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GIGOLO EPISODE NINE

G*I*G*O*L*O

A STORY BY LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH – LAJFINGERS

EPISODE NINE

 

Family, friends and well-wishers stormed the home of Ridwan and Jameelah to felicitate them on the birth of their son which they named Hassan.

Ridwan grinned from ear to ear. He couldn’t contain the joy that oozed out of him. He was a proud father of a son. The feeling was surreal.

Similarly, Jameelah was also excited. Her gratitude to the almighty was immense. The safe delivery was worth a lifetime of gratitude. Her labour came easy with no complications at all. And her husband was with her throughout the different stages of labour. From the mild contraction to the big one; from the shouting to screaming and eventually the pushing of the baby; he was present and for this, she was thankful and once again, he melted her heart.

Even though he wasn’t financially responsible, he provided the warmth and support needed. What if he was physically and emotionally absent the same way he was financially absent? What would she have done? She began to console herself. Telling herself that half bread was better than none; telling herself that his moral support was something money could not buy.

When visitors started trooping into their house, Ridwan went to meet Jameelah in the bedroom. He stood in front of her as he felt his pocket.

“What is it?” She looked up to ask what he wanted.

He continued to feel his pocket while stuttering incoherently. She knew he needed money but she didn’t want to put words in his mouth.

“The guests,” he said, pointing in the direction of the living room. “I think the tradition is to give people biscuits when they come to visit a newborn. Ermmmm …. We ….. we need to get biscuits and I don’t have money,” he said at last.

Jameelah smiled wryly. She wanted to say that she didn’t have money too but on second thought, reached for her purse and gave him 5,000 naira. He gave her a thumbs up without any verbal gratitude and left. She shrugged and heaved a deep sigh.

‘For how will this continue?’ She mumbled.

Ridwan got biscuits and shared them amongst the visitors. As visitors left, they gave them biscuits. He was helpful around the house. He cooked, cleaned and did everything necessary to ameliorate the stress of the new mother.

The couple continued to receive visitors and gifts.

On the fourth day of their baby’s arrival, Ridwan’s elder brother came to visit them.

Jameelah carried the baby to his brother-in-law and left to attend to some other things in the bedroom.

As she was about to step into the bedroom, she heard her brother-in-law say something she was interested in, so she paused and decided to eavesdrop.

“Now that you have a child, what do you want to do?” Ridwan’s brother asked him.

“I don’t understand what you mean?” He replied, confused.

“I mean, what are your plans about working? You now have an extra mouth to feed, you can’t continue to be idle.”

“Is it my wish to be idle? I haven’t found a good job …”

“This is what you always say. Listen, you have to work now that you’ve become a father. Even if the pay is not high. A man has to strive to feed his family.”

“I know, right? But I’m not going to do any job if the pay is not good, never!” He replied.

“Don’t be stubborn!” His brother’s tone was stern. “Do you want your wife to continue feeding you and your baby? Since you’ve been shouting about your dream-job, have you found one? All the years that you’ve stayed idle while waiting for your dream job, even if it was 40k you earned every month, your living condition would have been better. But no, you kept rejecting job offers and continued to remain stagnant. Don’t you think at all? Can you retrieve all the time you’ve wasted? Can you retrieve all the money you’ve refused to earn because you’re waiting for a dream job …..?”

“I can retrieve it, trust me. You wanted me to accept a job of 40k, didn’t you? 40k every month is 400k annually. That’s very little compared to what I’ll get monthly if I land my dream job. If I earn 800k every month, that’s two years salary of a 40k job. Have you seen the wisdom in my waiting?” He asked and his brother laughed sarcastically.

“What’s funny?”

“Your way of reasoning is!” His brother replied. “How can you even think like this? Do you have a fish brain? So you’d prefer to wait for a job that only exists in your imagination thereby rejecting the ones at hand? There’s no wisdom in your waiting at all. In fact, your waiting is foolish because no matter what you earn in the future, it can’t mend what you have lost in the present. Your future earnings cannot erase the fact that you subjected your wife to so much inhumane treatment ..”

“Ha.ha! What do you mean by inhumane treatment? Am I maltreating her?”

“Yes, you are,” his brother told him bluntly. You’re maltreating her because you’re not responsible for her upkeeps, making her fend for herself and for you! And now that a child has come into the picture, you still don’t want to man up. Tell me if that’s not maltreatment!”

“How can that be maltreatment? She understands that I don’t have a job and she’s only being supportive like a good wife should ..”

“Really? She understands that you don’t have a job? Do you really not have a job or is it your choice not to work?”

“My dream job is on the way. It’s only a matter of time …”

“Wawuuuu! An eight hundred thousand naira job is what you’re waiting for, right? No problem, keep waiting. I wanted to tell you about a job but the salary is not even close to 800k so I better keep it to myself …”

“Yes, please keep it to yourself if the salary is not 800k and above. Oh, I can manage 500k, anything short of that is a no,” he replied and Jameelah, who’d been listening all along, bit her finger so hard with tears cascading her cheeks.

She shook her head and returned to her bedroom.

Before Ridwan’s brother left, he asked about his plans for the naming ceremony and he replied that he didn’t have money but was hopeful of his siblings’ assistance. His brother didn’t mince words when he told him not to expect any assistance from them for the naming ceremony.

His siblings had all planned to stop assisting him because they now understood that he banked on their assistance, making him more lazy to work. They thought if they stopped assisting him, he would sit up and find something to do with his life. They planned not to give him a penny for his son’s naming ceremony. The only thing his siblings did was give the baby gifts; baby clothes, detergents, diapers and that was all. They completely shut the door of their favour on him with the aim to teach him a lesson.

After his brother had left, he took the baby to Jameelah in the bedroom. Jameelah was sitting on the bed, resting her back on the headboard. He noticed that she was wearing a long face.

Gently, he put the baby on the bed and sat beside her.

“You don’t look fine. What is it?” He asked her.

She stared at him with disdain and burst into laughter.

“What is it? Why are you laughing?” He asked but she continued laughing which scared him.

His heart thumped as he thought she might be suffering from what Yoruba called ‘Abisinwin’ (Postnatal depression) or why is she laughing all of a sudden when no one said something funny? He thought.

Jameelah kept laughing and this scared him even more. He tried to hold her but she pushed him away so hard. And gradually, the laughter turned to tears.

“Why are you crying? Please tell me,” he persuaded her lovingly.

“You’ve been rejecting jobs because you’re waiting for a job of 800k, right? Haaaaaaaaaaa! Ridwan, you should be ashamed of yourself ….”

“Did you eavesdrop on my conversation with my brother?” He marvelled.

“Yes, I did because it concerns me. You should really be ashamed of yourself, Ridwan! So you’ve been neglecting your responsibilities and making me do everything because you’re waiting for a job of 800k, really? How many graduates earn 200k not to talk of 800k. The few people that earn 500k and above have built themselves to a certain level. What have you done to build yourself? Master’s degree, no! Professional exams, no! Skills that pertain to your profession, no! Work experience, no! So you think any company will just wake up and hire an inexperienced and unqualified worker and start paying him 800k, just like that? If you want to earn that amount, you have to make yourself an asset first by acquiring additional qualifications and earning job experience. You’ve remained stagnant since graduation without taking up any job to boost your CV. Now you want a miraculous job of 800k, just wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!!” She whirled around the room dramatically.

“Stop projecting your negativity on me. Stop it! Are you telling me I can’t get a job of that range? Are you kidding me? My coursemate that I graduated with landed a job in Chevron and his starting pay was 650k. Are you limiting me? Even if you limit me, I won’t limit myself. I know I’ll get it and I’m going to get it. I don’t know why I’ve been unlucky with jobs. I don’t know why my own is so different. I don’t know why I find it difficult to achieve what my mates are achieving. I just don’t know why I’ve been so unlucky …”

“Hmpp!” She snorted. “You’re not unlucky. Not at all. Your mistake is that you want to be like your friends who are getting high paying jobs forgetting that your destinies are different. Some people will run to success, some will walk to success while some will crawl to success. If success has been destined, at the end of the day, the runner, the walker and the crawler will all meet at the top. That’s what you don’t understand, Ridwan. If you’ve been destined to crawl to success, you can’t start big. You can’t imitate your friend who has probably been destined to run to success. If you keep wanting to be like your friend, you’ll just remain stagnant forever. My dear, I also pray that your big job comes because your ease is my ease, your success is my success, but before then, you can’t stay idle. I won’t accept it,” she shook her head and he hissed.

“Cut the crap, please! Who’s a crawler? Did you just refer to me as a crawler? Now I know that you’re my no 1 enemy. I’m going to run to success and I shall achieve success no matter what! No one can kill my dreams. Not even you, Jameelah,” he pointed at her.

She shook her head and hissed.

“You’re just impossible. I understand that your reasoning faculty is malfunctioning probably due to poverty and frustration because you seem to misunderstand my good intentions. Who’s your no 1 enemy? You must be high, Olohun! Anyway, your brother mentioned something about a job which you told him not to talk about if the pay is low. Ridwan, wallahi, you have to accept that job! You just have to accept that job! If not, I’ll carry Hassan and leave you ….”

“Are you out of your mind? Why do you always threaten me with leaving? Anyway, I won’t accept that job, never! And I won’t beg you not to leave. If you want to leave, you’re free to leave, just don’t take Hassan with you. c’est fini!” He replied and left the room.

Jameelah sat down and wept again. After she had given herself a good cry, she dried her tears and called her brother-in-law to inquire about the job. Her brother-in-law explained to her that it was the job of a manager in a food store. And the pay was 50,000 naira.

Jameelah begged the man to persuade her husband to accept the job. She told him not to do it alone but involve all Ridwan’s siblings as their collective voice might make a difference. And so, a week later, all his siblings invited him for a meeting. He didn’t know they’d all be present. His elder brother only asked him to see him and upon getting there, he met all his siblings to his surprise.

Together, they scolded, begged, persuaded, admonished, urged and encouraged him to take the job as little was better than nothing. They told him how it was now very important for him to man up because of the additional soul that had joined his little family. They cited how lack of money didn’t allow him to celebrate the naming ceremony of his first fruit on earth. They told him it would have been different had it been he was earning something.

His siblings’ mouths almost peeled off while trying to make him reason with them. He grumbled and refused at first but after much persuasion, he unwillingly accepted to take the job. His siblings were happy.

His elder brother put a call through to Jameelah to give her the good news. Jameelah’s excitement knew no bounds. At least now she would stop worrying about fending for him. And even if it was little, he would drop something at home for food. Still, Jameelah didn’t tell him about the money she got from her mother’s friend and she wasn’t ready to tell him. She planned to kick-start her business when her son clocked three months.

Eventually, Ridwan started working and Jameelah couldn’t be happier. She teased him that his first salary would be used to celebrate the naming ceremony of their son. Even if they wouldn’t have a big party, slaughtering two rams for the boy as per the tradition of Islam should be done. Ridwan hissed loudly.

“You want to slaughter two rams with 50,000 naira? Are you joking? After removing transport and feeding money from the salary, what will remain of it? Oh my God! Me!” He touched his chest. “A ridiculous job of 50,000 naira is now what I settled for? Haaa! Oh Lord, this does not befit me at all. Why am I so unlucky? Why am I so unlucky? Why am I so unlucky?” His lamentation was on repeat.

Jameelah moved closer to him.

“My darling, you’re not unlucky! Not at all. A lot of people want to be blessed with the job you’re calling ridiculous but they’re not so lucky. And here you are, calling yourself unlucky. You’re not unlucky at all …” she hadn’t finished when he pushed her away.

“Get out of my way!” He said as she pushed her away with a loud hiss.

Jameelah staggered and struggled to regain her balance. She heaved a deep sigh as she sat on the bed, thinking of what she’d done to deserve that from him.

Ridwan worked now but there was no difference between his jobless days and his working days as he wouldn’t drop any money for his wife. At the end of his first working month, Jameelah expected him to at least drop 10k but that didn’t happen. She asked if he’d not collected salary and he replied that he had. Then she demanded money for upkeep but he hissed.

“Are you really expecting something from 50,000 naira?” He sneered.

“Ridwan, 50,000 is better than nothing. Your baby needs diapers. We need to stock the house with food. We need money for other things. I’m not telling you to give me the whole 50k but at least, your family deserves an allowance from your salary …”

“I don’t have. I really don’t have. In fact, the money was exhausted before I collected it …”

“Really? So how do I survive with your son? How do we eat?”

“The same way you’ve been eating …”

“What do you mean by that? Am I working?”

“Please don’t disturb me!” He snapped. “All the money people gave you when you gave birth, nko? You think I don’t know? Or you just want to frustrate my life needlessly?” He hissed and walked out on her.

“Wow!” She opened her mouth in dismay.

She decided to overlook his irresponsibility that month, giving him the excuse that he just started working and needed time to adjust. So she continued running the house with her money. She would cook and he’d eat. He would even state his preference for dinner before going to work. Jameelah was hopeful that the subsequent months would be different. But the subsequent months were the same.

At the end of the month, she would expect him to drop something but he wouldn’t. She would ask but nothing would change. He kept complaining that nothing remained of his salary after transport fare and feeding. He complained that he accepted the job just to please his wife and his family. He told her not to expect anything from him. She became tired and hopeless at this point.

As soon as her son clocked three months, she started looking around for a shop to avoid spending all the money on diapers and food. She informed him of her plans. He asked where she would get money and she lied to him that her friend assisted her to get a grant from an NGO. He asked about the amount of the grant and she lied again that it was 500,000 naira.

Jameelah got a shop at a very good location. She got the required instruments and began her snacks business. When Ridwan visited her at the shop, he knew that what was seated in that shop was more than 500,000. He smiled without saying anything.

The following week, Hassan got immunisation from the hospital. After the hospital visit, he was irritable so Jameelah could not go to the shop that day. She returned home to give her baby maximum care.

At about 12:30 in the afternoon, she just put the crying Hassan to sleep and was taking a nap when she heard a screech on the door. Thinking it was a thief, she quickly jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen to get a spatula. She hid behind the door, prepared to smash the spatula on the thief’s head. As the door opened, Ridwan’s head escaped from being shattered by the skin of his teeth.

Jameelah quickly withdrew the spatula when she realised it was her husband.

“Do you really want to break my head?”

“I’m sorry. I thought it was a thief. What are you doing at home at this time of the day?” She asked and he hissed.

“I resigned,” he replied bluntly.

“Resigned, why?” She marvelled with a shrug.

“I want to take a nap,” he said and walked past her to the bedroom.

To be continued.

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LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH – LAJFINGERS

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FIRST CHILD

A SHORT STORY BY LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH – LAJFINGERS, dedicated to every first child.

Laj Fingers

Today, the house of Mr and Mrs Adigun was bubbling. The family woke up very early in the morning to assume their respective chores. The previous night, Mrs Adigun had already designated duties to each member of the family, and the male inclusive. In the house of the Adiguns, house chores are not gender based. Both genders do it, not even with their Margret Thatcher mother would any child be lethargic. So after the first cock crow that morning, each person mounted their duty and before 8:00 a.m, the house was sparkling with a touch of glitters everywhere.

After the children were done with the cleaning and decorations, Mrs Adigun walked out of her room majestically to inspect the work done. She nodded her head satisfactorily while moving from one section of the house to the other. She also walked into the kitchen to inspect the meals. Two of her sons were holding a pestle and pounding yam inside the mortar. One of her daughters was removing the pieces of yam from the pot and putting them inside the mortar for the boys to pound. Another daughter was preparing the efo-riro to go with the pounded yam. In the house of the Adiguns, house chores were always a division of labour with no child feeling burdened or cheated. Their high number made the chores simpler and less hectic. The children were ten in number and they were all from a womb, because their mum was the only wife.

The house kept bubbling with activities and the aroma of the delicious meal being prepared could be perceived from miles away. The family was celebrating an auspicious occasion. Eniola, the first child of the family, was bringing in her suitor to be introduced to the family. The preparation continued till the guests arrived.

A tall handsome man walked in with two other men. The family welcomed them and showed them to a seat. Mr Adigun sent for Eniola who was still in her room. She later walked into the sitting room in the company of two of her friends. She sat down beside her mom. Her nine siblings trooped out from every corner of the house and also took their seats. Those who could not find a chair to sit leaned against the wall and the introduction began. Mr Adigun was the first to speak.

“You’re welcome, Akinola , my son. Akinola Olanrewaju, isn’t it?” Mr Adigun asked with a smile.

“Yes, sir, I am Akinola Olanrewaju, sir,” Akinola replied with a smile while adjusting himself on the seat.

“You’re welcome once again. Please feel at home. We are glad to have you in our midst. Eniola must have told you that ours is a big family. Beside me here is my lovely wife and equally Eniola’s mom. As you know very well, Eniola, your bride to be, is the first child of this family. And sitting next to her is Segun, Eniola’s immediate younger brother. He just graduated from the University of Lagos where he studied Electrical Engineering and he’s through with his NYSC already. I heard your brother owns a steel manufacturing company!” Mr Adigun asked Akinola.

“Yes, sir,” Akinola replied while nodding his head.

“That’s good. Please help me talk to him. Segun needs a job, and I can assure you that he’s a good boy. I raised all my children uprightly. I’ll be glad if you can assist my son, uhn,” Mr Adigun requested politely.

“I’ll do that, sir,” Akinola replied.

“Oh thank you, my son. May God bless you in manifolds. And that is Niyi, my third child. He also graduated from the University of Lagos. He’s awaiting his NYSC call up later. I want him to be posted to Abuja. You know, there are many opportunities over there. I heard your uncle works at NYSC secretariat in Abuja. You’ll assist your brother in law, won’t you?” Mr Adigun asked Akinola again.

“I’ll gladly do so, sir.” Akinola replied.

“Thank you so much, my son. May God honour you immensely. And over there is my fourth child, Nike. Nike is in her final year studying Nursing ………….. Ehn ehn, that reminds me, Eniola told me that your mom is a retired chief matron in LUTH, is that correct?” Mr Adigun asked and by this time, Eniola was already signalling to him to stop but Mr Adigun ignored her ‘talking eyes.’

“That’s correct, sir. My mom is a retired chief matron in LUTH,” Akinola replied with a nod of his head while Mr Adigun shouted.

“Great! Great!! Great!!! That means my daughter has no problem searching for a job when she graduates, or won’t you assist your sis-in-law by talking to your mom to help her?” Mr Adigun asked.

“I’ll gladly do so, sir,” Akinola replied with a dried throat.

“That’s very good of you. You’re a good man. My daughter is very lucky, indeed. And over there is my fifth child, Bimbo. She’s a student of Agric-Science. In fact, Bimbo’s dream is to work in Obasanjo farm someday. That reminds me, I heard one of your sisters is married to Obasanjo’s son, is that true?”

“That’s very true, sir.” Akinola replied while Mr Adigun turned to Bimbo.

“Bimbo, your dream of working in Obasanjo farm has already become a reality. I am so happy to have Akinola as my son-in-law. We are all so lucky to have him in our lives. Akinola, shebi you’ll gladly talk to your sister to help Bimbo secure a job in her father-in-law’s farm, won’t you?”

“I …… I …….. I’ll do that, sir,” Akinola stuttered a reply.

“He’ll definitely help you. So Bimbo, be rest assured that you have a job after graduation. Akinola is Godsent to this family,” Mr Adigun replied with a grin while his wife concurred.

“He’s definitely a Godsent. Thank you Akinola, my son. You’re amazing,” Mrs Adigun appreciated while Akinola nodded his head and Mr Adigun continued with the introduction.

“Over there is my sixth child, Dayo. Dayo is in the 300 level studying Mass Communication. He has only a year to go and I do not want him to sit idle after graduation. Yes!” Mr Adigun snapped his fingers in delight before he continued. “I heard you’re related to Deji Olanrewaju of NTA. Is that true?”

“That’s true, sir. Deji Olanrewaju is my uncle, sir,” Akinola replied while Mr Adigun jumped up and started dancing. His wife joined him too and they danced together.

Eniola was already feeling ashamed and no matter how she tried to signal to both parents to stop embarrassing her, they wouldn’t listen. After Mr Adigun and his wife had danced to their fill, they sat down and Mr Adigun turned to Dayo and continued.

“Dayo, please start preparing because you are going to work with NTA, okay! Abi Akinola, won’t you help your brother-in-law?”

“I ………..I ………..I ………….. I will, sir,” Akinola stuttered a reply yet again.

“That’s very good of you. Only God can reward what you have done for me. Look at my seventh and eight children over there. They’re twins and we call them OreOluwa [a gift from God] and OreOluwa [The goodness of God] [I’m sorry I don’t know ami and that’s why I gave the English meaning to tell the names apart]

“Ore and Ore both sat for the last UTME and they chose UNILORIN as their first and second choices. Please my son, I want them to get admission without any hurdles and I heard that the Vice Chancellor of UNILORIN, Professor Sulyman AbdulKareem Age is your father’s friend, am I correct?”

“You’re correct, sir. Professor AbdulKareem Age and my dad are childhood friends,” Akinola replied.

“Oh, what a good development!! Should I consider my twins, Ore and Ore, to be UNILORIN students already?” Mr Adigun expressed.

“I’ll try my best, sir,” Akinola replied.

“Thank you, my son. Come here, Ore and Ore, come and show gratitude to your brother-in-law,” Mr Adigun said while the twins came forward to appreciate Akinola and Mr Adigun continued.

“And over there are Bola and Bimpe, my ninth and tenth children respectively. Bola is in SS1 while Bimpe is in JSS3. Please my son, I’ll like you to assist me concerning both of them. I heard your aunt has a secondary school. I need your assistance, you know what I mean?”

“I do not understand you, sir.”

“Don’t try to feign ignorance. Please assist a helpless father,” Mr Adigun pleaded.

“Do you want me to talk to my aunt to enrol Bimpe and Bola for free?” Akinola asked.

“You’re very intelligent. You’re wise and brilliant. May your wisdom never dwindle. Exactly what I want, please help me, my son,” Mr Adigun pleaded and by this time, Eniola was already sobbing quietly.

Her mother turned to her to inquire the reason for her tears but her father quickly responded.

“It is tears of joy. Isn’t it Eniola?” Mr Adigun asked her daughter but instead of replying, Eniola cast him a nasty look but Mr Adigun developed a thick skin and pretended not to see her daughter’s displeasure.

“Those are the members of my family, Akinola. You’re welcome once again. Please serve his meal and add plenty of meat. He’s a good man, a very, very good one,” Mr Adigun praised him endlessly.

The guests were served with plenty of meat as instructed by the head of the family. After the meal, the guests had some good time with the family after which they announced their intention to leave.

The family saw them off to where their car was parked. They waved them goodbye and the guests departed after Akinola promised to call Eniola before going to bed that night.

The family went back into their house and Eniola confronted her father to register her displeasure.

“What is bad in what I have done? I’m about to give him my daughter and so he should be able to pay me back in return,” Mr Adigun defended himself.

“When did I become a commodity for sale? When did I become goods for trade-by-batter exhibition? Daddy, you embarrassed me. You didn’t hide your greed at all. The impression you gave Akinola and his friends about this family is not good at all. I just hope you don’t make me lose a good man,” Eniola said angrily while his mother cut in.

“I don’t see what’s wrong in what your father has done. The man has a huge connection and we’re only trying to attach ourselves to him. we didn’t ask for money, did we?” Mrs Adigun put in while Segun, their first son, responded.

“Mom! Dad was wrong. He shouldn’t have said all that during the first visit. I am also a man, if I witness such a scenario in my prospective in law’s house then I’ll be put off. A girl I haven’t been married to and his family are already on my neck for one request or the other. Dad and mom, you haven’t done well at all,” Segun expressed by shaking his head.

Their parents were sober now and they instructed Eniola to call Akinola to inquire about his journey home. He picked up but the network was bad. Mr and Mrs Akinola heaved a sigh of relief.

“Can you now see that Akinola wasn’t put off. If he was, he wouldn’t have picked Eniola’s call at all. So you children should relax and allow adults to handle things,” Mr Adigun said while both Eniola and Segun shrugged and left for their rooms.

After a while, Eniola tried Akinola’s number again but his line was switched off. She tried his second line and it was equally switched off. She placed the phone beside her till she fell asleep. The following morning, she tried his numbers again to no avail. Throughout that day, his lines were switched off and she sensed trouble. After a week, she still couldn’t reach him and her apprehension grew.

Akinola does not reside in the same city as her so to visit him wouldn’t be that easy. She decided to call his friends but they weren’t picking up as well. She called his siblings and the story was the same. It appeared he blocked her from all social networks too because she couldn’t reach him. She cried non stop and her anxiety grew by each passing day.

After two weeks, she decided to pay him a visit to know what was going on instead of wallowing in depression. She journeyed for nine hours from Lagos to Port Harcourt just to see him. Fortunately for her, she met him outside his house so he couldn’t avoid her.

“I have been trying your lines for the past two weeks. What happened?”

“I blocked you,” he blurted without looking at her.

“You blocked me? But why?”

“Because it’s over between me and you.”

“You ain’t serious, are you?”

“I am very serious. I want a wife and not a family burden. I haven’t married you and your father has already loaded responsibility on my head. I haven’t married you and I am already burdened with the responsibility of catering for your younger siblings. It appears your father does not only want to enslave and enchant only me but also the rest of my family. “Your brother owns a steel manufacturing company, and your uncle works in the NYSC secretariat, your mother is a retired chief matron, and your sister is married to Obasanjo’s son, your brother works with NTA, your father is a friend to Professor Sulyman AbdulKareem Age of UNILORIN, your aunt owns a secondary school” Yehn yehn, yehn ……… Habaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! Only me?! On this small head? Do you guys want to send me to an early grave? If I decide to help and my families who are in each position that your dad is already expecting favours from are not ready to help, then what happens? Please Eniola, I do not dislike you but I’m sorry, I can’t carry your load. It’s too big for my head,” he said with a final note, ran inside and locked the gate.

***

This may seem like an exaggeration but it’s just to explain the enormous responsibility that a first child carries. This may be a fiction but it’s a vivid picture of the sacrifices first children make for their younger siblings. The responsibility that a first child shoulders is unquantifiable. Talk of financial, emotional, intellectual and a host of other responsibilities. If you’re lucky to come from a wealthy family or your younger siblings are made too, then the financial responsibility is lighter on you but trust me, you’ll still be emotionally and intellectually burdened. But if you’re from a poor or average background then you can’t eat with all your fingers. Your salary is not yours alone. Your house is not yours alone. Your clothes are not yours alone. Your bags and shoes are not yours alone. In fact, nothing you ever own belongs to you alone because you’re the deputy parent.

Though Islamically, the burden of catering for your younger siblings doesn’t fall on you but your parents but what do you do when your parents are incapacitated? You have to assist, right? Even when your parents are capable, I tell you, the empathy, sympathy and generosity of a first child is innate. Except if that first child is naturally irresponsible. And in a situation where the parents are no more, the first child assumes parenthood of his/her siblings.

Naturally, the first child looks out for all their siblings hence they’re always emotionally disturbed. Even intellectually, your advice is always sought after. And you’re also burdened with the responsibility of being a role model. Your siblings look up to you. They follow your footsteps and directions. You can’t misbehave because your younger ones are looking up to you. My people would say …. esin iwaju ni teyin n wo sare. As a first daughter, you can’t carry a shameful pregnancy, you have left a wrong foot print. As a first son, you have the responsibility of living an upright life because your siblings are watching you closely. A first child must not err, hence her siblings err.

By default, a first child is saddled with loads of responsibilities.

Shout out to every first child. Shout out to every man married to first child/daughters. Shout out to every woman married to first child/first sons. It takes lots of patience and sacrifice to marry a first child. You guys are the best.

My prayer for all first children is that the head God has made you will not turn to tail. May Allah grant you the financial, emotional and intellectual capacities to be able to paddle the canoe you’re saddled with.

Tag the first child of your parents and say a word of prayer for them. Tag every first child that you know and pray for them. TO EVERY FIRST CHILD, YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING AND AWESOME. THE LOAD YOU CARRY IS ENORMOUSLY GIGANTIC 🤩

LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH – LAJFINGERS

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VEILING IS NOT FAILING

A True Life Feature Stories Of Muslimahs In Face Veil

Note – This interview was conducted in November 2019!

Our feature guest for today is the first ever Niqabi to bag a PhD in the history of the University of Ibadan and probably in the whole of Nigeria (not sure) This is to celebrate her as she’s been conferred with a PhD today, 18th day of November 2019.

Her name is OYAREMI Motunrayo Kafilat (Bakare). She was born and bred in Lagos State. She is from Ifako Ijaye, Lagos. Her father is late Alhaji Uzamat Adekunle Alani Bakare while her mother is Alhaja Rizqoh Arike Bakare.

She spent her early life with her late grandmother, Alhaja Khalilat Omolola Lawal who died while she was rounding up her PhD programme. Her grandmother was the mother she grew up to know while she was very young.

She had her primary education at African Church Primary School, Ifako Ijaye, Lagos, while she had her secondary education at Lagos African Church Grammar School, Ifako Ijaye, Lagos. She belonged to the Press Club and Drama Society in her primary and secondary schools. She was a very active member of the two societies.

Though she was placed in the science department in senior secondary school, she loved acting and casting news. She never wanted to be a science student but she was placed in science class because of her academic performance and everyone believed she would excel in the department. However, she was never fulfilled. She only had a passion for the Arts. Though she was among the best students in the department, she was never satisfied. She wanted more.

She wanted to be the best, she wanted to go for her passion. In her second year in senior secondary, she changed to Arts but her father was highly disappointed and sad. She went back to make him happy but she was sad. She continued to assist her friends in Arts and Commercial classes to do their assignments and she was extremely happy doing this.

Her father was confused, he wanted to know where she actually belonged. Eventually, she took a bold step in SSS 3 and walked up to the Vice Principal academics that she preferred Arts class and that is all she wanted. He was baffled, he couldn’t understand why she wanted to change when the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) was just around the corner. She pleaded with her father, sent emissaries to him, promised him she would never bring the family name into disrepute if given the opportunity to pursue her dream of studying Theatre Arts and later becoming an actress. Her father was flabbergasted, he couldn’t comprehend why she would prefer Theatre Arts to every other course. He humorously offered to take her to Baba Sala (the late veteran comedian) to learn acting from him instead of wasting four years to get the certificate.

After much persuasion he allowed her. She sat for JAMB and chose Theatre Arts. In the year 2000 she was offered admission to study Theatre Arts and her name was number four on the merit list. That day, she was very sure it was one of her father’s happiest days. He was very happy that one of his daughters would be studying at the Premier University, the prestigious University of Ibadan. He took her by the hand and handed her over to Prof Abdul Afeez Ayinde Oladosu of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies who is a nephew of his boss and friend, Alhaji Popoola of Ifako Ijaye. It rained cats and dogs on this particular day but both father and daughter never felt the rain because of their happy states of mind.

Immediately they got home, her father gave her sister, Mrs Taiwo Kafayat Arulogun, some money to keep for her registration whenever it starts. But Alas, man proposes God disposes. We plan and Allah plans, Allah is the best of planners. Her father took ill the following week and died. She couldn’t go for her registration until after his Fidau Prayer, eight days after. The family members contributed money for her registration because the money set aside for registration has been spent on his sickness.

They later went for the registration (herself and her sister) and they were asked why they were just coming. Her sister narrated what happened and fortunately, that was the last day of registration. They got to UI around 2:00 p.m and the registration would end by 4:00 p.m. She was able to beat the deadline and Alhamdulillah, she became an undergraduate of UI.

The journey in the Department of Theatre Arts began with her sister’s advice of becoming a triangular student; Room- Class- Library and back to the room. Her sister enlightened her on the journey to getting a first class and that the journey starts in hundred level. She became a Federal Government Scholar in 100 level and was one throughout her undergraduate. Worthy of mention is also that she won the Mirinda Excellence Award for the best Arts student in her department in SSS 3 first term when she changed to the department.

She later graduated as the best graduating student in the Department of Theatre Arts in 2005. She specialised in Educational Drama and Playwriting. While at the Department of Theatre Arts she realised she loved working with children, teaching them with drama and other forms of arts.

She then proceeded for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in 2007 at the Faculty of Education, Department of Teacher Education, University of Ibadan. She taught in some schools briefly before going in for Masters in Early Childhood Education in 2010. While doing the Master’s programme, things were so rough, her family was in a financial mess and there were days she would not have transport fare to UI and she would join a colleague to school, with the belief that she will definitely not sleep in UI, she would get home.

She was eventually stopped from attending classes because she couldn’t pay her school fees. Ruqoyyah Olayinka Popoola-Isiotan, a friend indeed, later came to her rescue and gave her money to pay half of the tuition fees. She did and she went back to school. She later paid the remaining school fees and school activities continued.

Immediately after her Master’s programme, she started a school, Milestone School, Ibadan and then participated in the YouWin programme and won. She used the grant to build her school and bought a school bus.

She proceeded for her PhD programme in 2013/14 and finished in 2018/2019. She had a PhD in Early Childhood Education/Educational Evaluation from the University of Ibadan.

She started using the Hijab in her first year in the university. This was before she got married. She actually got married in her final year. She started using the face Veil in 2007 while she was pregnant with her second child. She encountered several challenges after using the veil. Many people couldn’t comprehend why she had to use the veil. She was still doing PGDE and the first time she used the veil to class, she was embarrassed by a lecturer, who later succumbed.

Second year into her PhD, she was asked to stop veiling to classes. But Alhamdulilah, the University authority, kicked against this. The University pointed out that veiled students were to be identified by female staff during examinations. Oftentimes, people find it strange and absurd that an “eleha” is doing PhD. Some will even ask her what she intends to do with a PhD? ‘Can you get a lecturing job like this? ‘Who will employ you? These were very few of the questions people asked her while doing the programme.

She is married to Alhaji Abiodun Sulaiman Oyaremi. Allah blessed them with five children: Aisha, Maryam, Abdullah, Abdur-Rahman and Khadijah. Raising the children while studying is not an easy task but she has to cope with it. Alhamdulilah, her husband comes around and they try their best to bring up their children in accordance with the Islamic creed.

Juggling academics and career with family life for her has not been easy at all, it’s an herculean task. However, she tried to ensure that one doesn’t affect the other. By being able to differentiate the primary assignment from the secondary. Her family remains her primary assignment while academics and career remain secondary. With Allah’s rahma, perseverance and prayers, she juggles amongst the different aspects of her life. Her mum has always been her ‘unpaid nanny’ who comes around whenever she needs to be around; when she gives birth, during examinations and field work. She had her children at some very cogent points in her life but she’s been able to scale through thick and thin.

The seed for the quest for knowledge was planted in her by her father whose desire was that the least of his children’s academic achievement will be a Masters degree. Other factors that aided her ride from first degree to PhD are determination, perseverance, patience, prayers, love for research and die-hard spirit among others.

As a Niqabi, what motivated her to continue climbing the ladder till this stage are simply determination and Allah’s rahma. Though the general believe is that ‘elehas’ are meant to sit at home, she is of the opinion that though they must not go out like the disbelieving women, however they have their roles to play in the society while observing the dictates of Allah and His Prophet; Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). Women have multiple roles to play in society and they can only do this excellently if they are educated both in the Islamic and Western ways. What you don’t have, you can’t give!

What also kept her going is her resolution never to give up and her childhood dream of becoming a professor coupled with some people’s “gentle pushes”, the fact that she doesn’t want to disappoint herself and those that strongly believe that she’s a “superwoman” is a motivation.

Being a PhD student is a “trial” on its own. The acronym stands for different factors that will aid your success in the programme. P: Prayers, Perseverance, Patience. H: Humility. D: Determination, Dedication, Diligence. You must possess these virtues among others to succeed. You can’t do it alone, your spouse must support you, you need family support and you must be personally ready to go against all odds.

Her experience as a PhD student is a “stressful-sweet” one. Most of her lecturers believed in her. They supported her, they gave her wings to fly and they pulled her along the lonely path to success. She enjoyed her course of study; Early Childhood Education/Educational Evaluation. The only aspect she found difficult is Statistics, but with determination, she passed the two Statistics courses. It got to a point her children kept asking if Statistics is only the course they were doing.

It took her six sessions to complete her PhD program. Her strengths as earlier stated are Allah’s rahma and her resolution to succeed against all odds.

She is a student of Mahadul Arabiyy (Arabic Institute of Nigeria). But she had to take a leave to complete her PhD and then go back to complete her Arabic classes in Class Eight. She also did a Tajweed programme at Thaqafi (Arabic School Civilization) Agbowo, Ibadan. Her daily routine starts mostly with mid-night prayer (Tahajjud), Salatul Duha, reading from the Quran, going to UI, and going to her school; Milestone School, Ibadan.

She has memorised some portions of the Quran and some hadith. Alhamdulillah

She also has a Madrasah that the pupils in her school attend daily after the Western Education. At least any pupil that passes through her school must memorise two juzuhs and a good number of hadith.

No matter where the whirlwind of life pushes you, Allah will always bring forth a servant of his to be instrumental to the achievement of what He has decreed for you. Prof. Abdul Qoniyy Raji is God-sent to her. He gave her the money that she used to obtain her PhD form. He became the father that she lost at the inception of her first degree. He strongly believes she can achieve whatever she puts her heart into. He is her cheerleader. His support of her academic attainment is second to none. She urged sisters and brothers alike to ensure they marry someone that shares their dream because that’s a step in dream achievement. Someone that will walk and work the path to success with you. She appreciates her husband who gave all the support she needed for today to be a reality. If he had stopped her at one point, today might remain a dream. She also appreciates her children who had to cope with her absence from home at times due to the demand of the programme, her prayer for them is to attain goodness in the two worlds. Her heartfelt gratitude also goes to her mom for being her “unpaid nanny”, And to her siblings, she loves them all. To the management, staff and pupils of Milestone School, Ibadan, she prays this achievement be a source of better beginning for them all. To all her teachers both Islamic and Western, she thanked them for watering the seed. To her supervisor, Prof. Monica Ngozi Odinko, the wind beneath her wings, she thanks her for giving her the wings to fly!!!

Her final words to all sisters who wish to pursue their dreams despite the face veil, ‘you can, you will and you must!!! You have only veiled your face, not your brain. Though your face is covered, your brain is uncovered to be receptive to knowledge that will aid the development and growth of your society. Do not allow anyone to put you down! Simply try to excel in whatever field you choose. Contribute your quota to the world, that could be one of your own ways of calling to the deen. Remember whatever you choose to do has a multiplier effect, it will not only affect you but it may affect your family, society and the world as a whole. Veiling is not failing! Definitely!! Indeed!!!

My sacrifices, my living and my death are for my Lord, the Lord of the World.

Alhamdulilahi Rabbil Alamin.

******

Alhamdulillah Robil’Aalmin. Thank you so much Dr Kafilat Bakare Oyaremi for finding time out of your busy schedule to feature on veiling is not failing.

Thanks for showing us through your good examples and indefatigable efforts that the Niqab is only a cover to the face and not a cover to the brain. We’re indeed proud of you. May this achievement be beneficial to you in this life and the next.

Congratulations!

Brethren, help me utter a resounding Baarakallah feek to this enigma on the milestone she’s achieved. She’s actually the first Niqabi to bag a PhD from UI, Maa shaa Allah. She has indeed made us proud and we’re elated.

#veilingisnotfailing

#Makingimpactisbetterthanbegging

#earningisbetterthanbegging

 

Lateefah Adewunmi Jumah

Laj Fingers