A New Dawn by Paul Gold


Titun Owurọ 1. Olúfúnmiláyọ̀

The morning was calm and gave no hint of what was to come. The healed wounds of sixty-one years would be peeled. “Grandma, one baba is here to see you,” Owólabí said as he led me to the room where he entertained the said baba.

I always believed that a smell couldn’t bring back memories, but his scent brought me back to my youth. I had been in his arms too long not to recognize the smell of palm kernel oil and goatskin. It couldn’t be him, I tried to convince myself, the voice wasn’t his either.

The voice I heard was filled with age and suffering and mixed with dry gin. It cannot be Fẹ́mi; it has been many years and I am now visually impaired. How will I recognize this man? How would I know if he was the one I have loved and hated all my life? “Who is there oh?! Ẹkáárọ”. I ached with curiosity as Owólabí guided me to the stool. “I wanted to see you before I leave.”

He said as he took my wrinkled fingers in his hands. “You’re still as beautiful as you were at 18, my agbalumọ”. It was him! He recognized me!“Who are you?” I asked, pretending to forget the first man to touch me like that, my Fẹ́mi. The same man who stole my heart and took my innocence away at 18. I still remember it clearly; it was not dark. God saw us do it and I had no fear because he assured me that he loved me, and we were not wrong.

He never said the word ‘love’ but I assumed it was love — I mean, with all the things we did together. I turned every suitor down for his sake. I even watched wrestling battles only because he liked it. Whenever máa mí made gbègírí and ewédu, I used to take my portion to him because he loved it. I washed his clothes and cleaned his house every day, and all my wrappers were tied high above the knees and tightly on my hips so he could get the message.

He discovered new things in my body every time we met, and at that moment, he was my world but unfortunately, I wasn’t his, and this took me long to realize.

At some point, when I broke the news to him that I was with his child, the response I got left me devastated. “That thing in you is not mine! That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Kill it or leave.” It felt like a kick in my stomach. Our child — a disaster ” À ń pe gbẹ́nàgbẹ́nà ẹyẹ àkókó ń yọjú” .

He told me to fix this small problem before it gets out of hand, and then he slammed the door of his hut in my face. I killed our child to please him and save my reputation in society.

In that horrible year, I almost lost my senses. I mourned my child and wallowed in pain while he went after my friends and took them to his bed. I felt betrayed and confronted him, I can still hear the ringing in my ears from the slap I received that night. He said it to my face, looking directly into my teary eyes “you are worth nothing to me”..

I cried myself to sleep that night and thought of all the nights we spent together, the promises he made to me, and the beating I received from him. Ha! He accused me of theft before the whole village. I was tortured to miscarriage and disowned.I am glad olódùmarè took my sight so I could not set my eyes on this man ever again. He must’ve reaped what he had sown. I could tell from his voice that he has faced the wrath of the almighty. That is not my problem oh! Kii ṣe iṣoro mi.

My life is settled now. My late husband, Tòkunbó, bless his soul, took me as I was and loved me more than I could love myself. Ọkọ mí, Tòkunbó, the father of my children. I don’t need any disturbance before I see him again. I’m an old woman now, any load from the past has been discarded. If I carry them, the weight will break my fragile back. “Ẹjọ, what do you want?”

2. Fẹ́mi

How do I begin to answer this question? What do I tell her? I don’t even know. What right do I have to beg for forgiveness? I should be grateful that the Great One let me meet her after all I have done. “Ah! Fẹ́mi! You’ll eat your own tears! You will look for me, you won’t find me!”.

But I did, I found the woman who valued me, my agbalumọ, Fúnmiláyọ. I have no right to apologize for the pain I caused her. How do I tell her that the gods have heard her cries and punished me with impotence? “You are worth nothing, Fẹ́mi”. I had said the same thing to Fúnmi, and now, Ìyànú said the same thing to me. I realized how it felt to be abused, especially by a woman.

I always believed that I could overpower any vagina. I explored every woman and girl. Yes, I said girl. Ìyànú was just 15 but she was shaped properly by olódùmarè. Ha! I couldn’t resist. Women were made special but Fúnmi was created when the almighty was distracted. She was not the kind of woman I can look at and my thing will respond. I didn’t like anything about her, everything was made small. Ah ahn!

But I cannot deny how much she loved me and endured everything I did to chase her away. Her figure started to show after the first pregnancy she destroyed, I didn’t know that all she could was get pregnant again and cry. I lost my senses and threw her to the angry villagers. Ah! I was a useless man. I killed two children with my eyes wide shut. Yes, my eyes were open yet I couldn’t see, I couldn’t see the jewel I had in my possession, Fúnmi. Take a look at her now, the Great One protected her from setting her eyes on this pile of dung. “I’m sorry, Fúnmi. Ẹjọ.”

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.