Labake, Ireti’s Daughter
They say she was my mistake, but she must be the happiest mistake ever! How else do you explain how much joy she adds to my life and even to Mamma & Papa’s! She is the star attraction of our compound or “Okolo” as we call it. Once the doors start to open early in the morning and fires are lit under firewood stoves, you start to hear people call her name! “Labake!!!” Iya Sikira is calling, to give her a piece of smoked fish! Alhaja Medina is calling from another door, from there she emerges with a bowl of roasted yam and palm oil- we eat that together! No body calls me, except to rain a few insults on me!
I remember finding out I was pregnant at 14. To be honest, “finding out” is attributing too much wisdom to me. My period had barely started when it happened. No body had ever told me about sex and pregnancy… all I knew was that in Wawu Grammar School I was one of the best students, I went for every local debate and acted in all the October 1st Independence plays the school ever held.
I was in Form 4 when Copper Shun as we used to call him came to do his NYSC at our school. He was handsome ehn! He had gone to University in UNN! Nsukka! Wow! From my little rural community in Badagry, the thought of coming from so far away was exotic in itself. He studied French he said, and would occasionally punctuate his lessons with questions like “tu comprends?” When you answered a question right he said “tres belle” or “magnifique”! I spent most of the classes he took dreaming of what it would be like if we got married! Our children will have names like “Chantelle” and “Dominique”… He was my first ever crush. There was no boy like him in the whole of Badagry, I swear!
You can imagine my joy when he started to single me out in class! “Labake, please rescue the class and answer the question”, of course I would get it right, to which he would say “belle,belle, tu est tres belle!”
I am black as mid-night but I swear, I’d blush and turn red every time he called my name. That’s how it started o! It became “I can help you study more, because won’t it be tres magnifique if you went to University from Form 5?” From let me help you study, next thing you know, I am “with child” and Mr. Exotic Copper has left town…
LOL! Do you want to read more? I had cause to visit Badagry recently, this little story was inspired by the beauty of the rural environment and how unhurried it all seemed. Gave me a chance to catch my breath and conjure up stories. I am sure I can write a novel- if I can get myself to pay attention long enough. LOL! Drop me a line if you want to hear the story of Labake, Ireti’s Daughter… I may just develop it further… Ciao! Have a wonderful week everyone!