The 11th December, 2021 has joined the many days to be much remembered for the unforgettable events that culminated in the eternal exit of a precious gem, an uncelebrated heroine, the very quintessential Bolakale.
Often we take so many things for granted including people and relationships. We deal with people in relationships like they will always be here at our becks and call. Unfortunately this is not always so.
Life in this last days, has taught me again to value relationships, love like never before, give more, forgive more, pay attention to family and listen much more beyond the voices. If only we had all listened to what Bolakale was not saying, we would have seen the pains behind the unsaid words and her unspoken discomfort. And maybe, just maybe she would probably have still be with us now. Unfortunately, life sometimes leaves us with “if only” “how I wished” “if I could” and many phrases of had I known. This I am determined not to let happen to me again.
Now, this is all about Bolakale Adefila, alias Mama Eko and my own Anti Bola (that’s what I call her). She was until her death my sister-in-law, a widow, a mother and a grandmother, a school proprietress, a diligent go-getter and a Christian. Anti Bola was an entrepreneur per excellence who could turn around the least capital at her disposal in very little time. She was a great manager of resources. By all standards, it is easy to describe her as a very successful personality but those who know her would attest that the cost of whatever she achieved was stupendous and priceless.
Bolakale was the matriarch of our family, the one who organizes things, resolve issues, monitor delivery of responsibilities, a contractor, a consultant on all family matters. She places family first and would show up at the least expected family events. Her commitment to family remained second to none. She was the formidable force that held the family together and selfishly at her death, my first question was who would fill up this vacuum? She cared for everyone and it’s only in death that I now realized how inadequately we cared for her. This of course was not a deliberate I-don’t-care-attitude, it bred from the fact that she never complained and even when her health began to deteriorate, she made it so insignificant that not much attention was paid to her failing health. Her optimism and positive approach to life went beyond incurable.
While she was down, all she thought about was other people and how they fared, the hospital expenses and how to meet her other obligations. Once while I was with her in the hospital, her worries was on how to pay her staff salary. What a selfless personality. She constantly mentioned that her siblings (she called them Omo Iye mi) had done enough and she didn’t have a right to demand more. How wrong she was. Family is everything and trust me, we can never do enough helping one another.
It’s funny that in life there are people that you unconsciously think would be here forever so you keep postponing and procrastinating things you would wish to do for them as expressions of your love only to wake up one morning to discover that they had gone and you never got around to do some of those stuff. That is what happened to my dear Anti Bola, AKA Mama Eko, Mama God’s Blessing. “I did not get to complete all I wished I could do for you and it saddened me. But I am sure you know how much I love you. Our conversation in the hospital the last Sunday before you left fills my heart constantly with melancholy. I wish I had hugged you some more and let you know how much loved you are”.
My daughter, Iyinoluwa hasn’t stopped calling your name since you left. You were my children’s closest paternal aunt and you didn’t hide your love from them. You had always been our first guest in every new year (January 1st) for as long as I can remember. You would arrive on the 1st of January immediately after your church service and you had a gift for each person. Oh Anti Bola! my heart is bleeding…….. It’s just a few days to another new year unfortunately you won’t be here. There will not be those bottles of groundnut, no plantain chips and juices that you often brought.
Mama Eko meaning Mother of Lagos (a state in Nigeria) was a name given to her when she relocated to Ilorin from Lagos after the death of her husband. And then she became Mama God’s Blessing; being the name of her Nursery & Primary School. To me she was that sister-in-law with so many personalities. There are few times that she played the sister-in-law role so well that I just relaxed in my corner but most other times, she is that sweet big sister, loving, kind and very caring. As I listened to people talk about you since your demise, I realized how much your life impacted your community and I am indeed proud to have known you.
Anti Bola was a giver to the core. She had little yet she emptied herself into lives of people, making sacrifices that only a super human could make. Little was much to her and she appreciated every little gift you give her. Anti Bola would never show up at your doorstep without a gift. Amusingly she appears not to come with anything but her handbag. However when she brings out the stuff in the bag, everyone would have a gift to himself or herself. I often thought of her bag as a bottomless one going by the items (such as bottled groundnut, juice, biscuits, fresh oranges, banana, and many others) that came out of the bag. She had little but gave so much of herself, so, so much that it is easy to conclude that her exit was more of a sacrifice of not being a burden to others. Oh Bolakale!
Anti Bola, my dear sister in love, I am comforted that you are in a better place. Your selfless life and love for humanity (not just family) is the legacy you have left for us. Your struggles are finally ended. Indeed you fought the good fight and now a crown awaits you in glory. I still haven’t gotten use to the fact that you are gone. I have not stopped calling your name since last saturday like you will reappear or like I would be awoken to discover it had all being a dream. I will keep your memory forever in my heart and that I will cherish all my days. You are indeed in a better place. Adieu to my Sister in love.
Adenike Babajamu (December 2021)