Oftentimes, life has been described to have a beginning and an end. An idea I’m not quite sure I totally agree with. Saying there is an absolute beginning to life and an absolute end to life sounds a little uninteresting. It makes life seem like this terrible bland thing where all you have to do while you live is wait to die. Hian!
Life, they say (well, a whole lot of people seem to agree with this line of thought ??) starts when a child is born, when it takes its first breath, when it cries its first cry, with a smile on the mother’s face (or frown, whatever it is they do when they after the labour period… You can’t blame me, these movies don’t tell us enough).
The way I see it, for every single beginning, for every new start, there’s a story, a reason, a perfect explanation to why there is a new beginning. Hence why I do not subscribe to the idea of an absolute beginning.
Being the last of three(3) sons and with a space of eight(8) and ten(10) years between my elder brothers and I, you most certainly would have to know that there is a story to my beginning.
Oh, I never said… This is the story of my beginning!
When people hear about the length of time it took for my parents to have me, there’s always a look on their faces, one I rarely miss these days. It is a a kind of mischievous look that boldly states “Oh, you’re the Mistake”. In part that’s true, but not entirely.
My story doesn’t start with mothers’ labour, it did not start in that hospital room, it did not start with all the shouts of “Puuuush, Puuuuuush!”. It did not start with me popping out of mother still in my amniotic sac with the nurse screaming “Kí lèlèyí?” (what is this?) in gross incompetence, it did not start when I tore the amniotic sac and started to cry, it did not start at my naming ceremony in front of our ‘face-me-I-face-you’ apartment where my eldest brother got drunk after taking palm wine, which was amusing to some set of quite irresponsible adults.
My story starts in mild conversations my mother had with her in-laws. Conversations about having more kids, conversations that were littered with suggestions that were really not suggestions.
“Ah, Iya Akin, don’t you think you should give birth to another child, two is not enough oh…”
“… your husband does not want another baby? Don’t you know you control that matter? You just get pregnant, we will back you…” (what in the world does “just get pregnant mean”? I just do not understand it)
“… what if one of the two of them dies (God forbid oh)? But what if? Is it that time you would start looking for another child?” (my brothers did not die by the way)
My beginning was laced with fear and pressure. Mother was always out to please her in-laws because she isn’t Nigerian.
I can boldly say that I was born in those little conversations, those little suggestions that weren’t really suggestions. Those suggestions that made mother ignore fathers’ complaints about not having enough money to cater for another kid (well, if he knew he did not want another kid, he could have worn a condom ??)
Many times, I’ve tried to imagine the look on my father’s face when mother told him she was pregnant with me. Each time I come up short because my dad has never been the most predictable person but one thing I’m certain of is the fact that he was definitely silent. Silence that could tear your heart into two, silence that would move a mountain. Sometimes I wonder if if he ever said “na my fault oh”.
I’ve asked myself continuously, why did mother ever bend over to please her in-laws? What if money really became a problem for the family because of a child you did not really need?
I’ve come to realize that sometimes the beginning of our lives is not something we can control, it’s not something we have any power to change and we have to accept it, own it and be proud of our beginnings, no matter how it started.
So, yes, I am the half mistake, the child born out of fear and undue pressure, I am the child who was born in his amniotic sac. I am ‘Fikayo and my Life is a collection of stories!

Oyekunle ‘Fikayo Oyediran

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