Fadeke: Episode IX

Fadeke made it to final year of medical school with great effort. It was a busy year for her as she spent most of it working on her first studio produced solo album. By this time, she had won the hearts of many music lovers in Nigeria. Agreed that she was no party-crooner, her music could not fit into the average Nigerian party but it did fit into corporate events and that was her market and there she made waves. She appointed a manager to lessen her burden so she could worry less about scheduling and all whatnots. Throughout that year, she was very selective about the events she attended, she had learnt from the previous experience that she was not meant for every show, or concert or event. When she could no longer handle the requests, and due to Tade’s similarly busy schedule, she agreed to appoint Smart Ode as her manager.

Smart had worked his way up the ladder, having begun as a personal assistant to one of the greatest manager of human talent the country had ever seen, the legendary Martin Kay. Martin Kay during his active years managed about eight ‘A’ lists artists at different times in their careers, and they all agreed they could not have reached the heights they did without Martin Kay. Smart Ode learnt all he knew from Martin Kay, he learnt how to speak like a manager, dress like one and dish out instructions like one. Most importantly, Martin Kay taught Smart when and how to be humble when speaking to an artist. “That artiste is your employer, even if he or she is probably younger than you are. You are an employee, just a different kind and grade of employee. Never forget that my boy” Martin Kay would often say. Smart was smart enough to listen and follow the footsteps of his mentor, he  however went one step further by recognising talents in artistic fields other than the stage, this was the basis for his appointment as Tade’s manager.

“Fadeke, I honestly think that you need to attend more events, for two key reasons” Smart Ode knew his job really well and he tried to be as persuasive as he could “The first reason being that you need to stay in people’s consciousness, that is how you stay relevant. And the second reason is simply that you need the money for us to complete your studio release” Smart concluded

Fadeke wanted to laugh at Smart’s effort at persuading her, she knew though that he was merely doing his job, so instead she patted Smart on the shoulder and responded “No worries Smart, let me decide that. I have the final say on every invitation. Are we clear that?

“Loud and clear Ma’am, loud and clear” Smart responded and curtsied to lighten up the mood.

****

Fadeke’s first studio solo album was released in her final year; it was an instant hit as it rocked the airwaves and stayed on the top chart for weeks. The tune of her soul music captivated the hearts of many and soon, she was sought after by different individuals who wanted her to perform at their events. She had to turn down most of the offers as she needed to fully concentrate on completing medical school in good time and in style. She restricted her performances to one Saturday a month and carefully selected the events she accepted. Her practice time and performance time were the only time she spent outside studying and keeping it real with the love of her life, Tade. She was often embarrassed when even her classmates tried to mob her and ask for autographs. She had become a star but she felt she needed to complete it by concluding her medical education. She thought about the sacrifices of her mother and felt a tingle in her heart. She was finally going to reward Mrs. Onifade. She wrote her final exams with confidence and joy, she had an assurance that she had done all she needed to do. Her oral defence was also well received; her professors were particularly impressed at her self-taught knowledge of music therapy. She gave her a rousing applause.

“I understand you are musician too” a professor said and nodded his head as if saying ‘you have done well’.

“Yes o” another professor responded “my daughter would not let me rest. She wants an autograph”

Fadeke beamed “Thank you for your kind words Sirs and Ma’ams. And tell your daughter to come around whenever she is available ma, I will be glad to sign one. Though I’m trying to get used to all that” they all smiled at her and waved her off with admiration.

***

Fadeke was ready to pack out of her dorm room at school and move back home briefly before her induction into the medical profession. Tade and Mrs. Onifade came to assist her; she had officially introduced Tade to her mother earlier during the first semester of her final year. Both hit it off immediately, Mrs. Onifade became particularly fond of Tade. From the way she doted on him, any person who did not know otherwise would conclude that Tade was Mrs. Onifade’s only son. This made Fadeke jealous sometimes but she was also very happy, it was a happy jealousy.

They helped her pack her things and whilst they journeyed back home, Mrs. Onifade could not stop talking about how Tade had redesigned Fadeke’s room and how beautiful her room was. Whilst at Yaba Tech, Tade had garnered experience in interior graphics and designs, she had seen some of the works he did and they were breath-taking. Tade’s abilities were spectacular and she was so happy for him and at their future together.

“Mummy I don’t think it is as beautiful as you are painting it o” Tade laughed and tried to play down her mother’s ‘exaggerations’.

She snuggled close to him and whispered “I’m sure it is impressive”

“It is more than impressive o, o fine gan ni” her mother interrupted. Fadeke could not honestly understand why her mother was so excited, but she was happy to see her mother so happy and excited. She had not seen her in such high moods since her father left them, so she felt good.

She did not want her mother to continue her one-woman show so she quietly mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Tade. She closed her eyes and tried to picture what they would look like as a married couple and she felt herself blushing. She opened her eyes and caught Tade starring at her; there was some message in his eyes. The way he looked at her made her excited and she could not wait for them to have their alone time, without her mother’s excited Yoruba chatters.

When they got to the house, Fadeke rushed to her room. She was really excited and was so eager to see the magic Tade had performed on the outlook of her room. But she was not prepared for what she saw. Indeed her room looked more than perfect, everything were in the right place, her favourite art works were well hung and he had added a few portrait of some of her stage performances. Her room was a beauty but none caught her heart and made blood rush to her face like a beautiful inscription on the wall of the room, just above her reading table. She felt the tears rush to her eyes as she read the words

Fadekemi,

This wall is not big enough to show you how much I truly love and cherish you. Will you please marry me?

Signed

Tade

She turned with tears in her eyes; Tade was right at the door and on his knees holding a beautiful diamond ring. He looked at her and whispered “Fadeke, you came into my world and changed everything. You told me I could make it and you stood by me as I did. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without you. Please say yes”

Fadeke could only shake her head in confirmation as he slipped the ring into her finger. She embraced him, still teary.

She heard her mother sob behind the door. ‘this woman, such a drama queen! She thought and smiled, without letting go of Tade.

Postcript

Fadeke was inducted into the medical profession. At the induction, Fadeke received the award for the best result in Anatomy. Mrs. Onifade was so proud of her daughter.  She could now be famously referred to as “Mama Doctor”; her lifelong dreams were fulfilled not only because of Fadeke’s achievement, Mrs. Onifade made some giant strides of her own. With Fadeke out of school, Mrs. Onifade was going back to school. She had timidly applied for admission to the Lagos State School of Nursing and never thought she would get in but she did. The admission committee were particularly impressed that she refused to let go of her dreams despite her age and they gladly offered her in place. Her joy knew no limits as she accepted the offer, after-all, age is nothing but a number

As for Fadeke, she felt fulfilled and proud of the woman she had become. She would now focus on building a long career in music and as a music therapist; and off course try to out-love her lover boy!

 

I guess that is the end. I hope you enjoyed the series.

Oluwatosin

Fadeke – Episode VIII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

Fadeke was not happy with her performance at the event; she began to doubt her abilities and any future career in the entertainment industry. She felt that her path may not be music but medicine and that perhaps, that was the reason she had the fortune of studying medicine. She was disappointed with herself. Tade made concerted efforts to encourage and cheer her up but her mind seemed made up. She had resolved to channel all her energy into medicine. She studied hard for her test, became more serious with her course works and within a little space of time, she moved to the top five percentile of her class.

Fadeke totally withdrew from music, when she went back home Mrs Onifade noticed that the excitement Fadeke had for music had suddenly faded. She also noticed that Fadeke was withdrawn; she was no longer the excited little girl who giggled at every sound of music. She was both happy and sad about this new development, a part of her was happy and hoping that her indifference with music will help her focus better on her medical studies and in the long run, maybe she could fall in love with the idea of being a medical doctor. However, she was not happy with the lethargic Fadeke, music was a core part of her and the absence of music reminded Mrs. Onifade of the things she wished she had done rather than settled for the life she eventually settled for.  Mrs. Onifade decided to ask Fadeke why she had lost her love for music.

“Fadekemi, I hope all is fine. I noticed that you no longer sing as you used to, se ko si o? she asked, sincerely concerned.

“Mummy, there is no problem. I just think that music may not be the right career path for me” Fadeke responded.

“Ehn? How do you mean? Music makes you excited and very happy. I don’t like this new you o” Mrs. Onifade tried to look Fadeke in the eye, she knew if she could get Fadeke to look her in the eye, she would be able to tell for certain whether she was telling the truth or otherwise. She felt and knew that all was not well, but she could not exactly place her hand on what the issue was. “Fadekemi, so fun mi, kilo sele?

Fadeke began to cry when she saw that her mother was genuinely concerned. She realised that despite her many strange tendencies, her mother was truly interested in her overall state of affairs. She opened up to Mrs. Onifade and explained how she messed up at the biggest stage of her life and how there may never be a second chance. She explained all that Tade had done to encourage her and help her back to her feet, without much success. This was completely new to Mrs. Onifade, she was pleasantly happy that Fadeke had made such tremendous progress both in medical school and as a musician. She was also happy to hear about the young man Tade, whom her daughter was apparently very much in love with. She pulled Fadeke to herself, let her weep while telling her that she was good enough.

On her part, Mrs. Onifade began to appreciate Fadeke’s strength of character and became encouraged to push herself; maybe, just maybe she could still become a trained nurse.

***

Tade thought that Fadeke would eventually come around and that she only needed time and constant reassurance. However, months after months, Fadeke’s enthusiasm remained at ground zero. She told Tade of the conversation she had with her mum and how Mrs. Onifade had not stopped to talk about reigniting a career in nursing despite her age. Tade was happy that Mrs. Onifade was encouraged but was sad that Fadeke remained disinterested in her music career. He called Phebean and told her about the concert and Fadeke’s lack of interest in music thereafter. Phebean had a strong influence on Fadeke and because she had also experienced failure at different points in her career, she knew the right motivation Fadeke needed to get back on her feet. She paid Fadeke a visit; consoled her and told her to research on great legends in the music industry. She asked Fadeke to read their stories and how they also had bumpy rides in their early days but succeeded against all odds. Fadeke confided in her that she still loved music, only that she could not get over the fact that she failed in the spotlight.

Phebean insisted that all she needed to do was read about music icons, their epic failures and how they overcame such failures. Fadeke read about music greats who failed at first but picked up themselves. She was particularly impressed by the story of Elvis Presley who as a young singer was kicked out of the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country-music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee. He was told to stick to his day job of driving trucks but he did not allow that deter him, he continued until he made it big.  She realised that she must not let rejection and criticism get in her way as it was merely a part of the music business which must be handled positively. She began to understand she must learn from a “bad” situation and move on and that the only positive way to silence critics is to prove them wrong but first she needed to prove to herself that she was good enough.

Fadeke was inspired, she started to dream again, she resolved that the world was her oyster and she was going to write beautiful stories in the chapters of her life. From then onward, there was a drastic change in her outlook to life, she became aware that there was more to her, she activated this consciousness and continued to ace her exams.

In her 5th year in medical school, Fadeke started researching on musical therapy once again and thought to work on same as it fascinated her. She started to dream big and plan her life. One of the best decisions she made was leaving 360 degrees. When she left 360 degrees, she had more time to write more songs, do solo videos and she learn to play the guitar. Tade enjoyed watching her sing and play the guitar. He made a portrait of her playing the guitar which she loved very much and hung same proudly in her room.

Tade resumed posting clips of Fadeke’s solo songs on Instagram and the feedback was phenomenal. Her fans were still very much in love with her. This was a confidence booster; this time, she knew she was ready to take on the world.

 

Interpretations

se ko si o? – I hope all is well

so fun mi, kilo sele? – tell me, what the matter is

Fadeke: Episode VII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it.

In her first year at Medilag, Fadeke found music and medicine to be overwhelming and was smart enough to know that her grades may suffer if she didn’t focus on medicine; consequently, she decided to reduce her participation in 360 degrees. She limited her involvement to only participating in rehearsals twice a week but attending just one show in a month. She learnt how to manage her time better and limited the activities she participated in. She also realised that her workload as a medical student would only intensify. She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it. Her grades were impressive that first year and she was proud of herself. She stepped out of her comfort zone and understood what her limits were. Indeed, her first and second year in medical school was a learning curve for her, she became smarter and wiser. She felt at some point that perhaps she was giving up on her dreams, perhaps she ought to spend more time doing music than medicine, maybe she would have got her big break in music if she devoted more attention to music. Phebean had graduated and was among the rising artist in some Nigerian ‘Broadway styled’ shows. She kept in touch with Fadeke and often encouraged her that she was on track. Tade often reassured her that she was making progress. She had not missed her weekly rehearsals in two years and she remained the crowd’s favourite on campus and at shows outside the campus. The only snag was that she did not know how to grow her social media followership, as she had no time to play with.

During her third year, one of her professors spoke in passing about music therapy and she was fascinated by it, thus she became interested in it. Using the internet, she read all she could on music therapy and felt she had found the right combination for music and medicine. She was going to pursue knowledge in the field of music therapy. She considered that it should not be difficult for her to do so in view of her good background in music. She determined that she would carve a niche for herself as the first musician and music therapist in Nigeria.

By this time, Tade was already a big deal on social media and had received an offer to study Fine Art (Painting Major) at the Yaba College of Technology. Fadeke was very excited at the fact that he had progressed and found his way out of the dump under the Lende Bridge. He was an example of persistence and resilience. Yes, he had a little bit of luck to aid him but his talent created the path. They were both excited at the prospect of being close to each other. Tade was very popular both on campus and on the ‘Gram’ with many folks using his works as their display pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger. Although, he felt it was not necessary, Mr. Jimi encouraged him and insisted that he paid some tokens for the promotion of his pages on social media. It worked and his popularity continued to soar.

Fadeke and Tade were in love; they could not and did not hide it. It was evident to everyone who knew them. Their love was young and innocent. Fadeke was not so much into social media but she often heard what sounded like jealous whispers from her female classmates, she would hear them talk about his Instagram posts. Tade was a lover boy and would often write beautiful words, often described in millennial lingo as ‘mushy’ on Instagram or post some interesting picture of her with the caption “She brought light into my dark world”. His posts about her always had that statement; a mantra it was.

Tade decided to take over Fadeke’s social media accounts; he knew he had enough content to grow her social media accounts and felt bad he had not thought to do that all the while. He had several video recordings. The videos were mostly when she sang with only him as her audience. He noticed there was usually a confident edge in her voice whenever she sang to him. She was at ease with him and he needed to let the world see the beauty he was blessed with. So he began to post the videos on Instagram and Facebook. It was an instant success, people loved the videos and the invitation started coming in their trickles. Tade had on Mr. Jimi’s recommendation, appointed one of his friends as his manager. This again, proved to be a smart decision, as Smart Odey took charge of the promotion of Tade’s works. He was able to secure more corporate endorsement deals for Tade within two months of taking over management of Tade’s talent promotion.

****

With Smart Odey in charge, Tade had more time and he dedicated it to growing Fadeke’s social media platforms. He got one of his friends who was studying Industrial Graphics at Yabatech to edit most of Fadeke’s videos. He had learnt that with Instagram, when you are trying to grow a followership, good contents and consistency were keys to unlock the door. He consistently posted videos of Fadeke from his archives and gradually she began to garner followers and people started talking about her. The beauty of social media is in its cross-boundary propensities. People from all around the world saw the videos and commented on how good she was and why she needed to perform at the biggest concert in their area. Tade would respond on her behalf, thanking each person who commented. The picture that generated the most conversation was a picture of Fadeke in her laboratory coat detailing how much work she has to put into medicine and music. Many commented to say they were inspired, some congratulated her and others encouraged her. When Tade showed her the comments, she could not hold back her tears; there was just too much positive vibes from those comments. She was inspired and all fired up to make her dreams come true.

***

About two days later, Fadeke received an email inviting her for a show at the Tafewa Balewa Square, Lagos. The email listed several ‘A’ list artistes scheduled to perform, but the organisers wanted to also give young talents the opportunity to perform to a bigger audience. Tade was excited and encouraged Fadeke to accept the invite. The event was just three days away, when they checked their calendars, Fadeke had a test the next Monday whilst Tade was expected at an exhibition in Abuja. They had mixed feelings about it but Tade insisted that he would try to get back into Lagos as early as possible on the Saturday of the event. Tade responded to the email on her behalf and accepted the invite.

***

The show was the biggest live event Fadeke had ever attended. The Tafewa Balewa Square was occupied with thousands of music fans, all screaming and shouting at every turn. As the time inched closer to Fadeke’s performance, she became scared; she seemed to always have stage fright when she is performing at events that were like milestones in her career. It was similar to the fear she had at the restaurant at Victoria Island, she needed her friends. The only familiar face at the backstage was Jim, who was one time a member of 360 degrees.

Unfortunately, Tade arrived at the Muritala Mohammed Airport very late as his flight was delayed for hours. For some reason, there was a serious traffic at Ikeja which further delayed him. Phebean was in Warri for another event so she could not come to lend her support to Fadeke. She wished she appointed a manager as Tade had once suggested. At the time, she felt it was not yet time but at that moment, she wished there was someone around who could give her a hug and tell she could do it.

She explained her predicament to Jim and he suggested that there was a fix, a very quick fix for the problem. When she asked what the fix was, he gave her a small nylon foil containing some white substances. Fadeke immediately knew what it was and her mind told her otherwise, but something else told her she needed it if she hoped to perform to the billing that night. Her mind went quickly to many of the stories she had heard from Tade about the wreck that the white substance and Indian hemp had done to the boys under the Lende Bridge. She saw his eyes of disapproval and then handed the foil back to Jim. No, she was better than that, she told him.  Instead, she called Tade and his voice was the calm she needed. Tade told her she had just won another battle and that she was ready. By this time, he was on the third mainland bridge in a moving traffic.

****

Fadeke took the big stage, she sang with all her energy but the reaction of the audience was cold. Disappointment was written all over their faces. She had flopped! Tade got to TBS just as the next artiste was introduced. Fadeke was given two VIP tickets, one of which was with him, so he got in very quickly. He ran to the backstage and after some hassle with the bouncers, he was allowed in. He found Fadeke in a corner, he eyes were blood stain from tears, he pulled her to himself without saying any word; he knew that was all she needed!

Fadeke: Episode VI

Fadeke resumed at the University of Lagos. She introduced Phebean to her mother during her matriculation ceremony. Mrs. Onifade noticed that Phebean paid particular attention to Fadeke so she pleaded with Phebean to help keep an eye on her. She told Phebean about the challenges she had with Fadeke regarding her choice of career. Phebean responded that it was important that Fadeke does what she loves, she however promised to keep an eye on Fadeke.

The first few weeks were totally exciting for Fadeke. It was fun exploring campus and meeting new people. She was also officially inducted into the 360 Degrees music group. She was surprised to find out that 360 degrees was very popular on campus. She performed with the group at different ‘fresher’s welcome’ events on campus, she soon became the crowd’s favourite and the name Fadeke became a so popular on campus within two weeks. Phebean noticed that Fadeke was getting carried away by her rapid rise to fame and she took it upon herself to ensure that Fadeke had her head in the right place.

Phebean had grown very fond of Fadeke and had nicknamed her ‘Queen F’. “Queen F, sit down and let me tell you somethings that will help you get out of this place alive” Phebean said. “I know that you want to be a big star but right now you need to set your priorities right okay?”

“Ok. Is there something I’m doing wrong” Fadeke honestly asked.

“No, but you are young and full of energy which must be properly channelled so that you don’t derail. I’m taking personal responsibility for you because I was the one that introduced you to this group and your mother instructed me to keep an eye on you. You have a lot of prospect but you need to know how to manage this new found life. Medical school is not a joke. So you will need to channel all your energies into both music and medicine. I don’t want you to lose sight of the reason you are here, your academics should be your top priority. That is why your mother sent you here and nothing less than excellent grades will do” Phebean advised.

“Medicine is not really my thing. This is just for my mum, you know. All I want to do is Music” Fadeke responded.

“I know and you have said that to me several times. But, listen girl, life can sometimes be funny such that the thing you are pursuing may not happen. I know it’s good to have positive vibes always but have you ever asked yourself what you will do if music fails? Phebean asked.

“Not really. I always think that music will happen” Fadeke said.

Phebean gave Fadeke a long look and asked “So what if it does not happen as you expected?

“Errm…. I don’t know. I have never thought about it” Fadeke responded.

“You should think about it. Take medicine very seriously. Try and surprise yourself. Break new barriers, you can succeed in medicine and in music. But I would not watch you play away your time here on campus. I’ve got my eyes on you”

“Thank you Phebean. I’m very grateful”

****

Acting on the advice he got from Phebean, Tade quickly became serious with his Facebook account. He also opened Twitter and Instagram accounts. His followership on Facebook began to increase at a fast rate, people liked and commented on pictures of his artworks and he began to receive instructions from people to make one artwork or the other for them. He also met with the curator of a popular art exhibition in Lagos who encouraged him to bring his art works to the exhibitions.  Mr. Jimi, a senior management staff of one of the telecommunications giants who attended the exhibitions saw Tade’s works and was very impressed with the quality of his works. He asked to speak with the artist and was surprised at his age.

“Your works are beautiful. Where did you learn to paint so beautifully? Mr. Jimi asked him.

“Thank you Sir” Tade beamed and then continued “I grew up in Ogbomosho. We had a neighbour who was an artist and painter. I would often go to his workshop after school and watch him as he painted or drew. He encouraged me and that was how I started. But I have learnt most of the things I know on my own”.

“That is quite impressive. Your future is bright!  Mr. Jimi said cheerfully.

“Thank you” Tade responded beaming with pride.

The telecommunications company where Mr. Jimi worked had some advert series which promoted young people with talents in music, entertainment, arts and culture. The adverts typically ran on television, radio, newspaper. The adverts series was loved by customers and often trend on social media for days. Mr. Jimi arranged for Tade to feature in the next series of the adverts. Within a short while, Tade’s popularity began to soar, with his Twitter and Instagram accounts receiving several followers on daily basis.

Tade and Fadeke were constantly speaking throughout her first semester, she was excited at the progress Tade was making and insisted that if he continued that way, he would be able to sponsor himself or even receive a scholarship for his university education. She also encouraged Tade to buckle up on physics so he could make good grades in his senior secondary school examination, which was just a term away.

They still kept their friendship away from Mrs. Onifade. They knew she would not approve because of Tade’s background. Against their initial fears, distance was not stopping them; they were quietly growing together, as best buddies, cheering each other on.

 

Fadeke: Episode V

 

Fadeke began to attend shows more often at Liberty Park. She made efforts to talk to some of the performing groups and met one of the dancers in 360 Degrees, a campus musical and dancing group. She spoke with Phebean, 360 Degree’s best dancer who was much older than her. From her reception of Fadeke one could tell that she really liked Fadeke. They had a lengthy conversation regarding Fadeke’s dreams and how best to achieve them while studying medicine at the same time.

‘If you believe that you have what it takes to make it to the stage, you will have to take chances and grab any opportunity that life throws your way. Just wait; the right opportunity will come along if you just wait’. Phebean explained to Fadeke.

“How did you become a dancer? What inspired you” Fadeke inquired.

“I have always been fascinated by dances in musical videos and I knew my body was very flexible. When I gained admission into the University, a friend who used to be a member of 360 degrees encouraged me to start taking dancing classes. He introduced me to 360 degrees and I started going with them for shows. First, I only helped out with costumes. Fortunately, luck smiled on me one day when one of the group’s dancer was sick and I was pulled in as a replacement for her. I took that chance with all I got and the rest, they say is history”.

“So what do I need to do?” Fadeke asked.

“Don’t worry, I will introduce you to the top guys at 360 degrees, they will like you. You are resuming on campus in September right?  Phebean inquired.

“Yes. I believe so. I wrote the post UTME last month and I’m waiting for the admission list, resumption is in September”.

“Great, that is just a month away. So you can join us on campus right away” Phebean promised to speak with the team lead of 360 degrees. “We perform here every Friday, so make sure you are here next Friday and I will introduce you to the guys.”

“Thank you” Fadeke said with excitement.

“You are welcome dear. I have to go now. Take my phone number, you can call me up anytime” Fadeke took Phebean’s number. Phebean hugged her and left. “See you next week” she said.

*****

The next Friday, Phebean introduced Fadeke to the 360 degrees team as she had promised. Gabriel, the team lead of the group told her that she would have to do her best to prove that she could be allowed to come on stage. He explained that regardless of the talent, no one in the group got to the stage without great effort, each person had to put and always put their best foot forward. If she proved herself, she would be given a microphone. Just like Phebean, she was handed costumes duties the first Friday she joined the group. She selected the costume for each member and helped arrange them after the show. That first evening, she watched them rehearse and saw that Gabriel was a very firm and disciplined leader.

‘Look Blackie, you need to raise the tenor, I was unable to pick you out from the rest. If you don’t get it right, you will not perform this night. So stay apart and get it right. I give you 10 minutes’ He said to one of the members.

“Uncle, what is that? He shouted at another, who apparently looked much older than he was. “Don’t get me started oh”. He said.

Fadeke watched and it began to dawn on her that talent, raw talent was never enough. She would need discipline and consistency.

****

“Hey girl” she heard Phebean call to her.

“Hi Phebean” Fadeke called the name shyly. Phebean had insisted that her name was Phebean and not Aunty Phebean. Fadeke’s Yoruba inclinations needed to adjust to that.

“I have an invite to perform somewhere on the Island tomorrow. Will you like to come?”

“What time is the event? My mum may not let me go out on two consecutive nights.”

“Nah. It is at 2pm, so not to worry”

“Okay. I will ask her for permission. Hopefully she’ll agree”

“Great, let me know. I will send you the address and cover your transportation cost”

****

On Saturday, Fadeke was woken up by the jubilant noise of her mother. Her mother had received a call from one of her friends who worked at the University. The admission list was released on Friday evening and Fadeke was accepted for Medicine. Fadeke was excited. Unlike her mother, her excitement was not at the prospect of studying medicine. Her excitement was at the prospect of moving away from home, the prospect of joining 360 degrees fully, and the freedom to attend more shows and other similar events. Fadeke and her mother were both jubilant; jubilant for different reasons!

Fadeke shared the news with Tade. He was excited and sad at the same time. He was sad that his time with Fadeke may be over. He had heard stories from the boys at school about what happens at universities, he had heard several ‘October rush’ stories and he knew that his chances of a lasting friendship with Fadeke may have ended but he refused to let that affect him. He was truly excited and happy for her.

Given her mother’s excitement, it was not difficult to get her to approve Fadeke’s attendance of Phebean’s show that Saturday. She invited Tade who said he had no transport money. She agreed to pay for their transportation cost.

The event was at a restaurant in Victoria Island. The restaurant, a five star restaurant was tastefully furnished with contemporary Art designs from all over Africa. It was also famous for its contemporary African Cuisine nestled with the tasteful designs of rich African art and culture. The event was a birthday party which the celebrant had invited Phebean to perform at as part of the program for the celebrations. Fadeke told Phebean about her admission and they both screamed in excitement.

“Yaay!  We will finally be able to hook up. That is awesome” Phebean exclaimed.

Fadeke also introduced Tade to Phebean. Phebean asked if Tade was also due at the University in September. Tade responded in the negative. They got talking and Tade told her that he was good with brushes and pencils. Phebean told him that he needed to take his talent seriously and he could use social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to post and market his artworks, that way, he may find  people to patronise his works.

****

“Fadeke, will you sing while I dance? The initial plan was to dance to music played by the DJ but now that you are here. This is an opportunity” Phebean said.

“No. I’m not prepared. I cannot do it” Fadeke said.

“Remember what I told you about opportunities? Never let go of opportunities without exploiting them” Phebean said with a scowl on her face.

Fadeke looked at Tade, who nodded and said “You can do it.”

Fadeke looked around the Restaurant, people were talking in groups while sipping from their wine glasses, the looks were friendly and at that moment, she began to think that just maybe this was the start she needed.

Fadeke took a deep breathe, released it and asked “what type of songs do you want me to sing?

“Yes” Phebean and Tade exclaimed simultaneously.

When Fadeke climbed the elevated platform used as the stage, she gripped the microphone really hard. It almost dropped off because her hands were trembling. She tried to sing but her voice refused to make any sound. She was so scared. Suddenly, the faces at the restaurant did not look as friendly as they looked before she mounted the stage.

At that point, Phebean took the microphone from her, gave her a warm hug and told the small audience “My young friend here has a beautiful voice, and has some very nice lyrics she composed herself. She is only 17 but trust me, she is good, she’s just scared. Will you help me encourage her?” everyone at the restaurant clapped and shouted “You can do it.”

Phebean returned the microphone to Fadeke while mouthing the words “You can do it.”

Fadeke took the microphone and gradually found her voice with each renewed shout of “you can do it”.

Phebean danced so beautifully to her melodies but Fadeke was the victor, the victor of her own fears; for the first time she handled a real microphone, facing a real audience whose faces said it all; we love you!!!

 

Fadeke: Episode IV

She struggled hard to believe that Fadeke could be so callous to make such decision without letting her know and then pretend like nothing happened when asked. She felt that it was heedless for Fadeke to behave the way she did.

Mrs. Onifade often carried out routine clean-up of the apartment, when she entered Fadeke’s room to do some cleanings. She discovered Fadeke’s prank as she found the application slip for the Jamb examination on Fadeke’s table. When she saw it, she was riled. She struggled hard to believe that Fadeke could be so callous to make such decision without letting her know and then pretend like nothing happened. She felt that it was heedless for Fadeke to behave the way she did. She immediately confronted Fadeke.

“Are you out of your senses?  Why did you register Psychology instead of medicine? Her mother queried angrily.

Frightened Fadeke stammered “I, I, I thought Psychology is fine, it is in the medical field”

Mrs Onifade retorted with rage in her voice “don’t you dare. Do I look like a fool? So, I don’t know the difference between psychology and medicine abi? I don’t blame you, it is my fault, I should not have trusted you to do this on your own” there was no hiding place for Fadeke, her mother was infuriated. She felt her mother’s anger was unjustified. Fadeke believed she had the right to choose her career path.

“Mummy, I have said this many times, I don’t want to be a doctor? Fadeke responded with a hint of bitterness in her voice.

“You don’t want to be a Medical Doctor? is that why you deceived me ehn? Your future is bright, you this girl study to become a doctor. Iro ni, orin ni sha. Is it this music that will put food on your table?

“Yes, Mummy, with music I will do well, and fame and money will come, even better than a Medical Doctor” Fadeke responded sharply.

“Look I will not sit down here and let you ‘spoil’ your future sogbo? A ngba omo adiye lowo iku, oni won je ohun lo atan lo je. Nko ti o ye o poju eleyi to ye o.  You will change that course, you have no choice, you just have to.”

Fadeke looked at her mother with teary eyes and blurted out “I don’t understand why you are trying to force me to do what I will probably regret. Why do you want me to live your dreams?” She ran out of the houses crying profusely.

After she rushed out of the house, Mrs. Onifade sunk into a chair, tired and exasperated. Before long, she began to cry for the past she wished she could have created and the future that seem evasive and elusive to achieve at her age. She had undertaken a Nursing Education program out of frustration, after three years of waiting for admission into the University to study Nursing. Her plan was to proceed to study for a Nursing degree after her National Certificate Examination but she lost focus of that dream after she got married. It was not that the marriage in itself was the hindrance but she on her own lost focus and got carried away with other matters.  She could not understand why Fadeke would not be interested in pursuing such a noble and interesting profession.

Later that day, Mrs Onifade sat Fadeke down and told her the reasons why she desired medicine for Fadeke.

“Nothing will make me prouder. I agree that it is a partially selfish decision because I want to be called ‘Mummy Doctor’.  This decision is however out of sincere love for you”

Fadeke then explained that her dream was to become a well-respected and best-selling musician. Mrs. Onifade reasoned that it was wrong for her to insist that Fadeke study medicine, even though her intention was good but the end result may not be favourable. Despite this, she thought to still to push the idea further.

“Mummy, I love you so much and as much as I want to make you happy, I want to do the right thing for me. I know people say that I act older than my age and that you give me too much freedom. I know that many of my classmates are going to read law, or medicine, or engineering, but for most, it will not be what they really want to be. They will simply be living their parent’s dreams and not theirs. Fadeke urged her mother “please let me choose my path, please. I promise I would not disappoint you”

“Fadekemi, try to understand. I really do not think that music is the path for you. And let us even assume that it is the path, how do you intend to do pursue your dreams? Go to music school? How many musicians and artistes studied at music schools? So why not study medicine so that you can always have something to fall back on, in case music fails. Mrs. Onifade said, in a bid to persuade Fadeke.

After much tears, Fadeke reluctantly agreed to change her application to Medicine. In return, her mother agreed to let her attend more concerts and be free to participate in any of them.

—–

After she wrote her final senior school examination, Fadeke and Tade’s usual love-meet could no longer continue as it used to. Having graduated from St. Agnes, Fadeke had full access to a phone her mother had bought for her as her last birthday present. Mrs. Onifade had insisted that she would only have full access to the phone after her exams. Tade also bought a cheap Techno phone from the little savings he had. They would speak on the phone for as long as they could afford. Sometimes, Fadeke would creep into her mother’s room to take her phone so they could use her call credit to continue their conversation. Half the conversation was usually Tade listening to Fadeke sing. Tade would critique the songs as much as his understanding could comprehend. Just simple “I don’t think that line makes sense” or “why not add this?  Although there were little rain drops, they helped Fadeke improve. She was always excited to sing for him and to him. She looked forward to it every day.

Fadeke informed Tade of the conversation that ensued between herself and her mother over the phone. Tade responded “I agree with her. Don’t get me wrong, I think you have a good voice and that you will make a good artiste but what if it does not work? What will you fall back on?” Tade asked Fadeke.

“I have agreed to change the course but deep within my heart, I know that I won’t do well.” Fadeke whispered to her phone.

“I don’t think you should say that. I think you are one of the smartest people I know” Tade responded.

“Hmmn! I hear you o, keep flattering me. Well, the good part is I have negotiated for me to be able to perform at shows. So I have to start looking for shows where I can get to sing. Will you accompany me to Liberty Park tomorrow evening?”

“Of course” Tade replied.

Apart from the calls, they found a location close to Fadeke’s house where they could sit and talk. It was on one of those occasions that Tade came out clean and told Fadeke his story after much persuasion.

He told her that there was no chance of him ever attending a tertiary institution and that St. Johns was the final stop for his education. He also told her that he depleted all his savings on call credits and that she may have to do most of the callings going forward. Fadeke was deeply touched by the efforts he made to stay close to her. She hugged him and cried on his neck.

“What will I do without you? I will miss you when I go to the University” she whispered. She looked at him with teary eyes and continued “You must pass your WAEC examination, something can happen. I can get my mummy to support you. You cannot give up after secondary school. Please?”

“Number 1, she does not even know me, number two, she has enough on her hand, you are handful” Tade teased.

“I’m serious” Fadeke said with a straight face.

Tade looked at her and maintained the gaze for a while, heaved and responded “I can only be hopeful, I can only be hopeful”.

“Yes” she said excited at her victory in the mind game. “But I will still miss you though” she poked him.

“Me too” he said shyly.

Interpretations

Iro ni, orin ni sha – All you do is sing, everytime!

A ngba omo adiye lowo iku, oni won je ohun lo atan lo je – We tried to save the chicks from death, its only concern was that we prevented it from finding food at dunghill.

 Nko ti o ye o poju eleyi to ye o – Your ignorance far outweighs your knowledge

Fadeke – Episode III

Over the next couple of months, Fadeke and Tade saw each other more often. Tade was very good with brushes and pencil; he would often say that his paintings were his medium of expression as they told his story and that of others around him. Fadeke became fond of Tade; initially it was due to the fact that she wanted some paintings and other art works. After a while, it was not just the paintings, she began to look forward to seeing Tade. At first, Fadeke felt the friendship was parasitic as she had nothing to offer in return for the paintings. She hated this and once tried to offer him money in return for the paintings but he would not accept, she then offered to buy some of the frames and coloured pencils; this was fine with Tade. Fadeke was not satisfied with this. An opportunity then opened up one afternoon when Tade told her he wished he did not have to offer physics; that was her opportunity to make their friendship symbiotic and she took it. She asked him some questions and noticed that he was very poor in physics. He was practically struggling with most topics in the curriculum for that year. She was a ‘B’ student in physics unlike chemistry which was her forte but she was good enough to tutor him. Tade made art works for Fadeke and she helped him with physics. Prior to them becoming friends, Tade had done his homework; he knew where Fadeke lived, who her mother was and that she loved music.

It was usual for St John’s boys and Agnes’ girls to mingle, Tade used this to his advantage by asking the girls in Fadeke’s class. He heard from the girls in her class that Fadeke was very brilliant and had always finished top of the class. The only snag according to the girls was that she was not sharp with boys, otherwise she would have won all the boys at St. John and even some of the university students that often visited St Agnes in search of what had come to be termed as ‘big boy love’ by Agnes’ girls.  But as fate would have it, Fadeke seemed to like him, perhaps because of his artistic hands.  The socialisation between St. John’s boys and Agnes’s girls was customary, the presence of boys at Agnes or that of girls at St. John was never questioned, either because the management of the both schools did not care or they felt it was not wrong. It was therefore easy for Fadeke and Tade to meet in either of their classes after school.  Their usual meeting point was Tade’s class because Fadeke took extra classes three days a week in preparation for the West Africa Senior Secondary School Examination, which she was to write the next term. On those days, Fadeke would meet Tade in his class working on some sketch, as is his usual custom and they would talk for about one hour, so Fadeke could get home early enough to complete her homework and prepare dinner.

It was on one of those afternoons that Fadeke brought up a conversation about their future ambitions. He seemed to have concluded that he had no chance of ever attending a university or any tertiary institution. Fadeke could not understand why he would arrive at this conclusion; there were many things Fadeke did not understand about him. He never spoke about his family or background, she was not sure who his friends were and she definitely did not know where he lived. He somehow dodged her questions and focused on her plans, and for once, Fadeke failed to dig deeper. She had always wanted someone to listen to her, to ask her what she wanted to do with her life. Tade lend her his listening ears and she poured out her heart.

*********

Her Mum had drummed it into her ears how much she needed to ace her papers so she could gain admission into medical school. Fadeke was going to live her mother’s dreams. No one bothered to ask what she dreamt, how she foresaw her future, where she wanted to be, what she wanted to do. Her teachers seemed to have conspired with her mother. They simply looked at her examination results at the end of each term and tell her she was destined to be a medical doctor. No one asked if this was her dream, they simply assumed she would want to be a medical doctor. After all, she always aced her chemistry with such ease each term.

She had never been able to picture herself in white overalls walking down the long corridors typical of hospitals. Whenever she tried to imagine herself in those realities, the images that dropped in her mind were never ever clear, just blurred images of someone who looked like her, but was not her. Rather, she had always dreamt of stages and massive crowds dripping in their sweats, pushing, shoving and screaming her name out of frenzied excitement. The dreams were repetitive both at night and at daylight, they never left. She often dreamt of tours around the world, meeting her favourite artistes, watch them perform and even perform with them. She had only ever attended a live concert, one of the concerts at Liberty Park, Lagos. The images in her mind became much clearer at the concert. Initially, she was irritated at the girls behind her because they screamed so loud during the performances. She wanted to enjoy the lyrics and listen to the harmony of the instruments. These girls would not let her; they were over excited at the band playing their favourite songs, so they screamed all through. She missed some of the lyrics as a result. It was at this point she understood that musicians and artistes were performers and without the screams of the audience, performances were pointless. She wished she had more chances to attend live shows at Liberty Park but her mother would not agree, first, she would not allow her ‘waste’ her life and secondly, the shows ended late into the night. She was too young to be all alone at such ungodly hour, her mother would often say. She was only able to attend that one show because her mother had agreed after much persuasion to reward her brilliant academic performance.

Fadeke knew she was her mother’s joy and perceived ‘only hope’, she understood how much she meant to her mother, despite her sarcasm. She loved Fadeke very deeply, but she was like every average Nigerian parent. Nigerian parents dream dreams and hang the manifestation of their dreams on their children. Mrs. Onifade was not to be persuaded, her daughter would read medicine. She often rebuffed every attempt by Fadeke to turn her heart with the Yoruba proverb a fun o lobe o tami si; ogbon ju olobe lo?

*********

Fadeke sat for her examination and was confident that she was going to make excellent grades. While the examination lasted, Mrs. Onifade treated her like a baby and made sure she had no house chores. After each paper, Mrs. Onifade would ask for details and with her daughter’s confident response each day, her confidence in the dream began to take wing, ready to soar.

Unknown to Mrs. Onifade, Fadeke with the support of Tade, had put in psychology on her university matriculation examination application. Fadeke had asked Tade to accompany her to the cyber café to submit her application. They asked the cyber café attendant what course was close to medicine but less stressful. The attendant told them psychology or physiotherapy, so Tade and Fadeke told her to submit psychology. At least it was close to Mrs. Onifade’s dreams…

 

Interpretations

a fun o lobe o tami si; ogbon ju olobe lo? – We gave you some stew, you added water; you must be wiser than the cook.

 

 

Fadeke – Episode II

Read the first episode here

Mrs. Onifade’s scream jolted Fadeke out of her reverie. In frustration, she picked her school sandal, wore it and hurried off to the kitchen to carry the gas stove. She could hear her mother’s screeching hisses as she rushed out of the house.

As she walked on her street, she heard some boys made advances at her from different dark corners in the street. Fadeke lived on one of the inner streets of Lende. She had the urge to sing or at least hum a song but her mother had warned her about singing at night or doing anything at all that drew attention to her.

Lende used to be a posh area of Lagos as it had accommodated some Federal Government Parastatals when Lagos was the Federal Capital of Nigeria. Over time, Lende lost it serenity and became heavily congested following the relocation of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja. Certain areas were still clean and inhabited by quiet families; however, shanties bordered most sane areas of Lende such that serenity lived side by side with insanity. While other Lagosians are asleep, Lende and many of its residents are awake, they live dusk to dawn lifestyles. Night life in Lende is ruled by fear: fear of hoodlums, rapists and thieves who lurk around dark places just to perpetrate fear. You would often see policemen everywhere but they were also part of the night life, they either encourage crime in order to receive their part or play dumb. Of course, Lende night life was nothing without the ‘quick houses’ especially those at Barbeque Junction. Barbeque Junction was never lacking in human traffic, from the customer seeking girls, to the quick gratification needy men, to the tools-providing and ever supportive business people.

Fadeke hurried past Barbeque Junction and arrived at ‘Everything Gas’,  refilling the small sized gas stove used to cost N800, but the sales boy insisted that it was now N1,000. They haggled on the price and finally settled for N900.

*********

On a bench a little distance away from Everything Gas sat three boys in the same age group as Fadeke; they sat in silence while smoky puffs lunged out of their mouths and nostrils. They noticed Fadeke as she arrived at Everything Gas and watched her as she gesticulated and rolled her eyes at the sales boy.

‘One time like that, I hear ‘Egbon’  when he talk say this girl big pass her age’ first broke the silence.

‘na true talk o, my brother too talk am so. He talk say she don dey full and ripe for plucking but say she no dey give anybody face’  The second boy contributed.

‘Me sha, I admire the girl, she dey smart and she get nice voice. See ehn, if I get opportunity like am, I no go dey follow una with this kain lifestyle’ the third boy who said in regret laden voice.

‘Abegii, na that one we go chop?   How many smart guys wey be say them  try and still dem no make am and dem come back for here dey join us weed.’ first did not sound too pleased with third’s comment “see ehn, my sister go Yabatech for one year but Malé no fit afford am, na so she withdraw come back area here dey hustle at Barbeque Junction” second concluded

“Na the same thing we dey talk, if you get opportunity go school, and you get person wey go pay for am, no joke with am”. The third boy insisted

“I agree with you. I wan get out of this lifestyle. If I fit hit one million ‘pepper’ now, I go ex from this place” first enthused. Second and third laughed and gave first a look that said ‘joker’.

They watched Fadeke as she paid the sales boy; pick up the CamGas and head home, oblivious of the three pairs of eyes staring at her and wondering different thoughts.

*********

As Fadeke passed Barbeque Junction on her way home, she noticed a girl around her age or younger whispering to a man “come, I’m very good and affordable. Just N1,000”.

“Get off you silly girl. Why will I follow you when I can have a more matured one at N500” the man responded.  It was not unusual to hear such conversation at Barbeque Junction. Each time Fadeke heard such similar conversations, her heart would beat rapidly. She hastened her steps…

*********

Tade stood up from the bench, bid the other two goodnight, and dragged himself home.  Home was a shanty under the popular Lende Bridge. There were a lot of boys around the shanty, either exchanging lighted papers or wrapping them, all the while uttering all sorts of profanities. Each night, these boys had routines, they hang around the bridge, waiting, hoping and anticipating that a car would break down. Any unlucky person who stopped or whose car broke down at that point would be attacked and robbed, sometimes without the use of force and at other times, very forcibly.

Tade was born in Ogbomosho, and until four years ago, all he knew was Ogbomosho. Four years ago, he lost his only surviving parent, his father. He had lost his mother at the age of ten. Following his father’s funeral, there was a big fight within the family regarding the custody of Tade; all the eligible persons complained that they could not afford to take Tade in. Tade’s ‘big brother’, who came all the way from Lagos, had no choice but to take Tade back to Lagos with him. Tade was very excited about the prospect of coming to Lagos, he had so much expectation. It wasn’t until they got to Lagos that his big brother explained his predicament to Tade. Tade did not exactly understand many of the things his brother told him.  What was certain to him though, was the fact that his brother was not as rich as he thought. The periodic goodies they used to receive from him during the festive periods were not evidence of his wealth but symbols of his attempts at impressing his family and displaying a successful outlook. The first night Tade spent in the shanty was one of the worst days of his life. He could not understand the bad smell oozing from the area, the noise and curses, and the giant mosquitoes.

His brother tried to do his best; he enrolled him at St. Johns High School after almost a year of inactivity. He also bought him some of the books he could find with the elderly man who sold ‘second hand’ books at the roundabout. Although Tade decided that he would not join the smoky boys, he was encouraged to take a smoke one evening during the one year of inactivity; afterwards, he simply could not resist the urge to smoke.

Thoughts of Fadeke came to his head as he struggled to stay awake. She was fortunate she had a parent who cared for her. She would never have to patronise Barbeque Junction. He knew he liked her but he dare not tell the other two. He hoped she got home safely. He would see her again.

*********

Fadeke threw yet another paper into the waste bin in her room. She tried to write again and after three lines, she got frustrated and was about to give it one more shot when the image of her mother’s disapproving eyes popped in her mind. She closed the lyrics note and picked up her chemistry text book. She had to fulfil her mother’s dream…

*********

Mrs. Onifade tossed and turned on her bed. This was the usual routine every night. She always found sleep difficult to come by. She wished her life had taken a different direction than it did. If only she had waited, she could have married the right man. She remembered how Enitan begged her to give him time. She had just returned to Lagos after obtaining a National Certificate of Education at the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo when she met Tunde Onifade. He was older; older men were often more romantic with younger women and Tunde was no exception, or so it seemed. Tunde promised her heaven on earth. He was ready to get married and that was crucial to her at the time.

She knew she loved Enitan but there was a lot of pressure on her to get married. Enitan was not ready. He had just obtained a degree in biochemistry at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. He would often tell her that he would show her the world, if she was patient. However, she was not on friendly terms with patience, so she married Tunde. Everything went well, although she continued to nurse her love for Enitan. Eventually, she discovered that Tunde was not half the lover boy Enitan was, so all he did was the basic; provide shelter, clothing and food for her and their daughter. Things began to fall apart when she learnt that Tunde had another wife who had three kids for him. She confronted Tunde and he waved it off as nothing. She asked him whether he made provisions for them and his response was a quick no, he had no business with them.

When Fadeke was twelve, and three months after they moved to the apartment at Lende, Tunde moved out of the house and never came back. The next time they heard about him, he was with some other woman who was heavy with his baby. Mrs. Onifade decided to let go and move on with her life. Unfortunately, she had relied on Tunde for most of their needs so life became a real struggle from the point of his exit. Fadeke was her crown, the only joy from her union with Tunde.

Gradually she felt herself move to the other realm where she dreamt of Dr. Fadeke and her big hospital…

 

Translations

“Egbon” – Big Brother

“Malé” – Mother

“Pepper” – Nigerian slang for money

 

To be continued….

 

Remember to share your thoughts and critique of this series,  using the comments box below. Thank you

Fadeke – Episode I

“NEPA!” Just 25minutes ehn, na wa o! She hissed as she groped in the dark. Despite the fact that the electricity authority was privatised and had been sold to several investors with different names, most Nigerians still referred to the successor companies as NEPA. She hissed again in frustration. There was a spark as a small flicker of fire came on after she struck a match stick against the box. As she did, the acoustics of Mathias Piano Man’s ‘a spark of light’ came to her mind and she hummed it joyfully. She lit the candle sitting idly on her reading table and after three attempts, the candle agreed to stand on a Milo tin. The Milo tin had huge candle waxes which had built over months.

“This foolish people will soon bring their stupid bill even when there’s never light. This country is so annoying” She ranted as she fooled around with the candle wax moulding some of it into a figure resembling guitar strings.

‘Fadeke! Her mother’s voice called ‘Fadeke!!!

‘I’m in my room’, she grumbly responded.

‘Ok, so I should come to your room abi? She heard her mother respond sarcastically.

She knew that it was wrong the way she treated her mother on some days. The woman had given and continued to give everything to ensure that she got educated. She dragged herself from the bed which creaked noisily as she did. She remembered vividly when the frame for the bed was set up; it used to be a very beautiful bed, which had now become a shadow of its glorious self. Everything in the two room apartment bore a sign of old age, all worn out despite obvious effort at keeping them clean and neat.

“We need gas ma. If you won’t do the cooking at least help make the job easy for me. You didn’t notice the gas was low when you warmed your food this afternoon abi?

‘I was trying to finish my assignments ma”

‘ehn, now is the time to do your assignment. What have you been doing all day? She looked at her and saw she was weary and aging really fast. She felt bad at being the cause of most of the grey strands of hairs appearing on her mother’s head. She was too young to be greying. Fadeke knew she could not lie, her mother was better than a lie detector, it was as if she had a gift of discernment; she could tell when a person is lying and being deceptive. St. Agnes Girls Secondary School was a mere stone throw from the house. The school closed at 3pm, and within 10 minutes she ought to be home. If she got home by 3.30pm, her assignments should have been completed latest by 7pm. Her mother got home at 8.15pm. There was no possible lie.

‘Errm….I was tired so I took a nap’

‘You’re either tired or singing, every time. At some point, you will understand how serious life is. It is your life o, it is your life. Anyway, take money from my purse, and refill the gas cylinder. If you like sleep there o’ Sarcasm and Nigerian mothers, rather than tell you very simply what they want, they say it the other way round and God save you if you take them literally.

Fadeke hurried off to her room in search of her slippers, she searched the room and could not find her slippers, frustration began to set in when she heard her mother call again “Fadeke, akuko ko, ole pose. How long will it take you to get out of your room ehn?” She knew full well that whenever her mother dished Yoruba proverbs, it was often out of some deep emotion, ranging from anger to frustration, and sometimes simply out of amazement.

“Mummy I’m coming now, I cannot find my slippers” Fadeke responded with some great effort at hiding her irritation.

“Why won’t you look for your slippers when your room is full of junk and punk?” Her Mum threw back. Fadeke took a quick look around her room, and her head told her that her mother was right; her heart responded that her room was merely artistic and represented her personality. On the wall of her room hung several portraits of female artistes and musical bands whose music ruled the airwaves during the 90’s. Directly on top of her reading table hung a black and white portrait of the Brownstone, an American female contemporary R&B group that was popular during the mid-1990s. Next to the portrait was yet another Brownstone painting; this one had the Brownstone girls standing by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. She had read all about the Brownstone, from its formation in Los Angeles to present day life. The Brownstone did not last on the scene but she loved them passionately; she loved Nicci best. She also had an antique guitar which she bought off some of the junkies in her area. She saved any money she received from her mum for these types of items; she was not so much into all the girly indulgences. She had very few friends; most of her neighbours felt she was a weird teenage girl. She once asked Tade, a talented boy in the SS2 class of St. Johns High School, an all-boys secondary school sharing boundary with her school to make an artistic calligraphy of Lauryn Hill’s Can’t Take My Eyes off you. The poor boy did not know who Lauryn Hill was, but because he wanted to impress the pretty SSS3 girl at ‘Agnes Girls’, he agreed to make the calligraphy. He frantically asked everyone, none knew who Lauryn Hill was, so in frustration and thinking he had lost the chance to impress Fadeke, he told her he was sorry he could not make the piece. Fadeke was not to be put off easily, so she dug into the reason behind his rejection. When she discovered it was because he did not know the lyrics, she laughed at him and told him she was sorry, she ought to have written out the lyrics for him. She picked a piece of paper and wrote the entire lyrics on the paper without a pause. Tade was impressed and gave the calligraphy his best shot, Fadeke totally loved it. It hung nicely above her bed. She remembered she needed to see Tade the next day, she needed a sketch …

“Fadeeeekeeeee!!!!!!

 

Translations

“Abi” – right?

“Akuko ko, ole pose” – the cock crows, the lazy man is displeased.

“Ehn” – A Yoruba exclamation

 

 

To be continued….

 

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Samuel Shina: It Is Not Yours Alone!

I have to confess that this is my first write up in a long time, the last time I penned down something close to an article was five years ago. While I don’t particularly think of myself as a distinguished or astute writer (trust me, I have read the works of many such writers), I wish strongly that you enjoy this piece and most importantly the message conveyed.

 

I look forward to your honest comments and criticisms. Have an enjoyable read.

 

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He was the best in the community, so good that people said he had the ability to hear the heavens, as his melodies can only be divine. His melodies were beyond what can be found in books, naturally gifted and dedicated to practice and self-discipline; he began to transcend the ordinary and could be compared to the likes of Mozart if he was living in their time.

 

He was in a very small community, where everyone knew themselves, a stranger cannot creep in and go unnoticed, not because his colour or race will give him up, neither was it because they had a sign in identifying themselves, but it was more because everyone knew each other, sharing a very warm camaraderie, thus if you stray in to the land even for a second, you’ll be known immediately as a stranger.  It is however not so long before strangers become family, as family is a loose term to identify the bond that binds the members of the community. It was as easy as, everyone knows the child of who you are, and can relate who your siblings are also, and God help you to have been born in the town, the elders can also tell you the day you were born and how differently the sun was set at the moment, or how shy or bold the moon and stars were on the night.

 

His fingers were so light on the keys as gracefully as the butterfly perches from one flower to another yet striking hard on the weighted keys like a sledge, for every time he blessed the keys with the touch of his hands, there is a new tune created, a new chord is struck, it was even said of him that the several tunes he has created are way more than the hair on his head – a full blown afro kept for more than a decade. He doesn’t just play the piano, he transfers emotions through notes struck; from the moments where he accompanies the preacher to drive home his messages powerfully on Sundays, to when there is a celebration in the community, and to the one which many people found more fascinating; when he plays at the laying to rest of those who have passed on. His solemn melodies at funerals made death desirable, for the living listens to it and it makes the dead look like they are ascending in glory unto heaven with a thousand angelic orchestra welcoming them in a blended fusion of their sonorous voices.

 

Not being one who enjoys the busy tussle and grinding of the city, he found perfect tranquillity in the town.  Professionals journey far and wide to bless their ears and their being by listening to him playing the piano; and soon the town found out that they always had more visitors on the day of funerals, because many people were always there to listen to something new and sweet he has to play. He was seldom convinced on leaving the town for performance, and on the rare occasions where he did, running back to his forte was all he cared about. He was popular among music professionals and enthusiasts alike, and importantly greatly unrivalled, and then it happened suddenly; he died.

 

Yes, He died…Death came and took him also, it was shocking, he had been fine, but the truth remains that he is dead.

His burial did not make anyone wish for death as in the past, people were present yes, but there wasn’t that hair on the back of the neck standing in the effect of being in a trance and watching the dead being welcomed by the angelic orchestra, it was a dry event that was ended quickly than planned, people soon shook off the sadness by resorting back to their normal businesses, not allowing the dullness and darkness that was hovering around the community get to them.

 

There was nobody to play greatly for the great player on the day of his funeral, because there was none he allowed to be great as him, there was none he tutored nor mentored, he was all by himself and enjoying the glory all alone. People soon realised that aside from his talent and gift of playing the piano so well and elating their spirits, he wasn’t really a good person, or to be fair to his memory, he just didn’t get along or interacted with people. He was a hermit among bustling people, he only made appearances in public when he is needed to play the piano, and would soon go back into reclusiveness. Many young ones aspired to be him, they tried their hands on the piano, but whenever he plays, they felt they needed him to help them get better, but he didn’t want that type of competition, he wanted to be just all him, so when he finds an aspiring lad or lass, he discourages them by telling them they can’t amount to anything. They are discouraged and cannot fight back the feeling, when the best that you idolise tell you how bad you suck at his craft, can you question it?

 

So, on his funeral, the piano laid bare, with no fingers running through it except that of the tiny waggling fingers of little babies making melodious sounds in their heads, but a total unbearable noise to the adults around. All who could have given him the orchestra feeling had resorted that they were no good, because he told them so. The town soon became quiet and very normal, even on Sundays it was as if the echoes of sweet sound that kept it bubbling was mute.

 

The essence of life is not just in one dimension, but one destination seems to be the ultimate and most accepted value, and this is to live life to the fullest. To not just exist in life, but to live in laughter, love and joy. It is in the realisation of this ultimate goal that one must understand that whatsoever we possess is not just for us alone, be it wealth or talent. The beauty of a talent, gift or wealth is when it is transferred and shared with others; this world will be a better place if and when love rules our heart to help others grow, and knowing full well that their growth cannot impede ours.

 

So, whatever it is that you have today, or all that you possess be sure to share it with the world, start from the little things to those around you, imagine if no one had passed and shared knowledge in the past, the world would still be in a decline, if the researches and discoveries of scientists in the past had not been shared, we cannot be having the technological breakthroughs we are achieving today, if someone had not taught you some of the things that make you great right now, you wouldn’t have been better than the early cave men too.

 

It is better you share that knowledge, talent, wealth, or skill and have people build on them and imprint your name in the sands of time scratch that, rock of time, than to die and be nothing with all that you have. Whatever you have today (no matter how little) share with someone and make them better, in that way we make the world a better place for us all. Remember, no one will make it out alive.

 

 

Shina is a lawyer and writes from Lagos