Facades – Part 2: His..tory

I grew up in abject poverty. I mean abject poverty, my brain got me educated and that was my only savior.

My parents died when I was 9 in a car accident. I was sent to live with my blind maternal grandmother, Iye e. My mother was her only daughter and after her death, there was no one to take care of Iye e, plus she had the added burden of taking care of me, and so we took to begging on the streets. We lived in a shack in the Amukoko slums of Lagos with almost nothing and all the proceeds from our begging was dedicated to paying for my education. We ate anything edible, often times what we were gifted whilst begging and on days we did not receive anything edible, we ate whatever we picked in dustbins, plucked on trees or went to bed hungry.

At the end of my secondary education, I was awarded a two full scholarships to study economics one at the University of Ghana and the other in a University in the United Kingdom. I decided to stay closer to home by taking the one in Ghana. That summer before I left, I worked at a shop in the afternoon and hawked akara at night to make money to hire a help for Iye e whilst I was away. Iye e died when I was in my third year from a lung infection she never told me she had, for the fear of adding to my burden. From then on I became alone until I met Babatunde.

Whilst I was younger, I promised myself that my children will never have to suffer the same experiences that I did. In University, I sold male clothes part – time. One day, a trusted friend lured me into his house by promising to give me the amount he owed me and raped me. I did not want my son to ever have to pick food off the streets before he ate, neither did I want my daughter to be lured to rape before she could feed herself. I wanted them to have all the opportunities I never did, so don’t blame me for staying.

I attended Amukoko government school for my primary and secondary education while Tunde attended St. Saviours school, Ikoyi and Kings College respectively. He lived in a mansion in one of the most affluent neighborhoods, Ikoyi, and got a Peugeot as his first car at the age of 18, I inhabited a shack in Amukoko, an overpopulated and dangerous ghetto . His first job was as a manager at one of the leading professional services companies while mine was hawking akara(bean cake). His father was a Minister of Finance, or as it was known in those times a Finance secretary, while mine struggled to make ends meet doing menial jobs. Summary of the story is that he had a pedigree and I did not even have one, talkless of a bad one, so how did we meet?

I met Babatunde during my service year. Then, I worked in the same company that he did at that time. It was refreshing to find someone from a very wealthy background who was as ambitious to be a success on his own. I fell for him almost immediately, although I was a bit apprehensive about dating him considering he was 27 and I was 20, and we were from totally different backgrounds but he managed to convince me. He was my first boyfriend, and nine months into our relationship he proposed to me and I accepted. By the time I had turned 22, we were married and I was pregnant with our first child, Junior.

I find it difficult to reconcile the Tunde who fought his dad for his permission to marry me without having to go to finishing school in Switzerland, with this wife beater. At the time, I knew I was marrying one of the most eligible bachelors of Lagos but not once did he ever make me feel like I was any less than he or that I was disadvantaged because of my background. I remember him boasting of my brains to his friends, and even when they talked to him about marrying a girl with no pedigree, he ignored them. Through out the time we dated, he hardly ever got upset with me, and even when he did, not once did he hit me. And so I wondered for a long time what I did to change him?

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