~As it was told to me~
by, Jun 26, 2012 at 05:37 AM (1119 Views)
Shade's wedding was in less than thirteen weeks, and it seemed like everyone wanted to come in to see if they still needed anything. Titi felt blessed to be surrounded by all of the people, but she was beginning to get overwhelmed. Another guest again? I thank God nonetheless. "Shade!", she called out from the living room.
"Please see who is at the door".
"Mama, you have to see this", Shade whispered when she saw who it was through the stained glass.
"Get the door, what do you need me to see", the few steps to the door were too much a burden than she cared to bear.
"Mama, please come and see who it is. I don't think you'll want me to get this".
Titi reluctantly walked to the door, shoving Shade aside when she got there. Not in my house this fine Sunday afternoon. I rebuke you! She stared at her daughter as if that would make the guest go away, but they heard the rap again. "Sisi Ajoke, to what do I owe this visit?", she stepped back to let her in.
"It has been a while mama Shade. I will ask how you have been, but I can see that you have been doing very well", Ajoke looked around the room.
"God has been faithful. This is an unexpected visit. I hope there is no problem".
"There is no problem. I learned that you live here", she took another look around the elegant room, "so I decided to pay you a visit seeing how you have stayed away from the family", she lowered herself onto Titi's plush chair, relishing every second as the cushion gently molded her buttocks into it. Ha! She is living the life. How did she do it?
"Shade, you have grown into a fine woman. You and your mother have stayed away from the family for too long", Ajoke thought it might be easier to get Shade to warm up to her first.
"You think so? I see my family all the time", Shade stressed the 'my' to be sure that the message was not lost on Ajoke. She couldn't be bothered with pretense. "Mama, I'll be in my room".
"Wait. Please get Sisi Ajoke some water". We will talk about your rudeness later.
"It's not cold", without as much as a glance in her mother's direction, she continued to walk back into her room from where she caroled their victory.
Titi was shocked. She understood her daughter's sentiment, but Shade had never spoken to her in a rude tone. She would have spanked her if she did not feel as much anger as her daughter felt. But we are better than them, so I will deal with you later, she thought.
The message veiled in Shade's song was not lost on Ajoke. The realization that Titi had succeeded despite what she went through... what they put her through was in part why she was there to warm her way back into their lives.
"I should be on my way. I was in the area and decided to stop by", Ajoke lied. Nothing about the way they related with each other indicated that at some point over the course of their lives, the two were inseparable.
After Ajoke left, Titi scolded Shade for acting rudely to anyone in her presence. "I taught you better than that, and I will not have you ridicule me ever again", she warned before she fetched her holy water. The ferociousness with which she sprinkled was no match for the intensity with which she beseeched every saint and angel she could think of to cast and bind any evil force in her home on her behalf.
Barely two weeks after Ajoke's visit, Shade received her invitation cards at her office. She went through each card, crosschecking names with the 'master' list. The card designer crossed and uncrossed his legs on her guest chair, waiting to get the balance of his money, but Shade meticulously went through each card, striking through a corresponding name on the guest list card after card.
"What?", she looked to the designer and back to the cards.
Don't betray your status o. Pay my money. "What is it madam?".
"The name on this card is not on the guest list. Where did you get this name... what?" she yelled when she noticed the name on another card. "What is going on here? Where did you get these names from?"
"Madam, I used the names on the guest list that you gave us", he reached inside his messenger bag from where he withdrew a stack of papers. "Madam Titi... madam Titi...", he buzzed on as he leafed through. "Which names are not on the list?", he asked as he pulled a sheet to the top of the stack.
Shade gave him the two names she had noticed so far, and he looked at his list, running through each name with his finger.
"Here and... here. We used all the names you gave us madam", this better not be wayo.
At the very bottom of the master list of names in Shade's handwriting were the two names that puzzled her and two more names in a different handwriting.
Shade paid the balance and hurried to her car, leaving the card designer behind. Her blood was boiling by the time she pulled her car into park.
"Mama, what is this", Shade asked Titi in rage. She and Titi had sat together and came up with a mutually acceptable guest list.
"Have you lost your mind? What has this wedding preparation turned you into that you now talk before you think?"
"I am sorry mama. Good day mama", she curtsied as she rubbed her upper arm where her mother had hit. She walked around the table and sat far across from her reach.
Shade had not set out to leave Kolade off of the list. In fact, she had not thought about him at all while she was putting the list together because his was a name that rarely crossed her mind. But even if she had thought about him, she wouldn't have wanted him present on her special day. Neither Ajoke nor any of the other two was a guest she had anticipated at her wedding.
"What's the crime in inviting your father and his family to your wedding? Do you want people to give me a bad name? I am a Christian woman, and I will not let bitterness cloud my vision or hinder me from my blessings"
"Mama", Shade remembered that she had to watch her tone; she pushed her chair back and got on her knees. "I don't think you should start to care about what people will say or not say about you now. It will really hurt me if you allow a group of people that chose to hate me for no fault of my own to sit in on the most important day of my life, when I should be with the people who truly love me."
Titi had never spoken ill about Kolade to Shade's hearing. She did not want to live with the guilt that she it was that turned her daughter against her father. But she did not have to. Shade was already eight when things finally hit rock bottom, so she did not need anyone to remind her.
As much as Titi relished the sweet taste of victory, she often wondered if she would have achieved all she did had Kolade not dealt her the hands he did. "When my God was trying to get me out of a satanic situation, I kept begging him to keep me there by fire by thunder", she would often say.
When Kolade did all he could to frustrate her out of her matrimonial home, Titi knew that tough times awaited her if he stopped the little he was doing for her and her young daughter. She knew that she will be called all sorts of names, worse than she was already being called, if she became a single mother. She dreaded the impending social stigma more than she did the inevitable financial hardship; she knew that her resilience would see her and her daughter through the hardship somehow.
Titi, with the encouragement of her well-meaning pastor, convinced herself that she could pray her marriage, a marriage that was hanging by a shredded piece, to bliss. Her pastor encouraged her to stay and continue to pray for her husband to find love in her again, and she began. When the day broke, Titi was praying; when dusk came she was still praying; when the night fell, Titi was on her knees praying. She prayed and fasted for her marriage to be whole again but it seemed like the more she prayed, the harder Kolade hit her and called her names. Yet, she continued to pray.
"You should pray to God to open up your womb so that a real child will come out of it", he would ridicule whenever he stayed at home long enough to notice that she was either fasting or praying."You should add more meat on your body to support a pregnancy, not fast. Foolish woman", he often mocked.
His mother, a praying woman herself, offered to take Titi to a medicine man that allegedly had the cure for barrenness, as they had categorized Titi's condition. As far as Kolade's mother was concerned, the female child she finally bore after years of marriage was an accident of nature. She needed to visit her medicine man to cure her.
Unlike her husband who went on to a university where he studied medicine, Titi was a high school certificate holder. But she was sure there was no way she could be barren if she had a daughter. In a desperate bid to keep her home, Titi humored her mother-in-law and embarked on the journey. As her mother-in-law soon found out, the medicine man she swore by did not have the key to fertility after all; however, it seemed like her mother-in-law always heard word of one medicine man even more potent than the last.
Titi reached out to her best friend through whom she met Kolade, Ajoke, to intercede on her behalf. To her dismay, Ajoke told her that her brother, as the only son, needed an heir. She implored Titi to understand where their mother was coming from and do her best to bear him an heir.
Titi had finally had it when a concoction almost cost her her life. She told her mother-in-law that there was no more visit to a medicine man for her. Had she known that that camel already had the last straw it could hold on its back, maybe she would have visited the next even more potent medicine man her mother-in-law would have found and prayed to God for an antidote to the next concoction.
"They told me! I was just too blind to see. They told me that you've donated all of your eggs to sorcery, but I insisted that it couldn't be true". She removed her head wrap and tied it around her waist. "You want to sit here and kill my son, is that it? How many years has it been? Twelve years", she answered her own question. "I kept a record for you. What have you got to show for the long years? Nothing! All you do is eat, sleep and saunter about the house. Where does all the food end up? No one knows! Your idle stay in this house expires today", she stamped her right foot so hard it made Titi jump, "not tomorrow".
"Mama, I am sorry if I offended you. But all of the concoctions have a negative reaction on my system. Let us continue to pray".
"Is anyone else hearing the foolish words coming out of her mouth?", she turned around almost as if she was not sure it was just the three of them in the room. "What an imbecile!" She placed her interlaced fingers over her head and continued. "Where did my son find this imbecile? Where did I go wrong that my enemies have insisted that this has to be my lot? I call on all the saints in heaven to come and fight this battle for me o..."
"Mama, please be patient with me", she got on her knees and pleaded. "I know that God will answer our prayers very soon", she looked to her husband, but he sat there as if he was in total oblivion as to what was going on. She stretched out her hand to touch him but he jerked.
"Get your hands off me before I send you to an early grave", he warned. "Our prayers? You think I have been wasting my mind praying with you?"
"Yes! Yes!", her mother-in-law leaped in joy with every angry word her son shot at Titi. "I thank you Jesus for finally delivering my son from the clench of the enemies. I thank you, I thank you, I thank you o...", she continued as if in a trance.
"Kolade... My husband... This is not one of the promises you made to me. This is not..."
"Leave my son alone, witch", her mother-in-law yelled, clapping her hands for added effect. "Did you promise to sacrifice your eggs? Shade! Where is that bastard?"
"Ha! Mama... Kolade..."
"Shade. Is the bastard deaf?", she ran through the curtains to look for Shade.
Titi knelt there and continued to weep, hoping to appease her husband. She saw Shade dragged by her right ear and began to wail louder. Her mother-in-law was not moved. She shoved Shade at Titi and sat next to her son.
"You have ten minutes to pack your things and get out of this house. Today is the day that this house will be freed of barrenness", she shook her legs vigorously.
Titi held on to Shade who continued to cry through it all. "Look at your daughter, your only living child. Do you want her to go and live on the street when she has a living father? Look at her and say to her face that she is a bastard". The ordeal she went through before she got pregnant with Shade flashed before her eyes.
When Kolade found out that Titi was pregnant after almost four years of marriage, he and his mother were sure that Titi would birth a male child, and they both decided that he would be named Ademide: my honor is here. Kolade rewarded Titi with everything money could buy all through her pregnancy, and his mother dotted on her through it all. The day she went into labor, Kolade and his mother paced the hospital lobby, praying for nothing to go wrong with the baby boy.
"Congratulations Dr. Kilanko. Your wife just delivered a bouncing baby girl", the obstetrician was delighted for them that the baby came out alive and healthy. "Congratulations mama".
Kolade dropped into his chair and buried his head in his hands. What else could have gone wrong?
"You may go in to see her now", he lowered his outstretched arm and smiled at Kolade instead. In his years of practice, he'd witnessed all sorts of display of joy from new fathers, so the obstetrician did not raise a brow at Kolade's reaction.
"Wonders shall never cease. Every wife honors her husband with a healthy baby boy that will keep his lineage alive but yours insists she must be honored with your riches instead", she sat next to her son. "May God prosper Ireti", she made a hissing sound that caused the nurses nearby to ask if she was okay.
To spite Titi, Kolade and his mother decided that the new baby was to be called Folashade to reinforce their allegation that Titi chose wealth as her honor. They were not discreet about why they chose the name.
"You have seven minutes. You had better start packing your load", her mother-in-law's warning jolted her to her present reality. "Kolade, tell this witch that you have three children".
"Ha! Kolade tell me that it isn't true. After everything I went through with you from when you had nothing to when things began to take a turn for the better. Kolade, you have two children outside and...?"
"Oh... Are you retarded? Even if you are barren, have you gone deaf too? He has two boys and one girl. Your bastard is not included. Pack your load and go... Return the bastard back to its owner".
Kolade sat with no obvious sign of remorse and unmoved by Shade's tears.
When Titi's mother-in-law decided that ten minutes was up, she dragged both Titi and Shade out of the house with nothing but the clothes they had on, and Kolade still sat there flipping through the pages of The Nigerian Daily Times.
It was after Titi had been sent packing that she got winds that her husband's first son was born the same year she got married to him. Certain that he could not have known that it will take her four years to carry a pregnancy to term when he was sowing his seed in another woman, she came to terms with the knowledge that even if she had had several boys and girls for Kolade, he would have found another reason to leave her. She decided that he couldn't be the man she was supposed to marry, and counted her losses. In faith, she changed her daughter's full name to Oluwafiolashademi: the Lord honored me with prosperity. She resolved to do everything within her power to see that prosperity did not elude her and her daughter in any facet of life.
When Titi found out that Kolade's wife was none other than Ajoke's friend with whom she had gone to the university, she couldn't have been any more hurt. She continually wondered if her parents' inability to afford her a university education, in spite of her outstanding result in the higher school certificate examination, played any role in the demise of her marriage to Kolade and friendship with Ajoke.
That Sunday afternoon when Ajoke braced the sweltering sun and showed up at her house almost twenty years later only to leave barely ten minutes after, Titi hoped she had not come to wish ill on her. After she had had a chance to ruminate over it and had discussed it with her confidants, she concluded that she had been vindicated. A part of her wanted to keep Ajoke and the rest of their family at arm's length, but the other part of her wanted them close just enough to see where God has brought her and her daughter.
The night before she was to drop the guest list off at the designer's, Titi took out her pen and added four more names to the master list. She never forgot how Kolade despised being addressed by any prefix other than 'Dr.'; she added 'Mr. Kolade Kilanko', 'Mrs. Ajoke Onile' and 'Mama Kilanko' to the list. As much as she would have anyone who cares to listen believe that she has gotten over the betrayal and never begrudged Ireti, she could not resist the urge to add 'Mrs. Ireti Kilanko' on a separate line. After all, she was still legally Mrs. Titi Kilanko, years after she began to go by her maiden name again; she rationalized her actions with the ambiguity of Mr. & Mrs. Kilanko even though she knew that Ireti, a fellow woman, will see through her. If only I can get to see their faces when they open the cards, she thought when she folded the list away that night. Victory tastes sweeter than I ever thought it would. Oluwafiolashademi in spite of all you put me through.