This one is for the grandfather I never met, the one with skin the shade of anthills, the merchant, whose gap-tooth I have…


September 27, 2013

This one is for the grandfather I never met, the one with skin the shade of anthills, the merchant, whose gap-tooth I have only admired in fading photographs, the one people still refer to as ‘the good man’, Babajide..

It was the 4th day.Aduke could hardly believe it. It seemed just like yesterday the midwife had first placed the child in her arms. And yet it had been 4 days. 4 days since she came to full knowledge of what it meant to love. 4 days since he looked at her with those eyes of his and etched his place into her soul forever.He had filled out a lot since he was born and even though everyone said he resembled his father, there was no doubt in Aduke’s mind that the child was his mother’s son.

His chin was hers. His smile, the long fingers that latched onto her breasts as he fed, the anthill shade of his skin; it was all her.

His eyes though, his eyes were Baba’s.

3 more days before they could present him to the world. 3 more days and she wondered if 3 days would be enough for the shriveled old man sitting in front of her.

“Aduke, are you still here?” Baba called to her.

“Yes Baami, I am still here.”

He sighed and spat out the kolanut he had been chewing, his sightless eyes depending on his ears to help him determine the right direction for his spittle.

“Go home, my child.” He said when he had rid his mouth of the kola.

“Your child will be waking up soon and seeking his mother’s breast. Go home.”

“How can I go home, Baami? The naming ceremony is in three days’ time and yet the gods refuse to pick a name. ”

“Aduke, you must learn to be patient and trust the gods. Your son will have a name by his naming ceremony. Go home to your husband, my child and trust. Go on now”

Her breasts were starting to ache and she knew she would get no respite until the mouth of her hungry son had found them. She sighed and made to get up from the mat. It was hard to believe the frail old man sitting on the mat was her Baba. The same Baba that had swung her high over his head as a little girl. The same Baba that had made a place for her on his shoulders and in his heart even though she was an unexpected child, a child of his old age, a child the gods had sent to renew his youth like he loved to say. Aduke’s breasts ached even more and this time it had nothing to do with the child and everything to do with the old man. She got up from the mat and took both his hands in hers.

“Don’t cry, Omo Ola, Omo Ekun, Oriade mi, you are a woman now, you know, with another’s tears to tend to. Be strong, Aduke. Your child will have a name. You will not be ashamed.”

The old man waited till he was sure his daughter had walked far enough. It was then that he turned towards the direction of his gods.
They had never failed before when it came to giving him names for the children. They had not failed now either. He had a name. He was just not ready for the destiny it would bring.

He smiled to think of Aduke. She would have made a great priestess- she had a good heart and a determined soul, the tools of the trade- but her name had not suggested such a destiny. Ifamuyide, his second son would do just fine. He would miss her most of all of all his scions.

He closed his sightless eyes and took deep breaths before speaking.

“I am ready whenever you are, my fathers. I am ready for my destiny.”

When the 7th day finally arrived, they would name the child ‘Babajide’, for his grandfather, the chief priest whose funeral was the same day.

Song of the day: Corinne Bailey Rae – Like a Star

  • Father
  • Ijesha
  • Yoruba

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