Beth sat alone in the family bedroom, the original house. Her father only managed to build it midway, a small living quarters for his family in the traditional building style. A not so large hallway with four rooms: two on a side, one to serve as the living area, two bedrooms and a small kitchenette. The toilet was outside.
Even in her death Maami looked beautiful, simple yet elegant. Her bright blue iro and buba more like the mother of a bride than a corpse, and yet… Her trail of thoughts was interrupted by a soft rap on the door.
“Beth, how’re you doing?” said Chidera.
Her face was worked up in between a frown and intense focus,
“Have you had something to eat?”
Chidera sat on the mat beside Beth and held her hand, squeezing them gently as if to pass pulses of comfort through them and traced the woven design and texture of the eni with her other hand. “You know it’ll be fine, alright? So many people came, Maami was a good woman.”
“Yeah, she was. She raised Tolu and me, after our parents’ accident, I didn’t feel orphaned cause of her. It’s a pity Aunt Folake couldn’t make it. She lived with us for a while here; Mama took good care of us. Aunty’s with our cousin Kunle and his family in Kent.”
A smile played off Chidera’s face as she continued, “You know I thought the akara was really nice. Now I know why there’s so much reference to you Yorubas burial akara.”
“But you know you’re not serious Dera, so what else did you notice?”
“Ah ahn, I can’t tell you that easily. You sef should read it later.”
Chidera sat in her room, Beth’s new room. Beth and her brother, Tolu ,had completed the new house two years ago with support from a few close family members. Going through her journal for the second time, Chidera searched for any errors in her mock report of her stay in Ibadan before her departure for Lagos the day after.
The first thing I noticed as we drove in was the noise. The sight of our bus made isokuns as Beth called them wail even louder. “A wa Nike omo Akingbola kiniun , a o ri o,” was their anthem as they filed out to welcome us.
Looking at an unsuspecting insect being snagged up by a wall gecko, omo onile, in the local tongue, Chidera wondered what Beth would make of her Yoruba. She’d been picking up a few things from earlier conversations.
The shouts seemed a bit exaggerated but the sincerity and goodness of her grandmother, whom most people thought of as her mother, could be seen in the sad ,quiet faces of the men that sat in the yard. That evening some women prepared akara as a snack for everyone present, I could eat only little but it tasted delicious, quite different from what I’ll call the Lagos version.
I barely slept that night; the thought of Beth sleeping in the same house as a corpse bothered me. They probably couldn’t afford the cost of a mortuary on such short notice. My dreams of course took wings from my imagination.
I took my bath in a rush and went to the other house to meet Beth. She was also dressed but with a resigned look on her face. It didn’t seem like she’d given up but she appeared to be ready to handle the whole business and move on, head held high. At least that’s how she looked; I doubt anyone human can turn off pain that fast . That would be unnatural.
The noise around the compound had reduced too. Everyone was quiet apart from the “city” children who wore English styled dresses with Ankara material like those on (insert IG account) and displaced their lack of maturity and prudence by arguing over who got to hold the selfie stick.
The church service was short but spoke volumes of Beth’s Maami. The few people who spoke gave insights to the down-to-earth iron lady we were celebrating. I rode in the same car with Beth and though I was not family, I stood with her as she threw a shovelful of clay to the coffin below.
If there’s anything this trip has taught me, it is to live a good life, ‘because only then are you sure of a good legacy after your death.’

One thought on “EPISODE IV

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