teachers who resided closely to my

house still paid visit whenever my father was away.

Due to my age, my chores changed, I was sent to my

mother, I now had to help her with harvesting, making of

garri, frying of games, more with care of home. My family

had not for once been gender conscious in its entirety. We

did all together but we specialized: boys on the farm and

girls in the house but this became more obvious as we grew

older.

After two years, I returned to school, the modern school.

This level of education was interesting. I met men, old

enough to be my father, they disappointed me, they behave

like he-goats. I cannot see the reason for today’s girls’

complain; we yielded not, even amongst my classmates,

who came from diverse background just like myself. These

teachers were not relenting, the more I dodge the trap of

one, I will fall into another.

Three years in the modern school was no joke. We were

trained, equipped and it became obvious that the western

form of education was gradually becoming part of us. My

brothers’ were getting much more tuned to dressing in

shirts and trousers with straightly ironed shapes, tucking in,

with a well-patterned hair, with good shoes. My elder

sisters’ and I too would wear our skirts and blouses. From

time to time, my father would re-orient us, he would

encourage us to wear our traditional attires and speak our

local language, Yoruba, although he could not speak in

English, we would communicate in fluent English language

whenever we met at home during holidays; my elderly ones

and I. Nonetheless, we were elements of pride for our

father in the community.

Our community recognized nobody as nobody’s child, it

was joint care. I could re-collect someone who was sent

abroad on a joint pooling of money by the community.

Whenever you misbehaved, you would have been dealt

with, asked who your parents and taken to them for further

discipline. You would be afraid of committing any crime in

the society, all eyes were on you. You were responsible to

everybody, once he or she is elderly. Never forget, there

were no fenced buildings then, whatever you did was seen

by all.

I was twenty-three years old when I gained admission to

the Popular Teachers’ Training College for my Grade III

certificate. I developed my morale better, I thought of

organizing my life and times. I was in the college for

another three years. All of those who had me were

expecting much more for me. I was in a fix at a point in

time, I considered myself as being in trouble, repaying all

of the children of those that had helped me.

Children, especially girls of today complain about our

dressing in those days, they knew through our photographs.

Although our clothes were skimpy, it was not like the ones

they want to wear, short, décolletages, jumpers, nets and

other forms of provocative clothes. We were decent, we

held in high esteem our dignity as ladies, we were not as

flirt as girls of today, we dare not woo a guy, we were

proud of our gender, no tension at all.

We benefited a lot from school, we were not only given

qualitative education, we also had the opportunity of

feeding in school. If I mention the amount of money we

paid then, you would be excited but mind you, before you

could get such an amount, you would sweat a lot.

Our days in the college were fun-filled. It was necessary for

us to be part of the assembly that was conducted in a

Christian mode. We would leave the assembly for classes,

we had our meals prepared, it was a great privilege going to

such a school. Reading was a hubby, we had well-stocked

library that had all types of books: Literature, sciences and

accounting. I was interested in literature, by the time I was

through at this level of education; I had exhausted the

literature shelves.

When I was at home for one holiday, my parents called me;

they questioned me about my marital life. I made it clear

that I was still a student and it would be better if I didn’t

place too many pieces of iron in the fire at the same time. I

categorically stated, ‘guys of this age are not committed

Christians, I want a God-ordained husband’

My father insisted that he wanted me to marry someone

from my home town, he was not concerned with his

spiritual status. How would he? He had for long been a

devoted person to the bar, he assumes ‘otika’, despite the

slow rate of its digestion, that was his best brewed drink.

After he had completed his daily task, his next point of call

is the ‘odan’ tree where he would be with his friends till

dusk.

Quite alright, we were Christians, we attended the First

Baptist Church in our village. I belonged to various groups

within the church : the Yound Ladies’ Society, the choir

and others. These societies had served as training ground,

we had been taught about Christian homes, relationships,

courtships, dealing with spouses, our parents, children and

others. This had hardened my heart and taught me about the

essence of not giving my heart to just anybody.

After few months of returning from school, the programme

was over. I was posted to a school in a nearby village to be

a teacher, somehow I was moving ahead. Some of my

friends that had not gone to school were married, some had

had three children. They were pressurizing me to become

married, their children were calling me ‘aunty’. Our

relationship was as strong as ever, we still sew the same

kind of garment. I paid for it, they were glad because some

other friends who had became teachers had dissociated

from them. Don’t mind them, they had more money than

we who were paid salaries, they had money according to

hardwork.

I resided in the village with one of my cousins who had

built his house there, since I had no friend, I would be

indoor after returning from school till the following

morning. Once a while, we would chit-chat but a lot of

times, I kept reading, personal development distinct me in

all forms from my co-workers. Life was progressing.

At another time when I had a cause to go home, I got

confused, my father would not want me to tell him I was

still expectant but that was the plain truth. Then I made up

my mind, I would go home, if I was questioned, I would

tell him I had a suitor, if he asked about his personality, I

would tell him to wait till they saw one another soon. Just

as if I knew, I was just entering the premises when he asked

me these questions. I answered as earlier planned. I saw

ecstasy written all over his face. He went to his friends, he

did not reveal what gladdened his heart, but bought ‘otika’

for all of them, they all filled their belly to the brim.

Days were unfolding, I became a prayer warrior to see him.

I was seriously involved in church activities, probably one

of these young men will be interested in me. My prayers

were answered but he came, applied, he talked to me, I

can’t tell you all that happened.

Bro. Dayo Oyesunmade was the choir master, he had also

gone through series of experiences in life. His father was a

little richer but he was not cared for as such, he grew up

living with his grandmother. To cut the long story short, he

had gone to the Teachers’ Training College too, but I was

not interested in the continuation of poverty. I made up my

mind to consider his proposal, obvious I did not know what

be the end result if nobody came, I would give in.

Banji Ogundamilare came my way through Banke, my very

good childhood friend. He had a better level of education,

this is better! He had his education at Yaba College of

Technology that was real academic endeavors then. He got

a very good job that had afforded him the opportunity of

going for some trainings in the UK. He had all the

necessities of life : house, car, all he wanted but no wife.

This had been a source of concern for his family members.

Banke introduced me to him, she had earlier told me of his

virtues. I saw this as an opportunity of making my

decisions.

Banke told me that they were on their way to his friend’s

house but she agreed on the grounds that they would also

visit me. He looked pleasant, peaceable, cool, mind you, all

the good qualities I had wanted in a guy was evident in him

but I was pined off, he consumed alcohol.

I had to soft-pedal when I remembered that my father was

waiting to meet my suitor. I had to think over it when I

realized I was not getting any younger. After eight months

of leaving school, I was much confused.

Bro Dayo had not stop a showing his love despite his

financial incapabilities, he was optimistic of a better

tomorrow. Banji was showering gifts on me, I was drawn

more to Banji. I had to tell Bro. Dayo that I was engaged

after one year of persistence, Banji won my heart finally

after eight months.

We started going strady, we were in different places; he in

Lagos, I in the village. He came home once a month, I was

not interested in traveling to Lagos considering the stress, I

sent him postcards. I had the best treat whenever he came

to town. I was puffed up by the type of person I was into a

relationship with, I was envied by people, was it not at my

risk?

The joy was unstoppable, day by day, I told of him to

people, definitely he did that too. Once a month seemed too

far, he had to cut it into fortnightly, he would come without

his car and be with me till Monday morning before he

traveled back to Lagos. Do you know that my father was

not patient with me again, he ordered that I must bring him

money at the turn of another year.

I told Banji, he obliged. We went home the weekend I

turned twenty-seven. My father was glad, he saw that my

suitor was from a well-to-do family, had good moral

upbringing and ultimately Banji’s father was his childhood

friend. Good God, his wish of having me married to

someone from our village materialized. No more question

for me, my elderly ones were gradually preparing, my

siblings were waiting for a feast. I was preparing for

marriage, another stage and phase of life. This is a

challenge for the age I have reached.

A weekend came, I left our town for Lagos to visit Banji. I

saw nothing bad in it, so far we had agreed to be married.

He asked me if I would join him in bed, I consented. We

were entangled that night and that was what resulted into

conception. This was a boost for our traditional wedding.

We were glad, what could have served as an hinderance

later in life had appeared. Nobody could object it, moreso,

we had come of age.

December 15, 1968 was the D-day when Banji wedded

Foluke. I wore the traditional ‘iro and buba’ made with

‘Aso oke’, he wore his ‘agbada’. We were envied by all

and sundry. People came from all walks of life : my fellow

teachers, his fellow professionals, members of the Farmers’

Union, the towns’ men and the reigning king were present.

Affluence was displayed, our level of education was

reflected, how could I have forgot this day?!

Until recent times, our wedding was the best in our

community, most especially the presence of those from

Lagos who were predominantly socialites. Everybody gave

all within their reach to make sure the day was successful.

Despite the age differences, my elderly ones wore the same

attire with my siblings although the pattern differed. They

all had tables to entertain their friends, the world stood still

just to be a part of my wedding. If marital bliss was implied

by the colourfulness of the wedding, there would have been

no need for this novel.

...to be continued...
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