Fifteen years later, she had returned to Nigeria for the burial of her father. She was standing in front of the mall when someone called out her name. She had changed to her English name when she travelled so the oyinbos won’t bite their tongue trying to pronounce her name. She was surprised when someone called out “Labake.” She turned to see who it was. It was a former colleague of hers when she was in Nigeria. It was exciting to see an old face. She hadn’t run into anyone she knew since she came back. A familiar face was very welcome.
“Labake, you are looking good. I never thought in my entire life that you could ever look like this.”
“Why did you say so?” she asked with a surprised look on her face.
“It is not that you were not fine then but you were behaving like a local girl; allowing those useless guys come near you. The worse was that guy in the other establishment who made it a point of duty to tell everyone he was dating you. Ah, it pained me. The same guy who used to stay behind after work to “do” cleaners and office assistants was the guy you dated. Ah, you fall hand.”
“I was naïve then but I am much better now. I know my worth and have placed a high value on myself.”
“That is good oh. But, I am not seeing a ring on your finger oh. No husband yet?”
“I don’t need a husband, my dear. I have got all I need.”
“Every woman needs a husband oh. Forget, all those ladies that claim they do not need a husband are lying. You need a husband to complete you as a woman.”
“What makes me incomplete as a woman? What is the difference between us?”
‘At least with a husband, you will have children.”
“I have a child. I am in a relationship which we do not desire to turn into marriage. I am happy being free.”
“You have a child? When? Who is the father?”
‘You don’t know him. I am 50. What do I need additional children and a husband for? My dear, I am very happy.”
“That is good then. You have it all figured out.”
“Yes, I do. It was nice seeing you.”
Labake was pissed. Why do Nigerians want to get into other people’s personal space? Labake never asked her if she was married or had children so why did she think she could interrogate her like that? Well, she was better than her aunts who at the burial warned her not to come back with an oyinbo husband. Why did they feel the need to insist she gets married?
“I will take you to my pastor for prayers. You will see a better Yoruba man to marry. You will even have twins. One woman had a set of twins at 58. It is not too late for you.” One of her aunts said to her. Did they ever consider that at 58 by the time her kids are in university, she would be close to 80? She just smiled like her mother told her to do and moved on.
Her brother refused to attend the burial. His relationship with their father was never mended. He travelled to an Asian country in search of greener pastures. He fell in love with an Asian lady and they remained there.
He worked for his father-in-law’s company. He was doing very well. He said he was not interested in anything his father had and asked that whatever share is bequeathed to him should be given to his sister.
Labake wanted to relocate back to Nigeria. She had been searching for a job. Her mother was now old. Her father’s death hit her mother hard. She had come to see him after he had requested for her to come so many times. She insisted he buys her business class ticket if he wanted her to come. He bought it. When she saw him, she did not recognize the man on the bed. He was a shadow of himself. He was so frail and looked years older. What could have happened to him? He had been ill for a long time.
“Iyawo mi, I asked you to come so I can ask your forgiveness for all that I did to you. You are the person I offended the most. I never wanted you to leave. I loved you so much but you refused to stay with me. You abandoned your children and left. My pride wouldn’t let me come after you. My family encouraged me to move on; they said you were too stubborn and full of yourself. I should have fought for my family but I didn’t. Before I meet my maker, I wanted to ask your forgiveness.”
Iya Labake that is usually a strong woman broke down in tears. She replied to him, “See how you wasted your body. See how you have ended up. No woman and child here with you. What happened to the last lady you were with? Why isn’t she here? I told you to leave women and concentrate on building your family; you insisted on spending your hard earned money chasing women. Where are they now to take care of you? I can only stay in Nigeria for three months. Labake needs me.”
Labake could hear the sorrow in her mother’s voice when she told her about it. She said she was staying back to care for him. This was the least she could do. She heard from the doctor he didn’t have much time left. She stayed with him for those months. His family members thanked her wholeheartedly. He died three weeks after she returned to Labake. She mourned him. She came back to Nigeria with Labake for the burial to pay her last respect.
Remi walked into an eatery with his cousins. They made their order. They sat down to eat and chat. He noticed a woman staring at him hard. The woman couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was uncomfortable at her stare. He asked his cousins to eat up, he wanted to leave. When they left the eatery, she followed them and beckoned on them.
“Good afternoon. I am so sorry I stared at you in this way. You look like my cousin. The resemblance is striking. My name is Funmi. Please, what’s yours?”
“I am Remi.”
“Please, what is your surname?”
“Why do you ask?”
“You look so much like my cousin. I wish you could see him so you would understand. This is my number. Can I have yours?” handing him a complimentary card.
“I will call you.”
Remi didn’t know what she was talking about and in all honesty, he didn’t care. He went home excitedly. He shared his experience for the day with his mother. He remembered the woman.
“Oh, a woman met me today. She said I look like her cousin. She stared at me for a long time; it was uncomfortable. She gave me her card to call her for us to get acquainted.”
“Maybe she had a crush on you. Did she tell you her cousin’s name?”
“I think she said his name was Dayo.” His mother froze where she was. She couldn’t move. She quickly recovered.
“She is funny. Just ignore her.”
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