WE ARE ABLE
Toyosi was extremely annoyed with me. She beat me
with everything she could lay her hands upon.
I screamed, perhaps Mrs Omotayo would hear my
voice and come to my rescue. John returned from work
too and began to beat me. He locked me up in a room
after kicking me severely.
When John released me, somebody bumped into our
parlour. It was around 9pm. I was shocked to see that
she was Mrs Omotayo.
She came close to Toyosi and they pointed fingers at
each other. I could see her mouth moving as if she was
pronouncing ‘Bode’. Applying my commonsense, I
interpreted what was going on. Mrs Omotayo was
angry with Bode for treating her children badly.
If John hadn’t come in between the two of them, they
would have fought physically. Toyosi even threw a
blow and it caught my father on the face. She then
relaxed to tend the swelling on his forehead.
I shook where I stood. I knew that they would
eventually come back to me to deal with me. They
would pay back everything she did to them on me.
As envisaged, John treated me badly. He made me to
sit down in space, without a chair. It was a form of
punishment. My legs and my waist pained me so much.
Each time my hip was going down, he would whip me
with a wire.
I wept bitterly as I served the punishment. If only I
could have my way, I would run away from home, I
Nobody needed to tell me that I had lost the privilege
of schooling once more. Over and above all, I had lost
the love of my heart. However, I wouldn’t regret that I
fought Bode back since I was doing it for my future
husband, I thought.
My room was relocated once again, this time it was the
store room. The kitchen was filled up with foodstuff
and other things, therefore I would be in the store
room. The room was stuffy. It had a little opening high
up. Our farm equipments were in there; rakes, watering
cans, cutlasses, brooms, hoes and more.
I picked up a broom and swept the dusty room. I had
catarrh as the dust rose and got into my head through
the orifices of my nostrils.
I had resigned to fate long ago. Whatever came my
way I would just accept it that way. I knew I would
overcome someday. I took my note and began to write
my poems once more:
I remembered the letter Biodun wrote in Braille. I
smiled as I produced it and set it before my face.
Seeing it was making my heart glad. I closed my eyes
and began to feel around it with my fingers. Reading in
Braille was fun to me.
Rose, I have never imagined that the blind could hear
the deaf speak. I have never thought that the deaf
could communicate with the blind, but it was such a
huge shock to me that you crossed the bridge, or let
me say you bridged the gap. Even when I couldn’t learn
your own language, you learned mine. You were not
self-centred. You have travelled miles in my heart
already and my heart is already for you. Rose, I LOVE
YOU even if you can’t defend me and nothing shall
separate us henceforth. Biodun.
I halted around the L-O-V-E and felt them over and over
again with my fingers. With that letter close to my
heart, I slept off.
Biodun was riding a bicycle. I sat behind him on the
bicycle. We rode on and on, yet he was blind, having a
dark goggle set over his face. I wondered how he was
able to manoeuvre his way through the bumpy road.
Laide was running on foot beside our bicycle, lame, yet
we couldn’t leave her behind. Although deaf I was, I
began to scream on the top of my voice:
WE ARE ABLE! WE ARE ABLE!!
I woke up from sleep. It was all a dream! I wanted to
empty my bladder, so I rushed to the door, but it was
shut from the outside. I was confused. I needed to
pass out the urine. I wondered who locked me in.
I turned my head around and noticed a watering can. I
would use it. In a flash I had eased myself.
Early the next morning, it was Saturday, environmental
sanitation time. Around 7am, Toyosi had ordered me
out of the store room.
“Go to the garden now!” she signed to me. Bode was
still asleep. I began to hurry down there. She followed
“Rose, I haven’t called you out here to be playing with
those handicapped children, okay.”
“Yes ma,” I replied. “If I see you together, then you are
“Yes ma,” I replied. Toyosi began to take her leave.
I stooped to begin work. I knew what I should do, so I
didn’t hesitate. I was to uproot the weed with my bare
hands. That had always been my undeserved
punishment every last Saturday of the month.
We had hoes and cutlasses but I was not allowed to
use any. John soon joined me in the garden, carrying
two watering cans. He was going to wet the
John dropped the watering cans and went further into
the garden. He plucked some garden eggs and came
back to where I was weeding. He ordered me to take
the watering cans to the tap to fetch water there. I
picked them up but he ordered me to wait a little while.
He wanted to wash one of the garden eggs to eat.
John picked up one of the watering cans and shook it.
Seemed there was a little water in that. He would use
the water to wash his hands and the garden eggs. John
hastily poured the liquid on his right hand and rinsed the
garden eggs. I perceived the odour of urine and
remembered what I did last night.
I watched John as he squeezed the garden eggs into
his mouth. I turned my head around and smiled. John
was stingy, he wouldn’t share them with me. Even if he
wanted to do that this time around, I wouldn’t receive
I picked the watering can and went to the tap to fetch
water. When I returned, John was holding his stomach
in pain. I never knew what evil my urine could cause
John spent the rest of the week in a hospital, explaining
to the doctors that he ate a salty garden egg. Nobody
on earth was able to understand the mystery of the
salty garden eggs except myself. I AM ABLE, I thought.
Since the day Bode was beaten by me, I wasn’t allowed to
come out of the house at will anymore, except on
environmental sanitation days to tidy up the environment.
I was sad because of my education which was halted once
again. I began to pray earnestly for my mother’s return
because as it seemed right now, there was no hope for me
I was still having those heavy thoughts in my heart when
Toyosi came to my room, the store room, to tell me that I
should come with her to the verandah. It had been long I saw
the sun last, since the day my father tasted my urine and fell
I began to follow my stepmother. When we got to the parlour,
she ordered me to stay still and wait for my father. John
stepped out of the bathroom with a towel around his body. He
had just taken a shower with Bode too.
As soon as he set his eyes on me, he began to laugh aloud.
Bode was laughing too. They spoke to each other and Bode
went to his room. My father sat on the cushion chair and began
to scribble something in the sheet of paper Bode just gave him.
When he was through, he gave it to me to read; I didn’t hesitate
Ha! Ha! Ha! Rose, you are ridiculous. So, because I told you that
you can never have a man to marry you in the future, you
decided to impose yourself on that blind kid out there. It’s
funny! And you think I would bless your marriage? Rose, listen
to me, if you don’t get a real man to marry you, then forget
about having me to bless your marriage because when a
disabled marries a disabled, they end up disabled. I say it again,
let the earth bury me alive if you ever get married to a normal
person. Ha! Ha! Ha!
I wondered what was bringing about such utterance from my
father this time around. Toyosi cleared my suspense when she
explained clearly to me the reason why she had called me:
Your blind boyfriend, Biodun, is indeed blindly in love with you
right now and he has been lovesick for the past seven days
now. He was only mentioning your name, saying that he
would die if he doesn’t feel your presence around him. His
mother has come to beg me to allow you see him, so that’s
what I’m taking you out to do
I was shy when I read it. John made me more shy with his
laughter. I felt like running away, never to return.
My mind shifted back to Biodun. Indeed the disabled are also
able to make love. I am indeed able, I thought. I was glad I
would see Biodun again, but I knew this time I would see him
as a brother and not as a lover because I thought I was too
young for that right now.
Even if I had wanted to see him as a lover, it wouldn’t work
because my father would eventually curse us and not bless us
ahead of a blissful marriage.
I stepped outside the roof of my father’s flat and got arrested
by the cool natural wind. For the past few days I had been
deprived of it. I sighed as I watched Toyosi knocking the door
of our neighbour. Mrs Omotayo stepped out and was
enthusiastic when she sighted me. She hugged Toyosi tightly
as she saw me.
“Come in, come in,” she said as she ushered us in. Reading her
lips seemed quite simple for me, compared to reading my
father’s lips. My mother’s were the easiest lips I had ever read.
I saw Biodun folding up on a sofa, shivering. Tears ran down
my eyes. Laide was beside him, caring for him. When she saw
me, she screamed my name and Biodun thumped up.
I hasted towards him. He deserved pity so much, looking
emaciated and wan. Laide rose up for me as I took my seat and
placed Bode’s head on my lap and rubbed his head.
Bode sighed and gave up. I thought he was dead. I shook him
and he responded with a yawn. His mother laughed and I
perceived she just said ‘loverboy’. I smiled.
“He says he would feel better sleeping on your lap. Blind
Samson on Delilah’s laps,” Toyosi signed to me and I became
ashamed of myself. She asked me to remain there while she
Mrs Omotayo watched in amazement. It seemed as if Biodun
was snoring. She soon left us alone and went to her room.
Laide scribbled something in a paper. I read it. She was telling
me the reason why she didn’t show me Biodun’s letter on time:
I was jealous over the fact that I would have no one to play
with if I showed his love letter to you because the two of you
will neglect me and play with each other. Only me alone would
be left in the world.
I smiled when I read Laide’s note. She had a point.
I watched Biodun’s nostrils expanding and contracting as I
fought hard to get rid of the feeling of lust that had engulfed my
heart. Suddenly I began to see the future inside his nostrils
which seemed to me like a telescope:
Biodun and I walked up the podium. Everywhere, to me, was
silent as usual, even though people around me seemed to be
shouting. Flower girls stood around us, helping to spray us
with bouquet of flowers-Roses, Hibiscusses and lot more. It
was an awesome sight to behold, first of its kind, I thought.
I looked around and saw my mother seated as I held Bode’s
hand leading him to the podium where the clergyman was. He
was cute, having a dark goggle on his face.
The clergyman spoke and I watched the sign language
interpretation by my class teacher, Mrs Oyindamola. My aunty
and Honorable Daniel her husband were also seated in their
befitting regalia. My father and mother were smiling all the time.
I was glad that in the end John’s heart had softened, having
spent a lot to see our marriage come up successfully. He had
left Toyosi and Bode long ago.
“If we have anyone here who have a reason why we should
not join these two in marriage, let such person speak now or
keep silent forever.”
Nobody responded. I smiled. The dream was coming to pass.
The clergyman turned to my mother:
“Mrs John Hannah, are you giving your daughters hand in
marriage to this man, Mr Biodun?”
“Yes I am,” she said.
The clergyman turned to my father. He was the only man
standing right now. If he said yes, then it would be yes. Of
course, nothing more than a ‘yes’ would proceed from his lips,
having asked for my forgiveness earlier, some months before
“Mr John, do you want your–?”
“Yes I do!” my father responded before the clergyman could
complete his statement.
It was a dream come true in the end. Biodun held my
ringfinger as he slowly made to put a ring in it, feeling around it
with his fingers. When the ring was almost going to pass right
into my finger, I felt another hand, a little bit wrinkled one,
slapping hard against our hands. The ring fell off and rolled
away. To my shock, it was my father. He wouldn’t allow the
marriage, having slapped the ring off our hands.
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” he laughed, revealing his brown teeth stained with
dotage. I screamed!
I was shocked. I had dozed off. Biodun’s head was no more on
my lap. Infact, he wasn’t in sight anymore. I had spent an hour
and half in the ‘sweet dream’.
It seemed my sound was too loud. Laide and her mother
rushed in to ask me what was wrong. I shook my head and
pointed to my laps to ask where Biodun was.
Biodun began to enter the parlour with his walking stick. He
was quite better right now. I was surprised.
I couldn’t tell anyone the dream I had. Now I knew that my
love life with Biodun wouldn’t work, according to what I just
saw in the trance. I had rather relate with him as a brother and
not a lover, I thought.
To be continued