It could be awe-inspiring speaking to an elderly widow who had known her husband for 53 years, out of which they were married for 46! Mama Rachael Oyinade Oyelakin, 70, takes JOKE KUJENYA through the memory lane in this interesting narration about her marriage to the late Mr. Joseph Oluokun Oyelakin, who practically told his wife he was ready to go, even when love and optimism won’t allow her to understand the unequivocal message
Like any other day, Friday, September 15, 2023 began for Papa and Mama Joseph Oyelakin on a regular note. Pa Oyelakin was hungry, and his wife had prepared food him. But he threw up his breakfast of watermelon and pineapple meal almost immediately.
“I wouldn’t say that was too much of a surprise, but it wasn’t something I expected would lead to his death hours later. God just decided to take me by surprise that day, and that’s why I must submit to Him. There’s a void of love that age cannot take away, yet, I am trusting in the love that God has for me to see me through,” sighed the widow.
For the duo, wherever you saw one, the other was close by. The husband, a 7-feet plus in height, robust and heavily built, beside his 5-feet modest height and slim wife, were always a pair to behold. To everyone that came across them, they had their ready smiles to offer.
They’re both residents of DH Street in the Federal Housing Estate located in Mosan area of Ipaja, Lagos, where they had lived for about 41 out of their 46-year marriage. Trying to feel her vibes on life without her husband; the widow, who recently clocked 70 on April 19th this year said:
“It’s not easy. But with God’s grace and our family doctor’s warning, I am pulling through. And though I didn’t know my husband would die on the day he did, he had kept warning me while praying to God that if God must take any of us first, it should be him. I even asked him one time why he kept making such a prayer, and he said, ‘It’s because I don’t know how to take care of children like you do. I’m a man, I cannot do all that God had deposited in you.’”
Concerning their over four decades of marriage, she said: “I can answer you with a smile amid tears that ours was better in love and friendship all through. No single moment of sadness. Was it that we didn’t have our moments of childish quarrels over time? We did, but there was never any iota of bitter grudges. We always ended our quarrels with jests and ended it all there, no matter what the squabbles were based on.
“We had met at a friend’s birthday party in 1970. I am Omo-Owa Ajimoko of Ijeshaland in Osun state, a princess, but I was sent to the Christ Apostolic Grammar School, Apeni-Oniyere in Ibadan. My late dad who was then the king was King Adeniji Orimogunje. My husband was from Oyo State in Ibadan. So, because my parents sent me to school in Ibadan, I stayed with our relations there. And it was through one of my older cousins, Johnson Oribogunje, whose mom was my mom’s elder sister, that my husband eventually got closer to me.
“But we first got to know at my friend, Bola’s birthday party as I noted earlier. I can’t recollect her surname because her dad was usually hailed by his nickname, ‘Go Ahead Typing and Shorthand’ shop like a business centre then. The party held in December and my brother too was invited. At some point, they called for celebrant’s dance, then followed by ‘dance, dance, dance,’ and we all danced around her. I didn’t know that anyone in particular was taking a keen look at me. I just danced and soon, the party was over.
We met at a friend’s birthday party in 1970
“After some time, he just walked up to me and said, ‘Excuse me dance’; I didn’t take that as anything. I just danced with him. But days after the party, he started visiting my brother more frequently than before. Yes, I would greet him, but on my part, that was it. I didn’t know that he had taken any special interest in me. He always said he came to see my brother his friend, and was always welcomed by the family. No one suspected anything.
“By then, we were all on our way out of the grammar school. Soon, school was over with and everyone had to further their education. He then proceeded to the Federal School of Science in 1971 for just one year. After that, he advanced to the Yaba College of Technology (Yaba Tech) for his Ordinary National Diploma, where he read Lab Tech. He then went for his Higher National Diploma (HND) at the Kaduna Polytechnic for two years and rounded up by 1973.
Pa Oyelakin went on to work with Bhojsons Industry for 30 years from 1970 to 1999 when. he retired
“Before then, by that same 1970, he had told me his intentions but I was afraid to let anyone in my family know. I would visit his house where I was more welcomed by his family, but on my part, my brother was still our ‘cover’. It was during one of his holiday visits that we had our first intimacy. It was not planned. It just happened. By the following month after he had returned to Kaduna, I realized I was pregnant. I couldn’t let his parents know for fear of accusing me of stalling his education. So, out of fear, I quickly ran home to Osun State to report myself to my parents.
“Then, followed a battle I least expected. My parents said there was no way I would marry someone who is not from a royal family or from Osun State. So, I had to run back to Ibadan to confide in my brother who found a way to inform my late husband. My father rained curses that if I married him this and that would happen. For the next seven years, I kept no contact with my parents. But my husband came to Ibadan after my brother informed him and begged me not to abort the pregnancy. I didn’t even know anything about abortion then, anyway. So, he confided in his mother not to tell his dad. That was how we managed till the baby came in 1971 and then, both our parents got to know but they gladly accepted me and their first grandchild.
“Throughout my dad’s hard stance, my husband didn’t allow me to experience any form of regrets. He faced his education and excelled. While he was in Kaduna schooling, I began working before the baby came at the Nigerian Federal Prison as a Wardress in Agodi, Ibadan. Due to poor salary, I left and joined the Lever Brothers, Ibadan, and later joined Boots’ Drugs & Cosmetics, where I was assigned to the cosmetics section. His parents in particular were happy with me.
Throughout my dad’s hard stance, my husband didn’t allow me to experience any form of regrets
“He then returned to Ibadan fully in 1976 and all the marriage rites were fulfilled – introduction, engagement and marriage proper. By this time, my dad had calmed down and accepted us because throughout the period, he never heard of us struggling or being a burden on anyone. So, for the wedding, I begged for it to be held on my birthday in April 1977, and it was held at the Mapo Hall Registry in Ibadan. It’s from there we moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Mushin, Lagos, where we began to live together happily ever after.”
While every marriage is a mix of ‘for better and for worse’; Mrs Oyelakin said, “My marriage to my husband was all for better. Isn’t it challenges of life people refer to as “for worse”? We didn’t see any worse. We just stepped on every challenge together and they made us know each other and we got better. We would look at problems and leave them until we knew what to do. There was no way any situation caused us to shout at each other.
“Now, for a few years, he held on to the fear of my father accusing him of treating his daughter badly or made her to suffer. So, unless he had money to buy anything for the two of us, he’d rather not buy anything. He took great care of our parents on both sides just as he provided for the children and I. As the third child of my parents, he tried his best for all my four siblings. I just want to thank God I married the first man that ever came into my life.
he said some things about me not crying too much in case of any bad news, but I kept telling him neither of us was dying yet
“I have never had any cause to regret that I married this man. Throughout our 52 years of life together, we’ve both had peace in unimaginable ways. Then, this was capped with our yielding our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1977; and it’s been greater. We were saved together. We never hid anything from each other. We wore same clothes each day, even when we weren’t going anywhere. I usually had my bath first, then he would look at what I wore, and go dress in same outfits. We never pretended with each other. If he was out of cash, I stepped in without bothering to tell him. After all, I was his help meet. If I was broke, he never made me feel his money was his own. Everything went so smoothly, I sometimes asked God why He chose to bless my marriage so much!
“And because we went almost everywhere together, we were tagged, ‘Me and my husband/wife.’ The only place I didn’t follow him to was his office and the political arena. I never had the cause to suspect if he was womanizing. I wasn’t even given to doing such. But he was plain all through. It wasn’t that he’d say something and had to be clarifying. I’m sure he just chose to fear God. He never did anything to hurt my feelings, and I never did same. We just kept loving ourselves as childhood lovers each day, laughing over almost everything. No one ever settled quarrels for us. And our children have imbibed that peacefulness. It’s just like we knew each other’s minds. The orientation I had was to take care of my husband and children; and that’s what I knew. I was brought up to cook so well. I knew his food interests and never did what he didn’t want or decide to pick my choice above his. I don’t even know if we had different food choices. It was never raised. I just cooked any food each of us decided on very well and we all enjoyed it.
unless he had money to buy anything for the two of us, he’d rather not buy anything
“After our marriage, I told him I wanted to leave office work. So, he gave me a N100 (one hundred naira) to start a business, and it was more than enough.”
On the day he died, he had complained of pains in the left hand where he had received intravenous injection. As I massaged the hand, he closed his eyes to sleep and I saw him breathing lightly. I asked if the pain had subsided and he answered, ‘Yes’. My husband was a real child of God and a truthful person. And when he said ‘No’, you, too. will naturally reason with his clarifications. That’s why, when I was told he had stopped breathing, I didn’t know when I left the hospital and walked a long distance before two nurses ran after me and took me back to his side.
“In fact, they told me he had woken up and asked of me. So, I followed them; but, on getting there, I saw it was all lies. I felt blank and wishing him to open his eyes. But, he didn’t. I got jittery and the doctor came to caution me based on age and health and advised me to be calm, as any health situation I develop now won’t be easily treated. So, I sat down and began recalling the events of the day. We came to the hospital together and gisted all the way. Though, he said some things about me not crying too much in case of any bad news. I told him not to tell me such. He then said anytime he died, I should be the one to inherit his Samsung A03 Core phone because of his business contacts and friends, all of whom I know. But I kept telling him none of us was dying yet.
He suggested that we should bury him in our compound and make sure that it is one grave for the two of us
“He even told me that should he die, we, his family should not bury him where anyone would be drying clothes on his grave. He then suggested that we should bury him in our compound and make sure that it is one grave for the two of us. I asked him how that is done. He said he should be buried below, and covered with tiles. He then prayed that I should live longer for the children and grandchildren and that when I die, I should be laid on top of his own grave and tiled too. Again, I shut him up saying he was allowing his mind to go hay wire. I didn’t know he was already feeling close to death.
“He was so slim at the time I met him though I knew he had the tendency to be big in body build but I didn’t imagine he could get obese, become hypertensive, diabetic and develop diverse health problems. We both stopped drinking Stout [lager beer] since 1997 when we got born again, we barely attended parties unless family events. All our celebrations were held inside our house, apart from our children’s weddings. We started noticing his health challenges since he clocked 40. He fell ill at one time and went to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, where the high blood pressure was first diagnosed and treatment promptly began.
“Since then, we had spent, cumulatively, over N10 million on his welfare. In the last few months alone, I’m sure we couldn’t have spent anything below N4 million so he could regain sound health. Yet, he left. However, I cannot deny that God has been good to us though I feel the void his absence had created. Doctor gave me Valium to induce sleep but it hasn’t been working and I promptly stopped taking them. I thank God again that our five children have been very supportive, standing by to stabilize me.”