Bóládé omo Gbolagunte (Bolade, son of Gbolagunte)
Ibiolagbajosi, osi parada. (Where wealth gathers and poverty disappears)
Omo ekun to ba ekun ja o si na ekun (Son of a lion that fights a lion and defeats the lion)
Eninwi gbogbo eyan gbosi lenu (One who speaks and everyone listens).
Jádesólá remained on her knees in the courtyard where she met her husband, singing his praise. He arrived from the forest with the other hunters who were sent on assignment by the Oba to hunt for games for their annual festival. Bóládé gave her a cursory glance before he kicked her away from the pathway leading into the mud house. “gbe ara osi kuro fun mi.” (Get your useless body out of my sight).
Jádesólá, Bóládé’s first wife of three was a beauty in her prime, but pains and anguish put years on her. Bóládé sought her hand in marriage when he was thirty years and she was nineteen. She turned down his proposal because he was a notorious womanizer and a drunk. Bóládé’s proclivity for light-skinned women who were rotund and bosomy led him to Jádesólá.
Jádesólá, se ò mo pé mo féràn re. Eyinjú mi omo Àsàké. (Jádesólá, you know I love you. The apple of my eye, the daughter of Asake). He tried to woo her each time he met her on the pathway to the village stream. He knew his way around the bush paths and the trees, so he climbed the trees as his hideout, and when he saw Jadesola approaching he would jump down and follow her to the stream. His pleas for her hands in marriage fell on deaf ears. There’s was no one Bóládé did not send to beg for her hand in marriage and there was no one she did not turn down.
“Jádesólá!” Gbádégesin, Jádesólá’s father called her in the evening. He was sitting on a cane chair under a tree with dry and scanty leaves, chewing stick in his mouth. His grey curly chest hair covered his thin body. Lines of age formed on his chest and hands.
“Bàámí, èmí re. (Here I am, father).” Jádesólá ran out barefoot, a yellow wrapper which had turned brown with dirt tied loosely around her chest. She crouched before her father.
Gbádégesin spat out the chewing stick particles in his mouth. “Òní olóòní, o relé Bóládé. Kòní dòla. L’okó erù e, oko e nbó wá mú e lo lé e. (Today, you’re going to Bóládé’s house. It’s not tomorrow. Go and pack your baggage, your husband is coming to pick you).”
Jádesólá held her father’s legs, tears pooling in her eyes. “Báàmi, ejòór. E le se béè. Mi ò féràn Bóládé. Alágbèrè ni Bóládé. Báàmi, ejòór ejòór, e má tà mí fún owó. (Father, please. You can’t do this. I don’t love Bóládé. Bóládé is a womanizer. Please, don’t sell me to him for money).” Jádesólá cleaned the mucus from her nostrils with her hands and cleaned it on her wrapper.
Gbádégesin, released his legs from Jádesólá’s grip and stood up from the chair. He spat out the remaining chewing stick in his mouth. “Má fi ekún òsì bè mí o. Mo ti so tèmi. (Don’t beg me with unfortunate tears. I’ve said my own).” He left a wailing Jadesola pounding on the floor, scattering the dry leaves around.
Jádesólá was whisked to Bóládé’s house that night. Bolade stretched out on a bench, kegs of palm wine displayed on another bench before him. The men who brought Jadesola to the house pushed her before him. He waived them away and they put her in an empty room. There was a dimly lit local lantern at the corner of the room. Jadesola crouched at a corner weeping. She clutched closer to the wall when Bolade pushed the wooden door open. He staggered and took another gulp of palm wine from the small calabash in his hands. He grinned at her and walked unsteadily towards her. He dragged her from the corner and forced himself on her. Jadesola let out a sharp cry and Bolade covered her mouth with his palm. When he was done, he pulled up his trousers. “I don’t want to hear your voice,” he said, and tottered out of the room. Jadesola stifled her cry with her wrapper.
Hell let loose for Jádesólá nine months after her forceful union with Bóládé. Jádesólá’s water broke late in the night. In excitement, Bóládé dashed to the house of the village midwife. He was expecting a male child who will be his heir apparent to the family wealth. Bóládé had invited some of his fellow hunters to celebrate over a keg of palm wine. He bragged that his wife was going to be delivered of a son and nothing else. After about an hour, the midwife came out to announce the sex of the baby. Bóládé and his friends who were tipsy didn’t notice the presence of the midwife. She tapped him and told him the sex. Bóládé shook his head violently and spat out the content in his mouth.
“O ti o! Ewo! Obirin akobi ke! Ki se temi. (Never! Abomination! A girl as my first child?” It’s not my own!). “Bóládé stormed into the room Jádesólá and the baby were being taken care of. “Ta lo lo mo? Obirin ako ni e ni? O le b’okunrin ni? To ba se die si, mo ma da e pada losi Ile baba e. Okunrin ni mo fe, mi o fe obirin. (Who owns the child? Are you a barren woman? Can’t you give birth to a son? In a little while, I’ll take you to your father’s house. I need a male child, not a female child).
After much tears and pleadings from Jádesólá’s parents, Bóládé reluctantly accepted her and abandoned her in one of the mud houses in his compound. Bóládé brought in a second wife who had a daughter for him. He brought in a third one who had another daughter. After 3 years, Bóládé’s book of remembrance was opened for Jádesólá. She gave him a son, Itanola.
Bóládé delighted in his Aremo. Itanola was his pride. Jádesólá thought that with the birth of a son for him, her position will be restored in his heart, but that wasn’t the case. Jádesólá had lost her feminine charm and was not as luscious as Bolade wanted. Since, he had gotten the son he wanted, he focused his sexual energy on his other two wives who were still appealing to him.
Years passed, and when Itanola was of age he was sent to school in a neighbouring village, while his sisters, Wonuola, Sijuola, and Oyinlola joined their mothers in selling the games Bóládé brought from his hunting on market days. Itanola left for Ibadan to further his studies after completing his secondary school education.
Itanola had observed the way his father, the other two wives and their daughters maltreated his mother, and he decided to challenge his father. On a cool evening, Itanola went to his father’s usual spot.
“E ku irole, báàmi (Good evening, Father).” Itanola lay flat, his chin touching the floor.
“Aremo, dide nle (Son, stand up).” Bóládé stood up from his wooden, rocking chair he lay on. He drank palm wine from the calabash on the table beside him. “Yosi, ki lo fe? (What do you want?)”
Itanola carried a stool that stood beside the goat pen across the yard and sat beside his father. “Báàmi, ki lo de ti eyin ati awon iyawo yin meji ma nse máàmi beyen. E man lu won e de kin je ounje won (father, why do you and your other two wives treat my mother that way? You often beat her and you reject her food?)”
Bóládé spat out the palm wine and wiped his mouth. He stared hard at his son. “Aso l’obinrin. O le paro won bo se fe. To ba de tin ba won soro to won ba gbo, egba lo ma fi lu wan si iberu.” (Women are like clothes. You can change them as you wish and if they do not listen to you, you’ll beat them into fear).
“Ha! Báàmi. Ko ye ko ri be, sir. O ye–” (Father, it’s not meant to be like that. You’re-).
“Gbe enu e daake. Oniranu.” (Bolade sprang up, fuming). “Iwe die to ka ti ko si e l’opolo o’nba mi so so ku so.” (The little book you have read has affected your brain). Bolade hit Itanola hard on the face which caused him to stagger.
Itanola stormed out from his father’s presence with his mind made up to treat women better, particularly his wife. He swore never to tread the paths of his father.
To be continued