The series, We Knew Them continues today. Thank you for being here. Before you start reading however, I’d like to share a few things.
I am a writer, this is my profession. Not a hobby, or a second option and just like every professional I believe I should get paid for my work. Therefore, on this website there will be free stories to read and also novels, and short stories which I will not post here but will be available for download for a token.
I see all your prayers and encouragement and I thank you for them but I would also like to ask you for a few things in return.
- Please share the links to my work across your social media platforms, you can at the very least help me to spread the word about my craft.
- Buy my books. My short story (Striving) sells for ₦100 and my novels sell for ₦500. It’s all very affordable.
- Advertise here, if you’d like to do this please send me an email here
- Recommend my works to people of influence. Every time I see a comment about how my work should be in the hands of young people I say “amen” because it’s my desire too. So if you know say Dangote, please put in a good word for me!
I hope I’ve clarified this matter of selling my work well enough? Thank you again for being here and please enjoy the series. It’s going to be great, I promise!
“Young girls are so gullible.” the plump woman said fanning herself with an old magazine. Aunty Bisi’s salon was hot with the poor ventilation and the two hair dryers working. Several customers were also fanning themselves with whatever they could find and Jumoke wondered why the owner didn’t repair the ceiling fan which hung still above the shop.
“I agree with you madam, they’re satisfied chasing other people’s husbands forgetting that they would also be married someday.” the owner of the shop said, weaving the plump woman’s hair into cornrows.
“Don’t mind them! Instead of them to face their studies in school, they chase young boys and have several abortions, and then when they get married, they can’t have children.”
“That’s true!” Another customer chimed in, she had a toddler on her lap. “That’s exactly what happened to my brother’s wife. After sleeping with several men she got married to my brother, even though the whole family was against it. They’ve been married for almost ten years now, still she hasn’t gotten pregnant.”
“And what is your brother doing about it?” Aunty Bisi asked.
“I don’t know o! We’ve advised him to look for someone else to bear him children but he won’t listen. I’m sure the woman has charmed him. In fact, when we see I don’t allow her to touch my children, who knows what evil she has on her mind?”
“That’s the best thing to do my sister.” The plump woman took over the narrative. “You have to be careful with people these days. But back to what I was saying about young girls, my uncle sent away his wife of twenty-three years and married one thin fair girl. I’ve said it that she can’t prosper in his house. It’s only a matter of time before we chase her out.”
“Men! Can you imagine that? After twenty-three years” Aunty Bisi exclaimed.
A salon car stopped in front of the shop and Jumoke recognized it as her mother’s. Why had she come here? She got out of the car with a child in her arms and hurried into the shop.
“Jumoke! Come and take your child, she won’t stop crying! I don’t know why you didn’t give her enough milk before you left the house. I’ve almost gone deaf with her noise!” She dropped the child on her laps. “Oya feed her now!”
Jumoke was mortified, the whole shop was silent. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her.
“Bring out your breast and feed your baby! Do you think being a mother is easy?”
The child hung on to Jumoke, tugging at her dress. Jumoke could see that she had cried so much. She undid the buttons of her gown in the full glare of everyone and began to nurse the child who nestled herself in her mother’s arms.
“Take!” her mother dumped a cotton bag with diapers and a change of cloth. “Learn to be responsible for your child.”
With that, she turned and went back into her car and zoomed off. Jumoke looked down at her child through hazy eyes filled with tears. She hadn’t wanted to leave Hope with her mother, but her father had insisted that she needed to be alone without the child for once.
“You’re a young girl. Enjoy your life!” he had said.
Someone hissed in the shop and another person laughed mockingly.
“I know another story of a young girl who snatched her sister’s husband when she travelled out of the country for her PhD.” The plump woman continued with her gossip.
“Why did that one leave her husband alone with her sister?” asked Aunty Bisi.
“I don’t know o! All I know is that she was a fair girl, and I know she seduced the man because he was a responsible man when his wife was around.”
“So what happened when the sister returned?”
“She took her children and went back to Germany! Two years later, the man became impotent and the yellow girl left him!”
“Ehn ehn!” the shop owner said and some people laughed.
Jumoke wiped the tears from her eyes slowly and stared at the beautiful bright-eyed child that looked like her father. She grabbed her mother’s little finger and squeezed it.
“You look sad.” Hope said to her mother, pausing her game on her tab.
“I’m not… I’m just tired.” Jumoke replied, tightening her grip on the wheel and concentrating on the road.
“You always look sad when we’re going to see Grandma.”
Jumoke heaved a sigh, her daughter was sometimes too perceptive for her liking. “I’m just tired Hope.”
“You always look beautiful when you smile…”
Jumoke laughed gently. “You manipulative girl!”
“I know, I bring out the best in you. But seriously Mum, why don’t you like Grandma?”
Jumoke was quiet for a while. “It’s a long story dear.”
“I’m old enough to hear it…” the girl relied optimistically.
Jumoke tittered. “Let’s just concentrate on the drive.”
Hope heaved a sigh and continued playing her game, her mother never wanted to talk about her past.
Mama Yellow stared at the dark blue SUV that passed by her store and smiled softly, Jumoke was home again. She scooped another teaspoonful of sugar into the plastic bag she was holding, tied it up, held it up and examined it, it was tight enough. Tight, that’s how Mrs Oludare’s face had been when the whole community got to know of Jumoke’s pregnancy. Even though they had initially hidden it, she suddenly saw the girl going about almost every day. No one knew who had impregnated her but she did. The fair, handsome boy with the American accent that Jumoke had spent a few months flirting with. Mrs Oludare suddenly changed; the situation was extremely embarrassing but she had held her head high, daring anyone to look at her with mockery in their eyes. She stopped smiling, and when she did, it didn’t reach her eyes. She became defensive, those unfortunate enough to have asked her of her children had suffered subtle or outright rudeness from her.
Someone came to buy a pack of noodles and Mama Yellow got up and waddled in her usual manner to attend to the customer. Jumoke had not been spared. Her mother sent her everywhere that she needed her to go with her protruding belly.
“I’ll send Jumoke to come and get the beans.” She had said to her one day.
Mama Yellow couldn’t repress her objection any longer. “Isn’t she almost due? Should she be stressing herself like that?”
“She’ll be alright. Give her the load.” She had replied sternly.
When Jumoke came the next day, she thrust several sachets of milk in her hands and instructed her son to help her to carry the load to her house and then give it to her when they got to the gate. It made her glad to see that the girl who had been so scorned had grown up to be quite successful. Jumoke would come and see her later, she always did.
“How’s my beautiful granddaughter?”
“I’m fine Grandpa!” Hope sat by her grandfather and held his hand. “I saw your interview on TV yesterday!”
“Did I do you proud?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Yes you did!”
“Good! Now, how’s your mum?” he asked conspiratorially.
“She’s fine. Aunty Gloria wanted to take her out last night but she changed her mind.”
“She said she was tired. Do you know she always says that when she doesn’t want to do something?”
“I do, and why do you think she didn’t want to go?”
“I think it’s because Aunty Gloria wanted her to meet someone.”
“Yes Grandpa, she never wants to meet anyone!” the girl rolled her eyes. “Doesn’t she want to get married?”
Mr Oludare sighed, there was much his granddaughter couldn’t understand yet. “Let’s just give her some more time.”
Jumoke placed a packet of coffee in the shelf and continued to unpack the bag of provisions she had brought with her from Lagos.
“So how is work?” her mother asked.
“Fine.” she replied simply, not looking at her.
Mrs Oludare continued to chop the carrots she had been busy with and fished for other questions in her mind.
“I hope you’re adjusting well to the new place?”
“Yes.” Jumoke replied.
There was that nerve-wrecking silence again. “What about Hope? Does she like the place?”
“Yes, she does.” Jumoke closed the shelf, folded the bag and turned to leave.
“You’re going out? Won’t you help me to cook the rice?”
Just then her phone rang and Jumoke gratefully grabbed it from her back pocket.
“It’s Korede…” she said and walked away. “Hey K! Where are you…?”
Mrs Oludare stared sadly through the window, then she continued chopping the carrots.
Jumoke woke up with the vague feeling of being watched and caught her mother staring at her from the doorway of her room. She was crying silently and she stared uncertainly at her, wondering what to do. Mrs Oludare wiped her eyes and folded her arms.
“I told you everything I should have told you. Where did I go wrong? Tell me, what didn’t I do right?”
Jumoke shook her head nervously and rose up from the bed slowly. “You didn’t do anything wrong ma.”
“So why is my first grandchild a bastard? Why am I full of sorrow when I should go about telling my friends that I am now a grandmother? Why am I ashamed of you and that child?”
Jumoke didn’t know what to say to this, her body ached from the rigor of childbirth and she just wanted some sleep.
“He’s now in school, Funke mobile number is unreachable, they’ve completely forgotten about you! Are you enjoying the sex you wanted so desperately?”
Jumoke started to cry slowly, every time she wanted to forget about what Lanre and his family had done her mother was quick to remind her. How could she ever rise from the situation?
“You’re there shedding crocodile tears when you could have avoided this. I warned you several times, several times! I told you everything a mother should tell her daughter.”
Jumoke continued to cry.
“You’re going to suffer for your mistake, I will see to that. I won’t give up my life for you. You will miss school and know what it feels like not to be able to go anywhere or do anything because you’re taking care of a child. This child is your full responsibility. You will work and do everything to make sure that she is cared for. Since you’ve chosen this path, you must walk in it.”
As Mrs Oludare walked away still crying, Jumoke’s baby began to cry. She looked at her and tried to hate her but she couldn’t. The child seemed to be crying out of fear, she already knew it was a hostile world she was born into.