Boloebi Okah

I first saw him in a music video. Something about his face struck me, and I was transfixed. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t get the image of that young man out of my head. Then I opened the pages of a newspaper about two weeks later, and there was an interview featuring him. I read the interview several times, made a note of his name, then tore it out of the paper, and hid it in my school backpack, in-between my secondary school textbooks.

I skipped my afternoon classes and set off to find him, one day when I had gathered enough courage. I had a vague idea where his recording studio was, and I took some extra transport fare, just in case. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I would say, I just wanted to see him. After getting lost three times, I finally located the studio in the hustling and bustling streets of Ikeja. I walked up to the reception and asked to see him. The receptionist eyed me up and down. She was probably assuming that I was one of his young, misguided fans and she snapped at me and said he wasn’t around. I begged and pleaded with her, just to give me a couple of minutes to explain my mission. She refused, and threatened to call the security guards.

“But I’m his sister!” I said, stamping my feet and trying to stop the tears forming in my eyes.

She stopped talking for a second and looked at me closely. Then she picked up her telephone and chatted to someone. Five minutes later, I was ushered into another reception room and asked to wait.

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He came out himself and ran to give me a hug. With tears in his eyes, he told me the whole story. I was born when he was in his early teens. He was a rebel, the black sheep and outcast, because he had refused to study to become a medical doctor. Instead, when he was seventeen, he ran away and by the time I was old enough to understand, he had been erased from our family life. We decided to keep our meeting a secret.

The next week, my parents pretended they didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked them why the young man playing the saxophone on the television looked so much like Father. I smiled, and decided, I was going to be a rebel too.

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Tolulope Popoola is a Nigerian novelist. Her debut novel, titled Nothing Comes Close, is available on amazon. Ms. Popoola blogs at On Writing and Life.

Tolulope Popoola