Koko, that was what she called herself as her mother dragged her out…..
That beautiful morning, I had just finished my routine cleaning, the doctor had adviced me to get involved in a regular bodily exercise. So I took my cleaning routine very seriously even though many of my colleagues gave me side glances as they passed. Many even had to shift their spectacles just to make sure they actually saw me right, it was as unusual as a blue moon to see a professor cleaning his own office. It is also quite funny how I became obedient to my doctor all of a sudden, maybe Iretiola’s death still scared me that much. My wife, Iretiola had died two years earlier of obesity, her death was as sudden as anyone could imagine. We both arrived from a function and she complained of tiredness, two hours later, I had lost my love.
Past 10 am, my wall clock said, my secretary was on the phone, speaking as sternly as he could, he was apparently trying so hard to calm someone down. As he dropped the call and turned to me and said “Oga mi, the woman is raging o, she needs to get back to Kaduna tonight and the last flight is in two hours, please sir just see them”, he pleaded so passionately, with his eyebrows furrowed, he was obviously frustrated. A woman had been waiting to see me for days but my schedule was too tight to allow it, understandably, she had grown out of patience. I dropped my cup of tea, stood up and made my way to my private office, during the short journey I adjusted my belt and tucked my shirt, which has found it’s way out during my rigorous exercise, in. I moved on as fast as I could, carrying my potbelly with me like a three-month-old baby stuck to my stomach and told him to let them in.
Maybe it was the dim light in my office, but her face shone so bright, she was a true definition of yellow, her cornrows were about five but they crisscrossed her head and brought out the glowing sheen of her dark long hair. She knelt softly, “Good day sir,” she said, I almost couldn’t hear her, her voice was so soft and innocent. I was getting nervous and my feet getting cold, knowing there was something about this young girl in my office. I waved to a seat right in front of me and asked of her mother, the secretary had kept “her royal furiousness” in the reception.
Resuming back to my assessment of the young girl while asking what I could do for her, she gave me a brief rundown of her academic history and how she wanted to transfer from her school to the medical college of the university I worked for. I was the provost of the medical college at that time and she wanted me to sign her transfer papers as that would give her an easier transit into the university. She looked on as I signed the papers without question, it was unusual, but I did it. We chatted for a while before her mother came tearing my door apart, screaming on top of her voice that she was taking too long. I looked up from my papers in readiness to put her in her place, but something about her stopped me. No!!! I wasn’t charmed by both mother and child, it was Fatima.
Something about the eyebrows made me sure, they were shaved clean and a presumably a sharp black pencil had been used to draw a funny line to replace them, the line started heavily towards the bridge of her nose and grew thin toward her hairline, the two lines almost formed a perfect V on her face, the eyebrows were unforgettable. She always had it on even those days when she came with her father to the university I worked for in my early years in Zaria, we had a short affair while my wife was away in The United States due to a medical issue and we ended it when she found out I was married. She was a good woman, she had not forgotten me too, how could I forget the mother of my only child!!!.
Fatima got pregnant when I was 35, my marriage was very young at that time and the doctor told me just 6 months earlier that I couldn’t get a lady pregnant unless a miracle happens. I refused and denied Fatima, about a year after she had the baby, her father sent me a DNA result that confirmed me as the father of the child. Thinking it was all an attempt to ruin my reputation and I ignored them. I was too scared to open up to my wife, I couldn’t bear to break her heart again, so I carried on with the fear behind my mind.
Twenty-two years later, my own seed, my miracle walked into my office, and the moment I saw her, I felt the connection. She stepped in and stole my heart, as simple as it sounds, it robbed me of my mind. I couldn’t sleep or think, my daughter had taken over my consciousness and I only wanted to live and die for her, I wanted to touch her just for one more second, I had fallen in love with the yellow lady, she was all I could think of, I wanted to hold her in my arms, I just wanted to be her father, a task I had ignored for 22 years. I wanted to right my wrongs but Fatima didn’t allow me. She held on to the past and robbed me of my yellow princess, my only daughter after I pleaded severely for forgiveness, she refused me and told me my daughter had another father, a father who was not scared to own her.
As they both vanished from my sight she turned back with tears in her eyes and muttered “KOKO”. She had Aisha on her certificate and her mother’s maiden name but she told me “KOKO” and I held on to it for even her mother called her Koko. My baby’s name is Koko, and as I fell to my knees and sobbed, I could only hope that someday maybe before I leave this world, she would come to visit me again, so I would hear her call me “DADDY”. I lost the love I never knew I had the same day I met her, my past didn’t forgive me, it came to show me what I never knew I lost.
As the nurse tucked in my sheet and stood over my bed, she was smiling, I whispered, “Her name is Koko” twice or three times or more until I saw darkness.