I was filled with so much joy when I saw your handwriting (that cursive script I could never master) on the envelope that was left on the doorstep of my apartment. As I read each word –I felt the peace, the joy and the love fill my soul. You’re happy and my heart could not rejoice with you more. Baba sounds like a wonderful man: everything that you waited and prayed so dutifully for. In short, your letter has brought sunshine and smiles to my spirit. Ose, Ore Mi Atata
I’ve been praying more and working harder. I know you’ll smile at this and say “Less work and more prayer!” I am trying to strike the balance but there is the common saying “God helps those who help themselves”? So I suppose I am testing the hypothesis.
It seems, however, the more I have tried to organize and categorize all the various facets, the more out of control everything has gotten. I was thinking the other day what a beautiful feeling free-fall must be–letting go completely. But more truthfully Ayoola, the more in-control I have set out to be, the more out of touch I have become accustomed to feeling. So, I’ve been building barricades that will ward off any unexpected pitfalls in April.
So, I’ve been building barricades. You first saw them and tore them down but I have rebuilt them to be much more solid and encompassing than before. It was an unconscious decision. Unpacking insecurities is so cliche and I have never been very good at articulating my emotions. So these barricades have worked to ward off those who want to see beyond the smile and laughter. The barricades have made me an island but I realize this may only last for a fleeting moment. When love leaves and resentment comes to nestle in the corners.
I am just somewhere between floating and dodging peace. Yet it is all I long for these days: Serenity knocking as opposed to the jostling bodies and loud sirens. So I’ve been thinking maybe the barricades must come down? but how?
Ore mi, I know you’ll probably read this saying or thinking, “you don start again oo” and you are probably right…But I long to see your cursive again so please fill me in on all the details of passionate Baba and the unrelenting pot-bellied Oga-CEO.
He wasn’t coming. I could feel it, first in the air—the way the vicar’s musky cologne hung heavily in the stuffy office cubicle. Then I felt it in the shaking of my hands and then blood-pumping thud in my ears and chest. Nicholas was not going to show up.
“Ms. Bamidele, I’m afraid there are many other couples waiting to be officiated this morning and I will not be able to wait much longer.”
He seemed like a friendly-enough man, in his mid-60’s. He was mostly bold with a modest patch of graying-to white hair hedged around his round head. Probably underpaid and accustomed to expecting little or nothing from people. Beyond his smiling face, I could feel the sadness in his eyes –the fatigue from an unfulfilled life. Once again, he gave an urgent glance at the lopsided walk-clock on the opposite end of the cramped cubicle. In seven minutes, she would have to leave the cubicle.
Clearing his throat, the Vicar, began, “Ms. Bamidele, I do hate to pry but I have witnessed such situations too often in my life-time not to—
The shame of the entire experience forced me to cut him off before he could finish the statement I had been fervently praying I would not hear on this day.
“Vicar James, I do apologize for taking your time like this. I do realize that this might seem like a typical immigrant story but I can assure you Nicholas and I are in it for the long haul. I am sure he will be here at any point.”
The desperate words even seemed hollow in my own ears. Who was I fooling? The vicar simply smiled weakly and nodded.
And so here I was, a 30-year-old Nigerian woman engaged to the man of her dreams who was thousands of kilometers away. Even when Segun’s visa to the United Kingdom had been denied for the sixth time, I could not have imagined that this would be it. That I would be sitting here waiting for a strange man to come and sign a marriage certificate, making me his wife, in order that I could ‘legally’ remain in the country.
I suddenly felt very nauseous. Very nauseous and very alone.
The young boy who silently witnessed his mothers slaughter-
He sits at the edge of my bed and wails a most dreadful wail.
Their voices pierce through my borrowed peace.
Those lost children hovering, those motherless and fatherless.
They will seek revenge, this they have promised.
And the childless?
I saw the seeds of vengeance sprouting through the heart of one woman-
her infant torched before her eyes.
The father helpless to the greedy and violent lust over his beloved daughter-
He sits in the far corner, muttering the words of Socrates and Soyinka.
They seek me in the spirits of many midnights to open their heavy packages of sorrow-
The horrors their eyes have seen but their heart can never comprehend.
Their belief is that they are the forgotten peoples of a once great but crumbling nation.
Their haunted eyes, I wish I could erase-
But I cannot.