Sunday, 28th May 2023

A ghost in the New Year!

By Segun Durowaiye
09 January 2022   |   4:02 am
Why do I have to live this kind of life, after all I did for my three children?” reflected Mama Seyi that Sunday morning in her one-room apartment in the slum of Mushin, Lagos. She was alone in her own poverty-stricken world.

Why do I have to live this kind of life, after all I did for my three children?” reflected Mama Seyi that Sunday morning in her one-room apartment in the slum of Mushin, Lagos. She was alone in her own poverty-stricken world.

Her three children, one a banker lived in Victoria Island. His name was Toyin Makanjuola. The first child, by name Seyi lived in California, the United States of America. He was in his early 40s. Tayo, the last child was a successful international trader. But who would dare believe that a great matriarch like Mama Seyi, for that was what everyone called her, could live in such squalor, such penury after all she did for her three successful children?

Her husband, Mr. Makanjuola had deserted her in the early 1950s, eight years after their marriage. Mr. Makanjuola was a chain-smoker and drunkard. He led an undignified and irresponsible lifestyle, which caused so much trouble between him and his wife. So, after Mr. Makanjuola deserted Mama Seyi, the woman had been taken care of her three children with the little money she earned through her petty-trading. She struggled through thick and thin, in joy and sorrow to make ends meet. She catered for her three promising children all by herself. Toyin schooled in the country and bagged a Master’s degree in Accounting, while Seyi was sponsored abroad by his mum to study Civil Engineering.

Now her three children were living very flamboyant lifestyles while their mum lived a terribly poor life. Seyi, who had made promises to his mum that he would take proper care of his mum that night before jetting out of the country in search of the Golden Fleece never kept his promises. He didn’t even write her a letter for the past 15 years. The last letter Mama Seyi got from his first child was the one he sent informing her that he arrived safely in the States. And that was in 1990.

Toyin who was an Executive Director with a bank lived in a beautiful mansion in Victoria Island and owned many sophisticated cars and modern day buildings. The last child, Tayo was a rich and successful businesswoman living in Bangkok, Thailand. She frequented the country once a while but she didn’t give a damn about her mum. It was her mum who gave her the initial capital with which she used to set up her business empire. The crux of the matter was that Mama Seyi was getting weaker and older every passing day. She had resorted to begging for survival and to feed at least twice daily. She often wondered why she had to undergo all these gnawing hunger and pain when she had greatly invested all her life savings and sweat on her three children. That year she was 67 but she looked exactly like a 99-year-old woman. She was haggard looking, forlorn and starved. Her health was failing her. Her looks could bring down tears from people’s eyes. She knew her time was up.

The day Mama Seyi died was the most painful, traumatic and agonizing day for her neighbours who really knew her. She collapsed beside a gutter in the front of her ramshackle house and breathed her last. But before she died, the last words she uttered were: “O my God, what have I done to deserve all these treatment and pains? My children should not mourn me…if they do I’ll surprise them. My soul will never rest if my heartless children make parties after my death…” And so, she died exactly on November 28 with tears dropping from her eyes. Rumours quickly spread and it came to the knowledge of Toyin that his mum had died. He didn’t even give it a second thought or felt touched by the sad news. The message was relayed to him while he was rollicking with some of his numerous girlfriends in a posh hotel. He stood up gaily, took his mobile phone and dialed his elder brother in the States, telling him of the latest development.

“Men, what’s up?” Seyi replied gleefully on wheels, “That’s great!”

“I learnt she died two days ago,” said Toyin.

“Okay men, I’ll take the next available flight tomorrow morning and boy, I’ll be right there with ya in Naija. We gonna throw a big party.” Seyi grunted with enthusiasm.

Then Toyin phoned Tayo who was then in Bangkok. She was really excited and volunteered to spend millions at the burial ceremony. Seyi himself flew in with joy from his base in the United States and agreed to spend about 200,000 US dollars at the burial ceremony. He lodged at the prestigious Sheraton Hotel and Towers for the two weeks he was going to spend in the country. Tayo too arrived the country from Bangkok and she withdrew close to N5 million to spend at the burial ceremony. The families of Mama Seyi had gotten wind of the highly expensive party the late woman’s children were about throwing on January 3 and had warned them that the woman had cursed that no party should be thrown after her death. But the children, in a closed-door meeting had rejected the stern warning and insisted that willingly or unwillingly they would go ahead with their plans to throw a great party.

It was a great pity that Mama Seyi lived and died for her three children. This was a woman who lived a sorry life. She slept on a bug-ridden mat and a mosquito-infested room while her children, whom she sponsored to super-abundant wealth, neglected her at a time that mattered most and lived in opulence. Or is it a crime to sweat and sponsor one’s children to adulthood?

The harmattan haze hung thickly in the atmosphere announcing the arrival of another New Year. The burial ceremony took place as planned by the three children with no negative inkling. It was reported in the newspapers, beamed on the television stations and also covered by all radio stations. It was a grand event. Millions of Naira was spent with important dignitaries gracing the occasion. There was so much to drink and eat. Many cows were slaughtered while champagne and wines were surplus. Then something inexplicable started happening a day after the burial ceremony.

Toyin went to the toilet to ease himself but on entering he saw his supposedly dead mum sitting on the WC. He scratched his head tremblingly and stared unbelievably.

“What the deuce…” he stammered.

“Mama…mama…” he further shouted.

He turned back and took to his heels. His wife ran out, followed him and asked what was the matter.

“Mama! It’s mama…I saw mama just now…” was all he could utter as he shivered continuously. His wife thought he had gone out of his mind. She phoned the hospital instantly and he was rushed to the hospital. He was diagnosed to be having psychological problems. He never recovered from that day onward.

Seyi, the eldest child was on his way back to his US base when he suddenly saw his mum at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport checking-in-counter brandishing a horsewhip with which she started flogging him.

He shouted: “It’s my mum, help, please don’t whip me again…no…help me… it’s my dead mum…nooo…I can’t believe this…”

Security officials at the airport thought he was having mental problems. He was grabbed and handed to healthcare workers. He could not make the flight as he was referred to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. He had remained there ever since.

The last child, Tayo was about travelling out to her Bangkok base the following week when she was arrested at the airport for drug offences. It was discovered that she had wraps of cocaine and heroin cleverly wrapped in her shoes and private part. She was arraigned in court some weeks later and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for drug trafficking. When all these misfortune and calamities befell the children of the dead woman, the family sought the help of a skilful diviner who told them that it was the Karmic forces that were at work. This actually means that whatever one sows is what one would eventually reap. It’s better not to bite the fingers that feed one.