Adelakun Temitope Adeyinka, a Nigerian, is a one time national essay winner and a runner up in another. He won the Senator Bayo Salami scholarship award and was nominated twice for the Micolm Golf scholarship award. He is also a TOTAL/NNPC scholarship award winner and a certified UNICEF member. He is as well a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (an initiative and pet project of Barrack Obama). He was a judge in the 2018/2019 Omoyele Sowore inter-faculty debate at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun state, Nigeria.
Below is the first part of his serialised prose fiction titled ‘Inheritance That Never Was’.
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Bearing children is as important to women as oxygen is to life in the town of Aragberi. Every wife wants to bear her own first fruit. Any wife with slight delay always eats all sorts of child inducing concoctions, her faith notwithstanding. Whether a Christian or a Muslim, she would silently shelve her faith aside and seek solution to her hitherto barrenness the traditional way. After finding solution to her problem she would then go back and pick her faith from where she left it.
If the concoctions did not produce the expected result on time and the wife suspects she might not be the one responsible for the delay, she becomes frustrated. In her frustration, she goes as far as engaging in extramarital affairs just to have a child she could refer to as her own.
Her engagement in extramarital affairs is often with the hope of conceiving by all possible means in order to avoid the subtle, yet apparent mockery from her traducers. Aside her traducers, her husband’s family, relations, and clansmen are also bones to contend with. If she did not conceive earlier than necessary, some of her husband’s family would uncharitably begin to visit with young female adult, sending a loud, deafening, resonating, yet unspoken message: if you refused to born for our brother, here is a lady ripe enough for marriage, ready and willing to take your place.
It is always not a “me and my husband alone” affairs as every family member and extended relations have a say in the marriage, mostly to the detriment of the wife.
The partner responsible for the delay in conceiving does not matter, the blame is more often than not put on the wife. At the point of depression and high expectations, the wife would practically sleep naked, hoping against hope that yet another pounding from the rather lukewarm husband might lead to the exhaustively awaited pregnancy.
It was a patriarchal setting where the men rule ultimately while relegating the women to the background.
So, when the long awaited Kolade, the only son of Owonikoko was born, he was treated, without reservations, to all the spoils of the world.
Kolade was a spoilt child whose rich father, Owonikoko, was famous for his cocoa business. Kolade practically had everything he wanted without fail. He would not sweat for anything except of course when he was into the business of eating hot, sweat inducing meal. Kolade was raised in a society that placed premium on the male child. To make matters worse, Kolade was the only son in a family of sixteen.
Owonikoko who suffered the fate of a male child for long had been pressured by family and friends to get himself a male child that would help preserve his name. Conceding to pressures, he went on a marrying spree until he married Segilola, who later bore him Kolade. When Owonikoko finally sired Kolade, it was only reasonable and expected that he would over pamper the boy. Being treated preferentially, plus what obtained as the standard in the neighborhood, it soon crashed violently into Kolade’s consciousness that women are inferior to men.
To further embolden him of this chauvinistic myth, his mother, Segilola, a staunch and unrepentant student and local champion of male divine superiority always schooled him on how to relegate women to the gutter, where she thought they exclusively belonged. He had been warned a number of times never to take part in anything related to domestic chores. For Segilola, domestic chores are the exclusive rights of the girl child.
“Subuhanallah, Kolade, you have four heart chambers and each of them is for your future wives. How dare you wash your own clothes when your older sisters are still much alive. Exactly why did you have to follow your sisters to the stream?”
“Kolade, but what?”
“Don’t even give me the excuse that you only strolled with them without taking part in the water fetching business. Don’t you know that your sisters’ heads are for carrying woods and fetching water? They are not to be assisted at all.”
“But what? God created you with nine ribs and seven ribs for your sisters. There is no such thing as an egalitarian and equitable world between you and them. Their job is to obsequiously serve and fawn over you. Even God had discriminated against the girl child. So, you have all the rights to abuse, exploit, violate, and oppress as you so wish. If your sisters are not commodity or sex object, God would have designed them in his image like you. You see, the exclusive right of your father is to point at any one of us for his sexual pleasure. He is a man and I want you to be like him”.
Though a lazy boned, spoilt child, Kolade could not understand why his own mother was so bitter and resentful towards the girl child.
“But I love my sisters”.
“You still don’t get it. They are not to be loved or respected. I’m your mother and I want the best for you”.
“But maami, Ralia has been the smartest student in my class and she had come first consecutively every term for the past two years”.
“You see, that is the point. It is not normal. She is a witch. She has strange spiritual powers helping her to beat you boys to the first position. She will soon be caught and would confess all her evil atrocities very soon. Just wait and see.” Segilola concluded.
Armed with the information that the world belonged to the male child and with the confidence that he would inherit his father’s estates, he no longer fancied education.
“Of what essence is education when the end result of it all is to become rich in life” he thought.
Living up to expectation, It was not long before he lost interest in assisting and learning his father’s cocoa business, while waiting and hoping that sooner or later, his aging, diabetic father would join his ancestors and he, being the only son would inherit his father’s estates much to the chagrin of his older half sisters and stepmothers. He would inherit all the cocoa farms and the houses and sell them off to the highest bidder. He would then move to city and treat himself to the spoils of the world. He would club, smoke, booze, and merry. He would employ the services of three sex workers at once and ease the stress of clubbing. And he would pay the sex workers, handsomely. After all, it was his rightful inheritance that he did not sweat for. He would wait for his father whom he now loathed so much to pass away and show the world how to spend the money.
Getting worn out as the angel of death refused to do the needful to his now obviously aged father, he cursed and swore under his breathe that the angel of death could at times be a derisive and frustrating bitch that would not play to the gallery especially when one needed him to. But If the angel of death refused to do his bidding earlier than necessary, he would be tempted to carry out the mission himself. He would see his father off to the Customary Court as usual and slash his head open on their way back home. But the more he thought about the explanation he would give to his mother, stepmothers, and half sisters as to what killed their father, the more foolish the idea of slashing his father’s head into two equal parts seemed to him. He soon abandoned the idea and resolved to wait, albeit, frustratingly for nature to take its cause.
While waiting, the annual Egungun Festival in the town of Aragbiri was around the corner. He would go to the king’s palace where the main action of the yearly Egungun Festival would take place…
…to be continued