From deep sleep Folabi heard the first cock crow in the compound and jumped out of bed with immediate alacrity. He switched on the torch and searched for the faulty alarm clock on the floor beside his mattress. “Useless Lagos cocks!” he complained aloud, “they always crow late!” It was already 6.15am and he had a long day ahead of him. He dabbed a wet towel on his body, and strapped his already packed back pack and ran out through the backdoor so he could kick his uncle’s cocks. If they were like the ones in grandpa’s house in Ijebu, he would have been up at least an hour earlier.
He had to travel to Erio-Ekiti to see the famous Prophet Adejuyigbe. After taking the first bus from Ojota to Ijebu-jesha, he boarded another bus going to Erio Ekiti. Erio was about twenty minutes away from Ijebu-jesha, but that Saturday morning the bus to Erio did not depart from the park until four hours after he arrived. While waiting in the bus he found it hard to sleep; every time he tried he was either awoken by the sound of a trailer passing bye or the noise of Mufu, the driver of the bus shouting..”Ado, ado, ado, Aramoko, Igede, Erio, Iyin…enter with fifty naira change. Mio ni change, ma wole o”. There had to be a skill to this chant. It was sonorous to the ears but Mufu’s husky voice disturbed his sleep intermittently. When he had had enough of Mufu, he took the backseat. He woke up at 2.45pm, when Mufu shouted “Erio Ekiti…” It was the signal to all those alighting at Erio.
Folabi’s mother, a devout Christian and committed member of Christ Apostolic Church called from London and asked him to see the Prophet for prayers before the lawyer made a final appeal for his citizenship status in England. Since he concluded his education at Obafemi Awolowo University three years ago, he had been denied approval to be the proud owner of a British passport for one reason or the other. In 1993, his parents couldn’t lay their hands on enough pictures of him as a toddler in Sheffield city where Dr Coker had lived with his family while he worked as a lecturer. In 1994, John Major announced a major review in immigration policies, and by the time new guidelines were out the immigration officer at the famous Walter Carrington Crescent told him that his application lacked sufficient credibility according to the new guidelines. Days became months and months became years as he appealed over and over again; this time he come to appeal to God Almighty albeit on a mountain. He had no life for these three years. The only thing he dreamed and lived for was his red passport.
As the clouds gave way to the sun very early on the third day, Prophet Adejuyigbe located Mrs Coker’s son under the blanket sheets he had curled in after the vigil ended at 4am. “Folabi, wake up! Your victory is here”. Folabi heard the words in thick Ekiti dialect. He looked up and shouted “Amen!!” The prophet sat beside him on the rock and told him that in exactly a week from that day he will become a British citizen.
“When you get your British passport do not be in a haste to leave the country. Take care of your business before you leave”. The prophet’s last words rang in his ears as the bus pulled over at Ojota Park.
Enitan screamed for the umpteenth time as her mother’s hands lashed through the air and landed on her face again. Hot tears rolled down her cheeks and she wished the moment of humiliation away. “For the last time, who is responsible for your pregnancy?” her nurse mother quaked. Enitan wished she was in a dream. Her mind flashed back to beautiful moments with Folabi in Maryland, Ikeja. She was not going to allow her mother make her rue those moments. He was twenty seven and she was twenty two. They had met barely three months, but Folabi treated her like he had known her for many years. He was very caring, and had a softness about him that allured her heart to his. She cried when she discovered her youth service was going to be in Calabar because she couldn’t bear the pain of being away from Folabi for a whole year. He promised to check her up at least twice every month, and she couldn’t expect less from a guy who journeyed through Lagos traffic at least three times a week to spend quality time with her at home. The holiday felt like a honeymoon, and it would have been boring without him. She had no doubt in her mind that Folabi would accept the pregnancy. She knew no other lover apart from him, and he was well aware of this. “I will take you to his house tomorrow morning”, she said softly but sternly, wiping the tears off her face. “You must be stupid!” Alero knocked her only daughter at the centre of her head. “Yan yan take you to his house tuyanyan”, she mimicked sarcastically. “And I don’t blame you, because at your age I was also stupid”. Alero sat on the center table of the sparsely furnished sitting room, while Enitan stood in front of her moping. “I made the same mistake when I got pregnant for you. I took my mother to your father’s house and we came back with untold shame and humiliation. His mother told my mom that it was me, Alero, who must have seduced her son Tunji, who according to her was as pious as a saint, to sleep with me. She called my mom Mother of Jezebel and told her that she will not be an in-law to such a woman. I will never forget the humiliation on the face of Mummy as Tunji’s mom ordered the gateman and house girl to sweep us out of her palatial mansion. Of course I was the Jezebel, if not, why would I open my pants for the son of a horrible woman like that. I cannot forget how she stood at the front door and screamed “shameless opportunists” while we hurriedly traced our way out of her compound.” Enitan hated this story because it made her remember that she had never met Folabi’s mother. In fact he hardly spoke about her.
“I was three months pregnant at the time, and my mother called a family meeting where she declared me worthless. After she narrated her ordeal in the hands of Mrs Falope, my uncles said we were lucky she didn’t order us to be locked up in jail. She was described as a terror, and nobody volunteered to take my case up instead they all agreed that I should abort your pregnancy. It was later I learnt that Mrs Falope was a gun runner and drug dealer who was well connected with the military government at the time. She was also rumored to have had a long standing affair with General Babangida”. Suddenly the thought of going to look for Folabi made Enitan sick; she wondered if history was not repeating itself. She prayed silently that Folabi would not be like her father, who she saw for the first and last time two years ago. She remembered how she couldn’t cry when her mother announced that her father, Colonel Tunji Falope was dead.
“Abortion was not an option for me, not after mummy told me the likely complications that could occur, and so you were born. It was only natural that I call you Enitan”, Alero continued. “Look, my daughter, I am not following you to his house and since I expect that you are not a Jezebel, you will bring him to this house within two weeks. If things turn out otherwise it means he has positioned himself to carry all the pain I couldn’t inflict upon your father. I am an Abeokuta woman, and I still know my roots…” “It’s okay mom, Folabi is a responsible man. He will come home with me”.
July 3, 1995
Folabi stood transfixed before Enitan as she muttered the words “I am pregnant”. He looked at her and compared her to the baggage on the floor of his room. She was now excess baggage, and excess baggage came at a cost. He had ensured he limited the weight of luggage to two pieces of 32kg and 10kg hand luggage, as advised by British airways. His uncle was to parcel down the rest of his mother’s heavy laces in two weeks. He had to treat this girl like excess baggage. She will not be a cog in the wheel of his destiny, not after all these years of suffering in Nigeria. It is on the day he’s flying to see his family and to start his life all over again that she decides to show her true colors as a witch. He maps his words carefully, but keeps his eye on the fact that he must be in the airport in about an hour. Thankfully his uncle had gone to work.
Enitan was surprised at the change of Folabi’s countenance. She realized he hadn’t responded. “Did you hear what I said?” she silently hoped her father had not re-incarnated in Folabi. “I heard you, but I need to let you know that I will be leaving the country in an hour’s time. I am going to be with my parents in London”, Folabi had a grim look on his face. She stared at him for a few seconds. “My mother could not be right. Was she in this day before me?” Enitan walked around the room like she was inspecting the travelling bags on the floor. Tears broke out on her face when she saw his British passport on his bed. “Enitan, I am sorry”, said Folabi in an apologetic tone. Wiping the tears from her face, She looked back at him and said “You can keep the apologies for my mother. What happens to me? I am six weeks pregnant”. Folabi quickly dipped his hands in his pocket and pulled out some fifty pounds sterling notes. He couldn’t afford any emotions at this point; at any rate he never loved her for one moment. She burst into tears as he handed over two fifty pound notes to her. “I’m going to be late for my flight. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this on time”, Folabi got impatient. “Two fifty pounds notes? That’s all I’m worth to you? I hope I find a place in my heart to forgive you”.
“It’s for you to see a doctor”, He replied swiftly looking at his wristwatch. Enitan wiped her tears when she heard footsteps at the door. There was a light wrap at the door. “That’s my cabman. I will need to leave soon”. “What will I tell my mother?” she wondered out aloud. “Okay, please do me this one favor. Follow me home just to see my mom, and then you can be on your way”, she pleaded with tears in her eyes. Folabi knew this was a trick to hold him down and he was not going to fall for it. “Look, don’t pull a fast one on me. I just told you my flight is almost due. Besides I gave you that money so you can see a doctor”. He retorted with a tone of finality. Enitan could not believe this was the guy that told her he would give the world just to have her. As he walked to the door, she felt she needed to have a token for this love affair. Her life will never remain the same after today. She picked the one hundred pounds sterling note from the bed where he dropped it and said “I will hold this note for a lifetime. This is all I was ever worth to you”. She gathered just enough strength to get her through the door to the main road.
Enitan wondered what she was going to tell her mother as the cab driver took the last bend on Adeniyi Jones. She wondered what would become of her life. There was no doubt in her that she will have to postpone her Youth Service. The world around her was spinning uncontrollably and she found it hard to think of Folabi without the two fifty pounds notes flashing in her mind; it represented a three-month love affair that she will never forget. As the car approached her house, she noticed her mother was at the gate, obviously waiting for her. Fresh tears trickled down her face as she glanced at her wristwatch; it was 2.30pm on Saturday, July 3, 1995.
The British airways Boeing 747 flight 44 taxied off the runway at Murtala Mohammed airport. Folabi heaved a sigh of relief. It was 2.30pm, Saturday, July 3, 1995. Finally, the beautiful future of his dreams lay ahead of him, and as the plane glided through the sky, he knew his dreams were now within his reach. He was sure Enitan will take care of her business. From a distance he saw a man who looked like Pastor Adejuyigbe, and suddenly he remembered the Pastor’s parting words to him “When you get your British passport do not be I a haste to leave the country. Take care of your business before you leave”. What a strange message, Folabi thought. He plugged his earphones into the in-flight entertainment jack and sang along to “A whole new World”.