She started her life different and she intended to live it that way. She would take a left turn when the rest of the world took a right. At the tender age of 15, Fela Anikulapo’s music was all you would find on her ipod while her contemporaries jammed to J-lo and MI. So it came as no surprise when she insisted on going far east to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka over any private university for her tertiary education. She chose to school in the East because she found the Igbo culture fascinating and wanted to immerse herself in it, live it, breath it, speak it, dancing it would be a bonus. Four years and a degree in French later, she took her man home to meet her family.
‘Mama-Lanre, you will love him, he is a total sweetheart, he is respectful and understanding and patient, and…’
‘And what?’ her mother urged her to keep speaking.
‘Lets just keep the rest in the cooler ok? As a surprise.’ she said as she smiled into the phone.
‘Ok o, What time should Kasali meet you in the park with the space bus for your luggage?’
‘Er….8am would be fine ma, we arrive in Lagos for 7, so yes 8’
‘ok, bye omo mi, be careful of the bus you enter o’
‘”a,b,c” buses are safe mama-Lanre, ok bye mom! Love you’, Lanre said, as she dropped the phone.
A week later, mama-Lanre met Lanre’s fiancé and found him to be everything she said he was and wasn’t: intelligent, well-mannered, patient, Igbo and albino.
‘Lanre, kilode?’ she pleaded with her daughter, ‘Of all the men in the world, an Igbo albino and you know how I feel about marrying outside our tribe, Did all the Yoruba boys drown in a river? And he had to be albino again?! Eh, Lanre?!
‘Mama-Lanre? I love him and I am marrying him’, Lanre retorted with a tone of finality and stalked off.
The wedding took place on a windy Thursday morning in the Alausa court house with seven witnesses, one judge, one court-house clerk and one photographer to capture the mixed emotions and the proceedings in the court-house. It happened on a Thursday, because it was typical of Lanre to strive to be different and in a courthouse because her mother’s orthodox church refused to join a woman impregnated outside wedlock in ‘holy’ matrimony.
Seven months later, Fiyinfoluwa Chidi Nnodu bounced into the world a healthy baby with his skin pigmentation nothing like his fathers. His grandmother was relieved. When Fiyin turned two, Lanre became bored and wanted to explore the world. She wanted to visit different countries and write about their cultures, she wanted to savor continental dishes. Lanre wanted to climb the Kilimanjaro and share the experience of how her head touched the sky. She wanted to sleep on an airplane in Nigeria and wake up the next morning in South of France but Fiyin was hindering her. Her husband thought he was too young to be left alone for long periods of time. To let peace reign, her husband compromised and allowed her to travel to Italy for a month, she left Fiyin with her mother and set out.
Her travel to Italy only whet her appetite and did nothing to quench it. And that became the start of a travel career. She traveled the world and documented her experiences, she columned for several travel magazines and brought home weird souvenirs as gifts for her family. On the night of Fiyin’s 7th birthday, her mother in-law, who had arrived earlier in the week, privately threatened to bring a younger wife for her son, if she didn’t produce another grandchild. Fertility pills replaced the birth control pills on the bathroom counter. After several tries, she finally took in. She was going to name her little girl Oluwasegunfunmi. She had conversations with her unborn child on the weekly trips to see her doctor, it was on one of such trips that the foetus was diagnosed with Bilateral Renal Agenesis. A medical condition in which both kidneys fail to develop during foetal development.
‘Doctor! what are you saying?,’ Lanre rubbed her belly as she spoke, ‘that this child I am carrying doesn’t have kidneys, not even one? The doctors drawn out look, was the only answer Lanre needed. She searched her husbands face for some sort of explanation. Maybe he could say something to quell the whirlwind that was gaining momentum in her gut. But even he looked defeated. For the first time in her life, Lanre felt completely out of control. The air in the office was so heavy, it could be physically cupped with two hands.
The Nnodus had one of two options: to either bring the baby into the world and have it placed in neonatal intensive care unit, to a life of oxygen masks and pain, of incubators and suffering and maybe, eventually of death. Or to terminate the 6month old pregnancy now.
It was a tough call, wasn’t faith letting the baby live and trusting whatever deity to miraculously produce two magical kidneys and affix them in the right places?
It was only rational (and cheaper) to terminate the pregnancy now, it was already in the second trimester before it got too late to carry out any abortive procedures.
Would God be mad if they killed the child. Why didn’t he stop this from happening to them in the first place? They decided to keep the baby and let it die of natural causes. One month later, mother universe stepped in and stole the soul of the child away, which resulted in a still-birth. The decision was made for them.
Lanre mourned the loss of her demised baby for a full year, quit travelling and settled to have more kids. She did have one more making Fiyin older than his brother with 10years. Fiyin was elated, he had a brother and finally his mum would be around to attend his school plays and activities. Lanre went back to University to study geography as a second degrees, part-time. She would stay home to care for her family and explore the world with her maps and textbooks.