My name is Ike. I am a writer. I drink way too much herbal tea and believe in the power of kindness, love and a good book.

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The Yoruba Boy Who Thought He Could Dance: A Short Story by Ike Adegboye

The Yoruba Boy Who Thought He Could Dance: A Short Story by Ike Adegboye

The Yoruba Boy Who Thought He Could Dance: A Short Story by Ike Adegboye

The phone rang once. The second time, she picked. Folarin figured if he had to tell anyone, it would be Mom.



“Fola, Fola. Fola boy. How far?” The delight in her voice was unmistakeable everytime he called.

“E kale ma,”He could hear the distant rumble of the generator in the background.

“Kale, my dear. Ba wo ni? School nko?”

“School is fine.” He switched to English. If he said it in English, it’ll sound less ridiculous.

“How is it? Hope not too cold?” She asked.

“No, ma.” In fact, it was 5 degrees in New York City tonight, but that wasn’t why he called. 

“Your sister is here, hold on.”

“No, Mom—”

Gbemi’s voice came on, “Mumu. So you can call home? Where have you been? Your IG page is just dead. How far?”

“I’m more active on snapchat, you know that.”

“Who wants to watch your boring life?” She snickered,”Have you told Mommy?”

“I haven’t,”He said the words through clenched teeth.

“Told me what?”

Laughter bubbled out of Gbemi.

Folarin cursed under his breath.

“Mommy, Folarin wants to start a new career o.”

“Ehn hen?” Her excitement was palpable. Her voice was clear now. 

“What kind of career? But you will finish school first o” She added, "Ha, when you are looking for funding, don’t fall into the hands of 419 oh. There are so many now…” She continued on about how Uncle Goke had been “dupped”. 

“Many doctors have second careers. Ònò kan o wojà. Dad will be happy that you’re building your own business.” Ever-supporting mom. Her voice dripped with pride.

Gbemi was now gasping for breath in the background, laughing uncontrollably.

“Why are you laughing?” Her mom asked.

Folarin cleared his throat, “Mom, maybe I should call back another time. I—”

“No o. You’ve finally called after all these weeks, don’t go. Let me leave this place where your sister is laughing like a drunkard. Ki lo n se omo yi?”Mom hissed.

He heard her feet shuffling, walking, until Gbemi’s scornful laugh drew further away. A door opened and closed.

“Eh-hen, oya gist me. What’s this second business?”

“Which business?” Dad asked. Dad was there. Folarin’s voice caught in his throat.

“Fola has a new business.”

“Well, as long as it doesn’t affect his studies.”He said,”Business wo ni? Meanwhile, I saw on the news… New York is minus 15 degrees Celsius tonight! Wow, man!”

Background noise filtered in—the swishing of fan blades, the rumble of the generator—mom had switched her phone to speaker.

“Ha! Minus 15 ke? Make sure you stay warm o. Drink tea”, Mum said, “Very soon, you will marry one omoge that will be making you pepper soup in that your winter, ehn?” Mum chuckled,”One babe. Abi how do you people say it?”

Folarin took a deep breath. It was now or never.

“Mum. Dad. I have good news and bad news.”He said.

“God forbid. God will not give you bad news in Jesus’ name,” Mum prayed. She began to speak in tongues.

“What is it? Tell me the good news first.”Dad said.

“I said there is no bad news in Jesus' name” Mom reiterated. 

“Ok, give us the news—the double good news.”

“Well, I proposed to my girlfriend...”

“Which girlfriend?”Mum asked. He could hear the shock in her voice.

“Se mo kpe o ni girlfriend ni?”Mum asked Dad. 

“Her name is Larah.”Folarin said.

The tension eased as mum chuckled excitedly.

“Ha. Praise God o”, There was a smile in her tone, “Omolara.”

“Omolara mi,”Mum broke into a song about a girl called Omolara, she was pretty and had a good head. She’d make a beautiful bride one day.

“Well, not exactly. Her real name is Yu Yan…”

The singing ceased. Silence.

“You kini??” It was mum’s voice,“Real name bawo?”

Folarin cringed.

He continued,“Everyone calls her Larah…She said Yes. I proposed just last Sunday at the ice rink…So we are thinking about visiting in the spring.”

“Wait…” Dad's voice.

“You kini?”Mom.

A door opened and shut hard on a wooden frame.

“Has he told you guys about ‘Youuu’?”Gbemi’s cheerful voice said. She burst out laughing.

“Gbemi? You knew about this?”

“Ok—let’s be calm,” Folarin started,”She’s Chinese. She owns her own cupcake shop—”

A shrill cry vibrated through the speakers in his phone. Mom was crying.

“Ha! Aye mi!” She wailed. Gbemi laughed. Dad didn’t understand. He said this twice. They were talking over each other.

“She’s really the best person you’d ever meet, Mum, Dad.”

Gbemi squealed in delight.

“Shut up, Gbemi—”

Dad’s voice was stern,“Fola, I’m coming to New York next week. We must not rush—.”

Mum cut in, “Omolara ni mo kpe! Ha!”

Folarin skipped his breath. The second news was best served as soon as possible. 

“The lesser good news is that I am dropping out of my program. Medicine…isn’t for everyone,”He rushed, “Most importantly, I found what I love, Mum, Dad. I love dancing. I've never been happier. And it’s not just dancing. It’s Rumba. It’s a style of—”


“Baba Fola…mo daran.”

“It originates from Cuba—”Fola continued.

“Folarina, the ballerina toh bad.” Gbemi’s laugh rang out until she began to cough uncontrollably.

“Gbemi, so you knew…”Dad said.

“No o—”Gbemi had stopped laughing,”I didn’t know anything o.”

“You knew that he wants to become a dancer? And be selling cupcake and meat pie?” Mum wailed.

“Gbemi! Come back here!”, Dad’s voice thundered.

“It’s a dance from Cuba and…”Folarin’s voice struggled in the chaos. 

“My life is finished,” Mum yelled.

“So my son will not become doctor?”

“After I've told everyone in church that Folarin will be a neurosurgeon.”

“Aye mi, temi bami!” Mum screamed. She clapped three times and wailed again.

The chaos was palpable. Fola drew a deep breath and disconnected the call. He smiled at his reflection in the mirror outside the dance room, his hair slicked back, glistening with too much ecostyler gel. His sequined ballroom outfit glimmered in the light.  

That wasn't so bad. A successful conversation, really.

He pushed through the doors of the room into practice. It was time to Rumbaaa!

 The End 

Copyright ©2018 by IkeOluwapo Adegboye



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