And my aunty “killed me” with “Love”. Written by Kayode Ogundamisi.
I was born in the
I do not recollect my childhood days in
My dad was a medical practitioner at the
We lived a good life -
On the day I set eyes on my childhood friend, she spoke English with a weird sounding accent – it sounded like she was speaking through her nose; I only heard that kind of English on the T.V drama on NTA channel 10 called ‘Love Thy Neighbours’. I was shy, too embarrassed to speak English with her - and to think I was told I spoke very good English in school. My mum had to pull me aside and said to me never to feel timid. ‘You are as British as she is and you have the right to live in or visit the
It never mattered to me. I loved
Roll on many years later, I lost my dad in a tragic motor accident – well, so the local police say, but his colleagues believed he was murdered. It did not matter. He was a loving dad who did his best for me. I was his only child, and his death changed it all. Suddenly, we were alone. My mum was put under pressure by his family. The expectation was that an English trained medical practitioner would have a lot of money. My dad had none, and they wouldn’t believe us. Things turned from bad to worse.
We became homeless with my mum resorting to having to put up with friends. She started a small restaurant by the roadside. The profit was just good enough for us to feed. Then God sent an angel - my father’s younger sister. I call her aunty Queen. We moved into her place and she took care of our needs. She also had a child same age as me. We were very close.
Aunty Queen did a lot of travelling. She called my mum one day and said she would have my cousin bear my name. That was the strength of love, she continued - we did wear the same clothing and were inseparable. My aunty had also made sure we attended the same school. I remember she had a distinguishing birthmark on her upper lip we called ‘God’s mark’. I used to use my aunt’s eyebrow pencil to try and make a replica of the mark on my face because I so much wanted to look like her. Everyone thought it was sweet and made fun of me.
At the time we were ready to go to university, I lost my mum. To make matters worse, my aunty announced that my cousin would be travelling to
I weathered on - went on to study sociology at the University of Lagos, got myself the most loving husband any woman could ever dream of and made sure I took care of my beloved aunty. Each time I asked to get in touch with my cousin, my aunty would tell me they had lost touch, but because I missed her so much, I was relentless. As I became more persistent, she broke the bad news - my cousin had died in
My life’s journey soon after was similar to a roller coaster ride and
One day I received an e-mail from the same childhood friend who visited us years back. She suggested I relocate to the
I decided to give it a second try. I applied for a visitor’s visa, travelled to the
I was called in for an interview at the Home Office in Croydon. Three officials came in and they having gone through all my documents - my birth certificate, mother’s passport, baby photographs and every other document I could lay my hand on, gave me the shocking news “You applied for a British passport some years back...but we think we know what has happened”, as they gave each other looks and said almost simultaneously. They had brought in with them a photocopy of the said British Passport and asked ‘Do you know this person?’ I was too shocked to open my mouth at first. I subsequently let out a scream, and shivering and sobbing, pointed at the photograph and said ‘Yes, that looks like my cousin’. On closer inspection, I decided it was indeed my cousin – I could not miss ‘God’s mark’ on her upper lip.
You guessed right - the same cousin that was meant to have gone to meet her missing dad in
As if there were enough complications already, I found out that my cousin was married to a Nigerian man, who had been granted permission to stay in the
My childhood friend has been my lifeline. She surrounds herself and me by default with positive people. My story is being told, so you can tell others, and also have others tell other people.
I have forgiven my cousin. Indeed, I was involved in her resettlement process and she is now also finally settled in the
The story you have just read is based on a true story. I met the protagonist late 2008, in the course of my service as a member of the Independent Monitoring Board in the United Kingdom. I have protected the name of the characters and deliberate use of factitious style of writing at the request of the main protagonist.