When Kemisola heard the story of how her dad had looked for Mathew with the Police but couldn’t find him, she pitied herself, and just then Saheed’s face flashed in her mind, Saheed wouldn’t have done that to her, ever.
She met Mathew two years after the NYSC Service Year while she taught junior class English at a private secondary school in Lagos and Mathew was a banker at the Access Bank directly facing the school. Ever since the school had introduced the idea of paying their salaries into Access Bank accounts which all of them were mandated to open, the monthly stress of queuing at ATM Centres had beleaguered her. And then came this unforgettable day when a good-looking young man in suit and tie called her out from the queue, well dressed and quite handsome with a clean shaven head that made him look like a corporate millionaire. His pair of shoes was Italian and shiny, he had a fairly muscular stature and his smile was charming and childlike.
“Do you want to withdraw?” he had asked Kemisola and Kemisola had been like, look at this one, I’m on a queue for ATM use and he’s still asking me if I want to withdraw, I want to poo ni.
She nodded nonetheless, and the guy had gestured for her to follow him, and then he led her into the bank and circled around the counter to get it done for her. That was when Kemisola realized this engaging young man worked at that Bank. They exchanged phone numbers afterwards and he called Kemisola later that day and discussed the default monkeyshines.
He sounded so nice, mature and fluent. Kemisola did not say no. For the first time since school, she was finally going to have a serious relationship again. Of course she had had registered admirers at her place of work, these teachers whose salaries she was not willing to settle down with. There was Mr. Moshood Adebayo, the thin bald Biology teacher with ridiculous grammar and offensive superiority complex, she despised everything about him. There was the Chemistry teacher, Mr. Samuel Itodo who was always frowning over his phone; that one could eat beans at a cemetery. She learnt Itodo even took selfies with a mad man he was said to have found on the road; the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard! There was Mr. Michael Jayeola too, a Deeper Life guy who was personally not deep in his life at all. Kemisola had heard students discussed how Mr. Jayeola had wooed almost every female student in SS3. Deeper Life indeed! And there was Prince Ademola Ajayi. That one was a total no—no! He slept with Iya Onifade the school caterer and everybody knew. How dirty that Iya Onifade was! How could any young man sleep with her! Iyanma!
Mathew was different from this set of clowns. He was a better man. He was handsome and judging by his salary scale, qualified to be her husband. He was a Christian, most importantly.
Kemisola and Mathew began their relationship with promises and ambitions of gleeful marital life, and the coition was germane too. Mathew spoilt her too quickly with it; she liked that one where he pressed her to the wall and dug into her back and forth like some sensational rollercoaster. And he found a self-contained apartment for her close to the school and made her tell her mother that the distance to the school was too much and she had to move closer. Her mum agreed without a hint of the original reason and she had moved closer to Mathew’s stone throw.
Mathew slept there almost every night. They loved each other beyond words, or so it seemed until suddenly, the menstruation was missed and a test in effect came out positive. Kemisola ran home in excitement to tell Mathew but to her disappointment, Mathew expressed unreadiness for conjugal commitment and advised her to abort it. She avoided it for like five months later and it became too obvious to hide. She began to avoid her mother.
Mathew came with a nurse who was to assure her it would be fast and easy but Kemisola insisted that they go to her mother to tell her she was going to have a grandchild and not abort.
“Are you not even ashamed?” Mathew had blurted out then. “You want to wed in a swollen belly? They don’t do that at my church o. It’s automatic dismissal from the fellowship.”
“The wedding isn’t important to me, my marriage is.”
“What kind of human being are you anyway? Wedding is not important to you? You do know I’m a Witness right? So, is my dismissal of no importance to you as well? I told our brothers about it sef, they didn’t agree to it.”
“Your brothers? So, your brothers will decide who you’ll marry for you?”
“All I’m saying is, I’m not ready for this. I can’t do it like this. I don’t know how they do it in your church but you can see our tenets are vividly dissimilar now. By the way, I never said I’m dating you because of marriage. I already have a fiancée at our Fellowship, we go to the same Kingdom Hall. So… “
“Mathew, is this you or someone else? You’re not dating me because of marriage? You courted me, told me you love me and said we’re going to make a fine couple but now, you’re not dating me because of marriage? After you ruined my life and gave me this,” referring to the pregnancy, “you’re not dating me for marriage? Mogbé mokú modáràn ooo. So, it’s high time you knew that you have someone else you want to marry after you ruined my life? Ah, I should’ve known oooooo.” She cried bitterly.
The nurse was clueless as to how to contribute; she just folded her fat arms across her fat chest and heaved sporadically in puckered lips. It became a big issue in short time, but at the end, at Kemisola’s own volition, she went to a local clinic and paid for the abortion.
It went wrong. She wouldn’t stop bleeding. Her father was not in the state but they got him around. Innocent mother rolled on the floor for like eternity when she saw what was left of her daughter, lean, pale and too weak to speak. Her father came with a doctor of his own and after the doctor lambasted the clinic, they took Kemisola to a proper hospital where she was narrowly withdrawn from death’s grip.
Mr. Adegunle who was Kemisola’s father went to the Access Bank opposite the school where Kemisola worked to apprehend Mathew, but they were told he was only a contract staff and he had gone. They went to the address Kemisola gave them but the people they met said the man had left since three weeks before their coming, his apartment was empty. They tried his phone number, it was not reachable. He had run off.
That was three months ago.
Kemisola’s mind roamed over this misfortune of hers and she sobbed quietly. Few weeks ago, she could not even stand up on her feet, how evil men are! He never said that premarital pregnancy leads to dis-fellowship in his church when he was pounding on her, but he suddenly remembered that he was a Jehovah’s Witness after he got her pregnant.
She stood from the bed slowly and groped through the dimly lit room to her bathroom. Her dad had had her things packed back to the house from where she had procured for her romantic escapades. She opened the bathroom door, entered and stood before the mirror. The illumination was poor in there too, and as she looked at what she could see of a face that was once acclaimed beautiful, she tried to remember why she had come into the bathroom but she couldn’t remember, so she just returned back into her room to meet her mother opening the door and flicking the bulb switch on the wall.
“Wón ti múná dé naw. Why are you locking yourself inside this darkness?”
She didn’t respond. She only climbed into her bed carefully and lay on her left gently.
“Shola told me you’ve not eaten since morning. You’ve been in here all day. What’s wrong with you?”
“Mummy, leave me alone, I’m okay. Hmm!” she jerked protestingly and closed her eyes.
“See, if you kill yourself ehn, you’re not the only child I have o, I won’t cry much. You keep yourself locked in here all day and cry like sùègbè. What’s that to bring you? With all the boys in our church who are responsible and ready for marriage, did you find any of them good enough for you? It was some Witness boy you were following around, those idiots that will be knocking people’s doors here and there, poking into people’s lives. Abi? All those young men in the choir, all those young teachers at your school, it was people who say there’s no hell you were following around. So, why are you now doing like dìdìrìn? Pèlé o, ìyàwó Jehovah’s Witness. Kí’wo náà yáa tètè loo ra báági tìe kóo máa kànlèkùn onílèkùn káàkiri, sóogbó? Tóbá jépé oti para e dànù ni, oò bámò. Kìí kúkú sèwo nìkan ni mobí, Màmá Witness.”
Kemisola burst into tears. Her mum was not nice at all.
Two years ago, she rejected Saheed because of his religion, but Mathew was a Christian, yet did not give her what she craved. And a voice was loud in her then, she was thinking, will people ever be humans and stop building segregative walls between themselves? Well, she should ask Google, shouldn’t she?
In the past, we were all Africans, united by culture and colour. But now, Catholic Africans are different from Pentecostal Africans; Redeemers, Winners, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Celestials, Christ Embassy, Cherubim and Seraphim, Synagogue, Christ Apostolic Church, Mountain of Fire, Four Square, Tijaniyya, Qaudiriyya, Ahmadiyya, Ibrahimiyya, Sufi, Aluhs Sunna, Tebliq, etcetera, those are the walls we’ve built and we only tolerate one another rather than love. If you think we’re all united and in love, you’ve definitely not seen what’s done to the Application Letter of a Catholic graduate who wants to teach at a Winners School. You’ve not heard what the Aluhs Sunnas think of Sufis, have you? And again, for the umpteenth time, religious fellowship dictates who you love and who you don’t, who you trust and who you don’t, who you marry and who you don’t, even though we sing the same national anthem. Mathew was not an asshole because he was a Jehovah’s Witness though, he was an asshole because he was an asshole, but this is not the end.
…to be continued!
-Lord eBay (and his random ruminations, 2017)