By His Grace (A short story of my life)





The Joyful News

It came to pass in the farmbelt of Aria, in the village of Ijesa–Isu, that two women were working inside a huge hollow in the ground. They were extracting palm oil from a pool inside the hollow, and it seemed as if nothing could distract their attention. The cool breeze from Aria River was a boost to their work. The environment also was silent; nothing could be heard apart from the sounds from some tiny birds.

Suddenly there were some hoots from a familiar voice. It came repeatedly and they could not ignore it, so they hooted back. It was an old man called Pa John trying to locate Mama Janet, one of the two women in the hollow. On hearing their hoots, he knew where they were working and he reached them.

“I am just from home and I have brought you good tidings,” said Pa John. “The driver plying Lagos and Ibadan came, looking for you. He said your daughter-in-law has delivered a baby boy.”

Hearing this Mama Janet was unable to contain her excitement. She stepped out of the hollow, cleansed her hands and legs and was preparing to go home.

“Joy has filled my heart,” she said. “I can’t work again, I am going home. I should have declared today a free day if I had known. Oh, my joy has come. I am satisfied for today even if I don’t eat again.” She carried her load and she was singing and dancing on her way home.

 

The Trio Live Apart

The woman dancing home was my grandmother and the news of my birth was announced to her on that farmbelt. It would be impossible to tell my story without stating her impact. For she was the earliest, strongest, and most caring person I will ever know. On the 2nd of May 1974, I was born to the family of late Engineer Olaoye Aturu at the city of Ibadan, western part of Nigeria. I was the first born of my parents, and they were young couples then.

When I was few months old there was a misunderstanding between my parents. This involved their families and it was not properly managed. Or I should say that it was not an ordinary one? Only God knows. The misunderstanding resulted into divorce between my parents; the young family broke and things fell apart.

Mother has gone away, father could not nurse, and ‘can this child survive?’ This was the question and concern of everybody around, knowing that the grass at where two elephants fight will suffer most. But I thank God who sent people that really showed love and care. My grandmother, Mrs Janet Aturu (late) was one of them; my early years were spent with her at Ijesa-Isu Ekiti, my home town.

 

I Wondered Over Her Question

My growing up without my parents was unnoticed to me. There was no different between other children around and I, no sign of maltreatment, no set backs and no problems except my teething troubles that were severe. I often fall sick and this made Mama to worry a lot. ‘If God says Tayo is our son he will not die,’ years later I read in one of my father’s letter to Mama.

One day while playing outside the house, a woman passing by waited on reaching me. She greeted and played with me for a moment and later asked about my mother. I answered that she was inside but she disagreed. She said she was asking of my mother that gave birth to me. I was confused and remained speechless. Seeing this, the woman went on her way. But I was still wondering. ‘My mother that gave birth to me. Do I have other parents?’ I was disturbed so I dashed inside to ask mama who now told me that my parents had separated and my father had traveled to London for further studies. Up till that time I thought Pa John, a family friend, was my father and mama Janet, my mother. I never knew I have parents elsewhere; just because of the love they have shown and also they were the people I saw around.

 

The Boy Tayo Starts Schooling

In 1980, at the age of six, I started my primary education at Hosanna African Church School 1, Ijesa-Isu. Everyday, with my slate on my head, I am on my way to school. The basic things to start with was not a big deal for me, I have known how to count figures from one to twenty ahead of my mates. Mama had taught me this, even months before starting school. I could remember using cocoa beans as my counters while counting and recounting 1, 2, 3, — at nights before sleeping. She also taught me how to read the time and alphabets in Yoruba language. This made me to be noticed in my class; I was one of the best pupils and my teacher was impressed.

She knew I was living with an aged mother, and kids of such are always spoilt because they are over pampered. Also their aged parents don’t bother about their education. But mama was different, every morning she dressed me and urged me to the school. One morning I was reluctant to go because my teacher caned me in the previous day. I told mama, expecting her to follow me to the school and get mad with the teacher but her response was contrary. She said I was disciplined because of my wrong act, and that my father also was caned when he was in elementary school. Since that time I never let her know anytime I was punished in the school.

After my third year at Hossana A/C School, I traveled on vacation to Ikere-Ekiti. There I stayed with Mrs. Elizabeth Adetiba, my father’s elder sister. That was the first time I would change environment since I was born and I found the place so interesting. Mummy, as I used to call Mrs. Adetiba, just delivers a baby girl during my staying. It was this baby and Tope, one of mummy’s sons that attracted me so much that I decided to be living with them at Ikere. I only came back to Ijesa-isu to arrange for my transfer from school and pack the rest of my load. Mama could not believe that I can leave her at that age, and she wept.

(To be continued).