I walked into our compound in Ibadan and felt an overwhelming strangeness because a whole lot has changed from the time I last visited home.

Ours is a storey building behind Ibadan Grammar School, popularly called Grammar, at Molete.

There is this big tree standing gallantly in front of our compound on which my brothers made a sling for our last born. Sometimes, I engage the sling to ease myself of stress and anxiety.

Lo and behold,

The tree which once sat like it would be here till the end of time is no longer here. It couldn’t even see Covid-19 through its first phase.

So, nobody told me anything all the while we have been talking on phone. This life is hideous and full of deception. People only let you know what they want you to know. Isn’t it?

Don’t even say it’s just a tree. Are trees meant to be brought down? Trees are very important. They supply oxygen, prevent erosion, provide food and many more benefits to us all.

More so,

It’s more than a tree to me. Apart from the sling on it, it was my favourite place to write. I would sit comfortably under the broad branches and take in all the breeze I can get. There is nothing comparable to this feeling of bliss, helping my creative juices flow at ease.

So, the tree was no longer there and that was my first shocker, ultimately, I would need a shock absorber for the subsequent one.

Anyways, I was back to Ibadan…

And was welcomed home by my oldest brother who must have missed me the most. He is my gist partner but never a ‘call person’, so, our closeness was severed ever since I left for Lagos. He was so happy to have me back.

“Fe-ran-miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” He screamed and ran towards me, lifting me from the ground like some 6years old. I chuckled so loud. I have really missed home and only just realizing on arrival.

“How is your aunty?” My mother enquired as soon as she set her eyes on me

“She is fine.” I replied smiling and taking a peep at her grey hairs.

“She mentioned you suddenly decided to return home”

“I have missed everyone jare and life in Lagos is not easy”

“Life in Lagos is not easy ke. Why are you sounding like you were sent on the street to hawk. Were you maltreated”

“Unlike Ibadan, You don’t have to hawk before feeling the stress in Lagos. It’s simply transferrable”

“Lok at your cheeks.” Mum said, pulling them.

“I was well fed obviously” I replied, while getting away from her grip.

My mum personally served me Amala and Gbegiri on arrival.

Amala is a local Nigerian meal made from Yam flour while Gbegiri is a type of soup made with beans. I have missed this Ibadan woman’s Cuisine. Gush! My mum’s food is heavenly. I quickly got down to business, swallowing Amala after Amala.

Just then, my dad emerged from the inner room and my eldest brother quickly ran to his aid, helping him through the door to the chair right in front of me. He smiled broadly as he stirred at me. Just then, I realized I haven’t heard much of him recently.

Dad! I said. dropping the meat I held up.

“What happened?” I enquired, searching through their faces.

‘Hmmmmm’. My mum sighed deeply.

“I heard your voice and decided to join you here. I cannot be left out. Ah ahn. Feranmi, you are even fatter.” My dad said, smiling broadly.

My dad was so full of life. He was an energy King raising hopes wherever he stepped the soles of his feet.

Look at him!

Reduced to a shadow of his former self except for that contagious smile. Having lost my appetite, I moved to him, resting my head on his shoulders, I gave him a hug.

“It’s been one hospital bill to another o” I heard my mum say.

“And nobody told me. That’s so unfair” I cried. It was an emotional moment for us all. I haven’t seen my dad so vulnerable.

My mum went on and on explaining how it all started few weeks back and now the family’s savings is already going down.

“Well, I am back now to support” I assured her at the end of her many narrations.

“It is well my dear. I am so happy to have you back”

“I will seek for job opportunities” I stressed, in case my statement on support wasn’t clear enough.

“Why would you do that? I’ll be fine in no time. You should be more worried of getting into school”. My dad said.

“I think so too” my mother added.

Anticipate Chapter 17

Read the previous chapter here

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Author

Rebecca Maulome Padonu is an enthusiastic writer with a soft spot for factions. A RubyWrites 2016 finalist. She has completed several freelance writing projects, including BBC Media Action’s Drama series, Story Story (series 32 & 33).

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