As the police led Mojirayo away from the scene of the crime, she looked at the faces of her parents. Her mother put her hand on her head as she threw herself on the floor in lamentation. Her father who she expected to be man enough to handle the situation wasn’t any better. He was crying in broad daylight. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he looked at his first daughter. His pride, the one who was meant to take them out of the depth of poverty. The one who was meant to be the shining light to her nine younger siblings. The one he had given out in marriage at the age of sixteen because he needed to provide a better life for his family.
Mojirayo raised her head high. She wasn’t sorry for what she had done. She showed no remorse. This was not the time to be sorry. This was the time to be happy. The time to jubilate because she had finally been delivered from the hell she lived in. Yes, it was hell but her parents thought otherwise. Even though she hadn’t planned what happened, it had worked perfectly in her favour. Baba Ibeji was a pain she endured the past twenty-four months. He had a pot belly that irritated her anytime he tried to hug her. He had a terrible mouth odour that nauseated her and made her puke when he kissed her. After retching, she washed her tongue with her toothbrush vigorously so that she did not also become a victim of his terrible sickness. When he visited her room to satisfy himself, he grunted like a goat during his height of ecstasy and snored like a generator that was about to knock its engine immediately after. Most times, she picked up her pillow and went to the living room to sleep. When he awoke in the morning and asked if she enjoyed him, she faked a smile and nodded like an agama lizard. Her three senior wives would hiss and spit at her for the next three days. She was the intruder. The one who had come to reap where she did not sow. The one who had come to take advantage of their husband’s goodwill to better her own family. The selfish, bad-mannered girl who was old enough to be a daughter to them but was sleeping with their husband and keeping him away from their rooms for the most part of the month.
Twenty-six months ago, Mojirayo was about to write her SSCE exams. Every day, she reminded her father about the payment for the exams but she got the same answer each time; he did not have the funds. Shina was an okada rider who lived in a one room face-to-face apartment with ten kids. His wife was a petty trader who sold Ugwu leaves for a living. Mojirayo once asked her mother why she had to give birth to many children when they could not afford to cater for them. She had received a resounding smack across her face as her response. She was told never to stop the flow of God’s blessings. Family planning had never been an option. As far as her mother was concerned, it was a sin.
But Mojirayo had overheard their neighbours making jest of them many times. They were the butt of the neighbours jokes in the building. They said Shina could barely feed himself but never ceased to get his wife pregnant. They said he was either trying to prove his virility or was too stupid to look for another form of recreation besides the bedroom.
When Mojirayo refused to allow her father rest, he decided to approach members of his okada riders association for a loan. He however received sad stories from everyone. They also had obligations to their various families that they couldn’t fulfill. This denial made him take a visit to Baba Ibeji’s house which was a stone throw to theirs. Baba Ibeji was their landlord. He was a big time farmer who dealt in cassava plantation, fish farming and piggery. He had a number of employees working for him and he built the face to face apartments with the proceeds from his business. Shina had pleaded with Baba Ibeji to loan him the money for his daughter’s exams. Baba Ibeji had gladly accepted to oblige him but under a condition. Shina had promised to accept whatever condition it was. He had assumed that Baba Ibeji would probably ask for a free supply of Ugwu to his family or ask for his monthly rent to be increased to cover the cost of the loan.
He was however in shock when he heard Baba Ibeji’s condition. He wanted to make Mojirayo his fourth wife. Shina had stammered and asked if Baba Ibeji was serious. Baba Ibeji had gotten upset and walked him out of his house. Shina had gone home dejected. How could Baba Ibeji want to take Mojirayo who was old enough to be his own daughter as wife? What about his other three wives? Shina had been unable to sleep that night. He had tossed and turned on his tattered mattress. Even when his wife, Omowunmi had tried to touch him, he had turned his back to her. She had been surprised as Shina never refused her advances. They always practiced Proverbs 5 verse 18 – 20 and Ecclesiastes 9 verse 9 to the letter.
The next morning, Mojirayo greeted her father with news. She wasn’t going to write the SSCE exams because she was yet to pay for it. She had been told in school the previous day. Shina made up his mind immediately. He went to Baba Ibeji and agreed to his conditions for the loan. Baba Ibeji smiled as Shina almost prostrated before him. He had eyed Mojirayo for a while. She was a stunning beauty and he felt she should live a happy life; away from the poverty of her parents. He gave Shina cash on the spot and asked him to bring Mojirayo to his house immediately after her exams were over. Shina nodded as he collected the cash and left Baba Ibeji’s house. Baba Ibeji smirked in a self-satisfied triumph. He touched his nether region and licked his lips. Mojirayo was going to be his trophy wife.
Tears streamed down Mojirayo’s cheeks when her father told her about his agreement with Baba Ibeji after her last paper. Shina had thought it wise to allow his daughter write her exams without any distractions. Mojirayo told her father that she would have rather missed writing the exams than get married to Baba Ibeji. According to her father, she needed to look at the bright side of the situation. Baba Ibeji was rich and he would offer her a better life. She would be able to have the nicer things of life which she would never have access to under his roof. She would be able to help him send her younger ones to school which he could barely afford to do at the moment. She would make all their neighbours envious and he would have the last laugh as they would all love to be in her shoes. There was nothing Mojirayo said that made sense to her father. As far as he was concerned, this was a dream come through for them. Mojirayo was their ticket to a life out of abject poverty.
Two weeks after Mojirayo’s exams, Shina was yet to take his daughter to Baba Ibeji’s house. He knew he was meant to fulfill his promise but he wanted to have his daughter for one more day. He told himself he would do it tomorrow but tomorrow never came. He noticed his daughter’s countenance had changed since he told her of his agreement with Baba Ibeji. She wore a sad face permanently and looked as if she was waiting to be taken to the slaughter house. Even though, he also felt bad about the agreement, he consoled himself that it was for a better life. Once she became Baba Ibeji’s fourth wife, their fortune would change. All those neighbours who taunted him would see the other side of him. He would make sure they apologized for all the insults they had heaped on him all through the years. He would stop riding an okada because Mojirayo would urge her husband to buy him a nice Toyota camry 2001 model which he would use as a taxi cab. His other nine children would change their school and move to a private school in the area. Omowunmi would stop selling Ugwu leaves and start doing supplies like Baba Ibeji’s first wife. She would rub shoulders with the big women who tied their geles like a satellite dish every Saturday. She would supply party souvenirs, canopies and chairs and maybe even start cooking for large parties. At least, she loved to cook and the aroma of her food anytime she was cooking was the reason why she was called “Iya Mojirayo, Olowo sibi” by their neighbours.
He had just finished a bowl of eba and edikaikong soup as his mind played around with ideas shooting them into the goal post. He smiled and picked his teeth with a broom stick as he thought about what he would do once he became rich. A hard knock on his door jolted him out of his reverie. He wondered who could be banging his door that way at this time of the night. Another bang on the door got him upset and he stood up to accost the intruder.
He opened the door and standing before him was Baba Ibeji. He had an angry stare on his face which highlighted the tribal marks on his cheeks. Many of the kids in the compound whispered to each other whenever they saw him that he must have fought with a tiger to have such terrible marks. Shina knew the wait was over. Baba Ibeji asked him to pack his family and wretched belongings and leave his house the next morning or fulfill his promise. He pleaded with Baba Ibeji and told him Mojirayo would arrive at his house first thing the next morning.
The story continues
By Bukola Adekusibe
Your comments bring out the beauty in our stories. Have your say in the comment box below. To share our story, click on the Facebook share button or on the twitter button.
Follow us twitter @lagosconvo
Copyright 2017 Lagos Convo.
Otherwise stated, all stories on www.lagosconvo.com are Intellectual Property of HMG STUDIOS LTD. No permission has been granted for the reproduction of our materials in part or whole on any platform, electronic or otherwise.