THE ADVENTURES OF TOLU (TAOT)
Different people were born at different places, and at different times. Most (if not all) people cannot remember the day they were born. Though we were there physically, but we cannot remember, no matter how hard we try. I also cannot remember the day I was born, neither can I remember the day I started crawling, walking, talking or schooling. But there is a day of my life that I will never forget. That is; my 7th birthday. That is where I will start telling my story.
The atmosphere was quite party-like. There were three tents outside the house. The compound is a big one. Though all the six cars we had were packed outside the compound, in order to accomodate people. The MC started by asking Pastor Matthew to open the Programme by praying, and as usual, the MC asked the quetion of why we were gathered. It was very funny when a little girl came out to say ‘We came for wedding’. Everyone laughed at this girl, maybe because the party was too big and crowded to be a birthday. Well, my parents; Mr and Mrs Williams had done a good Job. My dad was the CEO of “Williams’ motors”, my mother was the ownner of ‘Todun boutique’, ‘Todun supermarket’ and also ‘Todun Hotels’. Todun was just a combination of my name and my sister’s: Tolulope and Oladunni. My mum really loved us, and she named all her investments after us. Picking ‘To’ from my name, and ‘Dun’ from my sister’s. My parents, no doubt, were very rich and that explains why the birthday party was big enough to be mistaken for a wedding even when it’s just a seven years old boy’s birthday.
The party was going great, I had changed clothes like three times, but that was nothing compared to my sister Dunni who had changed clothes like five times already, at some point, I wondered whether it was my birthday or hers. She really likes parties and social functions, she kept shouting and telling Aunty Rebecca (our house help) that she wanted to change clothes. Aunty Rebecca gives her anything she wants, however that is in strict adherence to the instruction given to her by my mum that she should give us anything we want since she was a very busy woman and was not around most times. “Iya aladuke, abolode fee loju”. My mum said to Dunni pulling her nose and smiling.
The party continued, it went really well. The MC did a good job. I really cannot remember the things he said or the things he did not say, but I do remember that people were really laughing and enjoying themselves. Aunty Rebecca was going up and down to make sure that things were set right. She was looking really unkempt, my mom kept telling her to do one thing and the other, and I watched her do them in haste.
The party ended around 7pm after people gave their gifts, and by 8pm, most people had left, except for some people who were washing and cleaning. I was really happy because that was the first birthday that I celebrated in such grand style. I went to my room, and laid on my bed around 9pm to sleep, but I couldn’t, because I was just too excited and thought about the whole day.
My reminiscence was interrupted when I heard a groan from my mum’s room. I rushed down to see what was going on……………
My reminiscence was interrupted when I heard a groan from my mum’s room. I rushed down with so much fear to see what was going on.
On getting there, I saw my mum in pains. She was groaning and grabbing her stomach. She was covered in sweats. My dad was totally bewildered, as he was running to and fro. He didn’t know what was going on, neither did anyone there. He grabbed his car key, with some people he helped my mum to the car. I wanted to enter the car as well, but they didn’t allow me. My dad ordered Aunty Rebecca to take me inside the house. I was crying bitterly as I had never seen my mum in that state before. My dad drove at top speed to the nearest hospital.
Dunni had slept already. I hugged aunty Rebecca and cried, but she assured me that my mum would be fine. I couldn’t help it, tears were just flowing out uncontrollably. I had seen movies where people groan in pain the way my mum did, and most times it ends in what they call death. ‘That which makes their loved ones cry’. I was scared that my mum’s case would end that way. I was so scared.
I couldn’t sleep all through the night, because I loved my mum so much, but I didn’t know what was happening. I was so devastated. Nights can be very long. It was as if that night lasted a week.
After the long hours, my dad came back home with the people, that was around 10am. I saw everybody alighting from the car, but didn’t see my mum. I ran to my dad and asked him “Daddy, where is mummy?” He looked at me, his eyes were as red as a burning flame. They looked like that of someone who had cried for days. He couldn’t say a word. I didn’t understand what was going on. I looked at the people around, I saw them all in tears. I had learnt from Yoruba movies that the reaction to someone’s death is tears. I looked at my dad and shouted “Daddy, did mummy die?” This time, he couldn’t control his tears. The tears just started rushing down. “Mummy didn’t die Tolu, mummy went to God”. My dad answered. I had been hearing of people going to God in heaven, and those are people I never got to see again. “Does it mean I won’t see mummy again? But I want my mummy, I want to see mummy”. I cried bitterly, as my father cried too. People around could not hold back their tears. We went inside, and before we knew it, people started knocking on our door. I didn’t know exactly what they came to do, because they sat in the sitting room with dull faces, then when leaving, they said words like “epele o” which means “sorry”. “Aa ni riru e mo o”. Which means that “such won’t happen again”.
Then, it occurred to me, that my mum is dead. I was so sad. Dunni didn’t really understand what had happened. She only cried when she saw me or my dad cry. The last thing I wanted to see was for her to cry, I had to be a man and make my sister happy.
Days later, we buried her in the compound, where my sister and I were asked by a priest to pour sand on her coffin before some guys covered her up. I didn’t really understand death, but I knew that my mum was gone and that I can never see her again. I love my mum so much, even more than my dad. “Why does she have to leave me so soon? Why did she do this to me? Why did she not consider me or my sister. Even if she didn’t consider her husband?” I kept asking myself questions I had no answers to. It was a tough experience for me.
I started living my life ‘motherlessly’. But after two years of my mother’s death, my father made a decision that surprised everyone. . . .