It was a fantastic football game. I scored two great goals, and had been disregarding the pressure on my bladder in the excitement of it all.
During the half-time break, I walked to the edge of the field to do my thing. I zipped down my trousers and heard a bell ring. I soared up from the depth of sleep.
Yeah, narrow escape! I was just about to wet myself.
What would people have said of me, “A grammar school student”, wetting my bed!
I remember my mother’s wrapper which became my cover cloth. It was the warm cocoon I did not want to get up from. You know that sweet morning reluctance to rise from bed when the cold bite of the harmattan is waiting outside it.
“Why do people have to go school sef?” I muttered as I eyed the wrapper on the bed.
I could have sworn, I only slept for 5 minutes before they rang the bell. It’s how it felt like.
I was about 12, going 13, a student of Annunciation Grammar School, the cynosure of all eyes in the Catholic community in which I was brought up. Naturally, as the first born to parents who were teachers, there was no debate about it, it had to be the best Catholic Grammar School.
That was my very first time away from my Family. I had new buckets, machete, tennis shoes, Cortina shoes and so much apprehension in my heart.
I remember my resumption day in school after my parents dropped me off, I felt like a lone crane perched on top of the dry Oganwo tree in a tropical storm. The chief comfort of that lonely period was my mother’s wrapper.
The wrapper was one of her prized cloth. She went into her iron box and dug through all the beads, wrappers and other accoutrements of womanhood to bring out the wrapper. As young as I was, I knew the value of that wrapper, apart from the fact that it was very expensive. I knew she had just condemned the accompanying buba (top) to a slow death by giving me the matching wrapper.
In the night, I would wear my pajamas and burrow under the wrapper. I still remember the homely smell. It smelt faintly of camphor, sandalwood or some long discarded perfume and of love. A mother’s love. Whenever I cuddled under the wrapper, it always felt like hiding under the protective covering of my loving mother.
I could always feel her loving arms stretched across the many miles, holding me in her warm embrace. Me and that wrapper went through a lot of things together. It was a friend.
It provided me cover, when I needed to read a borrowed James Hardley Chase thriller within a deadline.
I remember snuggling under the wrapper on those cold nights when the Harmattan winds would howl through the corridors of my school and sneak in through the slats of the wooden casement windows to pry into our very soul.
Many a tear were shed with dignity under the cover of my precious wrapper. I remember the day I called a senior student, “Senior Peri,” not knowing it was a nickname. A shortened form of Periplaneta Americana (Cockroach). How would I have known that “Peri” was a much-disliked name given to him because of his filthy habits?
The gentleman, egged on by his mates, beat me until he had no joule of energy left. After the beating, I crawled under my wrapper and wept out my heart.
After my first wrapper, I lost count of the many wrappers she gave me. From secondary school to the university, NYSC and even when I first came to Lagos to hustle, I always had one wrapper or the other.
Then on Thursday, January 25, I got a call Mama was not feeling well. She had a fainting spell. I spoke to the Doctor on Friday and he said, Mama will be O.K. She had low blood pressure and a touch of Malaria.
On Sunday, January 29, 2018, Mrs. Lucy Modupe Adeboye (nee Akerele), she of the commodious wrapper, answered the call of her maker. Who will now give me a wrapper such as this, full of unforgettable, precious memories?