One thing you probably don’t know about me is the fact that I am a fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the writer of award winning novel “Half of a yellow sun”. Yes, I adore her and just might end up being like her one day. Just kidding! I look up to her in some aspects of literature and writing generally so when I saw the Farafina Trust Workshop advert, I knew I had to participate. Finally an opportunity to meet my role model.
Procrastinated as usual till the last day of submission. I had the beginning of the story in mind but didn’t start typing on my phone till past 6pm (The ColorNote app is one of my favs at the moment). Finished typing the story, edited it as best as I could and I sent it to the submission email.
It was then it occured to me that something was wrong. I checked my story again and discovered I exceeded the word limit. Bummer! I was dampened and knew I wouldn’t make it. Although a friend tried to encourage me to be positive, I knew how much importance is attached to rules being followed to the last full stop in competitions. Anyway, the list of the candidates who made it was posted about a month later and I didn’t make it.
Was I sad? Nope. Already expected the disappointment. Got over it hours later with the notion that the competition helped make me a better writer really. Nobody I knew made it either and Adriel who blogs at Adriel’s Journal also mentioned how heartbroken she was when she discovered she wasn’t selected in one of her blog posts. Funny enough that same story she submitted is making waves at the moment. How wonderful God can be! The struggles we go through as writers.
Even in life when it seems like you’re giving what you love your best shot but things are not coming easy, keep doing it. An appeal to everyone out there, if you’re in any position to help a writer out with editing, publishing or even just support, you should not hesitate. If you’re in the best position to help any creative out, please do. Please.
Anyway, here’s the story I submitted. I don’t have a title for it but do enjoy and kindly drop a comment below. I am ‘Dammy and I will not stop writing until my maker says so.
Name: Ajibike Oyindamola
I am a student of the University of Ibadan, Yoruba and an art enthusiast. Books for me have been my companions from a young age; eye openers and educative. Writing gives me opportunity to express myself, things I see and things I have experienced which other people can relate to.
“I found a lump.”
I said to Tiwa.
I watched the look on his face change. The shock was sort of amusing. But the situation at hand could not allow me to laugh out.
“Are you sure?” He asked.
Why would he ask me that question I wondered.
“Yes. The doctor at LUTH confirmed it.”
Silence hung between us and the movement of the maids downstairs echoed in the house.
“Just like mother.” He finally said.
“Yes.” I affirmed.
Our mother had committed suicide eight years before, leaving behind a note which informed us about her breast cancer. No one had known about it before.
“I can’t deal with it. Can’t cope with the pain. I haven’t been as strong as I used to be since your father left.” She had written.
The bottle of poison on her side table and glass of wine which laid on the rug beside her bed gave the cause of her death. No autopsy had been done.
“Jola, have you ever wondered about something?”
He looked away, gathering his thoughts. The look on his face showed he knew something.
“Perhaps it would be better if you talked to Dipo.”
Dipo was the first child of my mother, my elder brother.
“Talk to him about what?”
“Talk to him about mother’s death.”
The day mother had been found, I had refused to come out of my room. I felt numb and tired. Mother never had our time. Always after money and so we went from one boarding school to relatives houses. One time we had been shared among our aunts because mother had to go to Dubai for business.
Dipo had returned from Aunt Nnenna, father’s younger sister’s house different. He kept to himself for some days and then returned to his old jovial self but there was something different. Something more matured.
“Tiwalolu, I’m confused. Can you just tell me what is up?”
“I wish it was that easy. You would have to figure it out yourself.” He said and headed to his room.
The house was mother’s. We had agreed not to sell it after her death. It was to serve as a reminder of our childhood, most of which was without her.
When I turned up at the company the next day, I had to commend the good job Dipo was doing. The building looked magnificent. It did when it was mother’s company but now it had a bit modern features.
“Dipo the slayer!” I hailed him as I entered his office with the tag ‘Managing Director’ on the door.
The nickname was given to him back in secondary school when his uniform used to be well ironed and the girls were after him.
He chuckled lightly and opened his arms for our signature bear hug.
“Why have you come?” He asked.
“So I can’t come by to say hello to my brother?”
He raised his hands in defence.
“I didn’t say so.”
I cleared my throat and told him quietly.
“I was at the hospital last week and the doctor told me I have cancer.”
His face remained expressionless.
“I have cancer like mother.” I continued.
“Mother did not have cancer.” He said.
“What do you mean Dipo?”
“She committed suicide because she had cancer, didn’t she?” I queried.
He stood up and walked to the open door. He locked it, dragged the chair beside mine and sat in front of me.
“Jola, you’re quite old enough now I think. 24 years is something. I have tried all I can to keep the family together after mother’s death. Even though I was just 21 then. Sure you can see how well the company is doing.”
“I know. But you’re diverting from the question I asked.”
“I’m sure you would remember growing up and knowing your father left because your mother was never around to take care of the home. How did it feel it sister? Knowing your father would rather be with an uneducated girl than your award winning mother? Pitiful right? How did it feel like being in boarding school for over 6 years of your life in which you saw your mother just twice a year? Pitiful right?”
“She wasn’t a perfect woman yes but she was just trying to give us a better future.” I said.
“That I tried to convince myself. Telling myself she was doing it out of love. But she was thirsty for power wasn’t she? Power over her own children.” He yelled.
“Calm down Dipo.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down! I was raped! I was raped by my own Aunt and you’re telling me to calm down? I was raped and I couldn’t even tell my own mother because she wasn’t there to listen. I was bullied in junior class and yet I couldn’t tell my own mother. Of what essence is her existence then? I asked myself. All she wanted was the money and power and she had it all. I asked myself of what use is her being alive.”
I gasped in disbelief as the statement registered in my head.
“D…Dipo, you mean to tell.. to tell me..” I stammered.
“Yes sister. Yes, I killed her. Yes, I poisoned her wine. Yes, I wrote that suicide note.”
“Oh my God! I can’t believe this. I have a murderer for a brother.”
He reached out and grabbed my shoulders. He shook me and said:
“I am not a murderer. The real murderer is that woman who birthed us.”
I stood up and went to the window, I needed the fresh air.
“So Tiwa knew about this.”
“Yes he does. I told him about it some years back.”
“And he didn’t tell me or the police?”
“Why would he? He understood perfectly why I did it. She always said all she was doing was for us right? Well look at us today, I’m the managing director of her company, Tiwa has an engineering firm of his own and your newspaper and clothing line are the talk of the town.”
He stood up, walked towards me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“You might see me as a bad person sister but I did what had to be done. For us. And I’m sorry you have cancer. Surely it’s in its early stage and can be treated?”
Still bewildered, I carried my bag and walked out of his office.
As I stepped into the street, I looked at the sky and breathed in the Lagos air. I knew what I just heard would never be told to another person. It had become a secret. Our secret.
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