As I went about daily activities today, the above address came to mind. Just like every other day. I remember it all too well, my childhood days. I grew up in the above address with my grandparents, aunties and uncles, all together. It was fun, yea, but…. 62 Ajose is not the type of house you think it is… it’s not your regular 3 storey building, 6/4 flats, 3 bedroom apartment or a duplex!
It’s what Yoruba call (Ile Alero ) Well, 62 Ajose is that; the compound holds different people, families, tribes and religions, people with different mentality and views about everything. I believe that house was designed for people who cannot afford the luxury of living in a three or two bedroom flat. They had to manage in a one room too tight apartment with their family, share toilet and bathroom with every single person that lives under that roof…terrible but we had no choice. There was only one public tap right in front of the house and it was about 1or 2ft high. Water comes out only when they remember us; and when it does the whole yard lines up to get clean water but it doesn’t come without a good fight over who came first, who was on the line, whose bucket made it to the line first, we eventually get physical with each other and using those buckets to hit ourselves.(iron buckets o, not the plastic ones) Oh boy! It was crazy. After so much trouble, the bloody thing will stop running and we would all retire to do other things.
My grandpa won’t even worry himself because he knows he’s going to wake us up as early as 6am when the local mosque screams ( Allahu akbar ) That’s our cue to fetching water. I and the rest of my friends would walk down the street to Sammy’s house or Ile Babo to fetch clean well water not tap water. We go like 6 to 8 times and by then the center of my head is already boiling. We do this every single day, at some point the owners of the well we go to fetch, chase us back and tell us not to return.
After fetching water, we fight over who get to the bathroom first. Sometimes when we see how late we are for school, we would go behind Iya muti’s window and have our bath there. While the adults take turns to use the bathroom. On the weekends, we struggle to sun our clothes, because they were just few lines in the backyard and if there’s no more space, you wait till the next day. Did I mention that there was no kitchen? Ok, there was no kitchen. Where do we cook? Beside the entrance to the room; we created a small space just beside the entrance of each rooms and there we have our stoves and pots. (Try to picture 10 tenants in one long corridor, cooking at same time.)
And then when it rains, the whole compound is flooded. i mean serious flood o, up to your knee and to make matters worse the gutter right in front of the house also joins in the party. It wasn’t pretty but we had no choice. Sometimes we the kids go under the rain; it was fun but definitely not hygienic. Living like that can either make you strong or make you give up completely, and that was exactly the type of people who lived in that house. People, who dream, hope, pray and fight that they get out of that place and make life better for their family, they do not joke with their education, and they take their spirituality very seriously.
And then we have those who had absolutely no dream or energy to pray for a better life because they’ve completely given up on life. They go to church or mosque whenever they feel like it, their view on education is primary and secondary education… Most of my mates were more concerned about primary and secondary school education, I never for once heard them talk about University or what they want to study; but they talked about boys and the other young girls who got pregnant at 16… that was it. There was nobody for them to look up to because the older ones are all doing odd jobs such as being a mechanic, hair dresser, hawking or roasting of corn to sell (Millet) etc.
Not us… we dare not mention occupation and you’re sure to get one hot slap at the back of your neck from grandpa so we were raised well. My grandparents were very serious when it came to education; my grandpa would always remind us every chance he gets that he completed standard 6!! and he says it very proudly because standard 6 must be a very big deal then because to me it sounded like he completed primary 6.I can proudly say my aunties and uncles are graduates because my grandparents worked their heads off to make sure we had the best they could afford. My Grandpa worked with Nigeria port Authority (NPA), while my grandma delved into two things, selling Ogogoro at the early hours in Lawanson bustop, she would leave the house as early as 5:30am every morning and then after that she goes to Adeosun Street off Biodun market to sell candies, biscuits, toiletries, palm oil and grinded fresh pepper.
I remember when I was young, and my aunt and two of my uncles gained admission to three different universities at the same time; they were all excited but my grandpa couldn’t afford to pay for all three at once. So he came up with a plan which was for the youngest amongst them to wait for another year…oh hell NO!! My uncle Steven would not have it. I mean he went about screaming, do you know how difficult it was to score exactly 250 in jamb to be qualified??? I can’t wait another year he said in kwale.
Grandpa didn’t have any other choice, so he gave them 500naira each, one Derica of rice, Garri and beans, a small bottle of palm oil and told each one according to their distance when to come home and when not to come home. For the one in Ogun state, she comes twice every three months, the one in Ile Ife, and once every three months and as for the one in Port-Harcourt, he told him never to come home until he graduated and he meant it!
They were all able to achieve this because they were determined, strong and they were taught never to give up and in no time, we were the envy of every other family in that compound. They wondered how we did it; they wonder where my grandparents got the money to send us through school. In a nutshell, we were raised well in 62 Ajose Street; we were taught to be respectful, to give, to be kind, to be strong, to fight for what we believe in, we were taught to be honest and to speak our mind no matter the situation, we were taught never to give up. I didn’t grow up with all the luxury some people did, but I had a good childhood. As crazy as it was, it was fun. A lot happened in 62 Ajose but I can only share a few…