Wait a minute, what is that your surname again?” Mr Smith asked, facing Fadeke.
“Olanrewaju, sir!” Fadeke answered with a broad smile on her face.
“That’s like a rhetorical question though,” Mr Smith said as he laughed out loud.
“I heard the name while you were being called out earlier to receive your award, in the hall. I knew a certain Olanrewaju back during my secondary school days. Even though I know very well that ‘Olanrewaju’ is not a name that can be pinned on a particular location in Yoruba land, I didn’t want to miss the chance of finding out if it was the same Olanrewaju that I knew then or another. That Olanrewaju and I have an important score to settle”, he said with another loud laugh.
“So, your Olanrewaju is from which town?” he asked.
“Okala in Oyo State sir,” Fadeke answered swiftly.
“Wait a minute, which secondary school did your husband attend?” Mr Smith asked, facing Mrs Olanrewaju.
“Franco Baptist Boys’ High School, Okala,” she said.
Mr Smith’s face brightened. “What set was he?” he asked.
“1978! He graduated from secondary school in 1981, after his school cert exams,” Fadeke’s mum answered.
“Hold it right there!” he said raising his palm out towards Mrs Olanrewaju. “This is getting really interesting,” said he, whisperingly.
Mrs Olanrewaju did not know what to make of his reaction. “Could it be that my husband had done this man wrong or something?” she thought; completely bewildered, with the smile on her face suddenly wiped off.
“O my God!” Mr Smith exclaimed. This jerked Mrs Olanrewaju back to reality.
“Don’t tell me that you are talking about Solomon Olayiwola Olanrewaju,” he quizzed.
“Yes, sir. That was my husband.” Mrs Olanrewaju replied.
“Wow! What a small world this really is. Solomon was my close pal during our secondary school days. As a matter of fact, his parents paid my school fees when we were in Form four because my mother was really sick and my father spent every dime of the proceeds from his farm on my mother’s treatment. Unfortunately, she died after a few months battling with the undiagnosed disease.”
“Eeyah!” Mrs Olanrewaju chipped in before Mr Smith continued.
“I could have missed a whole year of school if not for the Olanrewajus. That was a time my family was in dire need and they showed up for us. How can I ever forget such an amazing family? I slept over at their house for several days and I ate at the Olanrewajus’ several times during that period and even after the passing on of my mum. Mummy O, like we fondly referred to Solomon’s mum, would make delicious stews and soups for us every Sunday and Wednesday, after my mum died. All I had to do was boil rice or make eba, amala or yam to go with the soups, for my father and I.”
“Immediately after our final exams, I followed my uncle to Lagos, where I helped him at his shop. I was offered admission to study Accounting at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, the following year. Solomon and I wrote letters to each other consistently, monthly, for about a year after I left for Lagos and then I received no more letters from him. I didn’t get to tell him I had gained admission into the University. I didn’t get to know if he had too, either.”
“I went back to look for his parents even though my father had moved to Lagos. So it was specifically to find clues to my friend’s whereabouts. I knew full well that Solomon must have moved on with his life too, but I decided to try anyway and I was told that they had relocated to an unknown destination after a fire disaster that destroyed Mr Olanrewaju’s entire farm and a subsequent flood that destroyed their house barely one week after the farm fire incidence. They had believed that a certain evil person(s) in the community was responsible for their predicament and therefore decided to move away without any farewells. It was at that point that I gave up on my search for my friend.”
“So you now see why I said I had scores to settle with Solomon Olanrewaju?” he said grinning. “It saddens my heart to know that he is dead though,” he said while he held a straight face.
“Solomon is the reason I am giving you, Fadeke, a second gift. You earned the first gift due to your excellent academic performance and that was my initial purpose of reaching out to you immediately the ceremony ended.”
“Your earned gift is. . .
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© OMOSEBI Mary Omolola, PhD