Aunty Bukola’s prayers began the very day she received the good news. Enitan, her niece, had given birth.
The devil would not catch her slacking, the way he caught her twenty-five years ago. Aunty Bukola believes that lone incident to be the reason why she remains unmarried to date. Madness transfers by blood and sex, so when her younger sister, Bola, disappeared exactly three months after giving birth to her child, all the men who had expressed interest in Bukola fled with her. Tales went round that Bola had been seeing things and speaking to invisible people.
They said she followed their whispers into the dark.
“How do you feel?” Aunty Bukola asked her niece.
“Tired,” responded Enitan, slowly.
“Don’t worry, in a matter of days you will be better.”
Aunty Bukola could respond to any gloom with a cheer that could light up the darkest day.
“I know Aunty,” replied an apprehensive Enitan, “but I am worried. Will my life ever be the same again?”
Bukola was jolted by that question. That was the same question Bola had asked her twenty-five years ago, in Yoruba. So, she gathered all her remaining happiness within herself, and then she responded;
“Your life may change, but your child will add some colour to it. Who enjoys the dullness of being alone?”
Enitan swallowed deep. Aunty Bukola knew what she was talking about. Since her mother died, Aunty Bukola had raised her alone. No man. No friend. No child.
Just her, alone, wading through the darkened waters of life.
“I understand, Mummy,” responded Enitan.
Immediately after Aunty Bukola dropped the call, she called her pastor.
A battle that shows its face to one is already half-won, she thought.
“Seven days of fasting. Seven bottles of anointing oil. Seventy thousand naira for thanksgiving. And all will be well,” the pastor promised.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; every day Aunty Bukola prayed. She casted every generational spirit of madness. She binded every force that said she could not enjoy the fruits of her labour.
For many of our wars are within; every day added a darker shade of gloom to Enitan’s life.
Her son’s screams irritated her.
Her body became too heavy for her to carry.
Her visage, a dark cloak she carried around.
On the seventh day of Aunty Bukola’s fast, the day of Enitan’s child’s naming, she went to see a doctor. His diagnosis: post-partum depression. He wrote her a prescription.
“Use your drugs well. You will get better. If you do not use them, you may get worse.”
By worse, he meant – but did not say—post-partum psychosis. Those were the whispers that drew her mother away from everyone, but many called it a spiritual attack. They said, Bola had signed a treaty with her ogbanje partners never to give birth.
That was the reason why Enitan had never met her. The reason she will never know. The reason why her name was changed to Enitan.
Days later when Aunty Bukola called her niece once more, she noticed a bounce in Enitan’s voice. After the call, she set aside seventy thousand naira for the thanksgiving. After the call, Enitan popped a pill then patted her son to sleep.
“Tomorrow will be brighter,” Enitan thought, as she drifted off to sleep.
Temitayo Olofinlua is an award-winning essayist and editor who has completed assignments for Global Press Institute, Mania Magazine, Saraba Mag and Facebook, to mention a few. Her work has been featured in various publications, online and in print. Some of her writing awards include Finalist, African Story Challenge, Technology and Business Cycle (2014); First Prize, Peter Drucker Challenge (Manager’s Category) (2012); and First Prize Winner, NEPAD Essay Contest (2013). She lives in Ibadan where she is also a PhD student at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.