Far Away From Home
Looking out of the window, Ajoke knew she would not be back to Nigeria for a long long time. It was not all the commotion that had happened at the airport as she tried to check in for her flight to Johannesburg neither was it the fact that as she looked at her watch, it was 1PM in the afternoon and the flight which was meant to be for 11:45 still was not ready to leave. It was that whenever she thought of Nigeria she only remembered hardship, unhappiness and stress. She had lost a loved one, almost lost her family heritage, lost another loved one, and was finally dropping family forever.
After spending 10 years in Ukraine, she had to come to accept that it was going to be her home. She hoped to find love, fulfillment and happiness in this country but life has other plans. In the summer of 2018, as Ajoke returned home after a 20 hour shift at the hospital, she finally had sometime to go through her phone and there was nothing unusual, Jeremy was complaining that she didn’t participate actively in their relationship, Catherine was trying to schedule drinks for the weekend, her Landlord was asking her to fill her tenant satisfaction form and a message from mummy. “This woman has come again, probably asking me to come back to Nigeria to marry and have children” she uttered in irritation as she contemplated between opening the message and deleting it.
She chose to open the message and was met with the shock of her life “Daddy is not well, they are saying he might not survive the night Tinu, Kemi and Yetunde are with me at the hospital. Please take the next flight you can get and come home, we need you.” No insults, no pleasantries, no Yetunde misses you. Just a message that said her father was dying and she needed to be back in Nigeria. She replied the message “okay mummy, mo tin bo”. She immediately sent an email to the hospital explaining the situation, booked the next flight going to Nigeria, picked up her dusty bible from the cabinet and knelt down to pray starting with “Oh Lord, please let me see my daddy’s smile when I get home”
Landing in Nigeria, she was welcomed by the usual chaos — people asking for bribe, such a rowdy airport. Luckily she only had a handbag with her so her stay at the Nigerian airport was short and quick. She got outside and got into a cab to Victoria Island.
She really wished for a quiet ride to the hospital but the cab driver kept trying to have conversation: asking where she was from and why she was back in Nigeria, explaining to her how if he had the chance to leave he would never return, saying she was pretty and asking why there was no ring on her finger…she was back in Lagos where nobody could mind their business and the misogyny was real. She got to the hospital, paid the cab man and walked straight to the reception “I am here to see Mr. Gbadamosi, my name is Ajoke Gbadamosi” she said with control as Nigerians only understood control and power. The receptionist replied her in a very condescending tone that her father was in room 102 and that she had better hurry up.
Walking into the room and seeing her sisters in tears and her mother and father looking extremely thin broke her. “Daddy ekurole sir” she knelt down and greeted her father as she grabbed his fingers and tears rolled down her eyes. “Ah Ajoke mi, you’ve finally come back home for your mother” he said in a voice that she did not recognize and a chuckle that she did not understand “Stop crying jorh, se you know your mother will use it to laugh at you later, I need you to be strong for all of the…” he coughed loudly and something reddish came out from his mouth. Ajoke’s mother wiped it slowly almost like she was used the substance. “Take care of all of them for me and don’t be surprised by anything in my will because you are capable. Don’t let anybody ride you and don’t do anything you don’t want to do. so gbo” as he said those words, his grip tightened around her fingers. “Oya all my beautiful children come and give me a hug, time is going” He smiled as he barely stretched out his hands for Ajoke and her sisters to give him a hug. As the hug ended he smiled and. asked to be alone with his wife.
Mr Gbadamosi had successfully built one of the biggest payment companies in Nigeria. He was an internationally recognized tech entrepreneur and the world was going to miss him. He had made friends and has impacted in the lives of people around him so his funeral was full of people. People crying loudly and people just silently dropping tears. Some people were eating which was very weird but not for Nigerians. The whole family looked weird and just as her father had asked, Ajoke was trying her best to keep everyone in order. Her uncles from time to time tried to disrespect her about her empty finger but she restrained herself from insulting them like she normally would and just avoided them.
Everything was under control up until it was time to read her father’s will. Mr. Gbadamosi was educated but he was also very traditional so you can imagine everyone’s surprise when he left absolutely nothing to his brothers. His houses and cars, he gave to his daughters and his wife. All his properties went to Ajoke’s siblings and her mother. A felling of neglect washed over Ajoke as the lawyer read through the will, allocating more and more of her father’s wealth to everyone but her until the last line. “The company I have built for years, the company I have toiled for since I was a teenager. I handover executive control of Paygrade to my brilliant daughter Ajoke Gbadamosi”. The lawyer closed the will and packed up his briefcase as he stepped off the stage. Her father had left her his most prized possession. A wave of happiness and satisfaction surrounded her before she felt fear and anxiety. She was now in control her father’s empire and the entire family now depended on her.
Her mother did not move, she continued sobbing until Uncle Gbenga stood screaming “This is rubbish, why would Gboyega leave all his properties to a group of women, I have been his right hand at Paygrade for 30 years now, yet he gave this child executive control, what does she know about running a company, Mgbo Ajoke who are the biggest clients? Do you know? All his cars and houses to these women? Ah this woman must have bewitched Gboyega. My brother would never do that. Can Yetunde even drive? Can she manage property? All this husbandless women”. The rest of what he said was inaudible because security came to lead him out. Yes, Ajoke had anticipated such stupidity from at least one of her uncles and had told the security guards to be on standby for such.
The fact that her father had treated her entire family so well and fairly was not a surprise, Uncle Gbenga’s outburst was not a surprise, the real surprises started unraveling the moment Ajoke resumed at Paygrade. These were the surprises she never expected.