|Название||The Bata Dancer|
|Автор произведения||Rotimi Ogunjobi|
Atanda, the young assistant Baba brought with him, knew what he was required to do. He harvested okra and pepper into the basket he brought. He also dug up some yams. One of the animal traps on the farm had caught a young duiker which Atanda slaughtered, gutted, and then splayed on a wooden cross-frame. He made a fire of dry twigs and leaves and roasted a yam in it. On another fire he roasted the dressed animal.
“You are here alone? Do you not yet have a wife and children?” Baba asked. Yomi was for a moment flustered. This was not a part of his life he enjoyed talking about.
“I had a wife, but we could not live together. She left me and went away”. He decided to bare all. Baba Lamidi shook his head, regrettably.
“Women of nowadays are so foolish and impatient”, Baba said.
“I agree with you Baba”,
“I would say though I was very lucky with my first wife who is now departed. She was the gentlest woman and took great care to cover my inadequacies, while most women delight in taking to the street to tell the entire world where their husband has failed”, Baba shook his head some more.
“You said she is dead? What happened?” Yomi inquired.
“Oh, well we must always foolishly say one disease or the other killed a person; sometimes we would even say that it was the witches. I say it was her time to return to God that is all. Death took her away. It was a sad thing for me, but what can we do? The same will eventually happen to all of us whether we like it or not”, Baba grieved.
“That is so sad. Didn’t she have any children for you?”
“She gave me six wonderful children. All of them are grown up and working far away. Three are even overseas. Ajoke is the youngest of them, and she is the one you met the other day”
“So you do not also have a wife living in your house?” Yomi wanted to know.
“I do have a wife. It will be unthinkable that a man should not have a woman with him in his house. Bejide is nearly as patient with me as the one who passed on, but she is young; nearly forty years younger than me. She was previously widowed; my wife was also dead. She was suggested to me by friends who thought I was lonely and depressed. We have four children together; the youngest of them was born four years ago”
. Yomi wondered bemused why some men still fathered children in their old age.
“My estranged wife took away our only child and forbade me to see him. I decided not to go to court to challenge this. I didn’t want to confuse the poor child even more” Yomi told Baba.
“That was a wise decision. Get on with your life and with your work. When your son is of age, he will come looking for his father. Be sure to make yourself a father that your child will be pleased and proud to find”, Baba advised.
Time passed quickly on the farm. Four hours or so after they arrived, they started back from the farm. Again Baba walked with so much effort and by the time they got to the road where the car was parked, he was again gasping for breath. On the way back home, they visited the home shop of a herbalist to purchase a remedy for Baba’s fever.
This was the first time Yomi had ever visited a traditional medicine pharmacy and he was struck with wonder at the great array of articles assembled on the grimy tables and shelves. There were herbs, tree barks, strange seeds, and the dried skull of various animals - rodents, lizard, apes, goats and some other animals which looked like goats. There were dried whole animals, dried insects, leaves, stems, roots. He could also see what appeared like the flayed skin of a leopard, or was it a hyena? He wasn’t sure. The herbalist’s shop was indeed a horrendous store of items, many of them so revolting in their appearance and smell. Yomi was fascinated.
“I want to buy agbo iba “, Baba told the woman - thin, blank faced but with predatory aquiline features. She fetched a bundle of leaves and tree barks, wrapped it in brown paper and gave to Atanda. Quietly watching, Yomi, who had never in his life taken herbal remedies for any illness felt sure that those leaves when cooked together and drunk by the sufferer, would certainly make the person’s illness worse than if he had not take any of the stuff at all.
Yomi dropped Baba off at this home, and promised to return next day to see how he is faring. He thought he saw Ajoke looking into the engine of Baba Lamidi’s Peugeot Station Wagon which was parked at the side of the house. He couldn’t be sure it was her though.
The day was not yet done with. He decided to pay the estate agent a surprise visit, if only to express his disappointment. Again, he only found the clerk there, and as usual she was completely unhelpful. Yomi left a written message for Falana asking the estate agent to please call him back before the day ran out. What exactly he wanted Falana to call him about, he wasn’t quite sure, other than to be assured that he had not been swindled. But in truth, his heart told him, quite confidently that neither the promised accommodation nor his money he would see. He wondered what other options there were for finding a house.
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