Boluwatife: The present in my past [Nigerian Voices]

by Joshua Boffin

As I penned down my signature on the register, it dawned on me that life was really dynamic. Life was funny and if only we knew what fate had in stock for us, we would never make the wrong decisions.

My life had no beginning; I only got to find out on my supposedly 18th birthday. Sometime in the summer of 1986, I was born, an experience I hate recounting. According to the stories I heard, my mother was a church girl who was a victim of circumstance. She was raped by armed men who were on raid that unfortunate night. As a young naïve girl that was addicted to GOD and had all her life been living according to the precepts of the bible to be a prey of unwanted pregnancy was unjust.

Her father was a deacon while her mum a choir mistress, the thought of telling them sent death down her spine. She then had to bear it all alone been that she was in the university. She had to skip classes and finally was asked to withdraw from school due to her poor performances but that was nothing compared to what she did to me. I do not exactly know the day I was born but it was recorded as the 7th of September because that was when I was officially recorded as been from the bad side of nature; but not for long. I was left to the fangs of death in a polythene bag by my supposed mother, I was left at the mercy of the wicked sea breeze. Maybe that is why when I was little I boast that not just anything can kill me, little did I know I dined with death and returned smiling.

Even as I write this piece I feel the immense pain in my heart. Looking at my left arm, the word BOLUWATIFE is boldly inscribed. I remember always asking when I was little, mum what is this black thing on my arm. mom? Yes, mum. I was adopted. She would say that is your name ‘BOLUWATIFE’ in her Calabar accent. Boluwatife Okon, it sounded weird indeed.

A good samaritan actually found me at the dawn of the day and handed me over to an orphanage home where I was adopted at 6 months by my ever-loving parents. Living with the Okon’s was the best thing ever. I was showered with gifts on a regular basis, my childhood fun knew no bounds plus they were devoted Christians.

I lived without an inch of suspicion till the cat was let out on my 18th birthday. I literally ran mad, as the cat paws tore my world apart. I could not believe my ears, I felt like the world crushing on me. I felt miserable and most importantly, I for once felt like an assassin, wanting to bury a bullet in that bastard that raped my mum. I was a leviathan scholar, my teachers would always call me an mzee. Indeed I was because at 16 my award shelf was beaming with numerous accolades. I cried like the world was set to end but that made be make a decision to be among the crème de la crème of my generation, and funnily, I have lived up to that. I remember when I was given an award for excellence by a Chinese group for propounding a theory in nuclear physics, I dedicated it to my parents, little did I realise the only role they played was mistakenly bringing me to life. I can clearly recollect my 25th birthday when we all went to manchester to spend the summer holidays, it was the height of fun but somewhere at the middle of my heart, I wished my blood was the one actually reaping their labour.

At 26 I had to settle down so as to release myself of the burden I have borne for more than 8 years. I was fulfilled as a physicist with a monthly pay of more than #500,000, two cars and a mansion in the heart of the country, what more could a man ask for. It all went as planned but not for long as fate took a stroll in again. Two years into the marriage with no child, we had to visit the hospital, where it was confirmed that my wife had ovarian cancer, making it practically impossible to give birth. What a world! After 6 months of tough talks, prayers and counselling we had to result to adoption. I felt inexplicable as we sat before the orphanage home director. Hot balls of tears rolled down my fat cheeks. The dynamism of life shook me off my feet. I was presently in my past.

The decision of adopting was the last I could ever think of two years back, but there I was left to the cold grips of fate. I personally requested for one with my situation and a boy who was 6months old like I was presented to us. As I penned down my signature on the register, it dawned on me that life is dynamic, and if only we know what fate has in stock for us, we would never make the wrong decision.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by

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