Kokumo walked home dejected. The joy and happiness he had initially felt coming home had been stolen from him and he saw no reason to be home. He would have turned back to school if not that all his roommates would have also left the campus by now and locked the room. He just wanted to be alone to lick his wounds. He sauntered into his compound, taking out his own key to the padlock on their door. He opened the main door, dropped his travel bag on the floor in his room and flopped on the mattress. He had suddenly lost his appetite and also lost interest in everything. He knew his mother would still be at the market but he did not even look forward to seeing her. If only she had pushed him a little to take action the day she had the discussion about Ajoke with him. He sighed as he tossed on the mattress. The day took its toll on him and in a few minutes, he was snoring loudly.
Iya Kokumo arrived home to meet the padlock to the main door of their house open. Only Kokumo had a key to the door. Did that mean her son was home? She thought. She quickly dropped her basket of left-over fruits by the door and rushed to her son’s room. She saw him sprawled on the bed snoring loudly and smiled. Her son was home. She closed the door to his room quietly and went to the kitchen. He must be tired and hungry. She set to work as her hands moved in quick motions to prepare a meal for her son.
Kokumo woke up at about 7.30pm and heard the melodious voice of his mother as she sang praises to God in the kitchen. He stood up and stretched lazily. His tummy began to rumble announcing the arrival of hunger pangs. He walked to the kitchen to see his mother and to assist her with the food she was preparing.
“Ëkáalé màámi.” (Good evening, my mother). He greeted touching the floor in a half-prostrate.
Iya Kokumo turned round to look at her son as she smiled. “Kòkúmó, ömö mi. Káàbò. Báwò ni ilé-ìwé.” (Kokumo, my son. Welcome. How was school?)
“Daadaa ni mà. Mi ò mò pé ë ti dé lé láti öjà.” (It was good. I did not realize you had arrived from the market.)
Iya Kokumo returned to the amala she was preparing. “Èmi náà mö bê. Mo ri pé ó rè é gan.” (I know. I could see you were very tired.)
“Kínni ki n bá a yín se?” (What can I do for you?) Kokumo asked.
“Má yö ara ë lénu. Ìwö lö jòkó, ko ma wò ní tìë. Óúnjë ti fé jiná.” (Don’t bother yourself. Just go sit and watch. The food is almost ready.)
Kokumo picked up a small stool by a corner of the kitchen and sat down as he watched his mother. He was lost in thought that he did not realize when she finished the food and dished his meal into a bowl.
“Kokumo, Kokumo.” Iya Kokumo called.
Kokumo suddenly jerked up and looked at his mother. “Maami.”
Iya Kokumo dropped the bowl of amala and ewedu she was holding on the kitchen stool which served as her table and touched Kokumo on his forehead to feel for a temperature.
“Kílódé, ömö mi.” (What is wrong, my child?)
“Kò sí ìyönu màámi.” (There’s no problem, my mother).
Iya Kokumo looked at her son unconvinced. Kokumo noticing that his mother was getting worried, stood up from the low stool and picked up his meal.
“Ë jé ka lö jëun.” (Let us eat). He said to his mother. He needed to get himself together, he did not want his mother getting worried unnecessarily; he thought.
Kokumo refused to step out of his house for the next one week. His mother had expected him to visit his farm to see to what his workers were doing but he had no pleasure in that. She asked him every day what the problem was, but he continued to state that he was fine.
Two weeks after his arrival at home, he was sitting down with his mother outside the house when an old friend of his from secondary school passed by. His friend spotted him and his mother and walked up to them smiling. “Ah ah Kokumo!” Ajirebi said stressing his name. “Ojú ë rèé.” (Is this you?)
Kokumo stood up to hug his friend. “Ajirebi, long time. Where have you been?”
Ajirebi did a half-prostrate to greet Iya Kokumo. “Ëkú’ròlé mà.” (Good evening ma)
“Kú’ròlé Ajírébi. Àwön òbí rë n kó?” (Good evening Ajirebi. How are your folks?)
“Dáadáa ni wón wà mà.” (They are fine ma).
“Ìwo àti òyìnbó ë yìí.” (You and this your English). Ajirebi said as he looked at Kokumo. “You no dey tire.”
Kokumo laughed as he slapped his friend on the back. “Wetin you wan make I do? Make I no speak am again?”
Ajirebi suddenly pulled his friend by the arm. “Wetin happen to Ajoke? I hear say she don marry.”
Kokumo looked at his mother and noticed she was looking at both of them. Even though, she was not literate, she understood pidgin English.
“Yes, she should be married now.” Kokumo said looking away.
“Ah…ah, no be say both of you dey carry yourself for secondary school as husband and wife. Women!!!” Ajirebi lamented.
“It is not Ajoke’s fault.” Kokumo shouted at his friend.
Ajirebi looked at his friend, shock written on his face. “Wetin I talk?” He asked gesticulating with his hands.
Kokumo took a deep breath as he calmed down. “It is not her fault. Her father married her off against her will.”
“Hmm…” Ajirebi said as he squeezed his face. “I no no. Ah, the thing go pain you gan oh.” He continued as he bit his forefinger.
Iya Kokumo noticed her son was uncomfortable with the discussion with his friend and decided to step in.
“Ëìn Ajírébi, kí àwön òbí rë fún mi o.” (Ajirebi, send my regards to your folks). She turned to her son. “Óyá nínu ílé. Èyí ta se ní ìta ti tó.” (Let us go inside. We have had enough outside).
Kokumo obeyed his mother as he walked into the house without looking back to say good bye to his friend. He sat down and there was a look of misery on his face. His mother sat beside him as she walked into the house.
“Kòkúmó, ìdí tí gbogbo nkan ò se wùn é se mó leléyìí, àbí?” (This is the reason why nothing has been of importance to you anymore, right?)
Kokumo sighed as he looked at his mother.
“Sé o féràn ömö yën tó bè?” (Do you love her that much)?
Kokumo nodded his head unable to utter words.
“Mo dè sö fún ë nigba yën o. O ní pé àdéhùn tí èyin méjèjì jö ní nipé ë ma féra tí o bá ti se tán ní ilé-ìwé gíga.” (And I told you then; but you said it was the agreement between you both to get married after your university education).
Kokumo put his head in his palms. He did not want to be reminded about the mistake he had made. It still hurt and his heart was still tender and broken. Iya Kokumo noticed her son’s hurt and pulled him as she rested his head on her bosom. His mother’s action broke him and he groaned as he hid his face in her bosom and shed tears of hurt and pain; his body wracking with each sob. He had tried unsuccessfully to put the matter behind him; and right now, Ajirebi had brought it to the fore and reopened his wounds.
Iya Kokumo prayed for her son that evening that he would find his own wife when it was time. She also admonished him to put the love he had for Ajoke behind him and focus on his studies.
Kokumo went back to school a week later. The love he had for Ajoke could not easily be forgotten but he was going to make an effort. She was now married to another man and wishing things were different was only going to keep him depressed.
By Bukola Adekusibe
THE WAIT continues
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