THE LIFE OF GEORGE BABATUNDE JUMAL

 

A Story Series
By
Eunice Oladeji
The few fortunate ones, like my father, were the medical students of the University College, Ibadan, who got the opportunity to complete their studies in the University of London. It was there that my father met my mother who had lived all her life in London even though she was of German origin. Father was the radical, energetic, bouncing, typical Nigerian and mother was gentle, ever smiling and soft tongued.
After his student life in University of London, my father, Dr. Qadis Jumal, desired to go back to Nigeria to his family, especially his parents, but my mother, Julia, wanted none of that. She could not imagine any life outside London. With persistent nagging and complaints, she convinced my father to stay on in London and look for a hospital to practice medicine. Another factor that convinced my father was the idea of starting a family. He was aware of the expectations his parents had of him at that stage of his life. They expected a Nigerian wife and children. He had no problem with marrying Julia but the child bearing and rearing was not appealing to him because he just could not resolve his congested medical life as a psychiatrist with the life of a father of ever-demanding children.
Julia on the other hand had issues with children, psychological issues. When Julia was about ten years old, she was with a friend who was driving them to school. In the car with them was the 5 months old baby brother of her friend. This baby was adorable with all the cutish features of babies that age but as expected, the baby was also hyper. Julia was in the passenger seat with her ears plugged and jamming with loud music. She only noticed vaguely that her friend was struggling with the baby she was carrying with her as she drove. Little baby found the driver’s hair fascinating and found it fun to pull at it. Driver on the other hand needed her hair to stay un-pulled so as to concentrate on her driving. The accident that ensued from the struggle took Julia’s friend and left Julia and the baby alive. Even though it seemed warp for her to think that way, Julia never understood why the baby had to survive the accident that he caused. Since then, Julia associated babies with accidents.
Combining both factors, the feasibility of moving from husband and wife to father and mother was low. Going back to Nigeria with such low feasibility values would surely send his parents into panic attacks and would really rock their marriage boat. But if they stayed back, his parents will keep on hoping and there would peace for them. It was agreed that the moment Julia was declared pregnant, either planned or accidental, they would go home to Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria. So, 1955, at ages 21 and 18 respectively, my father and Julia became one.
1960 came with Nigeria’s independence from her colonial masters but it really meant little to father and mother who were basking in the love and freedom they had in London. The only bad news was the death of Julia’s parents within months of each other. Julia was quite devastated as she had not seen them in years. This was the first time it occurred to my father that his parents might also die without seeing him after all the years spent apart. After the burial, there was an ‘accident’ and Julia took in. when the doctor announced this to her, she broke down and begged that an abortion be done. Even though father was against abortion, he was also distraught at the news. It was agreed that the child would be given up for adoption once it was delivered. Fortunately or unfortunately, Julia miscarried. There was no explanation for the miscarriage but no one was bothered. Father had become a popular psychiatrist in London. Julia had a baking outfit and was well sort after for pastries, cakes and the likes for weddings and other such events. Life could not get better.
Then, Julia took in again and within two months, she miscarried again. This time, father was bothered and he asked that the cause of the miscarriage be sought of. Nothing was found and at this point, even Julia was worried. Finally, in 1970, fifteen years after their marriage, father and mother decided to go back to Nigeria. Whether it was planned spiritually or otherwise, they arrived at home the day my grandfather Jumal was being buried. It was shocking news to my father as no one told him that his father was sick or dead or even being buried. Nobody had an explanation, not even his mother who could not believe that my father married an ‘oyinbo’. That same year, I was born and named George Babatunde Jumal. George was my mother’s father’s name; Babatunde was to signify re-incarnation of my grandfather and Jumal, my surname. Father’s mother protested my having an English name as my first name and blamed it all on the ‘white material’ my father brought home as wife. But she adored me and took me as her own child. My mother was still averse to babies but so as to not attract grandmother’s anger and increased resentment, she tried to love me and with time, she grew to love me as a mother should. A year and six months later, when my brother was born, grandmother had her way and named him Qadis (junior) Jumal.

Bio:
Eunice Oladeji, interested in books, writing, public speaking and making people laugh. Currently in medical school, 500l. Lover of God and family. Blogger on relationship and love issues.

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