I had joined the cultural troupe in church and started returning later than usual because rehearsals were held in the evenings. My immediate elder brother, Tola, was with me too since he was one of the drummers.
We would get home by 8pm and dad would yell at us, whip my brother for jot bringing me back earlier.
It was on one of such days that we got to realize that dad resented God. He was not interested in Christianity and everything that had to do with it. So it always infuriated him whenever he got back from work and is told we had gone to church.
We could barely pay for our tuitions in school. There were times when we were sent home for not meeting up to one one financial commitment or the other. It really made my dad unhappy and disappointed that he could not afford to provide for his family as he ought to.
On this particular day,
I and Tola had gone for dance rehearsals as usual. It was a Sunday and the troupe had an outing in the coming week. This made rehearsals quite intensive and those who were to perform at the event were selected. By the time we finished, it was already past 9pm and we went home on foot since we had no money to board a taxi or motor cycle.
As we entered the house, dad was already waiting for us in the parlor with his cane and started flogging Tola even before we could say “good evening”.
The first cane broke, same as the second, the third and the last cane too but dad wasn’t pacified yet. He had locked mum in one of the rooms so that she wouldn’t interfere.
I stood frozen at the door, weeping and wondering what had turned my loving father to such a beast.
All this while, he never laid a finger on me. He went into his room and reappeared with two of his belts to continue from where he stopped. When I realized that the first belt had torn to shreds and Tola was rolling in a pool of his own tears with no one to help, I yelled and called out to mum to come to his aid but I had only succeeded in shifting the party to myself.
HAVE YOU READ: HOW I FOUND CHRIST – PART 1
Dad entered the room again and this time, he came out with the infamous “Koboko“. He kicked My brother aside and made for me. That was the first time I was ever flogged in my life and it had to be with a Koboko of all things!
As each stroke hit me, I screamed, wept and begged him but he didn’t stop. Mom was already crying and shouting, telling him not to kill her children for her.
Instead of listening to her, dad went into his room to bring the second Koboko and just as the thought came to my mind, I quickly unlocked the door and bolted out of the house – and out of the compound.
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I kept running and crying for close to an hour before I realized that I was quite far from home. I was at the bus stop at that unholy hour. Everywhere was unusually empty. We had passed through this road as a family when returning from mum’s chemist store by 12pm and it was usually bubbling with activities at that time so what was different about today?
In the midst of these thoughts, I sighted a procession of men clothed in white apparel a with the one one in front holding a calabash.
“how could I forget?? An Oba (King In Yoruba land) had died the “Oro Festival” had to be held before he would be buried. I had always heard that virgins were used for sacrifices, some buried alive with the deceased king to serve him in the world beyond and women were forbidden from setting eyes on the men during the proceedings.
I hid myself behind the tables in front of one of the shops there until the men passed, after which I began to trek from Ejigbo to Ikeja.
As I knocked at the gate and entered my Uncle’s house, I smiled and I commended myself for my courage and smartness.
I met Aunty Reen in the parlor watching a late night show. I narrated everything to her and went to sleep as I had become very exhausted from my bitter adventure. As early as 7am the next morning, Tola came to take me back home but I refused to go with him. Dad called and threatened but I had made up my mind. At last, mum had to pack my bags and had Tola bring them to me at Ikeja.
Alas! I would have peace, away from all the bitterness, lack and strife at home………..or so I thought!!!
Aunty Reen and her husband were very protective of me and my cousins. We were not allowed to go close to the gate for any reason at all. If you asked my Uncle why, he’d say, “do you want people to kidnap a big man’s children?”. Sounds amusing right? Hahaha
Often times in their absence, the maids would make jest of us as “big men’s children” and we would all laugh over it.
The house was always full because other relatives & friends visited from time to time but we were particularly fond of Uncle Pat because he always knew how to appeal to our sweet teeth as children.
Three months later, we got an unexpected visitor. She was Aunty Reen’s friend who was having accommodation issues and needed a place to stay until it was sorted out. Her was Chika.
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Shortly after she moved in, I was given the sole responsibility of looking after my Uncle’s last child/daughter called Favorite; after all I was also a last born so it was expected that I would know how to handle her.
One morning, Aunty Chika came to me and asked to go and buy groundnut because she wanted to drink Garri. I refused and told her about my Uncle’s instruction, at which she angrily left to buy the groundnut herself.
Fast forward to about 3 hours later, Uncle Pat came back and wanted to drink Garri. Of course, we indicated our interest to join him so he requested that I go to buy the groundnuts, to which I declined and reminded him of the binding instruction. Uncle Pat would have none of that. He beat me and pushed out of the gate to go and buy the groundnuts.
As I was returning, Aunty Chika saw me and became furious that I had refused to run the same errand for her. The others explained what had transpired to her and she went back to her room as I apologized.
Two weeks after that incident, Favorite was constituting nuisance and her mum yelled angrily at her while instructing me to put her to sleep. I took her to the parlor downstairs and laid her down on a sofa to sleep only for me to be woken up 2 hours later by Uncle Pat. My dear Favorite who was supposed to be sleeping too had turned the parlor upside down while I slept.
THE TURNING POINT
Aunty Reen called me into her room and from the look on her face, I could tell that she had been crying. She asked what she had done to deserve such wickedness from me.
“Ah! Wickedness? What was Aunty saying?“
I was confused and didn’t know what to say since I had no clue as to what she was talking about. She begged me to confess by myself and she’d forgive me. I became even more confused! Confess to what? What was she talking about now? Then she said the heaviest words I had ever heard……..
To be continued…….
But wait……do you think that Rita overreacted by running to her Uncle’s house? I also wonder if her mum had done the right thing by taking her belongings to her there……I’d love to hear your honest opinions in the comment section below. Let’s talk!