DOZ Issue 28 February 2018 - Page 36

there and opened the door in record time. Nike’s waist to support her, but I was pleased to see “Welcome, Ma,” she greeted, taking my handbag Nike on her feet. The Lord had said the symptoms from me as she stepped aside to let me enter the would disappear and I believed Him. They did brightly lit living room. not speak, but as I looked at them, I saw there was As I expected, everyone was waiting for me; my no more hate; all that remained was sorrow and father, Tola, the strange man and Nike. Nike was regret. I pulled away from Dad and put my arms now sitting up in a chair propped by some cushions. around both my sisters and then Dad put his arms She looked a lot better than she had a few hours around all three of us and for the first time in my before. As I stood before them, I wasn’t sure what life I heard my father weep. to say. My sisters looked at me then at each other It was a long night, and there was a lot of catching and bowed their heads. My father, however, stood up to do as so much had happened in the last eight to his feet and walked towards me with his hands years. After I left home, Tola and Nike had plenty stretched out wide. I closed the gap between us and of financial problems as they had not heard from embraced him. We held onto each other for what Dad, who unknown to them had run into problems seemed like an eternity, neither of us speaking and in the United Kingdom and had been arrested and then he drew back and held me at arm’s length so jailed. Nike finished her degree programme at he could look at me properly. the University of Lagos and gradually went into “Is this you, Omolara, my daughter?” He asked. prostitution as she was unable to secure a job. She I smiled and nodded. “Yes, Daddy, it is me.” also moved from home leaving Tola alone to fend He embraced me again. This second embrace was for herself. Tola remained at home and began to sell longer than the first. And again he held me at arm’s the furniture in the house in a bid to raise money length. to cater for her needs. When she left the university, “You are now a big woman, my daughter. I thank and there was no job in sight, she married a young God for your life. Your mother would have been man she had met while in her final year. He had very happy to see you working for the Lord.” a job and would be able to provide for her. He As he mentioned my mum, the tears came to my was the man who had accompanied them, whom eyes and as soon as he noticed them he drew me I did not recognise. They had been married for into his arms once again and held me as I wept six years and still had no child, as she had never silently. become pregnant, not even once. Nike became “I am sorry, Lara, for everything that you ill and unable to continue with her work have gone through, which I could as a prostitute. She made a trip to have prevented but didn’t. I am the hospital and was diagnosed sorry. I should have stayed with leukaemia. It was three here and been a father to years ago, and since then you. I am sorry that I went she had been in and out of away, please forgive me.” the hospital. Tola and her Dad was released from jail only the I didn’t speak, but husband supported her year before and immediately returned I nodded my head with the little money they to Nigeria only to find the house deserted to indicate all was could spare and so did and in ruins. With the help of neighbours, forgiven. Then my her friends. he traced Tola to her husband’s house sisters summoned the Dad was released from where he learnt of Nike’s illness and my courage to approach jail only the year before disappearance. me. My head was buried and immediately returned in Dad’s shoulder, so I did to Nigeria only to find the not know they were standing house deserted and in ruins. close until Nike reached out to With the help of neighbours, he place a hand on my head. I looked traced Tola to her husband’s house up and saw them. Tola had an arm around where he learnt of Nike’s illness and « 36 DOZ Magazine February 2018