Not this visiting day!
Daddy, why did you come to visit me? Why this visiting day! Why did you come today! Mummy, why? Daddy, why? I screamed from my sleep. These are dead bodies. Somebody, please help my parents!
Toyo, wake up! Wake up! What is it? We just slept not quite long. What is it? Tobi asked.
Tobi, I just had a bad dream about visiting day.
We need to send out letters immediately to inform our parents not to come visiting; in fact, all of our friends must tell their parents too. I wept.
Why? What happened in your dream? Tobi asked. I told her it was too dreadful.
Earlier, I dreamt that our parents boarded the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) bus from the National Stadium Bus Park in Lagos on visiting day. On the way to Kwara after Ogbomosho, at that famous Jebba junction on Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa expressway, that was where the accident happened. Tobi was confused with my description. Oooooh o!
I mean that the route from Osogbo through Erin-ile, Offa, Ajase-Ipo was where it happened. I remember I saw a billboard of the local government—the junction where there are intersections at Jebba. Tobi was still lost. What does she even know?
I continued my narration. That Jebba intersection, as soon as a train had passed, the PTA bus moved forward, I just saw a trailer loaded with enormous stones. Just as I was about to scream, it crushed the PTA bus badly, I think it was only one person that survived.
Tobi stopped me to ask if the person that survived was my mother. I told Tobi that it wasn’t my mum who survived that I stood over both my dead parent bodies in the dream. I added that it was Judith Faith’s mum from Yellow house that was carried out of the bus alive; moreover, she died too. I started to cry as I called out the name of all the student who had lost one parent or both. Undeniably, Tobi knew what I dreamt felt real.
Oluwatobiloba (I called her name in full), we have to tell Evelyn and Adeoluwa about this dream. Adeoluwa’s father is dead, if her mum dies too with the way I have seen it, she’ll be orphaned. In the same vein, I also told Tobi her parents died in my dream as I lowered my voice.
Toyosi, what Nonsense! Wait, wait, wait! You mean to tell me out of the four of us who are friends, as in, you mean that all our parent died? Tobi began to chant psalm 27:13 my parent shall not die, but live to declare the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I interjected; well, they won’t die if we tell them now not to come on visiting day. Senior Bose yelled from her bunk corner, “Do you girls want to serve punishment this midnight? One more sound and I’ll see to that”. I whispered one more time to Tobi, her Daddy died too.
How do I sleep? The smell of fresh blood from the scene was strong; The flashes of the dead bodies remained clear in my mind. I began to count 1 – 500 hoping that sleep would come. I don’t remember when I slept off.
In the morning, we had Mathematics for a second period, it was torture for me. Mr Adisa, our maths instructor, was like a chipping sparrow. At break time, we the “4 Ever Friends” sat to discuss this dream. All my friends taught I was paranoid.
I tried to reason with my friends’ arguments that dreams never come true; however, during night prep, terrifying thoughts about deaths filled my mind. Tobi noticed when I cut out a leaflet from my exercise book to write my parents a letter. I was straight to the point. It ended with a plea to stamp out the idea of coming on my visiting day, let alone think of joining the PTA bus.
After Night Prep, Adeoluwa collected the letter from me, and read it out loud for some classmates to hear. She made a jest of me. I was hurt. Judith Faith, who was also in S.S.1, walked up to me. It made me feel less miserable as she started a brief conversation. She told me she had a similar dream the night before and had sent a letter earlier in the day to her parents. Judith ended that I had better made sure the letter got as quickly as possible because the visiting day was in a fortnight. She accompanied me to the hostel, as my friends’ company didn’t seem cool anymore. I obeyed.
Meanwhile, the rumour in school was that a weirdie from Lagos had a dream about some blood-sucking demon on visiting day. How the script changed to that, I have no idea. While I struggled through classes, my ferocious prayer to God was that my parent should never visit me. It had to be a fierce prayer because I know the kind of mother I have. She will bend any rule when it comes to her children.
The whole school soon forgot about the weirdie and activities became normal. The same dream kept recurring every day for two weeks. It tormented me. I spoke to my guardian about it, he only prayed with me and asked me to say psalm 23 and 91. I became friends back with the clique; however, I never spoke about my recurring dreams. Senior Bose heard the goss but was unbothered. Her parent never visited, they were accustomed to sending necessary supplies to her through other parents, and she was okay with the arrangement.
The D-day came ⸺ it was visiting day.
Undoubtedly, the parents from Lagos never made it early! They always start streaming in for their children at about 11 am – 12 pm. The bustling of the hostel disturbed me so, I left for the classroom area for some solitude. When I returned to the hostel after dinner to sleep, I wasn’t in a happy mood. I avoided everyone and buried myself in deep thoughts until I slept. It was when morning came that I realised I wasn’t the only sad one. The whole school was mourning. The PTA bus from Lagos was in an accident, and none survived.
The following day was Sunday, I skipped church. How could I face the God who makes me dream terrible stuff? I better hide from him, I convinced myself. Lagos student whose parent didn’t show up were particularly tensed.
As it happens, at lunch-time, I saw the House Matron call for Senior Bose. They had to break the news to her. She didn’t believe them, she screamed and wailed. For the first time in her history of being a student, her father decided to come visiting, only to die. In short, I felt sore.
Simultaneously, the house mistress called for Judith Faith. Her mother adamantly showed up after lunch. It was still Sunday afternoon, a day after the visiting day. Judith Faith’s mother called for me. She asked if my parent showed up. I told her No, but my mummy is stubborn like you, she could have been dead too along with my Daddy. The woman looked at me with that face of “be grateful you are not my child, I would have given you backhand slap”. She said, tell me your dream.
For privacy, I begged her daughter to excuse us; I didn’t risk being tagged a witch. I narrated the dream to her just as I saw it and how it haunted me until that Saturday morning. The woman with her MFM hair kept looking at me like I did or had done something. I couldn’t read her expression. She asked, did you pray, I replied that I did.
Suddenly, I began to cry because I wasn’t sure if my parent were dead or alive. She asked for my parent number. I played a little politics in my mind. Who wouldn’t miss visiting day between my parents? It didn’t take me long to settle for my mother. If that woman survives that dream, definitely my father is alive. She dialled my mum’s number on her Sagem Mobile phone. I panicked, almost as though I died a thousand times, not knowing what the receiver of the call would say. I told myself, Toyo is strong. Moreover, it can’t get any worse than it already is.
I was trying so hard not to collapse, that is to say, breathing in more oxygen when I heard my mum say “Hello!” Judith Faith’s mother handed me the phone. I spoke to my mum. I was overjoyed. My mum suggested she would come the following week. Come ke! What are you looking for, mummy? Ahan! Knowing my mum, I had to give a follow-up statement to reinforce that letter. I lied to my mum that I had provisions, and I was fine in school. My mum reminded me there was no way I would be with provisions because she knew I skip school meals.
Ahan, mummy! Is it your fine? I say I am fine! I quickly gave back the phone to Mrs Judith before my mum could sense my troubled spirit, and will fly down to Kwara State. Judith Faith’s mum saw my desperation to disabuse her mind from embarking on the Lagos to Kwara journey. She spoke to my mum, seeing my tears and asked her to put her mind at rest that I was okay.
I was far from okay; penniless was the word. I did not even have enough provisions to last a week. I repeated to my mind, Toyo, be strong. Judith Faith’s mum gave me the new currency in town, ₦1,000 note. I said ta-ra and left mother and child to enjoy their company. Judith gained a lifetime friend that day.
I got back to the hostel that evening and I’d say that I am still more than grateful to God for the ₦1,000 note.
It was Monday, June 6.
On the assembly ground, the principal was so brief. He only told us to mourn for the dead and quietly move to our classes. The most painful part of all the deaths is that eventually, my three friends became orphans that day.
Senior Bose took every opportunity to punish me until she graduated from secondary school. I was so happy when I changed hostels.
That dream brought the untimely death of our clique, the “4 Ever Friends”. I am sure when we formed the clique, God, in his deep sense of humour, must have done a “Yinmu“.
Oluwatobi never said a word to me after that day, and I never saw her after secondary school until Friday, July 10, 2020. What an awkward way to meet. She walked into my office, needing help and was directed to me. On seeing that it was me, she walked away.
Wow! If only someone had told her I was her only chance at the HELP. Well, she became humble. I did everything I could for my friend, and when she offered a new friendship and expected me to return the favour, I turned it down, with a “No ⸺ thank you”. I don’t want adult drama, that children miff lasted close to two decades.
By all means, Adeoluwa seems to be doing well in the diaspora. Her aunt, who is a citizen of one of those beautiful, civilised countries relocated her and her brothers.
It was the worse term of my life. I had to survive three weeks of eating school food. Oh, I will never forget the smell of beans that was lunch every Tuesday, Thursday and dinner on Saturdays. Those days were the most torturous days of my teenage years. I didn’t even know when I started loving the beans. One Saturday afternoon, I cried so much, I skipped lunch and dinner. I felt so sick, but I had to go for morning devotion on Sunday. It was the week before the term’s exam, and I knew I couldn’t do my exams without money or provisions. I could as well just die.
At the devotion, Senior Sarah was going to drain all of Jesus blood and pour it on every one of us. I wondered what would be left of Jesus’s blood after our devotion. She read out Genesis 22:14 “Abraham named the place –The LORD provides (YHWH-Jireh), and it is said to this day, on the LORD’s mountain He provides”.
She asked us to pray for anything and not be scared that the Lord will provide it. It was all about food; I prayed for shortbread biscuits and some fried chicken. I remember I prayed for provisions that I would not have to eat school food until vacation. Senior Sarah encouraged us to shamelessly ask God for anything…..I opened wide my heart, and I asked for everything fickle in tears.
After the devotion, I was brooding over my to-be miracles, when I landed into the hands of senior Bose. She sent me to do everything imaginable. In fact, that day I was happy her father died. How can one person be so cruel? Senior Jibola had to release me from her clutches, and I went straight to my bed with my hungry stomach as she ensured I missed lunch.
On my bed, I laid crying when a J.S.S.2 student came to call me. Senior Toyosi, your mummy is calling you. My mummy! Hell No!
She shook my leg and said, “Your mummy is calling you”. It was for real. I leapt for Joy. This was the most compelling evidence that the God of Abraham was at work. I sprinted out of my dorm when I saw senior Bose again. This time I was not going to hide or go anti-clockwise, I was just going to defy her. She called me, and I didn’t answer her. In short, I just kept running to the admin block. I ran into my mum’s hands, the best hug of my life. I felt protected, I felt safe, I was on top of the world. And yes, the Lord provided!
Surprisingly, every single thing I mentioned on that morning devotion list, my mum bought for me. The only thing she didn’t leave with me that day was ⸺ herself. In this type of situation, you know God is love.
From time to time, I am grateful to God for the only visiting day my parent missed. On account of all my memoirs, I am also more grateful that this was the only composition I never wrote in secondary school “Tell us how your visiting day went?”
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