***THE ADVENTURES OF BIMPE***
In the bus, on her way to her community, she kept thinking of her parents, she wondered if they would notice changes in her, would they know she was no longer a virgin. Close to the house, gone was the Bimpe of UniLag, she was back to being a simple girl from Ilisan, she didn’t have her Brazillian wig on, in its place was a Sade braid. Her face was scrubbed clean of makeup, but even at that, you could tell she had undergone changes, her once dark dry skin, was supple and fair. From the bus park, she hopped on a commercial motorcycle which took her to her father’s compound. Dele was the first to see Bimpe, he ran out to embrace her.
Dele: “Egbon mi ti de oh” he shouted on the top of his voice.
Bimpe: “Dele, you have grown oh” while she was still talking, Kunle and Tunde rushed out, they jumped on her body. After which they carried her luggage inside, she rushed and knelt down in front of her father, who was still stuck to his chair.
Ladejo: “Omo mi, kabo” he said and put his hand on her head.
Bimpe: “Ba mi, forgive me that I did not come back since, school was so hectic”
Ladejo: “I am not angry my daughter, I understand, I was there once” he began to pray for her in their dialect, raining blessings on her. Her mother came out, looking at them with disinterest.
Bimpe: “Ma mi, I have come back from school oh” she knelt down before her.
Basirat: “kabo” she said and walked away with her nose up in the air.
One day, Bimpe was in the kitchen, a small construction outside the main building, cooking efokore when her mother walked up to her.
Basirat: “A mother knows her daughter very well, and I know that you are not the same Bimpe that left Ilisan months ago. How did you come about all those things you brought back?” she asked, with her hands on her waist.
Bimpe: “Ha Ma mi, Lagos is not like Ilisan oh, work is plenty there”
Basirat: “What kind of work, Uncle Ladoja, your father’s brother that is in the city, what does he bring to the village?”
Bimpe: “Ma mi, I sell in a big shopping mall, and …” she didn’t complete what she was saying as a scream tore out of her mouth. She fell on the ground and began to roll.
Basirat: “Ha! Bimpe, Kilo de, somebody help me” her mother screamed as she tried to turn Bimpe around, but stepped back abruptly when she saw the pool of blood under her. By this time, the neighbors have gathered, Bimpe’s siblings were crying, while her father sat in his chair, unable to move his legs, shouting on the top of his voice. The men, against their reservations carried Bimpe on their shoulders, like pall bearers, with the blood dripping uncontrollably. They took her to the general hospital, which was poorly equipped.
Nurse: “Ha this one don go do abortion, abeg move am go theatre” she said angrily. She really loved collecting her monthly salary without much work, and always grumbled when tedious work was required on a patient, more also; she had no patience for young girls who committed abortions. They carried Bimpe on a gurney to the theatre, while the doctor and his scrub nurses prepared to carry out an evacuation on her. After some hours, the doctor came out, looking exhausted, and beads of sweat kissed his brows.
Doctor: “She is going to be fine; she had complications due to an incomplete abortion. We will have to watch her from now until tomorrow”. The neighbors, who had assisted in bringing Bimpe, looked at her mother in disgust.
Woman 1: “A fruit really does not fall far from its tree. Like mother, like daughter”
Woman 2: “It is a pity, that girl had prospect, why she decided to tow the line of her mother, is what I cannot tell” They gossiped among themselves, to Basirat’s hearing, so much that she began to sob.
Basirat(within herself): “After all her pretense, she finally displayed her true colors. Stupid ashaewo, omo ale” her face scrunched up with anger. A nurse came out to tell her she could go in and see her daughter. Bimpe had been taken from the theatre to a recovery ward; it was to this place Basirat was taken. Bimpe opened her eyes when her mother entered. Her eyes were filled with fear of uncertainty; she didn’t know what her mother had found out when she was unconscious.
Bimpe: “Ma mi, what is going on with me” she asked when her mother kept staring at her without saying a word.
Basirat: “I should be asking you. What are you doing in Lagos, it is certainly not pursuing education” she said glaring hard at her daughter.
Bimpe: “I have been pursuing education and nothing else”
Basirat: “No you have not, you think I don’t know about the abortion, in fact all of Ilisan knows about it now. You wretched child, bastard! I regret having you, all you have ever done is cause me shame and reproach”
Bimpe: “Mother! How can you call me a bastard when I have a father at home, I am your only daughter and you treat me this way because of one mistake?” she began to weep, her mother, unmoved, turned to leave. Bimpe held her hand and begged her to stay, but she pushed the hand away and left the ward, without looking back.
After Bimpe was discharged, she went home but her mother kept her distance. The news of her abortion spread like wildfire throughout the community. Mothers advised their daughters not to be like her, her age mates who were once envious of her admission into the university began to ridicule her whenever they saw her. “Ashaewo” and “Bastard” were flung at her at the slightest provocation.
Bimpe: “How have the mighty fallen. Once a golden child, now the scum of the community. What have I done to deserve such treatment, even from my own mother? What is really going on?” She soliloquized as she sat outside her house. She got up abruptly and went inside to where her father was ridden to a chair. She knelt down at his feet and wept. Through all the mess, her father was the only one who still smiled and talked to her, he knew about the abortion, but never asked her about it, or judged her.
Bimpe: “Ba mi, tell me what I need to know, why am I called a bastard when I have you as my father?”
Ladejo: “First, tell me what went wrong. You were and still is my hope, what happened to you in Lagos?” Her heart broke when she heard the sadness in her father’s voice and saw the disappointment on his face. She could not speak as emotion choked her throat.
Bimpe: “Ba mi, I am sorry, can you ever forgive me? I fell in love, I thought we were going to be married, but he rejected me when I fell pregnant, I had no other choice. Father, forgive me”
Ladejo: “Get up my daughter, I have forgiven you, we are all mortals, we are prone to err, only the Almighty is perfect, and only Him has the right to judge” he wiped her eyes with his palm. Then he went ahead and told her the reason she was called a bastard.
Back when they were all young, Ladejo loved Basirat so much; she was also loved by a host of other young chaps in Ilisan. She was the most beautiful girl in the community and she knew it. She was always flirting with the guys, making them run errands for her; they even brought freshly killed bush meat to her house every morning. She agreed to date Ladejo in public, but in private, unknown to everybody, she was dating other men including the local government chairman.
When Ladejo went away to Ibadan to start his University education, she began to date Dapo, Ladejo’s friend. She fell pregnant and told her family that Dapo was responsible. The family met with Dapo’s family and asked that their son do the right thing by marrying their daughter since he had plucked the flower without permission. But Dapo rejected the responsibility, telling everybody that Basirat was also seeing the local government chairman and other men, it was impossible for him to be the owner of her pregnancy.Basirat’s family tried to force him to own the pregnancy, but his parents through the help of an uncle sent him abroad, to the United States.
Basirat was left alone with the pregnancy; she gave birth to a baby girl and became the laughing stock of the community. She was made to cater for the baby alone, as her parents refused supporting her. She did all sorts of odd jobs; Until Ladejo came back from the university. He was now a civil servant for the government, and Bimpe was already four years old. He heard of Basirat’s plight, and even though he had dated women in the University, she was still his first love. He decided to marry her and adopt Bimpe as his own; he took mother and child to Ibadan where he worked. Dapo, obviously doing well for himself in the States, moved his family out of Ilisan and nothing was heard of them again.
Ladejo: “So you see, you are still my daughter in everything but the DNA, and we may never know who your biological father is” Bimpe remained motionless and speechless when her father was done. She could not bring herself to say a word, her mind was in a tumult, the father she had known all her life was indeed an adopted father, she had no one to call a biological father, she was indeed a bastard.
Ladejo: “Your mother probably despises you because, you remind her of the past. I was not her first choice even though we dated, she was a jewel in those days before she got pregnant, but when she became pregnant of you, people shunned her, her value dropped, no mother wanted her as a daughter-in-law despite her beauty. But deep down somewhere, she loves you as only a mother can love”
Bimpe: “Thank you father, for everything, for giving me a surname, love and a family. I will never forget your kindness” she said as she got up slowly, the weight of the revelation hanging on her shoulders like shoulder pads.
She went about the house like a ghost after that day, avoiding her mother at all cost, doing the things she was supposed to do, without communicating much with anyone. Then, one day, she began to gather her belongings into a box.
Dele: “Aunty mi, are you leaving us?” he asked as he entered the room with his other two siblings. They carried solemn faces, they knew things have not been well in the house since their elder sister was rushed to the hospital, but no one was telling them anything.
Kunle: “Please, don’t leave us”
Bimpe: “I am not leaving you, I am only going back to school, I will send both money and other items on a monthly basis. I want you three, to take your studies serious, be diligent and become great men so you can take father and mother away from this community” she embraced each one of them.
Tunde: “Aunty mi, why do you sound like you will not be here to see us grow.” He said looking up at his sister with his small doe eyes. Bimpe wept silently and embraced. It was sad that that was the last time she would see them, she had to pursue her future without the clinging of family, they weren’t really her family, she was a bastard with no roots, she thought to herself.
She grabbed her luggage and made for the park, where she boarded a bus going to Lagos. In the bus, she kept thinking of the story her father had told her, the disgust in her mother’s eyes whenever she looked at her, she also thought back to Brian and his betrayal.
Bimpe: “Did I come into this world to suffer? Did I ask to be born illegitimately? Why am I being punished? But, I will never wear this dress that I have been given, money will remove shame and money I shall acquire, by whatever means. I am ready to face this life squarely” she said within herself, her face passive and betraying nothing of the pain she felt inside.
Male passenger: “Hello pretty girl, can I talk to you for a minute” Bimpe turned to look at the man sitting beside her. She glanced at his faded polo shirt and denim trousers, with the worn out moccasins on his feet, and sighed loudly.
Bimpe: “Even shoes have sizes, find your size” she murmured to his hearing and turned her face away to the window.
Bimpe had been going out with Dominic for months, he had moved her from the hostel into a new apartment in Festac, and furnished it for her. Bimpe could see he loved her, but she was not ready to be anybody’s fool the second time. She had thought Brian loved her because of all the gifts he was showering on her, but look what he did to her. So even though she gave Dominic sex as much as he wanted, her heart was far away from him, and she was on the lookout for greener pastures. Her luck shined the night Dominic took her as his plus one to his company’s dinner meeting. Bimpe went all out in her bejeweled gown which had her back bare to her tail bone, with a plunging neckline that revealed plump breasts.
Dominic: “Is this appropriate for a business dinner?” he asked, worried of the impression she would make on his bosses.
Bimpe: “Trust me Dom, this is very appropriate” she said, not caring much for his opinion. She was intent on selling herself, and sex sells.
At the dinner, they were seated at a long table, most of the investors, the rich, and old men came with their female escorts, it was the employees like Dominic who came with their wives and fiancées. Dominic felt uncomfortable that Bimpe was looking more like one of the female escorts than his girl friend. Nevertheless, all eyes were on her, her female counterparts looked at her with jealousy, while the males looked at her lustfully. Bimpe however enjoyed all the attention, good or bad.
Bimpe: “Baby, I am going out for a bit of fresh air” she said and walked out, taking a flute of wine from the waiter. The dinner was being held at the banquet hall of the Oriental hotel, she walked to the garden, taking slow languid steps like a cat. She knew one of the old, rich men would follow her, so she was sashaying for them. By the time she reached the fountain, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw Alhaji Dambazzau, the CEO of the Cytron Informatics, where Dominic worked. She watched him with dim smoky eyes as he approached her.
Alhaji: “Beautiful damsel, you are a salve to sore eyes. What is the beautiful name?”
Bimpe: “You flatter me Alhaji, my name is Adebimpe”
Alhaji: “What lovely name, I want you to myself”
Bimpe: “Haba Alhaji, I am with Dominic”
Alhaji: “Come on, you is no meat for a small man”
Question: Do you think Bimpe is heading to the right direction? What’s your best advice as a mother or father or relative?