My mother once asked me, when your love goes through the fire, do you think Dayo would stand in it with you like the three Hebrew brothers? My mother, a fervent christian would always chip in this kind of examples in every of her discussions, she had these biblical examples laying in wait on the tip of her lips. I grew up really disliking her Christianity, I believed then & I still believe it is why my father left her after the death of three babies, he wasn’t cut out for the fanaticism my mother started showing after the demise of their babies after a few weeks they were born. My mother believed my father left because his family thought she was a witch that kept on killing the babies before they reached the three months old mark, but my father had told me on my sixteenth birthday when he called that my mother drove him crazy with her church fanaticism, she was barely at home, she stopped taking care of herself, she left her business to rot & it started taking a toll on him, he tried to be her anchor for years but she was sinking him also, he woke up one day & left her. My father didn’t marry another woman after my mother, I was his only child, he had assured my mother through her tears of the babies death that I was enough, that I was a gift of God to them and they should stop trying for a while, she never listened. He didn’t marry another woman because he didn’t want to shift his focus from me.
The divorce sent my mother deeper into the floors of the church, she was there four times a week, leaving her supermarket in the hands of storekeepers who stole from her regularly, on the days I was not in school, I had to follow her down to the church. A lot of things were poured on my head from when I could remember, olive oil, water, candle wax, even money was sprayed like a confetti during a particular prayer session, so I could have. Orí owó “head of money”. It was a circus, an unending one. My mother was clowned for years and I had to look on.
Marrying Dayo was an easy decision for me eventually, he wasn’t the kind of man I grew up fantasizing spending my life with but I met him and knew he was the man I needed in my life. He had a lanky frame with big eye balls, he spoke very slowly & has an endearing smile, he was perfect in character, he never raised his voice at me for once, he had a lot of similar attributes with my father, it was no wonder when they met that they became friends immediately, after we got married, I noticed my father will call him five times before putting a call through to me, I wasn’t jealous because it really made Dayo happy to have a father figure in his life, he never met his own dad. My mother also liked Dayo very much, he never went to her church but he indulged every of her church discussions, Dayo had also attended a similar church growing up so he knew their ways and doctrines.
Our wedding was a beautiful one, I saw my father & mother come together again to do something as a couple, they barely spoke to each other after the divorce but they were at my wedding, wearing same outfit, flashing smiles at everyone, talking to each other, I prayed for a moment that the wedding will be the turning point for both of them, but it didn’t happen so, my father was back in his house that night.
In my first year in the university, I had joined the campus branch of my mother’s church in the first semester, she ensured that I went there, I was there out of compulsion, even though they had a nice choir and a vibrant youth pastor that was very different from my mother’s pastor, I still didn’t want to be there, I had lost my love for the church since my sixteenth birthday, I was always only there because I stayed with my mother and I couldn’t stick it up to her that I wasn’t going with her to the church anymore. I left the campus branch of the church after first semester of my first year and spent my Sundays in either the library or in my room watching movies, I never stepped my foot in another church except I was at home with my mother.
When I met Dayo, I was already working as a teaching assistant in the university, I was top of my class and it earned me a spot in the department, Dayo was the HOD’s son and he always came around once in a while, we got talking and a talk after the other, we were married. His mother was glad, he was getting too old she always said.
Dayo was really just a happy guy all round, he was indifferent about church and most of the time, we were either under the sheets on Sundays watching a movie or out with friends, we never really took church seriously except for special occasions, we were a happy couple, goals for many. I loved Dayo and he loved me back in unimaginable ways.
By the third year of our marriage, I had two babies dead, one was a still born while the other died as a two month old, it broke me, I wept for weeks but Dayo never allowed me stay alone, he was always there holding me through it all, he pulled me out of my state and life went on as normal, we kept on the happiness, I saw what the death of babies did to my mother and I promised myself it won’t be me, I will live my life to the fullest.
When I discovered I was pregnant the third time, I started getting scared, worried even, though I said I wasn’t going to be like my mother, she was the only one I could call, maybe she could have a biblical example to give me to calm me down and give a little hope at that point, of course she had more than a biblical advice. She begged me to follow her to the church for prayers, I wasn’t sure why exactly I followed her, maybe because the doctors didn’t give me good reasons why my babies were dying or probably because I just needed a thing to clasp my hope on, I did follow her to the church, I started attending prayers every Thursday, the pastor assured me that the spirits were in full control, I drank olive oil every morning and night, rubbed it on my belly every six hours, I prayed through the night most times & Dayo joined in a lot, I became my mother.
It was a bouncing baby boy, we named him Olúborí and he had quite big eyeballs, a son of his father, we usually joked that he had seen all of us with those eyes from when he was in the belly, he always smiled and rarely cried, he only usually cried during bath time, I didn’t allow anyone carry him except from myself, my mother and Dayo, I was very protective of my baby, I applied the olive oil on his head every morning and evening like the pastor instructed, I was counting the day and hoping my happiness isn’t stolen from me. I fasted every Wednesday, I didn’t want this one to die.
We celebrated his third month like he was a year old, we had a lot to eat and drink, I was happy, I thanked my mother for taking me to her church even though I rebelled and said terrible words about the church in the past, she smiled at me and told me a story of Saul crucifying the church even though he will eventually become Paul and become a patriarch of faith, she further admonished me to be regular in the church and even join the workforce, I did. I was no longer Tola but like Saul my name was changed to Sister Tola.
There was peace and happiness all around till the fifth month, Borí started becoming lean, his big eyes were sucked in behind his lids, his skin was pale, it wasn’t strange to me, I saw it happen to my last child before my very eyes. We took him to the hospital, then I started going to the church about five times a week, I was lean and pale also, I didn’t want to lose another child, I was contempt with just this one, I prayed and played scenarios in my head should my baby die, I was going crazy, i barely took care of myself, missed a lot of lectures and staff meeting, I was always in church or on the phone with the pastor.
It was in church Borí died, right in my arms while I dozed off during a personal prayer session, I didn’t cry, I dropped the baby on the altar and prayed for him to come back alive, I knew one thing that it was either we left the altar both alive or we both died there.
Death didn’t scare me.