My mum would have been 71 on June 28 and it would also have been her 50th wedding anniversary with my dad. It also became the 25th anniversary of her death.
I was not my mum’s favourite child – my sister Yemisi was. And my mum was too quick to shout and beat and all. So, she also was not my favourite parent. When she died, on the day she was buried, when I refused to leave her small plot in the cemetery because I thought she would be lonely, my aunt, My dad’s sister, Mama Kay told me when we were leaving the cemetery that I would not know the value of not having a mum till when I became and wife and mother myself. I did not understand then. I do now. Single parenthood… mother in law issues…
When I got to Uni, my mum suddenly relaxed. Our relationship improved greatly. Where she would have given me an abara (beating on my back) and eebu (insults), she then started to gently explain to me how to go about doing things in life. She started talking to me about how to behave with men. She once told me that when a man is tired of a woman, there was NOTHING the woman could do that would be right in the man’s eyes and so, if I found myself in that position of not ever being right with a man, to know that it was time to walk. He would never see anything good in me. She started talking to me. But 4 years later, she died.
My mum had a legendary sense of humour. If you have been to a Yoruba traditional wedding, you will know that the two sides of the families are headed by chairladies ‘Alagas’. Traditionally, these roles were voluntary and I think usually played by an ‘iyawo’ – wife of the family who was outgoing and fun. My mum was the alaga in a lot of traditional weddings. She was a brilliant story teller. If my mum went to market and for example saw a purse being snatched, if she were to tell you the story, she would never start from the beginning. Ohh my mum Adunni! She would start with prayers and all and my dad would be like ‘Amin’ Ehen’? Amin? Ehen? IYABO!!! Preamble yi ti to! Ki lo sele. Iyabo! This preamble is enough. What happened? Then, she would start the story in the most rib cracking way. I have a smile on my face remembering those times. Like anytime she and my dad had issues, she would start referring to herself as Miss Ladega. No more Mrs Ajai. And she made sure she called herself Miss Ladega when my dad was within earshot. My mum was a clown.
I wish I had half the strength my mum had. Even as she battled Cancer, she never once cried or let us know she was down or sad about it. I never saw my momma cry. Not once. Not even when her own mum was crying by her bedside, a few hours before my mum died. My mum just told her in a matter of fact way that she had reached her bus stop and she had to get down. My mum was an only child and the day she died, my grandmother died a little.
My mum had the most beautiful dentition, the most beautiful smile, the most beautiful skin. My mum. Iya Sola. Dorcas Iyabode Olabiyi Adunni Ajai nee Ladega of the house of Ashogbon. I miss you. I love you. Keep resting in peace.