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Prodigal son? Blood Contract

Ken stood silhouetted against the setting sun. He was alone in the boat as the lagoon took on the color of the red sun, making the waters look almost metallic. He was contemplating paying his father a visit and suddenly he had become unsure. Questions needed to be answered. He could not hold back anymore and the one person who could give him some of the answers was a few meters away. His hands shook as he tried to calm his nerves.
There was a small sardonic smile playing across his lips. It was time to take a look at the wounds, time to come face to face with his ghosts and why he had left. Why he had promised himself he was never coming back. He needed to make peace with his father if not with himself. He remembered the bitter arguments, his sense of not being good enough for his father. He remembered Douglas and he felt some pain that no one had ever made any attempt to reach out to him.

It was a tough place to have dreams. He had wanted to further his education and he knew his father was not going to be able to cope with the payments. He had been grateful for the secondary education he got. He was not about to just sit down in the place, getting married, have babies, and be a fisherman. His whole soul had rebelled against such a future.
It was not therefore too surprising when he followed the boys to do some small oil bunkering. The first time he got paid he was stunned at making such easy money. He had instinctively kept that business from his father. But being a young man he could not resist buying a few things that was more than his income as a fisherman could fetch him.
His father had asked probing questions and he thought he had succeeded in deceiving him until one evening he came home to find his father in his room, a cold implacable look on his face, and his wad of currency in his hand. There was nothing left to do than to confess what he had been doing. He expected anger but not the blistering rage of the old man.

He still felt disbelief at the blazing words, stating that no son of his was going to be a coward and refuse to stand and fight.
“I can’t see much of any fight with you Papa,” he had taunted back. “No money, no food and I try to do business and you call me a thief.”
There had been the silence.
“Bravery has nothing to do with stealing oil from the creeks. A thief is a thief no matter in what clothes you dress it.”
He had yelled back in his own pain, “I have not stolen anything, just taken what belongs to me.”
“Who allocated stealing to you, Kenawari?”
“Papa!”
“Get out; you have a smell I don’t want around here.”
He had yelled back that he was getting out and was never coming back, that he would make good and his father was going to regret calling him a thief. That was when he made contact with Elias and left the village a few days later. Papa never spoke to him from that night. He never went back to the business, for it had served the purpose he wanted. He never called home.

Ken had not seen Ebijor either or connected with her until the night of his return. He had kept her in his mind for years, knowing he needed to explain his abrupt departure. Knowing the culture of his people, he knew she would have been married off after a time. He wondered if she had resisted or simply accepted his apparent desertion and shrugged her shoulders and settled down to married bliss. He had wondered if she understood about love. He could not sleep at nights as he imagined her in someone’s arms and he was racked by jealousy. A dangerous jealousy he knew, for she belonged to another man. Someone the rest of the community would defend if he tried anything funny. He had also not known about Douglas. He had assumed the silence had been in obedience to their father. He needed time to take a look at that piece of information.

Ken had stalked the markets hoping to catch a glimpse of Ebijor, but she seemed to have suddenly voluntarily imprisoned herself. He was not about to ask anyone questions. Tonbra too had become invisible. He understood, believing she was remorseful about her big mouth and was keeping out of his way with respect. He sighed and started walking along the single plank walkway.

Ken walked past his father’s home deliberately and chose to stop at a point two houses away, because he had not being prepared to find his father sitting outside on an easy rocking chair. He was sure his father had seen him. Ken suddenly lost his nerve. He felt lonely too. That is my father, damn it! You don’t just walk back to fifteen years at the drop of a hat do you? You don’t just wipe out fifteen years of longing, pain, anger and confused thoughts do you? The fact that his father had never enquired after him still hurt, he acknowledged to himself.

Interested readers in Nigeria can now buy copies of BLOOD CONTRACT from thefollowing book retailers:
1.Sunshine booksellers
University of Ibadan
2. The Booksellers(Mosuro Books)
Ring road, Ibadan
3.The Kids Centre
Akure Mall, Akure
4.Toyin Bookshop
Akure
5.Arowolo Bookshop
Akure
6,Seyem Bookshop
Akure
We will update youas more book retailers are added on

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What is that darling?

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How modern are we as parents? Really and truly?
Tinu is the executive officer of an NGO “Belfort Place”. She has a daughter called Banke. I am deliberately dispensing with surnames. That way they are private while we talk about them.

Banke is home on an exeat of a day. The mother takes Banke shopping and as they move towards the check out, something drops from Banke’s bag. Tinu had the presence of mind not to react instantly as Bank quickly drops it back in her bag. But for the rest of the shopping, Tinu is distracted. Later during refreshment, conversation ensues
Tinu: Who is he?
Banke: (Very mystified) He?
Tinu: Saw the condom in your bag
Tinu leans back and laughs, but Tinu is about to have a heart attack, never mind that her NGO counsels people on rape and victims.

“Honestly I didn’t know what to make of it, had she become sexually active already? She is only sixteen?”
Tinu had given her mother a look, shrugged and explained that another NGO had come to their school and distributed free condoms to all of them.
Tinuhad a lot to think about, it was an NGO, and the students had been given a talk about sexual activities. Tinu said, she felt suddenly vulnerable about her daughter and was not so sure she welcomed the idea of condom distribution in her daughter’s school. Seriously now, how many of us as parents who claim to be modern really love the idea of that talk? When we shared the event with Tunrayo, she was scandalized and went on and on about NGOs being part of the problem. She was of the view that children should not be told anything until they were well into their first year in University.
“Don’t be a goose Tunrayo said sharply, Olayinka got raped while she was in 300 level and she had been told nothing. If her mother had taken time to talk about sexuality at all, the poor girl would not have gone off to a strange city with her half- brother.

The argument moved from should NGOs be allowed to give sexuality orientation in secondary schools? Notice that my emphasis has been on sexuality and not on sex education. Is there a difference? Sure there is a difference? However the experience today is : what would be your reaction if your girl child has a packet of condom in her bag.
Banke said, she used the condom to let her seniors know of her preferred orientation
That started Tinu off as she asked what was going on in the boarding house for girls?
Banke rolled her eyes and turned to me: “Big Mummy, have you ever heard of feathering”
My throat went dry as I asked what she meant, and she said

When a senior girl is interested in a girl in the school, they ask her to be a friend with benefits. They educate her in what they mean about the benefits. If she refuses to give them the password to her server, they feather her. That means they come round to her bed at night and initiate her. Can you persuade my mum that I do not wish to give anybody right now a password to my server?
Can somebody please educate me further?

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Is your child on the shelf?

“It is like this, I really can’t make up my mind if she is now redundant or her second value is non existent. Years ago Dayo was ready to have a stroke if Gbemi even hinted at having a boyfriend. I didn’t mind then. I agreed with him as I did not fancy looking after an illegitimate child while her school programmes was disrupted. So I joined and made quite a few threats myself. Dayo my hsband spoilt her rotten, gave her a car when she turned twenty one, rented her an apartment a proper flat not the famous one bedroom holes her mates were renting at that time.

Gbemi to all intents and purposes did not lack anything. She did us proud too at graduation, five prizes at faculty level and best graduating from the university. I felt a bit uneasy that she did not want to have a party as she graduated, but I shrugged it off. She did her masters and went to announce she was going to Scotland for her doctorate. I smiled and asked her when she was bringing a boyfriend home for us to vet. Gbemi shrugged that the man has not turned up. Suddenly I felt something was wrong, I remembered with shock that my daughter turned thirty a few months back, then I felt chills wondering if something was wrong with her. Seriously I started playing back in my memory the suitors that had been turned down by her father and how they had gradually dried up and I became uneasy. What have I done? Is Gbemi now on the shelf?” Tinu turned very worried eyes to me.

I wondered too. Gbemi is tall elegant, a really beautiful girl who should have been married a long time ago. What could be the problem? I made comforting noises to Tinu while I promised to have a talk with Gbemi at the earliest opportunity.

I had a chance a few days later when Gbemi came to see me. I watched this very beautiful lady come down from her expensive jeep as she scooped my grand-daughter in her arms. Gbemi loves children and would spend time with her young nieces and nephews. I commented that it seems she is taking her time about having children of her own. A frown came over her beautiful face as she replied that a woman needs a man before she gets pregnant right? I said yes but that I didn’t think she was in dire need of males as I was sure they would have been banging her door down. She gave me a look and flopped down on my worn couch and grinned.
“Aunty, Dad made such a do about me waiting for the right man and kept raising the bar that I think he made men redundant to me for a long while. If I could just get pregnant I probably will forget about the idea of marrying. I don’t want to be baby mama’ Gbemi made such a sound of distaste as she said the last two words ‘baby mama’.
“Hmm I see” was my comment but I wondered.

“Marriages are not just for the faint hearted you know” I told her wondering if maybe I should recommend Lola Babalola’s book to her.
If you keep looking for Mr. Right , you must be mentally ready you know I told her and we discussed what the issue could be.

“Aunty I am an old maid, looking for the kind of man Daddy says can make me happy, and if I am not lucky soon, I might just decide to remain a lonely miss in my big lovely house and expensive cars, men keep their distance, what can they offer me? I seem to have everything already. To all intents I might be on the shelf already”
There was silence as she finished, then she gave a bright smile but the smile did not reach her sad eyes.
Is your child on the shelf? I pondered for a long time. We all made such a fuss about getting an education, getting a career started and in the crush of our crowding ambitions left out the concept of thinking of starting a family. We need company along the road of the highway of life.
You might ask the question whether it was in anyway paramount in a woman’s life to get married at all.
As parents, and African, we are beset with the doctrine that we must carry on the line and we dream of the day when we sit at the high table as parents of the bride and groom. When we link our values with another family forming new threads and links.

As a parent we look forward to that day when the baby who cried anf held our finger is helped to start his/her own family. We feel we are discharging our responsibility as we hand over the baton.
However, we need to ask ourselves as responsible and effective parents, how well have we prepared our child to handle a relationship outside the family?. Have we made our child ineligible to have a healthy relationship?. Have we spoilt them to such a level that they can’t handle challenges of relating with others? Have we given such a doctrine that they are incapable of learning tolerance and understanding of strange moral codes and ethos that may be different from ours?. Have they become marooned on our myopic island that they cannot survive? Have we bred hothouse plants that wilts from the first puff of reality?
Is your child left on the shelf?