Published on December 22nd, 2011 | by thetoolsman13
Hey people, Toolsman here.We continue with our short stories while 43 Fafunwa remains on break. Today’s story is served up by a young writer I’ll only say you should watch out for.. Dotty Harrisson (remember the name). Share your thoughts on the flipside and watch out for today’s installment of the 12 Days of Christmas series by noon. Cheers.
An avid reader from childhood, I read whatever I could get my hands on. Fiction, newspapers, magazines, even the test papers baami would bring from school. At my young age, nothing got to me more than fiction. Every day, I would sit on the cold mud floors beside our one fridge and devour whatever new book I was able to “borrow without permission” from the school. Non-real stories got to me. I read about people whose lives changes in the space of moments and eagerly awaited the day my life would change. It did, just not in the way a child would hope for.
In many ways I am still a child, but you see life has dealt me cards that have forced me to grow up beyond the expected stereotypes.
The first was baami’s death. No one saw it coming.
It did not rain, the sun did not shine brighter than normal, and the insects did not begin their late night conversations later than usual. Perhaps the extreme normalcy of the day should have reminded us.
This is not a story for today. It is merely a prelude, and occasional reference point to story I want to tell. Yes, life gave me another card. It, or rather he came in the form of Olujmi Folawiyo, a government executive who through sheer powers of flattery had made it into the leagues of the “big ogas”.
I was getting married to Jimi.
Jimi was nearing fifty, and I was nearing eighteen.
Jimi had taken my precious gift without permission and now, I was to be sold to him.
Maami was not blessed with business skills, so when baami died, it did not take long before we became broke. A schoolteacher’s savings were only enough to carry me through my final year in secondary school and pay for my exams.
I wanted to be a journalist and one day own my own newspaper, so I applied to study mass media in the University of Ibadan. I was smart and God was on my side, so I got in.
I don’t know why I keep rehashing the good details of my past. Perhaps it is because I dread telling you about my present, because my present is the very opposite of fiction. It is cruel cold reality that hits you and leaves you gasping for nonexistent hope. On to my story…
I met Jimi at a student government meeting with the university sponsors. I was the secretary. After the meeting, his personal assistant came up to me and said the Chief requested a meeting with me. I declined.
He kept coming back and I kept declining.
A year later, I was out of luck. Baami’s money was exhausted; my school schedule did not give me time to find a good job and could not resume school because I had no fees. Jimi came back, and this time he had maami on his side. She had developed a tumor in her stomach and she would have died had Jimi not paid for her operation.
Today, I got married to Jimi. Today, I gave up my youth for my old mother. For that I have no regrets. My regrets lie in my future, in whatever children I will bear him, in whatever treatment is meted out to me outside the eyes of the world. It is that I fear. I write in urgency, hunched in the dark, the light from my newly acquired I-phone. I write, waiting for the moment when Jimi will enter and re-demand what is his. Not that he has not claimed it. He moves fast.
Two nights ago, I was ordered to put on the negligee and lay on the bed. My hair was styled, my lips were painted red and my eyes made smoky.
Two nights ago Jimi hurt me and left me bleeding
Two nights ago Jimi reaffirmed my disbelief in fiction.
And tonight, he will claim completely what is his.
Tonight, when the clock strikes twelve, I will turn eighteen.
Tonight, I will leave childhood and enter adulthood in a threshold of pain.
But I have no regrets, only a deep emptiness.