I’m laughing as I write this.
I remember that afternoon, after one of our tests in school, I had asked her about it, and her response became a slang for us and our friends.
For some coincidences, I don’t do too much school work and all with Esther. We don’t sit down to discuss much about it. We only checked up on each other to know how each was doing and how we could help. I wasn’t much of the reading type, I found the school curriculum quite a routine that ended in passing the exams, and I wanted more. She, on the other hand, saw it as a necessity. A case of whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Her dedication, even in the face of disappointment, unfavorable conditions, and human contradictions, was enviable. Something, I was going to eventually learn from her.
Esther knew this-my apathy to dogmatic school work, so she didn’t bother me with them. Once in a while, she throws in some “ìwọ bọ̀bọ́ yíì”, but since I often come out with good grades, she had little to worry about.
The course was a literature course, Afro-American Music, that was more a test of our ability to articulate our knowledge of the subject matter. We knew the subject, we could explain it, but the challenge had been in penning them down. Prof. Daramola (then Doctor) had scheduled many of those tests to help us learn to put our thoughts together. (‘SMH’ for this social media generation.)
“How was it?” I asked,
“wòó, mi ò rí ǹkan púpò kọ jàre” (I couldn’t write so much) she said.
“kí lóde?” (Why is that?), I questioned
And with her characteristic gut-level sincerity, she replied:
“Wòó, mo mọ̀ọ́ o, bet Òyìnbó yí náà ni ǹkan”. (I actually understand the course, my challenge is in articulating my thoughts)
I burst out in serious laughter.
“Ọmọ Ìbàdàn játi játi” (I don’t know the English of this one o). I followed.
And till the time of her death, it was a constant slang on our lips.
It’s two years today and I remember how down to earth she was. She was at peace with herself. She accepted herself with all the beauty and imperfections that came with it. She walked head-high.
Lt. Esther Oladeji, my dearly beloved Ọmọ Ìbàdàn játi játi
Below are two of her recorded songs and a live performance of one of them. I can’t listen to them today, I’m not sure I can handle it, but I want you to enjoy the beauty of the melodies she makes and be inspired by the depth of her words.
I am the Imisioluwa.