The other side of Teni By Archibong Archibong


“ It’s quite a pity, I wish I could help you ”. This was the regular reply I got from our neighbors, especially Iya Abiodun. For the past few weeks after Mama’s death, I had become an object of pity within our neighborhood .

One of those days, I sat in our lonely hut ruminating on what have become of my life. “Ah!. , how did I get here ? What happened? ”. All these questions came with tears rolling down my cheeks. Some days it felt like I should take my own life and end it all.

Reflecting on yesterday, I’m tempted to blame other for my present predicament, but through careful examination, I’ve come to discover the root of it lies within me. 29thSeptember, a day I can’t forget in my entire life, a day I saw life in another dimension, a day my life became a relic of my former self, a day earth became gloomy and miserable on my path.  

Being the only child of my poor parents, they made sure I was well trained to become somebody in life and make them proud. Father worked as a clerk in court on the outskirts of our Local Government Headquarters  and mother was only a trader who sold fruits in our local market.

 Life was quite hard for us, we could hardly feed from father’s meager salary, yet they were determined that I get a good education.

“Omo mi Teniola”, Baami called in his usual sweet and warm voice, “ whatever happens, I will make sure you go to school, graduate and become that newscaster I’ve always wanted you to be ”. “ Baami, as long as I remain your daughter, you will never be disappointed , I will go to school, grow up and become a newscaster and I’ll appear in television like those people in Bimbo’s television ”

Few months after, on my return from school on a hot Tuesday afternoon, I met a wailing crowd in our compound, with some women flocking around my mother who was on the bare ground lamenting and calling Baami’s name. As a young girl of 14, I could barely decipher what the scenario was all about, not until I heard Iya Abiodun consoling my mother saying “God know why he decided to take him”.

I could never imagine that Baami will die so soon. I wailed, wept bitterly because my source of hope was gone. I completed the remaining days of secondary education in sorrows, because Baami was not alive to see his beautiful  angel graduate from school.

It did not take long after my secondary education, that I gained admission into the University. Luck shone us as Baami’s dead benefits was paid to the family which help me in furthering my studies. Of course as expected, I made good grades and came out in flying colours.• 

My dream career as a newscaster did not come immediately as I anticipated, hence I settled for the job of a typist in our State Ministry of Information. There I met a fellow typist, Adeyemi Williams who had an extremely kind heart , he took interest in me and we ended up as husband and wife. Life became better on my side as Yemi got a well paying job.

Although my dream as newscaster never came through, I still felt fulfilled because I was the wife of a wealthy man and also a successful businesswoman who was into local and international sales of fabrics. I started a new building at my father’s compound hoping to demolish the hut and make Maami live like one of those mothers of a wealthy daughter.

Within 15years of our marriage , I and Yemi had had four beautiful children who were all living in a boarding school.

Upon, the eighteenth year of our marriage, thing turned around for us. Yemi and I separated owing to a minor disagreement which grew into a divorce. Apparently, I was indifferent as to the divorce, I had achieved all I wanted as a woman,“ why then should I allow a man dictate my life and associates for me ” ?.

 I left Yemi, amidst the pleads of my children which was irrelevant. I visited Maami to tell her my part, but she never took side me“Teniola….a ,you’re a woman brought in from a cultured home, it is unheard of our family that a woman will abandon her family owing to a minor marital disagreement” . “Maami, I have made my decision and there is no going back ”, I retorted. I left in a rage not minding the sadness in my mother’s eyes.

As a beautiful lady, I knew I will not stay single for a long time .  “I must confess, I have not met woman as pretty and smashing as you’re” . This was Charles an Ivorian musician trying to woe me. Like most divorcées who were waiting to fall into the arms of another man, I obliged just immediately and gave him all the attention. Although he was younger than I ,we agreed to get married.

I lavished all the money I had the relationship and pumped a lot into his music career. Before now ,my look had changed to that of a musician’s girlfriend ,traveling all around the world singing and dancing in different clubs and parties with Charles. “ My sweetest Teni” , Charles’ romantic way of calling me each time he needed money for career. I never hesitated because I loved him dearly, hence I agreed to get pregnant for him.

All dreams to become a popular musician’s wife and an expecting mother of Charles junior came to an end on that fateful Sunday morning when I woke up and never saw Charles. He had absconded with all the money I had left, changed his contacts and no one could ever get to him.

I couldn’t go back to Maami out of shame. I managed the little I had left hoping to get back to my fashion business, but things didn’t work out as planned. The pregnancy was becoming heavy and I was too tired and weak to do anything meaningful. 

Like the prodigal son, I went back to my father’s house, my mother died of heartbreak as she could not bear the shame of seeing the once famous and rich  Teniola Williams , now wretched and carrying an illegitimate pregnancy at 38.

Poverty have reared it’s ugly head again in my life. Who am I to blame? Yemi or  Charles? . Everything I ever had and worked for is gone, my dreams and aspirations all shattered. All I have left is Baami’s hut and the uncompleted building.

Everyday, I sit outside my father’s hut wallowing in penury and excruciating pains, because as for Yemi and my children who may not even recognize me they  will never forgive me.

Written By:

Archibong Archibong

Lifthub

The LiftHub is a component of LiftAfrica Initiative, designed to facilitate the development of ecosystems that are bespoke to the realities and challenges of specific regions, thereby helping more and more poor people start and grow their own businesses by lowering the cost of starting a business, eliminating the hurdles associated with growing one and providing a holding environment that enables sustained symbiotic interactions among stakeholders in these communities to grow
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