Society by Asa
“Tolani, I swear I feel like it’s going to be a boy because God is trying to get me or something. Like why would I get pregnant now?
Like I’m so not ready”
I complained to Tolani.
She chewed on her frozen yogurt and said
“So please tell me o, what are you going to do?
I lifted a dress up to the light in the store and said
“Tolani, you know I can’t do that but I really don’t like this feeling. Like I always thought that having my first child would be such a happy experience for me but I’m scared or like somewhat hesitant.”
She took the dress from me and said
“Do they have this in blue? It would be dope but…
Truth be told, what’s really up?
Is it having the kid with Dele or something? Or out of wedlock maybe?”
I replied as I flipped through dresses on the rack
“Nah, I think it’s just the whole royalty thing and the comment my grandfather made years ago about me having a heir.
Dele will be a great dad I know it.
I just don’t know if I want to bring a child into all that mess- the politics and power”
Tolani got it. She said
“Yeah…. That can be rough but you have Dele and your dad. Well and me, I can kick some royal ass if you want me to!
You already know me”
We both laughed as we moved into another section.
She said from behind me and caused me to turn around
“Babes, you gotta tell Dele. It’s already been a week.
This can’t be something you keep away from him for too long.”
“I know…. I know….
I’ll tell him soon. I just need to figure out the best way”
I heard babies changed men as they did women but in a different way. I hoped it would affect Dele positively and not push him away.
I felt like I had been cooking for a while; every minute an eternity as I plated the last bit of the chicken.
A few minutes later, Dele arrived home.
I was so nervous.
He greeted me and was ready to dig into the meal when I asked
“Dele, what if I wanted kids right now?”
He stopped and looked at me and said
“You wouldn’t want to get married first?
I thought you always wanted to get married first?”
I continued to walk as I reached for the glass of wine and poured him a glass
“Yes, I do but I guess I have just been having a lot of baby fever lately and I wanted to know what you thought”
He sat back and rubbed his thighs as he said
“You know I’m here with you babe. I’m ready when you are.”
I smiled and said
We began to eat when he took a big gulp from his glass. He glanced over to me and said
“Can you pass me the bottle babe?”
I passed the bottle over to him and then he said
“Wait, you’re not drinking?”
A huge smile covered my face even as I tried to hide it.
He pushed his seat back and said
I nodded and he got up and swooped me off the ground!
He whisked me into the air and began singing
Sunny Nneji’s “Somebody’s On The Way” to my amazement. I was so happy he was happy.
I could see in his eyes that he was glad.
He finally set me down and he said
“I am going to love the two of you with everything I have in me”
I smiled and kissed his as I said
“I know baby. I know”
To say I was treated like an egg is an understatement. Breakfast in bed, foot rubs, long gentle shower ‘wash-downs’ as he called them even from the first trimester!
Dele was all action.
Most importantly, I was sure he would protect our son, and me if I had a boy. He was always so comforting and he normalized my fears without making me feel irrational or overbearing.
It was no surprise when in collaboration with my father and my grandfather; they decided to fly me to the United States to be comfortable before delivery.
Tolani was kind enough to come along for the duration of my pregnancy.
Things were going smoothly and Dele visited to check on me every 5 weeks for a few days before returning to work.
On one of his trips and told me that my grandfather was ill and asked that I come home to see him.
I was about 8 months into my pregnancy.
Dele was very direct with his response.
“I told the king with all due respect that you weren’t coming home until you delivered and fully recovered”
I swear, I just kept my mouth shut.
He made the call and we all obeyed.
But it was becoming increasingly hard. My grandfather’s health was deteriorating fast and I was scared I would lose him before I could get back home.
Flying to Nigeria has to be one of the most “unique” experiences anyone can have.
First class or not, flying with Nigerians is always and interesting experience.
The noises, the accents, the blatant disregard for certain instructions; the people are unique.
The flight was smooth but I felt uneasiness within me.
I think that must have been why I felt so sick as I got off the plane.
The heat that smacks you in the face once you step out of the Murtala Muhammed airport, is almost easiest explained by the analogy of a shower.
Imagine you’re midway through a cold shower and suddenly the water goes to the hottest.
Yes. That’s exactly how it felt.
The convoy waited as I stepped outside the airport with my father.
Our bags tucked away in the car behind us, we set out on the highway.
There was a mixture of excitement and an uncomfortable worry whenever we headed to my hometown.
I was always pleased to be with my people but I also knew that our people could very easily become volatile if the situation turned.
I was really tired and I fell asleep before we exited Lagos. I awoke as we pulled into the outskirts of the town.
People at the major bus stop would chase after the convoy as they knew it belonged to the Royal family.
We got into the palace and slowly climbed out of the vehicles and flooded into the house.
Susan, my trusted confidant on the local issues, was standing right next to me.
I noticed very quickly that the house was filled with my uncles.
Curtseying, I greeted them and headed into my grandfather’s bedroom. We filled the room and surrounded his bed.
My grandfather’s right hand man and adviser for almost 45years began to speak
“Oba Akintola III, would like to thank you all for making the time to be here. He has taken a lot of thought into your schedule and is grateful you honored him and the God’s by being here today.
For some of you, this meeting will shed more light on the recent developments but the King will like it to be known that even though as individuals, we may not get what we want, we are a family. He wanted….”
I cut to my father standing next to me and I whispered
“Why isn’t he speaking for himself?”
I knew my grandfather had been sick but I didn’t know that he couldn’t speak for himself. Was it really that bad?
“The lung cancer has been aggressive in the last few weeks, he hasn’t spoken in about 3 weeks”
My father whispered back to me.
I was surprised and even more concerned for my grandfather.
“…… the King would like me to express very briefly, his vision for the people and the family as a whole”
His adviser Baba Siraju continued.
“First, on the distribution of his assets in his demise. Kabeyesi (the King) believes the gods have spoken and finally approved his departure from the land of mortals.
So here is the breakdown…”
Everyone was glued to the man as he spoke. You could watch the emotions rise and dip as his lips parted.
There was so much tension in the room. My grandfather kept his eyes closed while occasionally blinking to let us know that he was awake and still listening.
The properties and other assets were somewhat distributed to everyone’s satisfaction as no fights had broken out.
A few heaves and sighs but everyone seemed relatively happy with the way things were developing.
Then the man paused, he leaned next to my grandfather and whispered something in his ear. My grandfather was silent and motionless for a second and then he nodded in approval.
The man stood up, straightened his attire and asked that everyone leave the room except my uncles, my dad and lastly myself.
There was confusion on the faces of my uncles as some questioned why I was allowed to stay in the room.
“Why is she here?”
One of my uncles asked with his voice filled with disgust.
I stood firmly next to my father without moving my head. I was not the Bola of days or even months before.
I was a mother. A fighter.
I was a leader.
My grandfather’s adviser began to speak once more as he said
“The King and the council over the last few months have deliberated and discussed the prospect of continued leader ship after the King’s passing. After many years of peaceful ruling, it is important that we as a people transition power in the most organized, formidable and peaceful manner.
Therefore, with the approval of the gods and the people, the King has decided that Adebola should be in power till her son, Oyekanmi, is groomed and ready to lead”
The noise in that room cannot be replicated again.
Some of my uncles broke out in insidious laughter while the oldest yelled.
I could feel the anger in their eyes.
I understood it but surprisingly, I was unmoved.
My father continued to glance over at me to make sure I wasn’t afraid but I stood unshaken.
It was in that moment, I understood why he had picked me.
That same calm I always envied in my mother was on display to full effect. It somehow felt in my head that I was saying “there is none of you men, I cannot take”.
“Who is she?
She is a child! What does she know about leading our people?
We are the hub of this region, she cannot lead us. She doesn’t have the experience”
A woman has never led our people. She cannot lead us?”
“Women have no place on the throne, even our own mother never came close”
These were some of the “nicer” things that were being said by my uncles as my grandfather’s adviser tried to gain calm in the room.
“Let us respect the King and the decision of the gods…”
He said and then suddenly, to the surprise of every soul in the room, my grandfather yelled out
The room went dead silent.
It felt as if the palace was shaken to its foundation.
You could hear the breathing of various people in the room.
My grandfather slowly sat up, cleared his throat and said
“There has never been a better time to have a female leader.
First I want to clarify that I do not need the permission of any of you to make decisions that affect the well being of our people.
To be fair to some of you, you may be hanging on to tradition but here is the truth… as the leader of the people, it is my job to put their needs first.
None of you have offended me or proven that you cannot be worthy leaders….but the fact remains that I should chose the most suitable leader for our people”
He looked around the room and then set his eyes on me before continuing
“Bola is the right choice.
You see, all of you have searched and honed your skills for power. Wanting it more than most especially the outsiders but here I present to you the calmest head.
The wisdom her mother displayed, she has impacted in this young woman.
To some of you who have claimed she is too young or that she is a woman, I understand your concerns but now I counter you by saying; she is the youngest ruler with the most complete support system in all of you.
The people will not expect this change and some of you will claim our traditions should not be changed. I agree to an extent.
But what is tradition if it doesn’t benefit the people.
There are changes brooding in our neighboring areas. They will be looking for unity.
They will be looking to you to unify us.
All of you in this room are law makers. All of you in this room are leaders and my legacy is in your hand.
Putting Adebola in power is aim no disrespect to any of you but to highlight the changing times and the need for us as a family to stay ahead.
Your older sister was a nurturer and you can all testify that those same traits are in Adebola standing right there
Even better, she understands what if takes to nurture a people as she will her son. Bola has the right to rule by the power vested in me by the gods and she can pass on power to her son when he is ready.
Today, we shake the foundations of our town and we invite the power of the people that gave us life.
It is your duty as a people to support and obey her decisions. Or you will face the consequences of the gods.
This is a family and she will be the face for us.”
There were no words said as my grandfather leaned back in his bed and cleared his throat again.
One after the other, people bowed and left the room till my oldest uncle, my grandfather’s adviser, my father and I remained.
My father bowed and left the room.
My grandfather motioned at my uncle and I to come closer.
My uncle came and sat to my grandfather’s right side and I sat to his left on the bed.
He held my uncles hand and he leaned forward, my grandfather kissed him on his forehead and said
“You are my first son and you gave me joy as a man to know I would live with a son.
You have no idea how difficult this decision was for me but it is the right one.
I pray that you will be the man I know you to be and lead with Bola.
She is your daughter as much as she is the daughter of the people.
Any enemies she has are your enemies, any goals she has are your goals. Her blood is your blood.
You are a wise man.
Be another father to her”
My grandfather turned over to me and said
I got off the bed and knelt down.
With the help of his adviser and my uncle, my grandfather sat up on the side of the bed.
He leaned down and kissed my forehead as he held it in his hands.
He began to pray for me but these words stood out the most to me and I have never forgotten them
“….. Adebola, your strength is in your ability to adapt.
A leader will and must learn to adapt to the climate and ensure the best care is provided to the people that are being led.
May will come for you. Many will attempt to pull you down but you are greater than any of the negativity.
Yesterday, you were a mother. Today, you are the mother of the people.
It is your responsibility to be great. Never give up on those you love.
And remember that your mother and I always love you and we are watching over you”
I was swollen in my heart.
I didn’t have the words but I just got up and hugged him really tight.
He was weak but I could feel him holding me as tight as tight as he could.
I whispered in his ears
“I love you Grandpa”
He smiled and said
“I love you more”
I turned around and quietly left the room followed closely behind by uncle. I heard my grandfather say what I presume were his final words to his adviser
“With every breath in you, protect her”
I stepped into the hallway to an expectant crowd of people.
They looked eager to find out what had happened.
So many eyes were on me and for the first time I was actually nervous.
I think my father could sense it as he walked up to me. He hugged me and said
“What did he say to you?”
In the middle of the hug, I replied as the tears now streamed down my cheeks.
“He said he loves me”
This time it felt good to cry.
I was sitting in the waiting room when my father walked out.
Tolani was sitting next to me as she rubbed he belly and chowed down on ice.
Trust me, I still wonder till this day why that was her pregnancy craving.
She was pregnant with her third and I was ready to be an aunt all over again.
Abike, walked out of her room and invited me in.
It was dimly lit.
Most of the lighting was coming from the computer screens; I sat down in my seat and placed my handbag on the floor.
I placed the headphones on my ears as Abike cued me and my father watched from the other side of the glass
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, beautiful people of Lagos state. Welcome to a very special episode of The Drive.
Today, we have a very special guest in the studio with us as we discuss that which is great about our country and it’s people.
Celebrating 10years in power as the first ruling female leader in the Western region of Nigeria; it is Arewa Adebola Musendiku”
Abike smiled at me as I responded
“Thank you. Thank you for having me.”
She continued and said
“So 10 years huh?
How has it been? Would you have every thought?”
I shook my head as I responded
“I ask myself that question everyday how it has gone so long but I would like to think it has been because God ordained it and the people that love us, have supported us.
And of course my support team which is bigger than any gift I could have been given. From my son, to my husband, my father… Who is smiling on the other side of the glass by the way. My uncles who have formed the most formidable team around me, I am blessed.
I truly never expected to be here or this far today but God gave it to me and I am very grateful”
Abike smiled again and asked
“So to be a female leader must be hard. So what has been the most difficult part of your job?”
I giggled and I replied
“Probably being a mother but not a mother to just my son but also over a hundred thousand people. That is challenging but to be very honest with you, the most difficult part of this all is tomorrow.
It is in knowing that no matter how great today was, it is my personal responsibility to make tomorrow better.
That, is the most challenging part of the job and also the most exciting”
The next question came
“So there has always been word that your son will someday when old enough, take over from you. How is he doing in readiness to being a King someday and what advice do you give to him?”
I sighed and I said
“to be honest with you, I just let the boy be 10.
he loves running around the house with his sister, he loves video games, playing with our dogs and a lot of soccer like his father. I want him to enjoy that as much as possible.
We really don’t talk about the royalty thing that much. But that being said my biggest advice to my son and to anyone out there is the same.
I try to protect him from pain and the struggles of the world but the truth is, with life comes up and downs.
Pain and pleasure.
But it is important to always remember that every experience is just a chapter in our lives and it is up to us to channel that energy however we want”
I walked out of that interview at the end of the show and I had my father and Abike happily together on one end. Dele and Sadiq in conversation while my son, Olugbohunmi, ran around with Tolani’s oldest son; Jalil.
My heart was filled with joy.
I had known and seen pains but nothing could take away the joy in my heart.
-My Heart has been heavy lately because I have felt like #WhatTheHeckMan hit a block. Like “We All Got Comfortable”. Sigh.
The “Regulars” are not commenting as often. New readers are not coming from people sharing. I’ve just kinda been like “mehhhhhh”.
I guess y’all can help by commenting, retweeting and just sending the link out to your friends. I have been led to believe by you all that the stories are good, so please share them. (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Edo Girls meeting, Instagram) DO ITTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! And don’t just assume that cos some people comment, I don’t want to see yours. Comment and I promise to reply to all. Also subscribe to the blog, so you get the stories directly.
Let more people experience them. All of your help grows my art.
I appreciate you all more than you’ll ever know. And that’s real.
From the Heart of The Wordsmith,
Pains are a part of life.
Sometimes you don’t even control how they come to you.
One thing you can control is your response to them and how you let them affect you.
Recently, someone asked me why in my stories, I love to have women “in power”. Well I had been doing it unconsciously till now, this series, I wanted you to see a woman in power and it didn’t even have to be literal.
A lot of you have lived with people, been in difficult situations. Had your backs against the wall, been kicked out of school, failed, been heartbroken. Lied to, taken advantage of, told at jobs that you weren’t good enough or didn’t deserve to be there.
Expected to be less either because you were a woman or people were just scared to let change occur.
Tonight, Pains is for you.
But to validate you. To honor your journey, struggle, passion and sacrifice for all you love.
So from the street of Tottenham to the bar in Houston or the Keke Napep in Oworonshoki; I want you to understand your pain.
Understand it as a challenge; force it with prayer, passion and power to succumb to you.
Do not be a victim to your pains, your hurt, you regrets.
I encourage you to challenge yourself today more than you did yesterday.
I particularly dedicate this series to one of the hardest fighters I know.
You don’t even recognize half of what you went through till I point it out to you but this past weekend, you reminded me of what it feels like to never give up.
I thank you for being amazing and taking control of your destiny.
This is for you.
This is for every woman fighting.
This is for every one praying.
This is for me.
This is for us.
Till we read again, it is in fact the one and only #WhatTheHeckMan
Thank you for reading and commenting. You are highly appreciated.
Lookout for new material next week.
© 2015 #WhatTheHeckMan