A GAP IN MY RESUME.
"A Resume is a quick glimpse into what you have been, what you are and what you re capable of being."
- ©Remi Oyeyemi
The traffic was light. Motorists were well behaved on this auspicious day. Even, the usually rambunctious Danfo and Molue drivers seemed to have woken up on the right side of their beds. Some of them even showed courtesy as I drove through this beaten route, relishing its late morning controlled aggression.
The sun diddled in its demure. Like a beautiful young lady luxuriating in the ecstasy and the blush of being "toasted", the sun was subtly showing its hand. Rather than emitting its furnacious heat, it has decided to be benevolent as it showered its warmth on Lagos this beautiful Thursday morning.
The breeze was casual in its calmness. Its demeanor was haughtily humid. Trying its best to make its presence unfelt, grumblingly, it blew nonchalantly, impacting everyone and everything with obvious disinterest. It elicited indifference from most passersby and those hustling to make some profit on their wares.
I have been in Nigeria now for about four weeks. I would be on my way to France and later to the USA in about forty-eight hours. As usual, the experience has been a combination of joy and frustration. UnalIoyed joy for being home in Oòduà Nation, especially after having spent some time in Ilesa, the City where God lives. Frustration at the level of want, squalor and poverty pummelling and pulverizing our people. Very heartbreaking.
Enmeshed in these mixed feelings, I tried to concentrate on navigating this very familiar terrain, surprisingly draped in the garb of sanity. It was like everyone, including the weather, decided to be on good behavior this day. Did they all have an inkling that I would be passing by at this hour? I wondered because of the rarity of what I was experiencing.
I was on my way to Èkó Hotel for a business meeting with a very dear friend. As I meandered through the light traffic, I became conscious that I was passing through Ojúelégba. Yes, Ojúelégba. The same Ojúelégba. Then I remembered. And I slowed down, taking my time to savour the environment, that is exuding arrogance in its mere existence, still attractive in its hurly - burly, glowing in its hustling.
Yes, I remembered.
I remembered that my Resume has not really been complete. I remembered that I have left a yawning gap unfilled in my Resume. As I passed through Ojúelégba, the memories kept flooding back like a dam with a pent up anger. The memories cascaded down my consciousness without let or hindrance, stubbornly underscoring this gap in my Resume.
Yes, I remembered.
I remembered how I used to hawk Àkàrà and Ìpékeré in this environment, all the way from Lawanson. And the memories became a deluge. It marinated me in exciting feelings of accomplishment. It knocked into my consciousness the reality of how far I have come and why I must never forget whence I have come.
Yes, I remembered.
Then, I remembered my dear mother, Òrómìnì, whose seminal beauty, according to my father, Àsàbí, was even coveted by the heavenly saints. Yes, I remembered her, because she was the one who made those memories possible. Yes, it was in her "Àkàrà àti Ìpékeré" Company that I had a job that has not found its way into my Resume.
In the later years of my Elementary School, Primaries 5 and 6 to be specific, and my first three years of High School, I always spent the vacation with my mother in Lagos. A very hard working mother who made a name for herself as "Ïyá Alákàrà" in that small environment in Lawanson where she engaged in her trade. Some preferred to call her "Ìyá Onípêkeré." That was about four and a half decades ago!
I hawked for her. I traversed the Itire - Lawanson - Ojúelégba axis. I was not always able to cover the bases on daily basis. But I was a constant at the Danfo garages. The reason was that I sold more in those garages compared to anywhere else. I hawked Àkàrà in the morning up till about 12.30pm to 1.00pm. I would have my lunch and then switched over to Ìpékeré for the next four to five hours.
Those years were golden years for me. They were golden years because I was able to make my mother happy by helping her out. I did everything for her, and I could have done more if possible. In all the years that I knew her as my mother, she sacrificed all and everything for our comfort and happiness, mine and my siblings.
Even in my earlier years, when it was only me and her, when she did not have an idea where the next meal would come from, her unalloyed love shined through. The glow of her love radiated always. I not only felt it, I saw it in her eyes, in her looks, in her attitude, in her enthusiasm and her determination to ensure that I got fed.
Being aware of what she has gone and was going through, I knew we were partners in the fight against poverty. I was happy to be of help. I was a happy soldier for her. I cared nothing about nothing except to put a smile on her face and joy in her heart. Looking back, I am convinced that I gave her my best from those early years to later, when God blessed me a little.
When I was burying her, and looked at her, sleeping in that casket, the pain of losing her on a permanent basis was mitigated by the joy and memories that we shared and that I was able to give her while she was alive. At that moment, I was happy I was able to give her what anyone could have given a fantastic mother like her - Obedience, love, loyalty, care and everything money could buy.
Thus, while I was passing through Ojúelégba on this particular day, the memories of being an Àkàrà and Ìpékeré hawker came back to me. I remembered the joy and pride I had doing it for my Mother. I remembered the appreciative responses of my Mother. I remembered the "Oríkì", yes the panegyrics that always accompanied her gratitude. I am still so proud that I enthusiastically did it for her. I am glad I had that opportunity.
Passing through Ojúelégba on that fateful day reminded me of a job that I did but has never included under the "Work Experience" column of my Resume. Yes, I remembered that gap in my Resume. It is a gap that is rich in memories of joy, hope, determination, faith, love, obedience and perseverance, but that I have failed to acknowledge. I remembered everything just like it's yesterday.
I remembered. And I still remember.
"A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories."
-. Honore de Balzac