There was this petty trader at Orile Agege whom we called “iya kekere” because of her height. I believe she was an ajase woman. she sold sweet and stuff like that on our street, she would not stop calling me oremi timo timo or oremi atata [my very good friend] with glowing enthusiasm, at first I liked it and I would stop to buy unnecessary things from her . It goes on for many months until one day, a supposed friend of mine made a joke out of it that “you’re a close friend of this woman? [laughingly]” I didn’t say anything but started to feel uncomfortable towards iya kekere. it started to become an embarrassment whenever she called me so, I started to think how should I be a close friend to her really? Firstly, I was avoiding her by taking another route because I usually would pass through her every morning when I was going to uni.
After a certain period, I couldn’t bear the stress of the route anymore, I thought I would have to tell her to stop calling me her close friend that I just do not like it and that everything else was fine. The next morning, I made my way towards her, as she saw me, she actually screamed because she had not seen me for awhile, she shouted oreeemi ooo, I was so upset, I angrily instructed her never to call me so again in her life. She was shocked and was not sure if I was in the right mood. I further told her she’s been disgracing me for awhile and that she should just call me Bukky and that I couldn’t possibly be her close friend.
I could see the shock on her face but I really didn’t care as I left.
3 days later. I was asleep, I heard a very loud noise on my door and I woke up. It was iya kekere shouting “ina ina ina”[fire! fire!!] I didn’t know what was happening she just dragged me out of the building through the back door. It was hell of a smoke and I didn’t gain my consciousness properly as she dragged me hurriedly out.
When we got outside, a massive crowd was waiting for us, everyone rushed to me and said our house was on fire and that the stairs and corridor were not accessible and they knew I was in my room. They had been shouting my name, throwing stones at my window but I did not wake.
They probably gave up on me but not until when my petty trader friend came and heard I was in the burning house, I was told she went crazy, she shouted Oreeemi ooo [exclamation], and insisted that she must come fetch me. How she went through raging fire I don’t know but she saved my life that day. My supposed friend that asked if I was truly iya kekere’s close friend was outside when iya kekere’s made efforts to rescue me.
After I gained full consciousness and I had known what was happening, I looked at Iya kekere, she was crying and she came to hug me so tight. my eyes were gushing out water like a running tap. She uttered “oremi”! i almost collapsed by hearing that. i intensified the hug, i could only say eehn mondayin lohun [yes, i’m answering you] she further said adupe emi, olohun koni gba e lowo awon obi e [thank God for your life, may death not snatch you from your parents]. I could not utter a word anymore. I was just crying. everyone else thought I was crying because of belongings or so. But I was crying because i once told my great friend not to call me her close friend again.
My dad soon came, running to my house barefooted from where he parked his car. He took me away in his car. I told him what had happened and how I was rescued, he immediately turned back to meet her, but we were told she had left as it was raining anyway.
We returned there the next morning but iya kekere never turned up anymore. Information I heard was when she came to rescue me, she left her goods behind and some thugs stole them all. My family made frantic effort to locate her but to no avail. This is about 15 years now.
My heart is full of apologies, she was ready to sacrifice her life for me. It wasn’t that others didn’t like me, it’s just that iya kekere’s love for me was at another level . My pastor said I would still meet her which I am happy about. Iya kekere is my own close friend wherever she is. I LOVE YOU IYA KEKERE AND YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND
Please do not disregard people who show you genuine love, a friend in need is a friend indeed. I live to regret the day I asked her not to call me her close friend anymore.
By: Bukola Adebowale
Proudly Yoruba pray that God should bless Iya kekere wherever she is, she was God sent to Bukola.
KINDLY OFFER YOUR PRAYER TO IYA KEKERE TOO, may we not drive away our helpers.