I want you to meet Ife.
Ife is a very sweet little girl, with a calm personality. Every grown-up loves her because she does not make any trouble and other little children love her because she always shares her toys with them. Ife is very fortunate because she has a mummy and a daddy that are alive. But she wants more. Underneath her facade of constant happiness and childlike innocence, Ife worries just a little too much for a child.
Ife was born six years ago. Six years ago when mummy and daddy were still together. Memories of her early childhood her faint in her mind, but she remembers sleeping on the bed in between mummy and daddy and they stroking her hair and telling her not to worry, that ‘ojuju’ will not catch her. But now every night she sleeps in fear, not because she still sees the ‘ojuju’ but because she does not think she’ll ever see daddy again.
I feel for Ife because she might never know what it is like to grow up with a normal family; daddy, mummy, brothers and sisters. Her daddy has decided that he does not like mummy again or maybe it’s her he doesn’t even like again. Then she used to hear them shouting at each other every time in their home, until one day mummy told her to “come let’s go” as she rolled a big black box out of the house. Ife held teddy firmly as they drove to Uncle Femi’s house. Uncle Femi is mummy’s brother and Ife has been living with him for a year now. Uncle Femi’s wife is Aunty Omo and they have three children, Ewa, Bosun and Timi, all ages 5, 3 and 1 respectively. Ife likes to play with her cousins and now she has even started attending their school.
She visits mummy every weekend, where she lives with that Uncle, that yama yama man that calls her his daughter every time. How can she be his daughter when he is not her daddy? Ife wants her daddy so badly, but she has never told anyone. She wonders when he will come to take her to Mr. Biggs. She has not seen him since last year. He must be really angry with her and mummy.
Ife likes her aunty and uncle, they treat her well. But she’s not happy because anytime they take her out with her cousins some people ask, “Omo tani le leyi?” (“Whose child is this?”). She just looks down at her feet shyly and pretends not to know what’s happening, while Uncle Femi, explains. “She is my sister’s daughter”, he says. When people ask her “how is your daddy?” she says “he’s fine”, even though she’s not sure if he is.
Ife is confused because at school they call Aunty Omo and Uncle Femi her daddy and mummy. However she’s not such a stupid girl. She’s really confused because when her teacher gave her that letter the other day she said, “Make sure to give it to daddy and mummy”. Ife was not sure whether to show the letter to Aunty Omo and Uncle Femi or to show mummy and that Uncle Stanley. The last time she went to visit mummy, mummy told her to call Uncle Stanley ‘Daddy’. She stamped her feet on the floor and fussed. Mummy beat her and called her a naughty girl. But mummy was a naughty mummy, telling her to call Uncle Stanley ‘Daddy’. “Which kind of nonsense daddy is that one?”, she had thought to herself. She did not care that he was the one that bought her that pair of Barbie sandals or that he took her to KFC for the first time two Saturdays ago.
He was still not her daddy!!!
Every night Ife cries silently in her sleep. And nobody cares, except for teddy. She cuddles teddy all night as he listens to her cry, telling her it will be alright.
“When will I see daddy and mummy together again?” is all that is on her mind