My mother is a very kind woman and we sometimes hated her for it.
She takes on people’s problems like they are hers. When I was growing up, my mum would go bathe new borns of women who had no elderly people to help them; mum would support widows who were being maltreated by their in-laws to ensure their kids went to school; mum would be the champion if a woman reported being battered by her husband and if a child is wayward, just call my mum to ‘talk sense’ into the child as well as encourage the child afterwards.
My mum is a sort of ‘area mother.’
I never thought of my mum’s kindness as a big deal but that was until I got kidnaped by ritualists.
This happened when I was in my third year at LASU, Lagos State University. That day, I had gone to the library, you know students live off campus? So I had gone to the school’s library and decided to get back to the hostel a few minutes past 4pm. I hailed a cab, an unmarked cab, nothing unusual because students often rode unmarked taxis and buses.
Back then okada was a no no..This was the period when the silencer was marking and scarring girls for life, so I hailed a cab that was looking for just one more passenger.
Two women were in the cab already, apart from the driver and a man that sat in front, so when I sat at the back with the women, I didn’t feel strange nor was I wary of anything.
The women were in their forties or maybe even fifties, nothing scary. They could easily have been my mum.
I had on a mini skirt and a tee shirt with my books in my bag. I was a regular student.
Well, that was all I remembered that evening after I boarded the taxi.
I woke up to find myself in a room, seated on the floor of the bare room. As soon as I came to, a man came to check me, he didn’t know my senses were fully back because he was just talking to himself as he examined me like meat on a slab. He looked me over, turning my head this way and that, checking my teeth, then, you know I told you I was in a miniskirt, so my legs and thighs were out there.
The man, talking to himself said, ‘What a beautiful girl, see her skin, her legs…she would be good to sleep with but what a waste, this one too would soon be sacrificed for money.’
My head almost exploded when I heard him say that, my heart was beating so loud, so fast. The man picked up my bag, he looked at my notes and asked me if I was a student, I said yes.
+I said yes.
He examined my other books and called out my name on the text books.
I said yes, that’s my name.
Now, something happened as soon as he called my name, a woman in another room came out to ask me, ‘Did you say your name is Bisi Bex?’
I said yes, that’s my name.
She asked me, ‘Do you know Mrs Folashade Bex, that lives at Ajao estate?’
I said, ‘Yes, I do, she is my mother!’
As soon as I said that, the woman stamped her feet, raised her hands on her head and wailed…
‘Ha, I know that woman, o, the woman is too nice to cry over a child this early on in life, we have to release this girl!’
The woman said she knew my mother by reputation, she said my mother’s kindness preceded her and that because my mum was such a good woman, she would not let her people use me for rituals as she didn’t want a woman as kind as my mum to suffer the loss of her child.
That was how I was smuggled out of that house. That was how I regained my freedom just two days after I was abducted from that taxi that day.
I was escorted to a bush path and told to keep running until I got to a village. I soon discovered that I had been taken somewhere between Ibadan and Lagos…
That’s the story of how my mother’s kindess saved my life.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)