The year was 1986 and I was in primary 4. Popsie had just died and mumsy said she needed a fresh start in a new environment, that’s how we landed in a flat in Festac Town, Lagos.
It was a beautiful and serene environment, quite different from what we were used to. Our neighbor was Uncle Dubem, everyone called him Uncle Dudu, probably because of his complexion. Oh! he was dark as night but he also very good looking. His wife, Aunty Ify was like an angel. She was too good to a fault. They were both kind to my family especially during those difficult times when mumsy didn’t know where the next meal would come from.
Uncle Dudu and Aunty Ify were amazing people. They took care of us selflessly and never frowned or complained or even shoved us away. Maybe because they didn’t have their own children yet, they treated my brother and I like their own. As much as I enjoyed their kindness, I silently prayed for them to have little Dudu’s and Ify’s that I could do aunty duties for.
Luck smiled on momsy and she had to quit her petty trading business and become a contractor. Things picked up for us and we moved out of the rented flat to the one she bought but we were still in touch with our neighbors.
Years went by and I gained admission into the University. I was preparing to resume at school when Aunty Ify came to our house bearing gifts. For someone that was not related to my family, she really out did herself. Everybody was chattering happily but it was easy to tell that in the midst of all the excitement, Aunty Ify wasn’t her usual bubbly self. She tried to put up a brave face and mask her feelings but she couldn’t keep it together when mumsy held her shoulder and asked her what was wrong. One minute she was trying to force a smile and the next she was crying profusely. It was as if a dam broke and all her pent up emotions came pouring out. That day, Aunty Ify opened up to us about her relationship with Uncle Dudu. She was his girlfriend and not his wife like we all assumed. She gave him sixteen years of her life hoping that he would commit to their relationship but he only gave her a promise ring with the “promise” to marry her “some day”.
She couldn’t even leave the relationship because she had put so much into it, so to up and leave wasn’t an option for her. It was better to remain in the relationship until when he was ready for marriage than to walk away into the unknown.
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If someone else was telling this story, it would have been so hard to believe but this was coming from the horse’s mouth. Shocked cannot even begin to describe how I was feeling at that moment.
She poured out her heart to momsy who promised to talk with Uncle Dudu so she could get to the bottom of the matter and probably find a way out of whatever this was.
But judging from the look of things, I doubt if the talk with Uncle Dudu went well because momsy was very angry with him afterwards and that affected their relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen, believe me when I tell you that I graduated from the University and even completed my NYSC and Aunty Ify was still waiting for her man to ‘put a ring on it’.
However, at this point, things were awkward between them. There were signs that Uncle Dudu was tired of the relationship. He was constantly on a fault finding mission and they were quarrelling a lot. So one day, he came up with the idea that they needed to take a break. Time away from each other was probably what they both needed. This did not sit well with Aunty Ify but she had to give in after plenty long arguments. Uncle Dudu, would let her know when it was ok to come back. So she left for her friend’s place.
She had only been there a few days when a delivery truck came to drop off all her stuff from Uncle Dudu’s house. How she survived that period still beats me till date.
Barely two months after the horrendous break up, we began to see Uncle Dudu with his already pregnant wife. They went everywhere together. She was young and pretty and he liked to flaunt her. He unashamedly told some people that he did not marry Aunty Ify because she no longer fit into the picture of the type of woman he wanted as a wife. This was really sad on every level.
Ofcourse Aunty Ify heard these things and it broke her heart the more. She was trying so hard to move on with her life but bumping into Uncle Dudu and his wife at the supermarket was the last thing she wanted. She was reminded of the numerous pregnancies she had to terminate because he was not ready to be a father. She thought about the wasted years, all her sacrifice and the fact that she was used and dumped, then she decided that she had to leave Festac. It would be a living hell for her if she continued to stay.
We never saw or heard from her again. Aunty Ify went radio silent and could not be reached. It was as if she vanished into thin air without a trace.
So, I woke up this morning to a picture that momsy sent to me from Nigeria. It was Uncle Dudu’s obituary. His life was marred by several tragedies until his death. He lost two wives and four kids and he was struck by a strange ailment. In the end, he was sick and lonely. It’s sad how things turned out for him but I hope he finds rest.
I wonder where Aunty Ify is. I wonder what became of her. Momsy asked me if I think she had a hand in everything that happened to Uncle Dudu. But like they say “if you ask me, na who I go ask?”