Dorcas Bolatan Oni: Now, the Pen Drops

By Taiwo Abiodun-Oni

I find myself still caught in the crescendo of emotions that engulfed me while paying homage to my father on Father’s Day. Yet here I stand, on the verge of another historic moment in the life of the other half of my parental equation, my mother, Dorcas Bolatan Oni, a teacher per excellence.

In a world where character and virtue are fast fading, where toxic feminist ideologies threaten to engulf us, my mother stands as a living testament that hope still flickers on the horizon.

My mother perfectly carried out the biblical charge spare the rod and spoil the child and oh boy she did know how to use the ‘pankere’.

I won’t embark on a tedious historical recital as I did with my father, not because her journey lacks drama, but because I firmly believe my mother’s true life story began after she joined hands with my father in holy matrimony.

I could sense that her wedding day was not the joyous, grand affair every bride dreamt of. Instead, she carried the weight of nearly nine months of pregnancy, concealed with admirable grace beneath her flowing white gown. No one could have known of this, despite the wedding portrait that has graced our home’s walls for as long as memory serves. Yet, that very photograph captures the depth of her sacrifice—the hollowed cheeks and resulting protruding cheek bones, the fragility she could no longer disguise. It offered us a glimpse into the hardships she would endure during the formative years of their union.

To me, their love seemed unrequited, but she poured herself into the role of a devoted wife. Despite the suffocating poverty that surrounded them at the formative years of the marriage, she would place two tender pieces of meat in my father’s meals—an act of tenderness and romance. Yet, rather than embracing it as such, he would often react, uttering the Yoruba proverb, “Ye so fe ran je ko l’eko,” as if suggesting she possessed no understanding of financial prudence. Ironically, she has fed our family every day, from her own meagre government job salary, never once complaining.

Bolatan, with a heart of boundless compassion, could shed tears at the slightest provocation i stirred up, despite being three decades my senior. Being a very emotional person, it is hard for her to hide that I am her least favorite child but she has never for once let it tilt the scale of parental affection. Her emotions were the perfect

Bolatan moved heaven and earth with her meagre income. I vividly remember the tears that welled in my eyes when I discovered she earned a mere pittance of 130,000 Naira even after dedicating over three decades to the Lagos State civil service. How did she manage to accomplish all that she did with so little?

Every garment that adorned our backs, from mine to my siblings’, even sometimes my fathers’, and even for many of our cousins’ came from her modest earnings. Every morsel of rice, every droplet of oil or sprinkle of salt that nourished our bodies till this day, every piece of furniture, every curtain, every electrical appliance that adorns our six-bedroom, two-parlor abode all came from the same salary. I often would tell my father that his sole contribution to our house was the mere structure itself. Despite her meager income, she would generously hand my siblings and I a pocket money of 2,500 Naira monthly as university students and although incontestably an inconsequential amount, we cherished it as though it were gold. If she did not give us so little, we wouldn’t have had any anyways.

Even during the direst period, when her income was still a mere 80,000 Naira, she shouldered the responsibility of caring for her ailing brother, who required constant dialysis. Though he eventually succumbed to his condition, she continues to support his widow and took it upon herself to raise their remarkable children, who have now blossomed into university under-graduates.

But she knew better than to overshadow the “master,” my father, following the unwritten rule of power. I recall a time when she tiled and painted our house while my father was away, she had to summon the assistance of elderly neighbors to pacify his traditional Yoruba pride.

My mother once confided that her favorite food was garri, and how she relished “omi garri” (the over-floating water from garri). The truth is, no normal person’s best food is garri. She sustained herself like a peasant so that we could live with dignity. Often burdened by loans, she would adorn herself with ersatz jewelry, for how could she afford a 25-carat gold necklace on her meager salary? And yet, she shone radiantly, growing more beautiful with each passing day, aging gracefully in every sense.

Her in-laws hold her dear to their hearts. In fact, my father’s cousins had declared to him that, were it not for my mother, they would have severed all ties long ago. In 2012, she embarked on a reconciliation journey, mending the fractured relationships my father had carelessly shattered. She became the very thread that wove the ‘Oni Yomini’ clan together. If anyone cared to relive the biblical Ruth and Naomi tale, all you needed to do was look into the life of my mother. Such was her profound bond with my paternal grandmother (her mother in-law) that I genuinely believed she was her own flesh and blood.

I could go on and on but the tears in my eyes wouldn’t let me see my laptop screen anymore.

Today marks the culmination of my mother’s 35 years of dedicated service to the Lagos State government, as she bids farewell to her role as a Director of Education of the Civil Service. Yet, her impact stretches far beyond her professional accomplishments. She has left an indelible mark on the lives of all those fortunate enough to have crossed her path.

Through her selfless way of life, she has imparted invaluable lessons in contentment, patience, empathy, and an unwavering love for family. As the curtain falls on her illustrious career, we stand in awe and celebration of Dorcas Bolatan Oni—a paragon of resilience and the embodiment of a mother’s boundless love.

Long may she live to reap all the benefits of motherhood! Amen.

5 thoughts on “Dorcas Bolatan Oni: Now, the Pen Drops”

  1. Happy birthday Ma and Congratulations on your retirement…May you always be happy❤️

    P.S: You raised a phenomenal young man!!

  2. Happy retirement Abiyamo tooto with the biography have read, you’re indeed a rock which younger ones can always lean on. Pray you live and spend the rest of your life in good and sound health may you never taste bitterness for the rest of your life ma

  3. Bukunmi Nifemi

    Happy retirement Mummy , thank you for instilling value in us , thank you for the Motherly advice . And the thank for the sumptuous Ekuru meal you gave me the last time I visited .

  4. A great mother, an optimist, altruistic person and a philanthropist.
    Mummy thanks for everything you do .
    Words can’t express it all but with love and congratulations, I wish you a wonderful future filled with sunshine and sweet moment.
    You will live long to eat the fruit of your labour in Jesus Name .

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