You know, every now and then, I like to take a verbal snapshot of myself at a particular point in time. I’ve done this ever since I was eleven. My many diaries litter my room (my room in my mother’s house, I mean) back home in Nigeria –just stacks and stacks of books scattered here and there.
Let me point out that my mother and father do not live together in the same house. We all just live on the same plot of land. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds. It’s quite simple – the main house is my father’s official residence and all his kids (including the officially acknowledged out-of-wedlock-ers) live there. When we were younger, we’d have some new kid pop up in the house out of the blue, maybe like every other month, and be introduced as “your new brother, Wale.” Okay, maybe not every other month but yeah, it became a rather boring norm.
The two official wives, that is, ‘Layode’s mom and my mother, had their own separate chalets on either side of the main house, separated by walls so that they had the appearance of individual, private houses. We (the children) all had to live in the main house during the week, but at least, ‘Layode and I and our siblings luckily got to escape to our mothers’ during the weekends and during the short holidays we didn’t get to travel.
In my room in my mother’s house, my diaries and writings litter the room which I never clean, by the way. I don’t allow the maids do it either. I mean, they are already all over the room I share with ‘Layode in the main house. No privacy, whatsoever! Given all the children I grew up with my father’s house, you can understand how fanatical I am about privacy.
I digress again.
I do have some of my diaries and journals here with me in school. I love flipping through them and seeing how my perspectives and principles have changed from one point in time to another. It’s the most intriguing thing ever. Look at this snapshot from my diary when I was 15 years old, the slum book era. This was the intro page:
Name: Omolara Maimunah Afopeloluwa Bade-John
Nickname(s): Lara, LB,
D.O.B: December 7th, 1986
P.O.B: Eko Hospital, Lagos (and they had the nerve to give birth to ‘Dewale in America!!! Ugh. Well, he was a ‘bastard’ then!)
Father: Don’t have one (I was pretty steamed at my father then, I think Sade Nelson had her fifth kid for him around this time.)
Mother: Zainab Omolola Olubanjo (Mommy!!!)
Brother: Adewale Mohammed Afiyinfoluwa Bade-John
Best Friends: ‘Layode Bade-John, Temiloluwa Adebiyi, Morenike Sagamu (she got teased so much for that last name, us cruel high-schoolers!), Disun Aborowa (‘Layode is the only one left in my life out of the bunch)
Boyfriend: Tomiwa Martins (this joker! I think he’s in Ireland now. Last I heard, some girl had a baby for him. My mother nearly had a heart attack when I told her, ha!)
Likes: My boyfie (Val’s’ day had just come and gone and I think I had the most extravagant gift in the whole class year. His dad was a retired general, if you know what I mean), chocolate, books, best friends, shopping, music
Dislikes: Cockroaches, Chief Oreoluwa Bade-John (Ha!), bastards (subtle, or not-so-subtle, reference to those many kids, I think!), traveling
Hobbies: READING, dancing, listening to music
…and so on and so forth it goes. You get the drift. I find it so cute!
This next diary entry dates back to the summer following my freshman year, I was 17 then. I found out about one of my mother’s affairs from one of those Nigerian gossip tabloids and I was so confused.
“…You won’t believe what I read in City People today about Mommy. It was a short one but it said something about one of Chief Bade-John’s women, who may or may not be married to him, with two kids (a boy and girl who were both abroad) who was carrying on with a well-known super-rich oil tycoon, a friend of her husband. The woman, from a Muslim family, had been sighted coming and going from the twice-divorced tycoon’s house at odd hours of the night and they had also been spotted having intimate dinners, blah, blah. I mean, it was so obvious it was about Mommy! Which other Muslim wife with two kids does Daddy have? So I told ‘Layode about it on the phone (you know she didn’t come home for summer) and she told me to ask ‘Dewale. And I did. Wow, he had the weirdest expression on his face when he softly told me to shut up and mind my business. Well, excuse me, but isn’t Mommy my business?! So later today, I asked Mommy if she had read City People yet, and she said she had, and what about it. She didn’t even look guilty or anything, I don’t know, I guess I expected a reaction. So I asked her if she was sure she had read every single article in there. She was silent, and then she laughed and told me not to be silly. I had to let it go then, it was so awkward and I feel so weird and…”
I got to find out later that the oil tycoon, in question, was my father’s colleague, Engr. Ofon Pepple. The affair ended shortly after that expose in City People but it did make me see my mother through new eyes.
I did judge her at first but men, I know now that you can never know the weight of a man’s shoes until you’ve walked a mile in them. The way I see it, she got married rather early (she was only twenty when she had ‘Dewale), she married someone way older, and she married someone who – to me – obviously does not love her as much as she loves him. I mean, I don’t think my mother regrets marrying my father, she loves him after all, but I do think that if she had to do it all over again, love wouldn’t win again. Logic would.
I guess everyone has their own way of dealing with their own burden and if having affairs was the way my mother chose to feel more desired and needed (even though she claimed she was not needy), who was I to fault her? I am not sure I would do things any differently.
I think ‘Dewale already understood that, which was why he responded the way he did when I asked him about the article. And after my initial disillusionment and shame, I became just as protective of my mother as he’s always unexplainably been. In our eyes, she can never do wrong. My father, on the other hand…
Well, well, well! Lookie here, I also found this letter Nasir had written to me the second time I found out that he had cheated on me. We started dating in my second semester as a freshman, (he was a sophomore then), and I found out the next semester about his first wandering sojourn over the holidays. So I broke up with him.
Clearly, I must be more like my mother than I think because I got back with him the beginning of my junior year AND was stupid enough to lose my virginity to him, thinking it would be reason enough for him not to stray again. It took him less than a year after we had gotten back together to do it again. Even I can’t believe the way my heart broke. He had written me this letter shortly after I had broken up with him again.
I love you, and
I am sorry, and
If I could turn back time, I would.
I don’t understand how I ended up back here, after all the promises I made to you the first time. I don’t even know where or how to begin explaining and I won’t even insult you by trying because I know too well that no explanation will ever be good enough. I have lost you, whether for good, I certainly hope not.
Give me a chance to win you back.
Give me a chance to turn this around. Give me a chance to do you right.
Once again, I am sorry, and
I love you, and
It is the one thing I have never lied about.
Sigh. He sent that letter with a box of my favorite chocolates from Godiva and a gigantic teddy bear (which has long since been donated to charity). I cried rivers over that letter, let me tell you. I don’t even think I can begin to explain the pain of being cheated on, not once but twice, especially when you had happened to give up what you thought was the very best gift you could give.
Before that letter, I had refused to see him or talk to him, via phone, via email, via person, whatever, for a whole month. I found that letter and package at my door on my way back from class after a very long and bad day. I read the letter and I fell apart, and yes, I gave in and called him.
Lol, it is funny now I think about it. A whole, self-assured, confident, no-bullshit-taking me falling apart like women before me that I had scorned. Those were the days.
We loved letters, Nasir and I. It was like our special thing. Just scribbles of nonsense back and forth. I found one letter from happier days that I wrote to him. Well, I meant to send it but I ended up e-mailing it because I ran out of change for stamps that day.
You know I was reading this article about how women find it so easy to love, much easier than men do, at any rate. It went on and on about how intriguing to see how women in love would do almost anything for the men they loved, and gave some in-depth examples. Some had me cracking up, while others just had me shaking my head in wonder.
Here’s the link anyway <insert link>. When will women learn to stop being fools for love, really? Women really need to take a step back and let men do all the dirty work in love.
I mean, look at me and you. You do all the hard work, and I simply tolerate your efforts. I mean, you count yourself lucky that I even consider you good enough to love me! Gosh. Why can’t more women be like me?! Ha!
I still ‘heart’ you anyway. Lol. See you Saturday, baby.
Lol. I printed out his reply too. Short but sweet.
Your cup of sarcasm runs over. I love you too, smarty-pants.
I just loved the boy. I really did.
Summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage
And don’t get me wrong, dear, in general I’m doing quite fine
It’s just when it’s summer in the city, and you’re so long gone from the city
I start to miss you, baby, sometimes