There is an adage in my mother’s tongue that says, À ń pe gbẹ́nàgbẹ́nà ẹyẹ àkókó ń yọjú meaning, never think too highly of yourself. This account I am about to share does not require you knowing my name, but I will introduce myself because I don’t think too highly of me.
My name is Owolabi Christianah — a name you will forget as soon as you drop this journal. I don’t have the power to wipe off memory, but I have been told several times by my close associates that my name doesn’t stick. Coupled with the fact that my story will make you focus on the event rather than me, I won’t take offence at you forgetting my name.
Christmas reminds me of freedom — liberty from the shackles that held me down a long time ago. At this period, the excitement of filling one’s belly with rice and chicken can be palpable. The frequent white faces people wear at this time, reminds one that harmattan has arrived, and only the best moisturizing cream and shea butter can do a better job in keeping the skin moisturizer at this time of the year.
Growing up as the only child of Mr and Mrs Owolabi was not an easy feat — the constant pruning to be good — would have made any girl of my age puke. Not that I am a bad girl, but I just want that space to be mischievous — drink, dance and have sex which every girl of my age, twenty-three, enjoyed.
Girls in my clique, the adorable glam girls, said it was bliss especially when they climaxed, so this Christmas period, even if hell lets loose, I will gift myself that thing I’ve always wanted — a new name.
My clique called me ọmọ mummy meaning mummy’s child. I don’t blame them. I was the one who allowed myself to be kept under lock and key. If I were born as a son, won’t I have packed my belongings and left the house a long time ago to my place — no restrictions, curfew, call to attend morning devotions and sermon that make one feel like the worst sinner ever?!
I placed the durex condom in my bag, and grinned at my reflection in the mirror as images of having a good time with Deola, naked, filled my mind. Yes, my parents won’t ruin this for me. I smoothened the edges of my face, brushing away the brown powder that seemed to have stained the edge of my ebony-black hair. I picked my bucket bag, and gave a last look at the mirror. My lips glistened red. Deola won’t know what hit him!
I stepped into the sitting room, took a deep breath as I sighted mother sitting on the oak coloured sofa, searching through her bag. The fragrance of Marami air freshener filled my nostrils. Aljazeera was playing on the 65-inch plasma TV. I rubbed my lips against each other, spreading the lip gloss further.
“Where are you going? Today is Christmas. Visitors will soon arrive,” she said without lifting her eyes from her bag.
I eyed her. “Mother, I am sorry. I have a meeting with the music director, and I am late,” I replied, checking my Armani watch.
“You have to help Fumito in the kitchen. The workload is too much for her,” she continued.
“Mother, I will be back on time, I promise,” I countered, rushing out of the door without waiting for her response.
If I will ever be free from my friends’ taunts, then I have to do this. The car skidded unto the highway. Lagos was bustling than ever. I was thinking because of the holiday, most people would be in their homes chit-chatting with their families, but that was not the case as every household was on the road. Most mothers wore dark-lens glasses; their babies, in colourful clothes, sat on their laps. Older children with ridiculous-looking wristwatches on their wrists sat at the backseat of their parents car, heads plastered on the sidescreen, observing the hustling and bustling of the city.
Deola and I had planned to meet at Choppers cook hotel and suites by 16:00. My watch said 15:30. I hissed, banging the siren. The noise won’t make the car in front move out of the way, but I needed to let out my frustration. It was still an hour drive to the hotel. The first time we met, I noticed Deola was not the type of guy that waited for ladies.
I was lost in the thought of trying to figure out a way to beat the traffic when a tattered man knocked on my sidescreen. I eyed him, thumping my fingers to the beat of Peru sang by Edsheeran ft Fireboy blasting from the stereo.
He knocked again, this time, signalling me to unwind the glass. The look he gave me indicated he wouldn’t leave until I gave him what he wanted which I knew can’t be more than money. I rolled the glass down, picked a few hundred naira notes from the dashboard, and stretched it out to him.
“Take and leave me alone,” I said.
He shook his head, “No, daughter. Don’t meet Deola. You can’t truncate your destiny this way.”
My eyes popped out of its sockets. No one knew I was meeting Deola except Chidera, the one who advised me to break out of my parents shackles. She was the one who introduced me to Deola at a creatives’ hangout we attended few weeks ago.
“Excuse me, what did you just say?” I queried.
“You are worth more than this. Your purity is precious to Jesus; so are you. Never sell yourself cheap,” he said, hastening away.
“Old man, come back!” I shouted, fidgeting with the door which refused to budge. I shoved my head out of the car, but he had disappeared.
A blast of siren filled the air. The car at my front had moved. I was the one causing a traffic jam. I pulled the gear, all the while looking at the side mirror for even a speck of tattered clothes. I drove into the parking lot of a nearby, pondering on what the mysterious man had said.
In an instant, my mother’s voice rushed at me, …set an example for believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in PURITY. Yes, I know I have not been a good example to others in these areas, but I needed to prove to my friends that I can live my own life without my parents controlling me.
When you know what God is saying concerning you, then what people are saying doesn’t matter, the words of the Bible-study coordinator during a retreat I attended few months ago rang in my ears. At this point, tears dropped from my eyes. I don’t know what God thinks about me, but the tattared man told me this evening. My parents never held me in chains. I was only blind to see how precious I was to them. They were only trying to train me in the way of the lord.
I wiped my lips with a tissue, smearing my face with the red lip gloss. I was a disgrace to my family and God. How could I have been so foolish that I thought I’d been chained by my own parents. I banged my head against the steering wheel several times. My brain can burst for all I care.
And for this reason, Christ came to save sinners. Jesus was born to save you. Only ask him to cleanse you, a voice whispered within me.
“Father, forgive me,” I cried.
I sat there for hours, pleading for mercy. The sun had gone down by the time I drove unto the road in the direction of home. It’s about time I asked mother to pray with me. Still contemplating on how to approach mother concerning my encounter and apologize for my insurbordination, my phone rang.
“Christy, have you gotten to the hotel,” Chidera’s sonorous voice sang on the other end.
“Thank God!” She interrupted. “Deola was arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency. I didn’t know the stupid maga dey do drugs.”
I dropped the phone without ending the call. Chidera continued explaining how she met Deola and how he didn’t pass as a druggie. This time, the tears returned in torrents. How Christ saves! If I were in the hotel by the time the agents came in, I would have been arrested too.
“Father, thank you,” I muttered.
This Christmas was definitely by Jesus and me.