Somewhere in Ajegunle, a place I’ve never been to before, under a mango tree, is where I sat with Mama Kehinde. Its dirty, with a foul smell permeating the environment. But the people living here don’t seem to mind, in fact, they actually like it here. I guess the saying; “there’s no place like home” is quite true.
I watched little kids as they ran around playing; some of them wearing only shorts while others wore pants. They laughed and played around like they had no care in the world. It was an amazing sight to see.
“Na who dey come pick you my pikin?” asked mama kehinde,
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I looked away from the kids to mama kehinde and saw that she was currently adding more yams into the medium, sized, hot, frying pot that was frying on burning wood. The smoke from the wood is very disturbing and its quite difficult for me to focus on her with all the smoke in the air.
But Mama kehinde looks unaffected by the smoke, maybe it’s because she’s used to it.
She totally forgot about the charger she wanted to borrow once she realized I had been kidnapped. I felt safe staying with her than any other person since she was the one I found first. So I sat down with her, under the almond tree waiting for Gibson to arrive.
“My friend is coming to pick me” I answered her question. Trying really hard to focus on her, I kept blinking my eyes rapidly to remove or try to remove the smoke entering in.
“You say Friend?” she asked, still working on her fried yam and Akara.
I nodded my head, looking at the Akara on the fire. I felt her looking at me, so my eyes moved to look at hers. She stared at me for a second, before she faced her cooking once more. We stayed in silence, only the sounds coming from the pot could be heard, and that of the fire, oh! And the voices of kids laughing and playing. The aroma coming from the pot was really amazing and I imagined eating it but I thought this wasn’t the best time to eat, not until I get home. So instead, I looked around my surroundings to keep myself distracted, sometimes I’ll take a glance at her cooking, other times, I’ll watch the kids play.
But at the same time waiting for Gibson to arrive, and hoping he comes soon.
So I’ve been here for the last 30 minutes, waiting for Gibson to arrive. I’m beginning to think maybe he has forgotten his way here. A few minutes after I called him and told him where I was, he called again to get the exact address of where I was, I didn’t know, so I gave the phone to the owner of which was a young man to help me describe where I was. He did, and immediately he was done giving directions and descriptions, Gibson cut the line.
I thanked him for his help, he was happy to help. Then he left.
The sound of cars approaching took me out of my thoughts, I looked towards the sound of the cars and sure enough it was Gibson, I felt an unmistakable sense of peace and happiness seeing him drive towards me. I know its him because the first car is the exact color of his, it’s a white Mercedes, the 2016 E series. The rest (which I’m certain is the security team of Michaels company) drove behind him in their various cars some of which were the explorers and the Honda’s.
I stood up from where I sat, surprised and excited to see that he didn’t come alone.
The cars stopped right in front of mama kehinde’s cooking space. Gibson got out of his car, the cars parked behind his and the men got out too, staring at me.
Gibson stared at me for a full 10 seconds. Then he walked briskly towards me, I met him halfway, throwing myself at him, he caught me, then I hugged him with a strength I never thought I had. Gibson hugged me right back, holding me tight, his head in my neck breathing me in deep, his air hot in my neck but I didn’t mind, it felt good.
I couldn’t stop hugging him, I thought I was never going to see him again seeing as I was kidnapped and my kidnapper said I was his, so it was clear there was a possibility of me not seeing him or any of my friends again, Hence the hugging and not ready to let go.
“We’re going home” he mumbled, his face still in my neck.
I nodded my head and said, “I have to thank mama kehinde first”.
He removed his head from my neck to ask, “Mama kehinde?”
I nodded my head once more saying, “Yes, I’ve been with her since I made that call, she’s been taking care of me”.
He looked a bit confused; I could see the wheels in his head spinning. I waited for him to get what I was talking about. While I waited patiently, I watched as his eyes moved to focus on someone behind me, I turned in his arms to look, and sure enough it was Mama kehinde.
But her expression wasn’t one I was expecting, her eyes were wide, her mouth opened, and it looked like she wanted to speak but words refused to come out. So I spoke.
“Mama kehinde , meet Gibson, my friend”
“Friend?” asked Gibson, I looked away from mama kehinde to focus on Gibson as I answered a bit haughtily.
He grinned at me, I rolled my eyes at him, I don’t have his time, after rolling my eyes back, I heard mama kehinde ask in an astonished voice.
“This your friend dey big oh, kai… wetin you dey chop? see your chest”
Then she placed her palm flat on his chest admiring it.
I watched her as she did so, getting a little bit amused.
“I was in the army” said Gibson looking uncomfortable.
“ehn?” she asked, not understanding him her eyes were still glued to his chest.
“I was a soldier ma”
Her eyes left his chest to look at his face, and then she asked, “You be soldier before?”
“Yes ma” replied Gibson, still sounding uncomfortable.
“chai, if I know say na so soldier boys de be, I for marry one na?” I giggled a little at her comment.
Suddenly, she turned around abruptly to go back to her cooking, saying
“Carry her abeg, the girl dey tired, make she go rest. I get plenty work for here”
“Thanks for helping” said Gibson, sounding better and relieved that her hand was no longer on him.
Mama kehinde nodded her head, sat down on her small stool, and continued with her work.
Well I felt that was our cue to go, so I turned to leave, but Gibson stopped me when he said.
She looked away from her pot to look at him; she didn’t say anything she just looked.
So Gibson continued, “the man that took Ada, where is he?”
“hin don go,we no catch am as hin run commot, but maybe police go catch am”
I felt scared at her reply, so many thoughts going through my head. They weren’t good thoughts too, it meant I’m still in danger….. God why me?
“Thank you” said Gibson, he started to turn me around to lead me to his car but i stopped, so he had to stop too, I had a question I desperately wanted to ask Mama Kehinde so I did.
With his hand holding mine, I turned around to face mama Kehinde, She was still busy with her work, but I asked what I wanted to ask anyway?
“Mama kehinde, how come you’re still frying akara and yam, aren’t you supposed to be doing it only in the morning?”
Mama kehinde still very focused on her work, scooped some yam out of the big frying pot, the smoke from the fire wood was everywhere, she was squinting her eyes cause the smoke was getting in.
But this didn’t stop her from replying me “This na the only work wey I get, so I dey do am all the time, no be for only morning.” As she said this, a group of kids ran towards her, they stopped, and stared at the yam and akara she had fried. One of them licked his lips, his eyes full of hunger.
She looked at the kids and sure enough she noticed the hunger in their eyes, she then asked, “wetin you won buy?”
They all gave various answers. But all meaning the same thing, they were hungry.
“Yam” , they said at the same time.
Then they looked at themselves realizing they all wanted different things.
“How much una get?” asked mama kehinde, not surprised by their various answers.
“Na fifty naira we get ma?” said the oldest one
Mama kehinde looked at their faces for a few beats, then she stretched her hand out to them, wiggling her fingers indicating she wanted the money. The one holding it quickly placed it in her palm.
She then carried a small, black leather, and packed enough akara and yam, of which I’m sure cost more than 50 naira, and handed it to the oldest. They all stared at the leather in his hand, totally surprised but excited.
“Dey go before I change my mind” said mama kehinde, smiling at their surprised gaze.
Immediately, the kids scrambled off, thanking her in the process, ‘cause obviously they didn’t want her to change her mind.
I watched her as she did this, helping the kids in such an amazing way; she really has a good heart. My eyes were on her, and she must have felt it ‘cos She looked at me, I smiled at her, she smiled back.
The she said, “Dem dey hugry, so because I get somtin , I go give them, if not God go judge me”
“Well said mama kehinde” said Gibson.
She smiled at him, he gave her a chin lift then he led me to his car, I turned my head as much as I could as we walked away to yell a “thank you” to mama kehinde, she yelled back saying “no wahala”. Then I was placed in the front seat of Gibson’s car. He closed my door, walked around the front of his car to his side of the door, got in, started the car and moved, taking us home, his men following right behind us.