This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
“Olumo Rock is the most important place in Abeokuta because it is how the city got it’s name, it was a refuge for the Egba people in the 1930s when they fled from the war in the old Oyo Empire. The Egba people hid under the rock for a long time”, the tour guide droned on as Kemi, Funto, Darasi and a few other acquaintances from camp trudged on behind him. The idea to come here had been Darasi’s idea, the more outgoing one of the bunch. She was a dark, bubbly lady with an unassuming air about her, she was bold and rarely took ‘no’ for an answer, that’s how they all got here, Kemi groaned inwardly.
Hiking was not really her thing, she could imagine doing a million other things that didn’t require her leaving the house where she was staying. Besides, she had been here before, a couple of years ago, memories she had long since buried. There was no use remembering now, her heart plummeted as the memories returned like a flood. “I love you, Kemi. You are my best friend, the only one who truly gets me. With you, its easy to express myself, I don’t need to hide anything. I feel like I can be myself with you”. The year was 2015, and this was the second anniversary of their relationship. ” I love you too”, was Kemi’s brief reply, but her smile held the words that she somehow could not form. He understood.
“It is said that a hunter called Sodeke founded the city of Abeokuta, it is believed that he led the Egba people as they fled Oyo”…the monotonous drone of their tour guide shook Kemi out of her journey down memory lane. ” Kemi, we’re here to have fun, why are you looking so worried, God will sort out your posting, just enjoy the moment”, Darasi was speaking to her and she forced a smile, “I hear you Darasi, you’re absolutely right!”. They had come to the rock itself, and she didn’t even notice. The guide was showing them the holes in the ground, where the Egba men were said to have hidden their wives. The girls had decided to climb up the rock, instead of taking the elevator, where was the fun in that.
Kemi was glad she took her sunglasses, it was easy to hide her emotions behind them. It was time to put them on, she had a lot to hide today. This place was bringing back too many memories, and she needed to distract herself. Funto caught her eye and winked at her, mouthing the words, “Smile, Jesus loves you”. Why was she so preoccupied with herself, she wondered. She needed to snap out of it. The world did not revolve around her. She whipped out her Iphone and headset and quickly found her Youversion Bible app as worship music filled her ears. She needed to be reminded of God’s love, Jeremiah 31:3 was the verse of the day, a knowing smile filled her face, as she remembered what it meant to be loved by the living God. Her day just got ten times better, there was a spring to her steps, and this time her smile was genuine as she called out to Funto and Darasi, “You ladies are too young to be this slow, double up!”. Their faces were camera worthy, and she quickly took a snapshot before they could protest. Her slim figure was working in her favour today, even though she was the furthest thing from fit, she was still giving the other girls a run for their money.
“You can see the entire city, from up here, its beautiful isn’t it?”, their tour guide had barely broken a sweat, despite the almost 45 minute climb. Kemi and her friends were panting and sweating profusely. ” Yes it’s beautiful, they said in unison”, as they crumpled to the ground. Abeokuta was theirs for the taking and this was just the beginning.
On the way back ‘home’, everyone was quiet, each one deep in their own thoughts. For them, this was a new journey, in a new city miles away from home. Funto’s parents lived in the North. Darasi’s family was based in Lagos State, so this was different for all of them, and Monday could not come soon enough.
Only Darasi was happy with her posting. She had been posted to a secondary school to teach Mathematics. She loved to teach even though she had studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos. Funto had been posted to a company that was rumoured to no longer be accepting Corpers, and Kemi had been posted to the Ministry of Health, where she would not have any clinical exposure nor be paid anything more than the meagre 19,800 naira from the Federal Government. The money would never be able to pay the expensive rent that Abeokuta was known for. Even though they were all supposed to be independent, they still needed some support from home until they had a sure footing. Kemi still had her stash from housemanship but it was for her exams.
She was not sure what to say to her parents, so she told them she would sort things out on her own. She knew God didn’t want them to fix this, He would. She was worried about many things, and she knew it. Where to live, where to work, how to survive on less than 3 dollars a day. “Daughter, call to Me and I will answer you. I will show you great and mighty things you do not know”.
She had heard all about NYSC year during housemanship, but she was not one to move forward on the experiences of other people. This would be a year of faith, she was determined to thrive here, and she would. Yes, she was living in a hostel of sorts with enough rules to send her packing but she needed a place to go first. Kemi knew she just needed to trust God, but Monday could not come fast enough for all of them.
To be continued.
©Olamide Akappo nee Oti, 2020.
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Jeremiah 33:3 NIV