Felicia Adejobi, nee Olonisakin (late), had no idea she was going to get married so soon. She was going to be focused on her career, work on several research projects, pitch in innovative ideas in the field of medicine and generally, just be the boss of herself. When her friends were falling head over heels in love with all sorts of men, she was tackling her professional exams and applying to all sorts of non governmental organizations interested in cancer care and cure research. She was not ready for the wicked twists life threw at her.
First, her family was thrown into chaos when her mother and sister were abducted while traveling back to Osogbo from a family function. Kidnappers had become more bold in their operations; taking people in broad daylight, going about without masks, referring to one another by their actual names… It was supposed to be easy to track them down. However, Nigeria being what it is, has a severely porous security system and even though the abductors were in constant communication, they were never found. After three agonizing months, Felicia’s mother was released after the Olonisakin family had paid N3.5million , expecting the return of both mother and daughter.
Kikelomo, Felicia’s immediate younger sister was never found again.
For Mrs. Olonisakin, the pain of losing her youngest daughter was more than the joy of reuniting with her other family members. She became a shell of herself, not attentive to her other children and neglecting her business. When Felicia came home with the news of her pregnancy, her mother had no fire left in her to burn lessons into her first daughter’s head or burn her disappointment in the obvious deviation from the plan. She just said, “Marry him. He is your pastor.”
“That doctor, she introduced herself as Dr. Olonisakin… I know it is a stretch. I know many people out there bear the same names and all but, Aduke, I just have this feeling…”
“Goke, if what you’re saying is true, I would expect that you will be excited to meet up with her, rather than this reluctance you are coming up with. And while we are at it, did she mention why our kids are there?”
“How do I explain how I know her? Especially what with her supposed sister being dead…”
“I think we can cross that bridge when we get there. We can, okay?”
The drive down to Ibadan was pensive, both of them thinking about the same thing but not having the ability to voice it out. What the whole world knew was that Felicia Adejobi had died from a pregnancy complication. She had been found at the bottom of the steps, profusely bleeding out her three months old pregnancy. She was hypertensive, thus, it was easy to peddle the story that she had suffered a major stroke while ascending the stairs and had subsequently fallen down the steps, ending up the way she was found.
Truth? Goke had pushed her while trying to separate her from Aduke who had come over for some extensive ‘counselling sessions’ that involved more of the bed and bed sheets than pages of the Bible that lay open on the reading table in the master bedroom of the Adejobis.
Pastor Goke’s sermon at his wife’s burial was heavy with emotion. His guilt at pressurizing his wife into another pregnancy despite her fragile health status was immense. The congregation loved their pastor and even more so, had loved their ‘Mama Pulpit’. They understood the man’s desire for more children, seeing as the African way has not yet fully embraced the concept of one child per marriage. That is almost tantamount to infertility. And even though, they would have preferred their ‘Mama Pulpit’ alive, they knew Pastor Goke was going to remarry and Abbey would not be the only child anymore. They forgave their pastor just as God forgave their sins too.
“Lolo, your parents will ask questions. They will want to know… to understand exactly what is going on. You are an adult, legally, but Abbey is not. I think it will be best to think through what you want to say before they arrive.”
“Abbey will be fine. You see, my step father would not want any of this to get out. He has too much to lose. Besides, i know something they think they have hidden so well.”
“Apart from the fact that they are bad parents and as you claim, fake believers, what else could you possibly know?”
“I think I’ll wait for my parents. This card I have on them should not be shown twice.”
Abbey had asked to be excused at some point. I had needed to use another consulting room to see other patients that came into the clinic for some other minor ailments. Well, not all were minor. Take the 18 year old young man that came in convulsing repeatedly due to abrupt alcohol withdrawal, the 25 year old lady that had tried to kill herself because she got left at the altar and the 30 year old graduate that was still unemployed six years after university who was coming down with depressive symptoms.
One thing I had come to realize with the generation of youths I had to deal with was the scary decrease in their resilience. They were quick to throw in the towel once confronted by any little diversion in what they had envisioned as their life’s pathway.
I was barely six years old when I was kidnapped along with my mother. After two years of torture, slavery and all manner of abuse, I was sold from one ‘Mistress’ to another outside of Nigeria until I finally escaped. I lost everything, including my memory of home. The only person I never forgot was Felicia, who I fondly called “FellyBiggy”, my elder sister. I practically worshiped her. She, being five years older than me, already had lofty dreams of becoming a doctor and I had subconsciously attuned myself to toeing the same path.
I tried to find her, my parents and three other siblings. But, apart from the fact that I did not remember them so well, I was not sure I wanted to find out that they all died or something evil like that. I preferred imagining that somewhere out there, they were fine, leaving beautiful lives. It was stupid thinking that way, I knew. For one, they probably thought I was dead and maybe thought mother too was dead. Also, not knowing if we really died was enough torment on its own.
I paused between my consulting rooms. Abbey was cleaning his glasses with the edge of his shirt. His eyes were red, obviously he had been crying. It broke me.
“Abbey… What is going on?”
He gave a shaky laugh.
“You really remind me of my mother.”
And at that moment, I knew why I had been drawn to him too.