Saturday, September 4, 2021 9:25 am
By Bayo Adeyinka
When people we love are gone, all we have left are memories. Memories of their deeds both good and bad. The most beautiful things are memories and moments. I’ve been thinking of the memorable moments I shared with my late father in law and there was an unforgettable experience I had in his living room just three days after getting married to his daughter.
The story started from when I was an undergraduate student at Lautech. I’d been observing this guy for some time. He would lay a cloth on the floor and sleep on the bare floor at one corner of the room- no mattress and no pillow. Early in the morning, I watched him from the corner of my eyes as he prepared white Egusi (melon seeds) in palm oil with no condiments- no meat or fish- to accompany ‘eba’ which he already made. After the ritual, he got into some trekkers worn out from use and off he went to campus. He looked a bit unkempt- with heavy beard on his face. He always kept to himself mostly though he was an amiable fellow.
Late in the evening, the same food ritual took place- white ‘egusi’ with eba and no protein. And then he would lie down on the bare floor to sleep. I didn’t see any friend who visited him- not male nor female. Week on week, I observed him without him noticing. Then one day, I decided to have a chat with him. I couldn’t hold it again. So I called him. The story he told me blew my mind. He had no one to help him as he was self-sponsored.
His story pierced my heart and I sought for a way to help. At that time, I was the President of the Students’ Union of the University and I had access to a personal room with an extra mattress and bed. So I gave them to him. He was very profuse in his appreciation. I also helped him with money from time to time. Dateline was 1998.
I graduated from the University and didn’t see him again. Up until exactly three days after the wedding when my father-in-law wanted to depart to his base.
My wife and I went to my father-in-law’s place to bid him farewell. He had come from his base in Saudi Arabia for our wedding and was going back that day. It was my wife’s scream that stopped me in my tracks as we entered my father in law’s living room (where this picture was taken). ‘Uncle’, she screamed. I was transfixed and rooted on the same spot. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Who was this seated beside my father-in-law and surrounded by a host of relatives- almost twelve of them?
Yes, it was him- the same guy that I had helped in school. As I stood on one spot, the guy who is actually my wife’s uncle asked her a question. “Bimbo, is that your husband?”. My wife nodded in the affirmative. “You married well”, he said. Then he turned to my father-in-law and said, “That is the guy I was just talking to you about. He was the one who gave me a bed to sleep on in school and gave me money at times”. I had goose pimples all over as I took in the whole event. All the members of the family (so many were present to bid my father in law good bye) stood up and hugged me one after the other. I think it was that day I transited from being a son in law to a son indeed.
I would later learn that this guy had been missing for years. He heard that my wife was getting married and decided to trace the family. I shared this true life event in my book 40 Lessons I Learnt Along The Way.
This is one experience that will stay with me forever as we keep alive the memories of my late father in law, Alhaji Sulaiman Adeniran. May his soul rest in peace.