Forest of Hope by Dare Alabi (Season 1, Episode 1)

Gbeola and Yemisi are happily married even without kids as the fruits of their marriage. Gbeola is an understanding; loving and caring husband who believes so much in whatever the Lord brings to him. Yemisi shares similar faith, but as a woman with a fragile heart, she sometimes weep in silence when neighbors say bad things about her state of bareness. Both husband and wife are native of Iludun; a town that is well known for her production of both food and cash crops. Majority of the people of Iludun are primarily engaged in farming, fishing and petty trading.

Gbeola inherited his father’s farm after the death of his father as the only child. The farm is simply one of the very best in Iludun and her environs. The farm is at the far east of the town, having a big stream as one of its boundaries. Gbeola nourished and nurtured the farm to the admiration of everyone in the town. In fact it is second to none in Iludun.
“This farm fetched me all my needs even when Papa was alive. I remember having to rush to the farm in the evening to fetch some crops that I would later sell at the evening market to passers-bye from the neighboring villages. Jide, do you remember the antelope that I killed that took to our age group meeting? As a growing young man, it was always very pleasant, fun and pleasurable. If Papa had known that I was so strong and filled with such energy to kill an antelope, he would have doubled my farm work. He had taken me for a weak child”.

“Gbeola, what we failed to realize then, was that all the youthful exuberance that we exhibited then could only last for a while. We thought our parents would continue to fend for us forever but today, we have to cater for our families as our grandparents did for our fathers. Aside this, it is very important that we work to achieve due relevance at all our community developmental programmes”.
“I now realized how wonderful and caring Papa was. He laboured rigorously to leave all these farms for me alone. God! I wish papa could still come back and give me all the pieces of advice that the future shall certainly demand”
“Gbeola, you better stop this; you think the absence of a child in your marriage still make you a kid? Whether you have a child or not, you are now a full grown man and you should honestly forget all the care and love that your father showered on your when he was alive”.
“Jide, without a child, the world only sees you as a kid. I hope and pray that one day, I shall be call a father and I will be certified as a responsible man, who has an offspring to cater for. Don’t you think so?
“ I see no reason why I should force my position on you, if that is your definition of becoming a man, so be it”.

“ I shall be leaving now for my house because Yemisi was not at home when I was coming, good night!”

Iludun operates a daily evening market. Women go to the evening market to sell their husband’s daily harvest from their farms. Fishermen cluster in groups with varieties of fishes for sale. It had sometimes been rumoured that dead people usually come to the market to partake in the act of buying and selling but no one has been able to substantiate this rumour till date.

At the market, men in Khaki are seen strolling from one end to another. These men in Khaki are called Eso, the security agents of Balogun who forcefully seized power twenty years ago from a king who relished in waging war against the neighboring villages and annexing them to Iludun.

Balogun was then the head of his security; the commander in chief of the village warrior. At a time when King Adewale ordered him to wage war against Iloko and annex it to Iludun, Balogun took the opportunity to carry out his evil intention; he waged war against Iloko, won the battle, annex it to Iludun, killed King Adewale and super-imposed himself on the people of Iludun as the new king.

The Esos are boys who fought the battle of Iloko with him. They are ranked according to their seniority in the local military hierarchy. They function in virtually every aspects of decision making in the town. The Esos are warring in nature, violent, corrupt and feared by everyone. They are found at the evening market picking whatever they need without paying a dime to the seller. They also collect illegal taxes from people who make use of the market.

Gbeola got home and met Yemisi anxiously waiting for him. He was not surprised to see her in that condition; that has been her usual practice. He apologized for leaving the house in her absence and for returning late.
“What food do you have for me? “Nothing” She replied. Gbeola responded, “Come on my dear, I trust you ”.
The woman elegantly turned to the kitchen and made a radiant move to bring food for her husband. The man, looking at the beauty and steppings of his wife felt satisfied for making the right choice. The woman is very beautiful, has a robust buttock and a very long hair that look like that of a queen. She wears every cloth to fit.

She came back carrying some bowls in a tray. She knelt down before her husband and placed the tray on the table. The tantalizing aroma from the fried plantain was enough to fetch a bucket of water from the mouth of a visitor who is visiting the house for the very first time. Gbeola is used to his wife mode of cooking and that is why when situation demands that he should eat outside, his mind quickly go to his wife’s cooking. The food was served and they ate together and went to bed after the super.
The night was quiet; everywhere seemed to be motionless, fresh air was flowing into the room through the window panes. The trees around suddenly begins to obey the dictate of the gentle breeze as they waved their leaves sideways. There was absolute silence everywhere except for occasional interruption of frogs and toads in their own luxury attempt to be at ease.

Yemisi rolled from the edge of the bed to touch her husband, who was soundly asleep as a result of the fatigue from the day’s work in the farm. She was thinking about her inability to bear child for the past ten years of her marriage. She imagined what the condition could have been, if she had married Adeyinka; the man her parent had wanted her to marry. She didn’t love Adeyinka, he was too temperamental; would flare up and shout on top of his voice to correct every little mistakes. He was also too anxious to have children even when Yemisi had not consented to his proposal. She wept quietly, being careful not to wake her husband. She adjusted her wrapper and finally slept off.

In her sleep, she saw a woman, who was extending hands of friendship to her. She was afraid and never wanted to get closer to her but the irony of it was that the more she tried to stay away, the closer she was to her. She succumbed to the will of God and fell into the woman’s arm.

This woman was very beautiful, looking gorgeously dressed, caring and assuring. She assured Yemisi of having a glorious child that will lift the family name beyond expectation. The child shall be exceptionally brilliant; endowed with knowledge and wisdom and shall facilitate the deliverance of Iludun people and contribute to development of his town in no small measure.

Yemise woke up to realize that she had since been dreaming. She felt very proud to have such an assuring dream. She tried to figure out the identity of the woman she saw in her dream. “Who is she?” “Could she be one of the goddesses?” “Could she be Olomoyeye the goddess that is concerned with child bearing and issues relating to fertility?” She dozed off while thinking about his dream and slept soundly, snoring.

At dawn, she walked to the well in her compound and fetched some buckets of water for domestic use. She placed a bucket of water at the bathroom for her husband to freshen up. She went straight to the kitchen to prepare pap and bean cake (akara); her husband’s best meal for breakfast. She is just too good a house wife and her husband has not for a single second regretted marrying her as a wife.

AUTHOR: Dare Alabi.

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