Suddenly, two women in white attires came in unannounced and my mother and I looked at each other.
“You are welcome, priestesses of the fruitful god!” We greeted the women who were stone-faced.
My dear mother knelt down to hear what they had come to do while I stood there watching how my mother became gentle like a dove. The older woman looked at me briefly and turned to my mother, “Mrs Bolatito Abayomi, how old is she now?”
“18 years” My mother answered out of fear.
I thought within myself what has age got to do with their presence in our house. I held my peace as I have been taught to respect elders irrespective of their status or background.
My grandmother once shared with me a story of a man who never respected anyone in their village then. He was so rude and mean. Then, one day he met two strangers at the border of their village asking for direction into the village. Because the young men didn’t prostrate very well, he abused and chased them away without hearing about their mission to the village.
It was after a year he realised that his friend who welcomed them and directed them to the King was given the special privilege of being tutored and taught English language which paved way for him to hold special position in the village. This afforded him the opportunity to train his children who later became educated, influential and wealthy. As for the disrespectful man, he died wretched and his children continued to propagate the poverty and disrespectful mentality.
“Come here, my daughter”. She beckoned to me and I stood before her. I was almost of the same height with her.
The older priestess placed her left hand on my head while looking straight into my eyes.
“Stop smiling, Ronke!” my mother warned me.
Really, I was amused with the way the woman was saying some incoherent words as she looked at my eyes and shook her head like a drunken person. The other priestess held my hands until the older woman finished her incantations. Their actions depicted what happened in a movie I had watched some days prior to that day.
“Woman, have you forgotten your promise?” The older priestess asked as she turned to my mother.
“I remember. I remember everything”
“What do you remember? Tell me!” She asked my mother.
“The usual sacrifice will be performed next month” My mother replied reluctantly.
The younger priestess cut in, “No! She is eighteen years now!”
“Ha!” My mother cried out.
The two priestesses looked at each other and shook their heads sideways. My mother kept lamenting and fidgeting while I looked on in dismay.
“The time is ripe. The fruit is ready to be plucked. The sacrifice is changing level. The goddess wants to see her. She is matured!” The priestesses chorused together.
My mother kept nodding her head as they left our house. As soon as they left, she began to cry not minding my presence. Out of pity, I drew closer to her to comfort her. Surprisingly, she hugged me tightly crying profusely. I couldn’t understand the drama that happened that morning but I had noticed that my mother used to hug me and cry bitterly at a certain period each year. I later realised she used to perform some sacrifices at the same period every year.
I thought it wise to seize the opportunity to exercise my full right as a grown up lady not minding the previous knocks and shouting.
“Mum, what’s bothering you? Talk to me”
She looked at me surprisingly as I haven’t spoken like that to her before. She wiped her face and took me to the sitting room. As soon as we sat down on the settee, she turned to talk to her grown up daughter as I thought.
“My daughter, I really suffered before giving birth to you and the decision I took then has landed me into deeper misery”
I began to feel for her as she began to pour her heart out. We forgot about the rice and the stew she wanted to prepare. The hunger pang left when I realised the pain in my mother’s heart.
She continued, “Your father didn’t help the matter. He didn’t support my decision then and allowed the shame to overwhelm me.”
“What decision, Mum?”
She was hesitant to talk but I held her hand lovingly and said, “Mum, talk to me”
I knew she was surprised to see her little girl talking to her in a matured way. I didn’t allow her curses and slaps to stop me from honoring her. I did my secondary studies in a boarding school and only visited my family during the holiday. Though, the school was in a neighbouring town, I still maintained my decorum.
My mother continued: “I have been deprived of many things in life”
“Like what?” I asked looking straight into her eyes.
“Your father is a…”
Then, a car screeched to a halt in front of our house. We looked through the window and heard someone shouting. Immediately I saw the woman shouting, I ran out of the house. My mother rushed inside to tie her wrapper tightly and followed after me.
When she saw the woman, the broken bottle in her hand scared her. She looked around to look for me only for her to see…
To be continued in Episode 4.