About Yejide Kilanko

Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. A therapist in children’s mental health, Yejide, lives with her young family in Ontario, Canada. Daughters Who Walk This Path (Penguin Canada, 2012) is her debut novel. For more information about Yejide or her writing, please visit yejidekilanko.com

Your life stopped one day.

It was silenced by a telephone call right in the middle of a frenzied evening.

In the middle of asking rambunctious children not to throw Lego pieces at each other as you debated on what to cook for supper.

As you listened to the grave voice on the other end of the phone, you were reminded of the antique cuckoo clock inherited from your grandmother. Shortly after it landed in your home, the wooden bird was silenced forever as its bright blue head peeked out of the trap door.

It all began with lumpy breasts and shooting pain. Places you didn’t even know had muscles ached.

The barrage of tests led you to a hospital bed. To a new way of being.

Trapped, you listened to the clicks and beeps of the IV pump. Its noises had become the soundtrack to your life.

You gave the machine a scalding look as you wished that it and the army of mutant cells which fought to conquer your body would disappear.

A shuffling sound made you turn your head.

You were not alone.

Your husband Ade stood by your bed. His sweaty palm was wrapped around your fingers as he forced his lips into what looked more like a cry for help.

You thought of all the days you didn’t kiss him goodbye. Just because you were still angry at him for the myriad of small stuff fused into a giant blob by your hurt.

The feeble words forced their way through chapped lips. “I’m sorry.”

Ade’s brown eyes grew puzzled. “For what?”

You pointed at the IV machine. “All this.”

Ade gave his head a slow shake. “For better or worse, remember?”

You didn’t want to remember. “I should have said, for better, for better, in health and even more fantastic health.”

Ade sighed.

You both knew it was too late to take the other words back.

The door opened. Your nurse and the phlebotomist walked into the room.

Ade moved away from your side. Face transformed by a scowl, he looked out of the window as the nurse performed an oral and anal swab for super bugs.

It was when the search for a viable vein turned up empty and the tip of your index finger had to be sliced and squeezed that Ade told you he had to step outside.

You knew it was because he’d never been able to stand the sight of blood.

Yet, you became angry with him. On the scale of worse to worst, a sliced finger didn’t even make the cut.

You were silent when Ade came back. A part of you knew the anger which constricted your throat was really about the moments being stolen from your lives.

You continued to stare at the wall.

Evening came as it always did. Long shadows filtered into the room.

Ade cleared his throat before he announced his departure. Your children waited for him at a friend’s home.

You had decided that two hospital visits a week was enough for them. After being dry for two years, your youngest was bedwetting again.

Ade bent over and brushed his lips against yours. “I love you.”

Your eyes welled with tears. The anger receded. Not far, but far enough that you could say the words without a tinge of bitterness. “I love you, too.”

You laid your head on the sweatdampened pillow. You wanted to go home.

“For better or for worse,” you whispered to the air as Ade walked out of the room.