By Moyinoluwa Okunloye
*I have written this since 2017, so the ending is not exactly my present state of mind. However, at the time that this happened, it felt like the dark cloud will never pass. Every day since then has being better, even more so since 2017. I love my progress, and it’s being an amazing journey but this was a major curve in my life that I had written about before, so enjoy reading.
It was a very bright Tuesday afternoon. We were preparing to go for our school’s mid-term break. As expected, my classmates and I were so happy about going home the next day. We were least bothered about the assignments that teachers were bombarding us with. Only one thing mattered, we were going home! Just before our Mathematics teacher left the class that afternoon, a message came for me. Miss Bola entered the class to tell me that the principal wanted to see me. With my heart pounding in my chest, I asked myself in shock; What have I done? Why would the principal demand to see me?” A very scared me followed Miss Bola to the Principal’s office. I was prepared for the worst (a few strokes of the cane would not kill me, I thought), though I had no idea as to why I was being summoned.
The principal was already standing in front of her office. She was in the company of her husband and two of my teachers. “Oh! God, what have I done?”, I thought to myself. The pounding in my chest increased as I knelt before her. She responded very well to my courtesy and told me to get up.
“Okunloye, How are you,” My Principal said
“I am fine ma,” I responded.
“Your uncle called me not quite long ago. He asked that I bring you to your village. He mentioned that you would be going to Lagos with him from there”.
I stood there as she delivered my uncle’s message to me. Her words stirred up mixed feelings in me. I was relieved and confused at the same time; relieved because I wasn’t in trouble, confused because of what she said. I couldn’t believe my ears. My uncle was in the village? In February? What would take him to the village at that time of the year? As though that wasn’t enough, he sent for me? Me? He doesn’t even talk to me. He pays my school fees and my other expenses, but we weren’t close. In truth, he was my father, but only family members knew. He would never tell anyone else. I was even forbidden from calling him Daddy. He was my “uncle”, and he had requested to see me. That felt good. It was a good sign for me. I dashed to the hostel, packed a few clothes, ran to the classroom to inform my friends and ran back to the principal who waited patiently for me.
As we were about to go, I became really uncomfortable. The principal’s husband drove the car, while she sat beside him. The two other teachers then sat with me at the back of the car. Why do we all have to go to my village together? Were they going somewhere else? I thought about it for a while, then I dismissed the thought. I was too happy. My father wanted to see me.
My father was my Hero. I respected him so much. I still do. I had done everything before then to please him. I wanted him to accept me as his daughter. I blamed myself for coming as a mistake that drew a wedge between him and his girlfriend. I wanted to be like him; A lawyer. I read anything and everything. I was inquisitive on purpose. I was incredibly sharp in school. By all means, I wanted to be called and truly seen as his first child by all and sundry. He would never talk to me. He was never around. As a matter of fact, I didn’t live with him. The people I called my parents were only asked to take care of me. The only time we ever had a meaningful discussion was a month earlier. He was talking to me about changing my school to a place closer to where he lived. That made me feel like he was beginning to like me. That was my prayer. I felt good that God had answered me.
I kept ruminating on that and many other things as I sat between my two teachers in the car. They were looking really awkward. But I was really not concerned about them.
As we got to the village, there were a lot of people in front of our family house. I began thinking to myself; what happened? Who died? Oh! my Grandma. I just knew it. I had told her last Christmas to stay alive. I wanted her to see me get married and she promised me she would. Why would she die like that? I got no answers to my questions. Instead, the village pastor came to the car, covered my eyes and walked me to the house through the back door. Now this was becoming more serious than I thought. I had questions, but I went with him. As I got into the house, I saw my grandfather in tears. Then I saw my Grandma. I saw every other member of my extended family, except my “Uncle”. Then I knew, he was dead. My father, the one whom I had tried so much to get him to smile at me was dead. He couldn’t even stay alive to see me prove to him that I wasn’t a mistake. My whole life and future flashed before my eyes. I fainted.
I woke up a new girl, with no life. I saw no reason to do anything again. I would never be able to please anyone. There was no reason to try anymore. The bright happy me changed. I withdrew to my tent; and I became a friend to myself.
It was February 28, 2006; the day that sucked the life out of me.
Photo Credit: Alex Iby on Unsplashed