Every time a car pulled up in front of the house, I knew I was going to be sent to either  Mama Dada’s house, Tola’s mum or aunty kemi- to get Arodan. I often wondered why my mother only remembered she needed one when her male visitors came over.

I knew what she did for a living but I am not one to judge- (a man has got to do whatever is necessary for survival).

She once told me she sold “laptops”- I relayed same to my friends and anyone that asked- I just kept the brands to myself.

I didn’t know my father and we never really discuss him much. Rumours had it, he is the wealthy politician that lived down our street.

Mr T  became my mum’s regular. He’s was a nice man, he bought me a lot of stuff and my mum was very happy with him (what more could I ask for). The other day Mr T stopped by, he and my mum had a heated argument, I saw him leave angrily on my way back from searching for arodan. My mum wept bitterly that night- the first time I had ever seen her cry.
The following week Mr T came by, I was glad. God had finally answered my prayers. My mum wasn’t as excited as I had imagined. I got prepared to go arodan searching but never got the instruction. I was called into the house. For the first time, she officially introduced me to Mr T (I had never been introduced to any of her male friends).

There was this look in his eyes that day, one I didn’t quite understand. I was instructed  to wait in the room- I obeyed like a good girl.  I felt stomach tighten- I just didn’t feel right that day- something was off.

I heard my mum plead with him to reconsider. He replied saying she had to make a choice- me or him. The shouts turned to tiny whispers, my mum came in with a teary smile to give me a prep talk.

“I love you and I’ll do anything to protect and provide for you. Now it’s your turn to help me out. Please do whatever he asks of you”, she said as she planted a kiss on my cheeks.  I nodded knowingly.

She left me alone in the room for what seemed like forever. As he came in…I saw my mum hesitate to let go of his clothes. He smiled at me and beckoned that I should come closer, which I did obediently. He told me how beautiful I was- even more beautiful than my mother- and promised to marry her and give us a better life if  I co-operated.

He began to unzip my dress. When it finally dawned on me what was about to happen, I started  begging him to reconsider and slowly the tears followed. “You’ll love it..I’ll be gentle I promise” he said as he pulled me closer. I began to wriggle my way out as my begs and tears grew louder.

My behaviour irked him and he shut me up with a slap. I freed myself from his grip and ran towards the door which was already locked (I didn’t notice the key had been removed). He ran towards me with fury. He was no longer patient with me-he had metamorphosed from a dove to a beast within few seconds. I knew I was defeated, but I wasn’t going to give up without a fight. The more I resisted, the wilder he became. I was soon overpowered.

I shut my eyes waiting for the inevitable to happen. I tried to distract my thoughts with few happy childhood memories. The “soaps” I watched said it took only 10 seconds. I counted 20 seconds- (the extra 10 seconds were to allow him get his weight off my body) -in my head before opening my eyes when I didn’t feel any movement.  Mr T was laying over me with his eyes shut… no movement at all.

I laid still with his weight on me for what seemed like 30 minutes till my mum came in and pulled him off. She had tears in her eyes.

Unknown to me…she had poisoned his drink before he came unto me. She stood behind the door praying earnestly that the poison kicked in fast enough before he could carry out the act (she wasn’t going to let history repeat itself).

Getting off the hook was quiet easy. Mr T was hypertensive and the cardaic arrest story we sold was bought. It also helped that the doctor was an old “customer” of my mum.

“Till we meet at the bossom of the Lord on the last day”, that was the preachers closing statement as we all stood by Mr T’s grave. My mum and I knew that was a luxury, one Mr T couldn’t afford.

*arodan- fruitless journey


Beautiful Gate

Today I sat at the gate called beautiful,
welcoming me were stares pitiful
I quietly observed the traffic of men and women
First in their tens and subsequently hundreds
Children chatting happily as they walked to school
The older ones walking freely
The younger ones in the company of their parents or guardians.
School- a dream I know may never come true.

Hamattan is nature’s reminder of my lack of shelter or warmth.
It does differentiate between my kind and the rest of the world
If anything, it has taken particular liking to me
Evidence is seen from my wrinkled skin
To my naturally pancaked face
And the flu that won’t just go away.

I stare at the crowd with a deep sense of hope
As I longed for a naira or two
Seconds passed, minutes followed
Four hours  down the line
The worms in my stomach begin a rhyme
Not sure which bites harder
the worms or the recession
Eating deeper into the economy by the day
Luck finally smiles on me
I’m not sure which shone brighter
My smile or the silver coin

The sun set is my cue to call it a day
I thank God for today
It was better than yesterday
Tomorrow is another date
At the beautiful gate
I can only pray
Peter and Andrew come my way

I know

“I know how you feel”..
that has to be the most
annoying sentence in the
English language.

Don’t tell me you know how poverty feels until your father goes house to house begging for your fees or
when you watch your family
being kicked out because the rent is overdue or
when you have to live in perpetual fear
of what tomorrow holds
because your today hangs on a thread.

“I know how you feel”,
let’s trade places for a day
then maybe I’ll believe you.
Take my mat,
give me your mattress
Take my sickness,
give me your good health
Take my broken heart,
give me your love.

“I know how you feel”
Have you walked in my shoes?,
Eaten my food?, (if any is available)
Fought my fight?,
Cried my tears?,
Feared my fears?

“I know how you feel”
Save the lines
For the next victim
You can’t know what you’ve never felt
If you don’t know my pain
you can never feel  the same