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BN Prose: From AJ with Love by Vanessa Emeadi



The hoarse voice of Madam Titi as she called the attention of one of her trainees could be heard from a distance. She was the major tailor in the streets of Ajegunle, a huge shop in the heart of AJ city and the person everyone called ‘Iya Mi’ (my mother).

It wasn’t outrightly said but it was a known fact that she trained the youths of AJ one way or another. If you needed a meal, you were welcomed. If you needed little cash for business, you could come to her. If you needed sound advice, Madam Titi was the one to meet.

But at the moment, Madam Titi was finding it hard to believe that her best student, Aduke, was leaving her to go to photography school. “Photography! Will it put food on the table? She screamed at Aduke. You want to waste this talent God has given you? You have the best hand stitching I’ve ever seen, and you want to give it up for photography?”

“The one that Elijah is doing is what?” She continued. “Is that not the same photography? You want to be taking pictures at small children’s birthdays? Agbaya oshi! (Old fool)”

“Iya mi…” Aduke pleaded, “It’s not that I do not appreciate all you have done for me, I love fashion, but I enjoy taking pictures of the dresses I make, discovering how flattering they look when styled a certain way. Or when I see Builder and that comb that’s always on his hair, the dark round shades he wears everywhere even at night. Iya mi, the night life when the street lights come on, all these images interest me.” She smiled at the elderly woman, willing her to understand.

“I want to showcase our culture, our fashion sense, the outrageous makeup, the streets. I will be representing us wherever I go, I won’t ever let you down, I just need your blessing,” She beseeched Madam Titi.

This was the woman who’d kept her safe and away from bad influences, who’d ensured that Aduke attended secondary school. She wanted to make her proud and repay her by doing something useful with her life.

She could see Madam Titi shaking her head and her heart fell. She would not be getting her blessing. “I don’t want this for you, but if you leave, I won’t stop you.” And so she bade farewell to Madam Titi who was kind enough to give her “transport fare”, though she’d prepared for the journey.

She applied herself to her photography training, putting in her best effort. She knew failure wasn’t an option, and her vision for AJ street fashion propelled her on the days she was weary. At the end of her training, she interviewed at a top fashion magazine and got accepted.

The day she returned to AJ, she came bearing gifts. She showed them the work she’d done, the places she’d been, and the picture that had steered her towards street fashion – it was a young Titi, clad in baggy jean jacket, a mini skirt, white sneakers and big afro, and seated atop a green vintage Mercedes-Benz.

“Iya mi, I didn’t just come to see everyone, I also came to fulfil the words I said to you. I’d like to showcase some of your fashion pieces and get others to showcase their style as well. People listen to you, Mama.” Despite the work she’d done and the level she’d attained in her career, she was still the little girl who’d looked to Madam Titi for support.

You didn’t. Madam Titi reminded her. With a rueful smile, she pulled Aduke close.

“And now, I am glad you went your way. You did what was best for you, even though I couldn’t see it.” With a teary face, Aduke embraced Madam Titi, who patted her back in a reassuring manner, “Aduke mi, you have made this old woman eat her words.” Dismayed, Aduke tried to refute what Madam Titi said. It only made her chuckle. “Shhh…and you have made me so proud.”

She pulled Aduke away and saw the precious child she’d rescued, no longer a child but a grown woman. “You will have everything you need. Like you young people will say, ‘AJ to the world.’” Their laughter was heard outside the shop walls, hearts were relieved, all was well.


Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels

Vanessa is a lover of art. She's a graduate of Microbiology who has mastered the art of penning down her thoughts from a tender age. She considers herself an activist and can be seen writing articles or tweets about causes that are dear to her. Visit her blog at

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