I had just gotten back from school when I saw a lot of people outside our compound which is so unusual.
Immediately, I started having various thoughts. My mind quickly went to my Mum. Is my mother the reason why people are standing?
Could my mother had died? No this can’t be, why am I even thinking of death?? She’s just sick right?? Everybody gets sick which is just normal. But then again, my mother has been scaring me with her words.
She says things like “you should learn to take care of yourself” what if you get back from school one day and you don’t see me”?? “Be a strong girl” could this be the day my mother was talking about??
I stood there lost, I couldn’t phantom what was going on. I didn’t realize I was crying, Until Iya Titi called my name.
Sholape, you’re back from School?? Yes ma..
Did you misplace your money?? Because you’re crying like someone has taken what belongs to you.
Oh I said touching my face. I smiled. No ma, no one stole my money..
Okay! She said in return.
Iya Titi is our neighbor who sells things next to my mum’s shop.
Excuse me Ma, what’s going on outside here I asked?
Ha don’t mind these unserious boys, they had a fight earlier, it was a bloody one.
The police had just left here. They are all here talking about the fight she said.
Oh I managed to say, hearing that was a relief for me. At least I know nothing has gone wrong with my mother.
I should have thought of that earlier when she greeted me casually. If something was wrong, I could have tell from her face. I smiled at her as if to say Goodbye silently.
As if she was reading my mind, “Your mother is inside” she said. okay ma.
The door was wide open so I didn’t bother knocking or shouting my mother’s name as usual. I just entered the room.
I was confuse when I saw so many footwear at the door. Hmmm who could the guest be? I thought to myself.
When I got inside, I saw my uncle and my aunt but my mother wasn’t there with them. I greeted them cheaply while thinking of where my mother could be looking up and down as if I was in a strange place.
Just when I was about to ask where my mother was, I heard her voice from behind , Sholape..
I looked back smiling so hard like I just won a trophy. Her voice sounded so weak. She was walking towards me with the help of her other sister due to the fact that she can’t stand alone or even walk alone.
I didn’t mind, I went closer to give her a side hug. I know she’s not in the right position to hug me like before, at least my mother isn’t dead as I’ve imagined. The only truth is that she’s critically ill.
She looks like someone that might give up anytime soon. She looks like she’s been stressed over the years, like she’s carrying a load that is unbearable.
I shooked my head at my thought as if to disagree with something while I smile at her. She smiled back and said “Oko mi,(my dear) how was school today”??
I took her hand trying to help her lay on the bed. She was obedient. She laid carefully while my aunty used a pillow beneath her head and another one to guide her.
It was as if we were all taking care of a baby. I was about to tell her how school went and gist her like we do every day when my Aunt signaled to me with her hand.. I moved closer to her.
Yes ma, I said. “Sholape, we have to take your mother to the hospital, she doesn’t look good at all. We have to act fast so that we won’t be put to blame later” She said.
I looked up at her, thinking of what to say. They were so many questions I wanted to ask her. What does she mean by put to blame at the end?
Okay ma, there’s no problem. I’ll change into something decent and go with you. No Sholape, you can’t go with us, Remember you’re still writing your exam and you have to read. Don’t worry, I’ll give you the address to the hospital.
I learnt you have two papers left, once you’re done, I’ll ask Tayo to inform you. You’ll come to the hospital to see your mother and I know before then she will get well.
At this moment, I was swelling with tears but I didn’t want her to see me crying. I gave her a weak smile saying Okay!
But you know I don’t have money ma, how are you going to pay for the bills??
She looked at me stupidly with and arched eyebrow as if to say “cut the crap, no one is asking you for money” she just smiled and said don’t worry, God will take care of it. I smiled and told her thank you.
I wanted to ask her if my father is contributing to all these then I remembered my mother’s siblings and my father aren’t close they don’t like him at all for the ill treatment he has given my mother.
So they’ll rather do things without him. I left going close to my mother. I squat beside her, holding her hands, smiling and crying at the same time.
I looked at her once beautiful face which has grown old all of a sudden. I couldn’t stop my tears, I didn’t want her to see me this way.
I’m supposed to be her strength not her weakness. It was too late, she was weeping uncontrollably now. We were both crying together while she moved her head from left to right..
I didn’t want her to cry, I tried to stop crying while I forced a smile at the middle of my tears.
“Everything is going to be alright, was all I could say. Tears had consumed me, I buried my head on her chest crying so hard saying “everything is going to be alright”.
I wanted her to look up at me but I think she was drown in her thought. What could my daughter be thinking of??
I wish I could read her mind so to ease her pain, I wish I could make her pain go away, I wanted to tell her that I’m never going to leave even if I’m not sure if I’m going to last longer.
I feel like I’m dead already. I feel like I’ll be going anytime soon but I still have the faith that no one will take my place. I feel so weak and lifeless. I just want to be strong for my children, for my daughter.
She’s going into an adult world, I want to be there for her. I’m going to fight for my life, for my children. I’m not leaving them
I couldn’t stop crying, I’m the one who knows how it feels to be in this much pain. I wish I could explain, but it’s unexplainable.
Oh my poor girl! She’s too emotional. Even if I tell her I’ll be Fine, she wouldn’t believe me.
A day without her isn’t going to be easy not to talk of forever. Who’s going to take care of my children? My boy is too young to understand this and Sholape is too young to experience this much hardship.
I’ve always imagined me not been around them for a long time. We would talk about how much they were going to suffer and who will take care of them. Sholape will start crying already, saying; “mummy it’s never going to happen”.
I hope she doesn’t think our little imagination will come to past. My poor daughter! I thought to myself.
I watched as she buried her head in my chest sobbing uncontrollably, my aunty helped my mum up, she staggered at that cause, and the support was doubled.
My uncle joined in assisting her up. I started to ask myself when did my mum become someone that cannot stand on her own??
She used to be strong, the word strong is now a once upon a time thing in her life.
This woman standing in front of me isn’t my mother that I use to know. My aunt’s voice got me out of my thought when she said; “Sholape, we’ll keep you informed”.
Gosh! That statement travelled down my spine. Something in me triggered, I felt like my whole world is crumbling around me.
Something isn’t right but I don’t know what it is. At this time, I was thinking, my aunt and her siblings were out of sight. Immediately, I took to my heels.
Thank God I found them. If I wasn’t out early they would have been far gone. They were about entering the cab when I called out Mummy! She turned back to look at me, I wonder why she didn’t say Goodbye when she was leaving.
I went closer to give her a hug not caring if she’s weak for it or not. Something kept telling me that was my last hug. She held on to me also, Maybe she was having the same thought. At this moment, I was the only one crying not her.
She looked like she had accepted her faith. She pulled away from me and wiped my tears. Giving me a weak smile that I didn’t mind at all when she said; “I’ll be back, everything is going to be okay”.
Life is such an irony, I was the one telling her “Everything is going to be okay” now she’s saying it to me. I smiled and answered “surely mom, everything is going to be okay”.
She smiled and went straight into the car (cab). I wanted to stop her, I wanted to tell her to fight, that she’s strong and not weak.
She shouldn’t leave us. All I heard was the zoom of a car, they were gone. My mum was gone.
I was in the room with my brother Sukanmi trying to get him a polo so he could catch up with the other children in the compound while they have their study time.
Seems my mum left for the hospital like they said, I’ve not heard from her, It’s either she’s asleep or she can’t talk right now.
My Mother! I can’t even wait to share this joy with her. I’d completed my examination few days after she left, I’m so happy.
Kayode already told me not be worried about her that she’ll be fine and we’d go check up on her over the weekend.
Even though it’s a day to the weekend, I can’t wait to see her and tell her everything in her absence.
I also want to give her a big hug while she says “oo ni pami”(you won’t kill me) like she always says with a huge smile on her face.
I pictured her smiling, hoping I’ll see more of that when I get to see her soon. I laughed at my thoughts moving my head at our good memories. Sukanmi immediately shouted
“Aunty Sholape I want water”..
I said “put on your shorts while I get you water”
He pouted and said be fast..
I rolled my eyes at him asking myself when my mother will come for her son as I am tired of his drama.
I was about leaving for the kitchen when I heard a knock on the door and voices following the knock saying Mi o ro pe o wa ni le (I don’t think she’s home) another knock followed just almost immediately as I yelled hold on from the other hand.
I walked faster to see who was at the door. I was amazed at the sight in front of me as it was my Mother’s siblings, two of her brothers, two other women,
Aunty Adunni who’s my mum closest sister and who asked for my permission to take my mother to the hospital, some men I’ve not seen before or perhaps I’ve seen them, or I just don’t recognize them anymore, some neighbors and of course my father.
I smiled greeting all of them equally not regarding the fact that my father was there. They all replied giving me a sympathetic look.
Aunty Adunni who I’ve grown to know didn’t even bother replying. She was just looking like she was lost in a jungle.
I manage to say come in! Thinking to myself why so much people? Last I checked, it wasn’t my birthday, and even if it was, all these people won’t be present especially my daddy.
I was thinking so hard but then again could they be here because of my mother? “rara oo”, I thought to myself. Don’t let me jump into conclusions.
I was about asking for an answer to their presence when one woman whom I’ve not seen in a long time whom I’m assuming to be my dad’s relative said; “Pele Sholape”,
I said “yes ma” she was about to talk when tears started pouring down her eyes. Another voice yelled! “Stop crying o jere”, there’s no how she won’t find out let’s just break the news to her.
Are these people joking? What news are they breaking and why is she crying?? I wanted an answer so bad.
Who will I ask?? I can’t ask Aunty Adunni, she’s looking like a vegetable, I definitely can’t ask my dad, her brothers were busy moving their head. The other woman won’t stop crying.
Just when I was about to ask why my mother isn’t with them, Sukanmi came shouting “Aunty Sholape I’ve worn my shorts, where’s my water”? They all focused on him and started crying in unison saying; “death has ruined the wealthy home”.
Oh no! What are these people saying?? I stood up went straight to Aunty Adunni who was here to take my mother to the hospital.
“Aunty Adunni, where’s my mum”??
They all looked up at me saying “Sholape be patient, your mother is dead”!!!