Breaking the Silence: The End & A Beggining

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‘I’m not going to get into how you never see anything wrong with your actions, I’m not going to get into how much you’ve hurt me. But you have and try as I have I can’t get past it. This thing of ours is unlike anything I have ever known; it’s been two years and I can’t get used to it. I don’t want to be friends with you anymore; it hurts too much! Don’t ever contact me; if you do I will block you. Have a good evening.’

Adaeze edited and reread the text. It might not look like much but her heart was in those words. She really needed to pass the message to Chike that they were done for good.

A few hours later he responded. ‘Wow, many words! No worries, I will honor your request. If you want it like this so be it.’

**

Adaeze’s philosophy to breakups had always been; it’s not over until the ex tries to make a comeback and you refuse to go back, avoid Okafor’s law and all…. Then it really is over.

Adaeze tried to move on in spite of the pain of the broken dream and dashed hope. She threw herself into work, life; there was just something about living and not existing, especially when you are living on your own terms and not on the whims and caprices of another in the name of being ‘girl-friend’.

She could go out with her girls without having to check with Chike on convenience or if he would have preferred that they do something else.

The up-side to being in a relationship is it provides for companionship, the downside- is its restrictiveness. When you’re in a relationship you become a part of a pair (as it should be). The downside comes when the relationship is over. Then you find you don’t know who you are anymore. Everything reminds you of your ex; movies watched together, places visited together, you could just be in the middle of a conversation and you say a word that had double entendre and just like that you are back in pity party land.

Adaeze gave herself time to mourn her relationship. She knew she needed to heal. Beyond Chike she knew she needed to get rid of the daddy issues she had. This constant search for a father figure in her relationships needed to end lest she do herself in by settling for a crappy relationship or worse; a crappy marriage.

Linda was a rock through this trying times for Adaeze. Adaeze had always admired Linda’s relationship. Linda had been seeing Tayo Fayemi for about three years at the time and they were the classic ‘point of contact couple’. They rarely had any fights of note, got along famously, were so in sync, could finish off each other’s sentences, and were good old friends. They were getting married the next year. ‘Daeze was sure they were going to do the ‘I’m marrying my best friend’ lol! They were an inspiration and a heartache; the classic Yoruba and Ibo union, their relationship surviving against all odds. They were also a heartache, could drive a sister to envy! Lol!

Adaeze threw herself into helping Linda plan her upcoming wedding. Between work, church and the upcoming wedding, she was kept very busy. Too busy to think about a guy! Lol! At the time, the last thing she needed was a guy distracting her, she just wanted to be alone to ‘find’ herself.

It was a busy Saturday, she was backing out of Sofresh neighborhood market, a parfait in one hand, her phone wedged between her ear and shoulder, her handbag and a shopping bag in the other hand. She bumped into a warm body and spun around so very quickly almost spilling the contents of her cup on the person she bumped into.

“I’m so sorry!” She apologised. “Babes, lemme call you back.” She said into the phone and dropped both the shopping bag on the floor with her handbag on it. She retrieved her phone from her shoulder. “I’m sorry she apologised again. “Hope I didn’t stain you.” She examined his shirt, and well; got a good look at him. He was tall, but not so much; say 5’ 9”, dark and of average build. Adaeze took in the smile, sunglasses and the white ‘Yoruba demon’ attire (as she had come to think of the popular male traditional shirt and trousers) and her defenses rose.

“No you didn’t.” He replied, giving her an appreciative look.

Duh! She could see that for herself. His cocky attitude was putting her off already, she was immediately irritated. Besides, she knew she didn’t look her best, she had been shopping and running errands all day, was in a plain top and leggings, her hair was unmade and she wasn’t wearing any makeup. What was he appreciating?

“Sorry I bumped into you.” She bent to retrieve her hand and shopping bag. She made to walk around him.

“Not so fast beauty. My name is Mofe” He extended his hand in a handshake.

“Nice to meet you Mofe.” She replied with a plastic smile. She raised both hands in an indication that her hands were full.

He followed her out of Sofresh. “Where are you headed?” He asked walking with her.

She pointed to the waiting cab.

He walked with her to the car and extended his phone to her when she got in. “May I have your number?” He asked in perfect politeness.

She looked at him, her perfect smile in place, set to decline. And then she thought……… ’wharrevva

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Breaking the Silence: The Situationship 2

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If only he had left it at that. If only he hadn’t tried to push by asking if she will talk to him this time if he came to her house. For that was when she snapped!

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He first thought was to call him and rant. Second thought; send him a stinker. Pour out her anger and give him a piece of her mind. But then she reflected on who she was dealing with. Railing at Chike won’t make any difference. He was immune, numb as a matter of fact to criticism or suggestions for improvement. She decided to send him a message indicating irrevocably that she was done with whatever it was they were doing. This situationship (for lack of a better word) was over.

She tried to calm herself before sending the message. For if there was one thing she always said to herself it was to never act at a time when emotions are running high. So she called Linda. Linda was her bestest friend in the whole wide world! Lol! They had been neighbors, nursery, primary and Junior-secondary school classmates until Linda’s father got an out of station transfer while they were in SS1. They reunited in University, studied the same course, lived in the same hostel; were practically twins.

“Babe!” She greeted Linda when she answered her call.

“Hey love, how are you doing?” Linda replied drowsily.

“I’m good, but I can tell you’re better. You’re sleeping at this time.” Adaeze teased.

“What’s a girl to do nau? Been running myself ragged for two straight weeks, barely had a moment to breathe.” Linda yawned. “What’s up?”

“It’s Chike.”

Linda hissed into the phone.

“I know you’ve never been his fan but can you listen to me; unbiased?” Adaeze pleaded.

Linda sighed. “Ok darling. What had he done this time?”

Linda had never been a fan of Adaeze’s relationship with Chike and had only tolerated him for the sake of their friendship.

Adaeze poured out her pain to Linda, telling her of Chike’s recent exploits.

“It is well with you and Chike o!” Was Linda’s only response for a bit.

“Chike was the first person I called when I heard the news.” Adaeze went on near tears. “Was it too much to ask for him to just be there for me? Lin, step back am I asking for too much?” She got up off the bed and began pacing. “Maybe you are the wrong person to ask; being female and my friend. I should ask a guy. Because, I don’t get it! This is someone I’m supposed to be in a relationship with but has never been there for me; not once! But he sneezes and I run to his side immediately. And Lin, this isn’t me just praising myself; he has attested to that in an unguarded moment, his brother even said the same thing.

Did I put myself out too much, do I appear like I can carry the weight of the world open my shoulders?” Adaeze was actually sniffling at this point.

“Babes, calm down. You are working yourself up over nothing.” Linda said calmly.

“I am calm. In fact I’m done. I can’t keep doing this. I intend to formally break it off not the unofficial; drifting apart things and we will come back together again! Clean break!” She said affirmatively, wiping her tears.

“My dear; like I said you need to be calm and really think about this.”

“Babes, I’ve thought about it. Can I really continue like this?” Adaeze lay back on the bed face-up. She sighed deeply. “This thing of ours is fruitless o! It doesn’t have a future. Chike himself told me that although he denies it but he said it unconsciously. And you know; n’ibi ere, la ti moo to oro.” Adaeze said in Yoruba, meaning ‘a lot of truths slip out as jokes.’

Both ladies were silent for some seconds.

Linda broke the silence. “You know my problem with this conversation; one word or text from Chike and all your resolve is down in the gutters. Like I don’t know what it is about this guy; na jazz abi? Or is it the age thing? Are you just holding on to him cos you feel age isn’t on your side? This isn’t you Daeze, I can’t understand it. I mean; your exes will strongly testify that this isn’t you. Kilode? I refuse to believe this is love, like how can it be?” Linda asked heatedly. “He’s been trouble from the first moment but you kept on keeping on. You want to change him, are you the Holy Spirit?”

“I ask myself the same questions. I really don’t know what this is about, but I know I’m done.”

“You’re not done until he tries to come back and you stand your ground that you’re done.” Linda reminded her,

“I know. But this is it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes dear I’m sure. Can we talk later, mom needs me now.” She lied to get off the phone for she was very close to tears.

She ended the call and burst into tears. She bawled like a baby. She cried for what could have been, for the lost hope, time wasted, emotional investment and otherwise, for the uncertain future; she cried for all the pain of the moment. And when she was done crying; she composed the text.

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Breaking the Silence: And the News Came

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I’m not much of a sharer. I prefer to share my thoughts and imaginations on air, to strangers and friends.

A friend once told me I have a hyperactive imagination. Lol! I’m owning it. I do, so what? A lot of my experiences have been shared through my writing. Some truth, some fiction. You know what they say; truth is stranger than fiction.

I sometimes think my life is too boring. I always long for excitement. Matter of fact I can’t really explain my personality type. I’m the one who will be the first to get ready for an event, but 30 minutes into it; having seen everyone and smiled to jaw aching point, I’m ready to go home and cuddle with a soapy book or movie and a smoothie or tigernut milk. Lol. Soon as I have that, I’m looking for the next exciting outing; and the circle continues.

So here goes the Breaking the Silence series. A diary series of the twenty-something lady. I invite you to step into my imagination with me; I haven’t written in a long while and as such I’m rusty. Coupled with that some of this series will be written in the first person pronoun (which I have difficulty doing but as it is a diary series I have to try) except when Adaeze is narrating. I hope you like, I hope you enjoy, and as usual; lemme know what you think.

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We have a culture of silence, it’s ingrained in us. Just like our culture of respect for elders, fear for authority, there is also a culture of silence. We all want to keep up appearances, and when it’s not particularly about keeping up appearances, it’s about not showing our shame to the whole world. It’s that inate desire not to open ourselves to the world. We are all guilty of this. Lol, just writing this reminds me of a recent happening that involved my ten year old cousin. He had done something extremely incorrigible and my sister commented on the believability of it. She said; if I say this outside, nobody will believe me. And my response was; who asked you? How can you be answering questions not asked?

It might sound hilarious but it is very true of us. We don’t share, regardless of the fact that sharing may help someone. Or maybe it’s about the fact that everyone has their own issues; the person you’re sharing with has greater problems than you do. I overhead someone say; a lot of people’s current situation is such that if you come to them with a problem, by the time they share theirs you will end up trying to solve theirs first. But then; I think that’s the whole essence of sharing. The saying goes; a problem shared is a problem solved. Abi?

Another danger of not sharing is; if it’s an event that involves more than one person, the sharer controls the narrative. There’s this saying that the hunter will continue to triumph in the story of the hunter and the lion until the lion begins telling his own story. History has always been written by the victor because who writes history will always ensure he writes it such that he emerges the conqueror. So when we keep quiet, we allow others other than ourselves to control the narrative. This Adaeze found to be her predicament.

Adaeze was born into a family of four children; she had the privilege (or not) of being born as the spare, lol (for those who don’t know; the spare child is that child not occupying any particular ‘important’ position; there’s the first child- who doubles as the first son or daughter, then there’s the first son or daughter (opposite gender of the first child), then there’s the last child (lastborn). For the ‘royal or dynastic’ families, the second son can be referred to as the spare for the first son, but in Adaeze’s case; she was the third child in a family of four. She had an older brother and sister (Austin and Ngozi respectively), and she had a younger brother- Michael who was the last born. She was named Adaeze not because she was the ‘Ada’ i.e. first daughter in Igbo culture but because she was named after her father’s sister, whose name was Adaeze (Ngozi was named after her paternal grandmother).

Adaeze’s parents had been separated for as long as she could remember. Probably happened almost immediately after Michael’s birth. None of the children knew the cause of the breakup, and it was either all the adults around were not willing to tell what they knew or they truly didn’t know. All four children were raised by their mother who was a business woman petty trader.

Growing up was tough. It was obvious even to the blind that Mr. Chukwuemeka wasn’t supporting his family. He wasn’t catering for his children. It was Mrs. Chukwuemeka (she didn’t change her name because they were not legally divorced) who paid all the bills- rent, school fees, feeding, etc etc. Adaeze’s mom scrimped and saved and managed to put her children through school; ensuring they all had at least a first degree.

Adaeze and her siblings were raised in a home that was a kind-off church extension. Mommy was very involved in their church and the children grew with a love for and personal relationship with God which saw them also involved in the church.

 

**********

 

On that fateful Saturday morning, Adaeze had rolled out of bed thirty minutes earlier. She was an early riser and if she didn’t get to her chores before the sun was up, chances are those chores won’t get done that day. She was loading the washing machine when her mom’s phone rang. Her mom was in her room and had dropped her phone in Adaeze’s room. She picked the phone and went into her mom’s room.

Her natural curiosity had her looking at the phone screen before handing it to her mom. It was James, a cousin on her father’s side. James was the only one on the father’s side of the family who was very friendly with Adaeze’s family. The rest of the family was estranged from them as a result of the separation. As usual in such separation issues; it had to be the fault of the wife.

After taking the call, Adaeze’s mom called herself and her siblings and broke the news to them; their father was dead.

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A chance at love

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Hey dearies, how have you all been?

I trust you’ve been good. I’ve missed you all, missed writing been battling with some serious writer’s block. but last night, my laptop loved me.

I wrote this short story and just edited this morning. I hope you like, I hope you really like and spare some thought for Bisi as she goes through this difficult time. 

a chance at love, chinma eke's blog

 

‘…. It’s not you, it’s me.’ With those words he shattered her world.

We’ve all heard those words, jokes and memes have been made of those words, but you can never understand those words; their impact until they are said to you. That five letter sentence. Perhaps in analysis it might be that it isn’t quite a correct sentence. But none of that matters when those words are said to you; all that matters at that moment; is that those words signify the end of a journey for you.

Bisi had known Akin for a while, perhaps known off is the correct terminology. They had mutual friends, acquaintances, etc. they were even friendly, said hi pleasantly whenever their paths crossed. So, when on that day they met at his cousins wedding; they said hi, Bisi introduced him to her friend; Funke whom she attended the wedding with and tried to match make them.

A few days later she followed up with Funke to find out if they had been any progress with Akin. Funke said they had spoken a few times but she doesn’t get the vibes Akin was interested. Bisi followed up with Akin, extoling Funke’s virtues to the highest heavens. She and Akin got talking, got to know each other better.

It was on one of such follow up sessions Akin asked her why she was trying to push him to another when she could have him for herself.

Bisi couldn’t believe it; as much as she liked Akin (well, what was there not to like?) there was this little thing of a six months age difference.  Being that they ran in the same circles; everyone had an idea of how old the other was. It was an age difference that didn’t matter in friendship but could matter in a relationship especially if things got serious.

Akin’s question got Bisi thinking. What she knew of him, she liked and would have been content with just being friends if this seed hadn’t been planted. Akin pushed and Bisi who would hitherto have sworn she could never date a younger man began to consider it. history and society was littered with couples where the woman was older.

It was just six months which happened to fall on different years, and Akin had a good head on his shoulders; better than his elders Bisi had had the misfortune of dating. She reminded him of her age, and he didn’t seem to mind (or so she thought). For looking back now, she couldn’t remember his response if any. Perhaps she had just taken his silence for consent.

She thought it through; what were the implications of being with him? No more themed birthday parties; as much as we Nigerians attempt to form enlightenment you can’t have your birthday with your stated year and your husband have his the next year. She thought about the fact that they ran in the same circles and those in their circle knew each other’s age; were they going to be fodder for back talk and gossip? This also meant a future walking on shells. She couldn’t be too opinionated lest it be seen as she showing her age and treating him like a younger brother. Like this literarily meant she was going to have to be super extra submissive!

This also meant a lifetime of always being on her toes beauty and fashion wise. She would never be able to just chill and let nature take its course; like she couldn’t afford to let herself age naturally and she asked herself if she could keep up. Marriages with a much older husband still had husbands trading their wives in for a younger model not to think of one in which the wife was actually older.

However to Bisi, all this paled to the fact that she really liked Akin. Like really liked him, she wasn’t just needy because she wasn’t in a relationship at the time, she really liked him. She had gotten to know him and loved what she knew. Best of all, he didn’t mind (or so she thought), afterall he was the one coming for her.

Against her better judgement, against her sister’s advice she decided to give it a shot. Well; in hindsight, she had about three good months. Three months in which she fell deeper in love with Akin. She glowed, she raved about him, and everyone could tell she was in love. The pessimistic, non-emotional, commitment phobic Bisi actually saw a future with Akin. She told her friends, family and loved ones about him, wanted to show him off to the world, factored him into her plans; was willing to go the long haul; this was it, this was really it.

….. And then the end began.

Akin had always had a demanding job; she had one too so she could understand. It wasn’t the easiest task to get him on the phone; she had to call many times or leave a message and wait for him to get back to her. His reply time became more and more distant, he never initiated any call or contact anymore. She went through a really trying time and he wasn’t there for her, she even got more empathy from the random colleague and neighbor than from her boyfriend. Still she made excuses for him; he was busy. Little did she know that was the beginning of the end.

They limped along with her in ignorant bliss until he suddenly became incommunicado. She one day realised it appeared she was in a relationship with herself. She was literarily the one carrying the relationship and she asked herself; na so I like man reach? It wasn’t pride which stopped her from contacting him, neither was it self-respect. It was concern that if three months into a relationship she had to be the one doing all the running, what kind of future did that hold for them?

To test this she decided she won’t reach out to him, let him do a bit of the running. And just like that her fears were confirmed. She could see his prints on social media, he was ok, communicating with others, just not her. Four days on she broke and called him.

‘Are you ok, is there a problem?’ she asked.

He replied that he would call her back and they would talk as he couldn’t talk where he was.

He called her back four days later, late at night on her birthday. He forgot and had to be reminded by seeing the felicitations on her Facebook that evening.

Like every normal female she had raved about her birthday for weeks preceding that day, but her boyfriend forgot her birthday and had to be reminded on Facebook.

He apologised, but by then she already knew they were not ok. It was probably over. All she wanted was to know why.

He came to her office the next day with a cake, she joined him in his car and barely glanced at it as she mumbled a tense ‘thankyou’. She was very nervous, in the next moments she was going to hear the life changing verdict or reason if you please. But a verdict to her because it was obvious his mind was made up.

‘I know you’re angry with me.” Akin began. “I’ve been thinking, thinking a lot about us. About taking this relationship to the next level and I can’t get past this age thing. The fact that you’re older than me. Is it something we can get past or is it something that will become an issue later in life. If you notice I’ve been withdrawing for a while, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. And well, what do you think about it?’ He asked.

While he spoke, Bisi felt like the bottom of her world had dropped away. This was her deepest fear confirmed. Regardless of the question, it was obvious he had thought it true and felt there was no way forward; hence his withdrawal. She couldn’t speak. She felt like screaming out in pain. She tried to get a grip on herself; she couldn’t afford to break down in tears, she had to go back to work.

‘I have a question.’ She tried to speak through the pain. ‘You knew our ages before we began. If this was going to be an issue why did you bother beginning?’ She asked when she could speak.

For the life of her she can’t remember if he replied or what he replied. She just knew she had to get away.

‘I have to go back to work.’ She mumbled, opening the car door she fled into her office premises.

He called her on her mobile. ‘You forgot your cake.’ He said.

‘Thrash it.’

“Sorry?’

‘Thrash it!’ She repeated. ‘Just like you’ve thrashed our relationship, thrash it.’ She ended the call. The tears were now falling freely as she made her way to the nearest restroom. She spent the next hour weeping her heart out. She wept for her lost love. She wept for a lost dream, she wept for she had dared to dream.

She wept, for age is nothing but a number was the biggest lie of all.

 

XOXO

Chinma Eke

Miriam’s Tale – The Concluding Episode

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

Dear Miriam,

If you’re reading this, it means I’m dead, or I’ve finally summed up the courage to leave this letter where you can find it.

I have wronged you terribly Miriam, and I apologise for two wrongs can never make a right.

It started as a stupid joke some years ago; one of the guys had joked about men not knowing whose children they were raising, and just as a joke I took fibres of Daniel and Ada’s hair and had them tested with mine. Daniel’s returned negative. I had it retested; same result. I realise now, it was a stupid thing to do, and my actions thereafter were even more stupid. Rather than discuss it with you I volunteered to go for the Abuja project for five months and when I returned, Ifeoma was pregnant for me already.

I remembered that period, Ken had been behaving funny at the time, and upped and went to Abuja for a ‘project’ for a five month stretch.

Her parents insisted I marry her traditionally, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I don’t know what happened with Daniel, I’m not sure you do either, but he is my son, and I love him with every fibre of my being.

I am sorry for betraying you, for two wrongs never make a right, but I ask one thing. If you’ve ever loved me; I ask that Daniel remain my son, regardless of who his biological father is.

Also, I ask that you find it in your heart to accept Ifeoma’s children, for they are mine biologically.

I love you,

Kenechukwu.

 

That letter felt like Ken speaking to me from the other side. Lol. I smiled through my tears.

Here I was, waxing lyrical, thinking of the first line in the refrain of Adele’s ‘hello’ in the midst of my pain and heartbreak. I sat weeping silently as I considered the gravity of what I had just read. I hadn’t even allowed myself to consider what it would mean if Ken knew or even doubted Daniel’s paternity. Now I had proof that not only had Ken known about Daniel, he had even kept my secret!

I was touched beyond anything I could ever imagine. These past year, I had stayed hating Ken, while for years he had covered my indiscretion! It didn’t make him having another family right, but his act of discretion really touched me.

I was sitting and weeping when my phone rang; Emeka. I didn’t want to speak to him at that moment, but I also knew not taking his call was going to get him to come over.

I braced myself and took the call. “Hi Emeka, hope you got home ok?” I asked in a forced cheerful voice.

“Yes I did. How are you?” he replied.

“I’m ok, just tidying up.”

“Ok, how’s that going?”

“It’s going well.” I replied.

“Any skeletons you need help with shaking out of the cupboard?” He joked.

I laughed and he laughed with me. “No, I’ve got this. Thanks for offering.”

“You’re welcome. So I’ll leave you to your packing.”

“Aite, thanks again for a pleasant evening.”

“It was my pleasure.”

I ended the call wondering when my heart and mood had lightened.

I made an instant decision. Ken had asked one thing of me; that I never let out that Daniel wasn’t his biological son, and that wish I would keep God willing.

I began arranging the room, throwing out the things that needed to go. This was a new dawn, I really was free.

I felt lighter than I had ever felt since Ken’s death, my grief was over. I had loved Ken deeply and felt betrayed that he had had another family. But with the knowledge that he had known our son wasn’t his biologically and had kept my secret, I freely forgave him.

Unfortunately he had died young, I would give anything to have him here with me. Unfortunately he was dead and I had mourned him. Now it was time to live.

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Miriam’s tale E10

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Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

The shoe box held a lot of papers, something told me I wouldn’t like the contents of the box, but I had to go through it, so, with a resigned sigh I settled in on the floor to go through the papers.

Bank details and data; I had all that already, work documents, his last promotion letter; my jaw dropped at that one. Huh? Ken at his death was earning over 10million Naira per annum? What the …? And I remembered pleading with him for just 500 thousand Naira in the months before he died to set-up a small business, and he had rejected that on the grounds of ‘no money’. Hmmm! Anyways, factor in the fact that he had been running two parallel families, I guess that explains the ‘no money’.

Riffling through, I found more papers, Ken kept both the useful and inconsequential, or so it seemed to me. I found even a receipt for dinner at a restaurant; I would love to hear the gist behind that receipt being kept, it must have held some sentimental value for him to have kept it. I found an envelope at the bottom of the box, it was in an unaddressed envelope, and it wasn’t sealed, so no one can claim I trespassed. Neither did it have any conditions attached to its being opened, so I went right on to open the envelope.

It contained what looked to be Ken’s will, and it was recent; dated a year from his death.

The doorbell rang just as I was about to open it. Insistent ringing typical of Susan. Talk of wrong timing.

She knew I was home, and they was no way I could ignore her. The will wasn’t running away, right? I stuffed it back into the envelope and went to get the door.

“Susan!” I said by way of greeting on opening the door.

“Hello sister dearest, how you doing?´ She tried to do an imitation of Wendy Williams.

This made me smile despite my irritation with her dropping in unannounced. “I’m good, come on in.” I stood aside for her to come in.

“Duh, was there a chance you wouldn’t let me in.” She asked wryly.

“Yes, I wanted to ignore the bell, especially knowing it was you.”

“But I brought chicken!” She brandished a bag from a popular chicken restaurant. She knows I love their chicken. She came with a bribe, lol. What was Susan up to?

I sank into a chair and watched in amusement as Susan went from room to room opening doors and peeping in. she returned shortly.

“Miriam na wa for you o! So you shipped the kids off to our place so you can be all alone by yourself.”

“That’s tautology Susan, you need to mind your grammar.” I teased.

“Forget the grammar! You mean you’re all alone in this house, no guest? Haba sis, you can be boring.”

She collapsed into the chair beside me, opened the chicken pack took a piece and offered the pack to me.

I picked a piece of chicken and bit into it remaining silent. It infuriated her when I did that, patience wasn’t one of Susan’s strong points, but it was mine. Lol.

“Are you certain there’s no man in this apartment?” I teased her.

“Are you saying there’s a man in this apartment?” She countered.

I laughed out loud. “I was sorting out Ken’s stuff, come help me.” I decided to put her out of her misery. I got up and she followed me into the room.

“I’ve sorted out his clothes, I was sorting out his shoes when I found this box of papers.” She was my sister, and I knew I could trust her.

‘What’s on the papers? Any more skeletons creeping out of the closet?” She asked as she settled in opposite me.

“Not really, this one I haven’t read, but I have a suspicion it contains something explosive.” I waved the envelope in the air.

“Open it already!!!!” Susan urged excitedly.

And just as I was about to open it, the doorbell rang again.

Ahn ahn! “Who was that again?”

“Uhm, my guess is that’s Emeka.” Susan said uncomfortably.

“Emeka?”

“Yeah, well, I ran into him this morning, and he said he was going to visit you. Uhm, that was why I searched the house when I came in.” She looked uncomfortable.

This was distraction I didn’t need. Was Susan encouraging Emeka?

A part of me wanted to ignore the door, I didn’t want Emeka around me or my kids. While I wasn’t sure of Daniel’s paternity, I didn’t want to risk him coming around lest anybody see the similar feautures and suspect…… If Daniel was Emeka’s son, who would believe me when I tell them I didn’t know and only began to suspect recently?

Everyone would feel betrayed. Where do I begin? Do I tell Daniel the man he called father isn’t his biological father? Do I tell Ken’s parents Daniel isn’t their grandson?

How do I tell Emeka I gave his son to another man to father.

Who would believe I didn’t know or suspect? If I were on the other side would I believe me?

This whole thing was sordid business and had the ability to destroy lives. I couldn’t risk that happening.

“Aren’t you going to let him in?” Susan asked startling me out of my thoughts.

“I, I don’t want to.” I replied. “Susan, I don’t want to encourage him, I’m done with men.” I said wearily.

“Miriam you are still young, you cannot end your life because of one bad experience. Yes Ken betrayed you, but you have to move on. Not all men are the same.”

“What if I also betrayed Ken?” I whispered.

“What do you mean?” She asked sharply.

“It’s nothing. Go and get the door. I’ll finish up here later.” I replied composing myself.

“Miriam, you were about to say something….”

“It was nothing. Get the door.”

“Miriam…….”

“Go get the door Susan, mind your manners, and don’t keep a guest waiting at the door.” I put the unopened envelope in my bedside drawer to be read later at night, and tried to tidy-up the room. Susan hesitated for a bit before she went to get the door.

*****

I joined them in the living room a while later, Susan had offered him refreshments already.

“Hi Emeka, how are you doing?” I greeted him.

“I’m very well, and you?” He replied rising to his feet.

”Please have a seat, no need for formality in my house.” I said.

“Not formality, courtesy. When a lady walks into the room, it’s proper to rise in greeting.”

“Perfect gentleman.” Susan whispered aloud.”

I rolled my eyes inwardly. Susan had started again.

“I ran into Susan this morning on my way from my morning jog and I promised her I’ll come see you today.” He said as he returned to his seat.

I quirked my eyebrows at Susan. ‘Promised’ ? That wasn’t quite the way she told it.

“How nice of you.” I said instead.

“It’s not niceness, I enjoyed catching up with you at your parents. You know I’m still in the process of renewing friendships, been away for a while.”

“I can imagine.” I said dryly.

“It’s no hardship, and I love your kids. I don’t know how you manage to be away from them.” He smiled brightly.

Susan beamed when he said he loved my kids, and in my mind I said ‘whatever’. My kids were wonderful, who wouldn’t love them?

Yeah, I know, Overdose of mothers pride!

“So, what’s up, thought you said you were in town for a few weeks or so?”

“I decided I’m staying. I’m back for good.”

“Wow! Such good news” Susan said excitedly.

God help me get Susan out of my house right now!

“Good for you. I’m sure your parents are thrilled.”

“Yes they are. Let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about you. How are you spending your alone time, with the kids at your parents? Let’s hang out. You can show me all the interesting places to be.”

“I don’t know the interesting places to be.” I replied wryly.

“That’s not true. Remember that new mall you were just telling me about last week, the one with the cinema, that you hadn’t visited. You guys should go there.” Susan urged excitedly.

“I’m tired, been on my feet all day, I don’t want to go out.” I replied forcing a yawn.

“We could just go see a movie, minimal movement, you get to sit still for the duration of the movie.” Emeka urged.

“I don’t want to go out.” I insisted. “This is my alone time, I need to spend it resting, not battling traffic.”

“Its fine, we could work with that. Order in food, see a movie, gist, whatever you want. Or I could help you with the house chores. I have a spare set of hands, and I’m willing to work.”

‘Oh, she’s done already. You guys should order in pizza; Miriam likes pizza. And I have a movie on my flash I know she’ll love.” Susan replied.

I would gladly have stuffed her in a toilet at that moment. Lol.

“Okay, that’s settled then.” Emeka agreed.

“So, I’ll just start this up.” Susan said rummaging in her hand bag and emerging with a flash drive.

She connected it to the TV and selected the movie she wanted to play.

“I’ll order the pizza for you guys while I go see a client.” Susan said picking up her hand bag.

Sneaky little girl! She got him to come visit now she was leaving me alone with him.

“Thanks Susan.” Emeka said as Susan practically ran out of the door.

“You’re welcome darling. Pizza should be here in thirty minutes.” She replied from the door.

“Thanks for nothing.” I said under my breath.

“Pardon?” Emeka asked.

“Oh nothing.” I replied airily. “I hope you like chickflicks, because this is one.” I said to him focusing my attention on the movie on the screen.

“Oh, I’m versatile.” He replied with a smile.

I replied with a smile of my own. My phone beeped. Message from Susan.

Pizza ordered. Enjoy the afternoon.’

I quickly typed; ‘thanks for nothing

‘Lol’ She replied. ‘We’ll pick up that discussion on the Ken betrayal later, meanwhile, ENJOY your afternoon.’

 

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Miriam’s Tale E9

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……Emeka was having a conversation with Daniel. I got to the living room door and stopped short in shock.

I was plunged into that day many years ago. Emeka had returned to Nigeria for a brief vacation and I had greeted him with the news that I had a new boyfriend; Kenechukwu. He had been disappointed for when he was leaving for school we had childishly promised to wait for each other.  We had argued, then he had tried to convince me, and …….. Oh my God! It couldn’t be……

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

I did a mental comparison; the fair skin, the dark hair, slight dimple, ….. Oh my God! No! It couldn’t be. There must be another explanation for this. Ken had been light chocolate in complexion, and his mother was very fair. So, I hadn’t given a thought to it, but….. No! My mind must be playing games on me. This was like a mirage sighting on dry land. He looked up and caught and held my gaze. I snapped out of my reverie and smiled brightly at him, my smile masking all the tension and apprehension in my mind.

He returned my smile and got up slowly. “Hi Miriam, good to see you.”

“Same here Emeka. How are you?” I moved into the room. Daniel turned around and smiled at me, I smiled back. My smile concealing my inner turmoil.

“Where’s Ada?” I asked Daniel.

“She’s in grandma’s room, they are putting on make-up.” He made a gross face and I laughed genuinely. Daniel and Ada were typical boy and girl. While Dan liked all things masculine; sports, clothing, girls, etc, Ada liked all things feminine; from make-up, to clothes, to shoes. Lol! I had my work cut-out for me in the future.

Ada’s location worked perfectly for me, I needed Daniel out of the living room, I didn’t want anyone looking closely at he and Emeka and drawing undue conclusions.

“Go and stay with them and ensure she doesn’t stress grandma.” I said to him.

In my minds eyes, I saw those memes of African parents sending their kids on unnecessary errands to get rid of them. Lol, this was me now.

He went grudgingly. Bless his soul, Daniel was such a sweet child, very obedient and sensitive to my needs.

“The young man and I were just bonding. He’s a good boy, you did a fine job.” Emeka said after Daniel had left the living room.

“Thank you.” I replied sitting down in the sofa nearest to me. “So, what’s up, are you back for a holiday or finally?”

“I’m back for good. I’ve been feeling homesick, and I got a fantastic offer and I’m back!”

“That’s nice. I hope you don’t find this rude, I know you’ve told me what you do, but, I’ve forgotten.” I grimaced in apology.

“No worries. I’m a software programmer.”

“Oh, ok. Yes, rings a bell. Don’t mind me; old age.” I joked

He laughed out loud. “I remember your sense of humour.” He mused.

Susan chose that time to come into the living room. She practically snuck in as though hoping to catch us doing something sneaky, lol. No chance of that happening.

“Hi Emeka, can I get you refreshment? What would you have?” She said.

“I’m good, thanks.” He replied.

“Apologies, where’s my manners. We should get you a drink.” I joined her in persuading him.

“Ok.” He acquiesced.

“What would you like? We have soda, malt and some beer.” Susan offered.

“Soda is fine.”

“One soda coming up.” She flounced off, like really flounced off. Susan was such a drama queen, her theatrics knew no limits.

My dad joined us in the living room, and I left him and Emeka to gist manly stuff while I want in to conclude on the cooking before Susan gets experimental and something goes wrong. Not that it’s ever happened but there’s always a first time, and I didn’t want to have to deal with the kids having running stomachs, not to mention that we had a guest.

He left soon after the meal, and I dragged my family home, it had been a good visit, it was nice to see Emeka again, albeit unsettling but I refused to think about it. I promised the kids they could go over for the weekend at my parents soon and they were overjoyed. I was also happy about the visit. Them out of the house meant I could rest more, sleep a few more hours in the morning without them bouncing all over me. Other parents had difficulty waking their kids in the morning, I had my kids jumping over me at the crack of dawn. Lol.

Emeka tried to re-establish the friendship between us, but I refused. I wasn’t comfortable being around him. I didn’t want any funny issues to arise. Besides, I hadn’t processed the possibility of ‘that thought’. I was a fresh ‘widow’, wasn’t looking for a relationship, I wasn’t even sure I wanted a new relationship. Being single had its perks, I didn’t want to have to start again, begin dating again, yuck! I was past all that, to old, and I have baggage. I have kids. Anyways, not thinking about that. How can I be thinking about dating when I have bills to pay? Kids to cater for? Ah! No time.

It had been over a year since Ken died. The weekend the kids went to my parents, I seized the opportunity to clean out my room (more like cleaning out Ken’s stuff). It was a bittersweet cleansing ritual for me, I hadn’t removed or gone through any of Ken’s stuff since he passed. Couldn’t bring myself to then; too emotional.

I was down to his shoe boxes, Ken had a thing for shoes, and he had quite a lot of them. I opened each of them, mentally tallying up a list of people to gift them with when I found one that didn’t have any shoes in it, but held a lot of papers…….

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Miriam’s Tale E7

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Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

What was discussed outside, I didn’t know and didn’t care. I was too relieved to have my children back. I busied myself with preparing them for bed, there were sleeping with me that night. I had asked Amaka to see to my mother-in-law and step-children, while my mother made dinner should anyone want some.

The kids were exhausted and promptly fell asleep. I joined the adults in the living room, they were mid-discussion. I came in when my father was telling them they had to leave the next day, that I was just managing to make ends meet and it would be unfair of my in-laws to burden me with their presence. I wanted to scream I wanted them gone immediately, but I was too tired to say anything. My parents left shortly after that and we all went to sleep.

***

The next day I called my boss and told her I was going to be slightly late. I made sure I drove them to the buspark. I paid their fare and waved them off, ensuring they were no last minute hitches that might necessitate them going back to my house. With a relieved sigh I went back to work. Hopefully by the time I returned home my life would be back to normal. Or the normal I had been plunged into since Ken’s death a year ago.

**********

“Guess who I just ran into?” My sister Susan squealed into the phone. I had to move the phone away from my ear because she was so loud.

“I don’t know.” I replied dryly. I had just forced Daniel and Ada to have a siesta and I wanted to follow suit.

“Guess.” She prompted.

“No Susan, I can’t. I’m tired, your nephew and niece have been running me ragged all day!” it was a Saturday, and the kids hadn’t given me a moment of peace all day.

She laughed. “How are my darlings?” She asked fondly.

“Terrorizing their mother! I almost feel sorry for Amaka if this is what she has to contend with every day.”

She laughed again and I yawned. I was tired out. Doing chores with over-energetic children underfoot was extremely tiring.

“Anyways, guess who I ran into today?”

“Tell me.”

“Emeka!”

“Emeka who?”  I racked my brain for any Emeka I knew and came up empty.

“Emeka your secondary school sweetheart!”

Huh! Who was she talking about? Emeka…. Oh! Emeka! My first boyfriend, I remembered him. He had left for the States to further his studies immediately after secondary school to further his education; he hadn’t been back in the country since then as far as I knew. “Oh, you saw him where?”

“At his parents, he’s back in town.” His parents and mine were neighbors.

“Oh, how nice.”

She chuckled. “He recognized me immediately, well, I did too and he asked of you.”

“That’s natural.” Emeka and I dated in Secondary school, we were also neighbors so it was natural that he ask of me.

‘He’s so fine!” Susan went on as though I hadn’t spoken.

I rolled my eyes despite we were on the phone and she couldn’t see me. Everyone was ‘so fine’ for Susan.

“Anyways, I gave him your number.”

“I’m sure.” I mumbled dryly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Susan had also brought him up to speed on the happenings since he’d left town.

‘…And he said he’ll call you. So I just thought to give you a heads-up.”

“You’re so kind.” I replied sarcastically.

“Lol sis! Stop being such a fuddy-duddy, you’re just twenty-nine!”

Where was she going with this? “What does that have to do with anything?” I asked her.

“You sound older and older every time I speak with you. Lighten-up! Ever since….”

I knew what she had been about to say. “Yeah, ever since Ken died, I’ve changed, I know. Susan, Ken’s death opened up my eyes, opened me to reality, you and I know all the truths that have been unraveled with his death, and who knows what else is out there that I’m not yet aware of, so, excuse me if I’m a lot less excited than I was!”

That was a rant, a full blown rant, but I just felt like I needed to let off steam.

“Yeah sis, I know. But I want you to be happy, to live again. I feel your pain, but joining you in the doldrums won’t help you. So, I remain your entertainment. I have a date, which I need to prepare for; I just wanted to tell you Emeka will be calling you, so you aren’t caught unawares.”

“You have a date, who with?”

“Nobert ofcourse!”

“Really Susan, I’m impressed, you’ve been going with Nobert for a while now.” I teased. Susan had short attention span with guys, with most everything except fashion and cosmetics, that’s why she was a successful freelance makeup artist and fashion stylist.

“I like him, I really do.” She giggled.

“Oh my stars! Is my sister in love?” I teased.

She giggled some more. “No Miriam, not yet. I like him a lot but we aren’t there yet.” She said seriously.

“Early days.”

“Yeah, early days. So, I’ve got to run, we’re hanging out with his friends, and I want to look my best.”

“I trust you to knock them out.”

“Later sis. Love you. Give the kids my love.”

“Have fun.” I lay back on the bed and attempted to sleep.

I loved Susan to the heavens and beyond. She was so free-spirited; she brought sunshine into a room by stepping into it. My parents had her when I was seven, according to my mom, she and dad had agreed on two kids, my brother and I and had actually closed the birthing door when Susan happened.

Susan had been such a delightful child we all had spoilt her silly, she was a good selfless person, and very talented too. I doubt there was an art she couldn’t master.

My ringing phone startled me out of my reverie, an unregistered number. I knew instinctively it was Emeka. This was confirmed when I answered the call and heard a familiar male voice say; “Hello

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Miriam’s Tale E6

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Hello darlings, how have you all been? I apologise for not posting on Wednesday, work as a little extra busy. Here’s this week’s post, hope you enjoy, and do let me know what you think by leaving  a comment.

Also, don’t be stingy, don’t forget to share. Share with your friends and loved ones, and share on your social media timelines.

XOXO

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

The next day dawned bright, when I was ready for work, mama and the kids weren’t ready yet. I explained to her that she needed to hurry so I could drop them off at the park on my way to work. She said I should go ahead, that Jude was going to come by to take them to the park.

That made me uneasy, although I couldn’t pinpoint the reason for this unease. I tried convincing her that if they didn’t get to the park on time all the good buses will be gone; she insisted she wanted to wait for Jude. I left for work, leaving Amaka instructions not to forget to take the kids for their summer class in time.

When I got to work, I tried Amaka’s mobile, it didn’t go through, the usual Nigerian network error. I thought nothing of it; every Nigerian knows we experience network challenges often.

I returned from work the next day to a veerryy silent house. I had gotten some ice-cream for the kids because I knew they will be missing ‘the guests’ already. I refused to call them siblings; I just refused to process the thought.  Amaka opened the door even before I rang the bell, and I could tell she was worried.

“Welcome aunty.” She greeted me taking my bags.

“Thanks Amaka, how are you?”

“I’m fine aunty.” She led the way into the house.

“Where are the kids?” I asked. The house was too tidy and quite, very unusual.

“Aunty.” She dropped the bags on the dining table. “Uncle Jude came this morning and took everybody out, they are not back yet.” She blurted out wringing he hands.

My head spun. As in I could actually see white dots in front of me. What was Amaka telling me? That my brother-in-law came over since morning and took everyone out including my kids and they weren’t back yet? “How?” Was all I was able to utter, I began to panic. How could Amaka have let my kids be taken out without my permission? ‘He took my children to Abuja and you let him? Why didn’t you call me?” I screamed.

“No ma, he said he was taking them to the beach, not Abuja.” She replied fearfully.

“So their things are still here?”

“Yes aunty.”

I ran into the bedroom to confirm this, and truly, their stuff was all there. Still, the beach? Jude took my kids to the beach without informing me? It was past 7pm and they weren’t back yet. I ran back into the living room and got my mobile phone out of my handbag, I dialed my mother-in-law’s number, it rang though without her picking it.  I tried Jude’s number, he didn’t pick as well. My panic intensified.

I called my mom, my dad had been sickly of recent and I didn’t want to alarm him. My younger sister: Susan answered my mom’s phone and I poured out the whole story to her, sobbing through the tale. While we were on the phone I heard my mom ask her who was on the phone and she told her the story. I heard my mom say immediately that they were on their way. I was so scared, I didn’t know what to think. What if something bad had happened to them? Why hadn’t they returned? What if my mother and brother-in-law had kidnapped my children? Those children were my life, I couldn’t survive it should anything happen to them. I turned on Amaka who was standing silently in a corner.

‘Why didn’t you call me? Immediately he said he wanted to take the kids out you should have called me for permission. And to make matters worse you didn’t go with them? Haba Amaka? When I lefe for work this morning I told you there were going back to Abuja, that Jude was coming to take them to the park. So I leave for work and Jude comes and gives counter instructions and you obey his instructions. Why?” I scolded her through my tears.

This was so unlike Amaka, she had been with me for years and was usually very dependable, I totally trusted her with my kids. Why had she let this happen?

She began to cry and I got up and began to pace.  I tried Jude’s number again, he answered on the second ring. “Where are my children?” I asked without preamble.

“Relax sis, we’re on our way back.” He replied.

I struggled for calm. “Give Daniel the phone.” I demanded.

“Hello, mommy” I heard Daniel’s voice a moment later and I could have wept for joy. He sounded both excited and tired.

“Daniel how are you?”

“I’m fine mommy, we went to the beach.”

“That’s nice, Amaka told me. How is Ada?”

“She’s fine mommy, she’s sleeping.” He replied.

The poor child must be exhausted. “Okay love. How close are you, do you know where you are?” I hoped they were in the neighborhood.

I heard him asking his uncle where they were.

“Uncle Jude said we’ll soon be home.” He replied a moment later.

“Okay dear, see you soon. I love you.”

‘I love you too mom.”

Immediately I ended the call the doorbell rang. Amaka opened the door and let in my parents and my younger sister.

“Have you been able to reach them?” Susan asked.

“Yes, Jude finally answered his call. He said they are on their way back.

“Where are they, how far away are they?” My father barked.

“Daddy I don’t know, but I spoke with Daniel.”

He sat down, obviously very upset. This was why I didn’t want to tell him, I didn’t want to cause him any distress.

My mom went to the kitchen and got him a glass of water, which he sipped with a quiet thank you. She sat beside him and they held hands.

Watching my parents brought tears to my eyes. This was what I wanted, being so in-tune with your spouse that no words were needed to communicate. That was the kind of marriage I wanted, the kind I thought I had until Ken died and his death exposed what a fraud he had been. My parents had been married for over thirty years and still going strong. We hadn’t heard of any parallel family or love child. Ken hadn’t even gone two years with me before he started another family.

The doorbell rang a while later and I sprang up. I ran to the door and yanked it open. I was both surprised and disappointed to see my elder brother and his wife. Apparently, Susan had called them on their way over

I let them in and relayed the status update to them, and they joined us in waiting.

The next time the doorbell rang, my brother sprang up at the same time as I did. He asked me to stay back and let him get the door.

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Miriam’s Tale E5

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You know how it’s said; that the darkest part of the night signals the breaking of the dawn, or something like that. That was my story, Ijeoma’s goods was taking forever to arrive, I was fast running out of money with no hope in sight. Just when things had gotten so very bad, the dawn broke.

One day, I got the usual job alert emails from all the job boards I had subscribed on, it was the position of an admin officer in an FMCG. I applied, and wonders of wonders, they called me in for an interview, and offered me the job on the spot!

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

It wasn’t much, but it was something. My first job. I couldn’t believe it, I had gotten my first job!

What made me even happier was that I had gotten the job on my own merit. Without having to know anybody, which y’all will agree with me was fast becoming a rarity in our world today.

So, because I didn’t have a previous job which I needed to give notice at, I resumed almost immediately. It was exciting for me. New job, having to see new faces, interact with adults all day, lol (my day had been occupied with Daniel and Ada, I was so happy to rejoin the ‘grown-up’ world.

The day I resumed at work, Daniel and Ada were as excited as I was, if not more excited. Lovely kids, God bless them. My kids were a delight, my rock through the recent storm. Daniel was my checklist, he reminded me of every single detail I needed to have covered. Ada was just happily cooing. She could easily tell by her expressions whether she was pleased with a thing or not, and I could tell she was pleased. I left for work at the same time they left for school, their school bus drove off just before I did. Thank God for Ken’s car, that afforded me mobility.

In no time, I was settled into my job. It came with good benefits. I was starting at the bottom but I didn’t let that deter me, I was going to do my best, make myself indispensable, lol.

Ijeoma’s goods finally came in. She had some good stuff and thankfully, I now had a wider range of clients, I sold the goods, and got her money back to her. Things were truly looking up such that by the time our house rent was due, I almost had it all saved up.

***********

The long holiday came around, and my mother-in-law said she wanted to visit. She said she missed us (read the kids). Ofcourse I was uncomfortable with this visit. My mother-in-law was ok, on the mother-monster-in-law scale, lol, but……..

Firstly; my kids and I were just ‘managing’; it was just us and our maid; Amaka. We could eat anything, ‘go without’ as needed, but if she came over we would need to cater for her specially a-la-mother-in-law style. Also, thank God my job was on the mainland, so I got to come home earlier than most working class people, but I was conscious of the fact that the kids spent some time alone with our maid, I didn’t want her coming over and criticizing my parenting style or standard of living. And finally, when she was leaving, won’t I be required to at least pay for their transport if not give them some extra money. Money which I didn’t have, I was just managing to get by and didn’t need any additional burdens.

On the flip side; maybe she should come. She should come and see our current standard of living; some of it was thanks to her son. Him dying on us, and having to share his entitlements with his second family. Anyways; she should come. If she doesn’t like our standard of living, up to her. Besides, my family was in support of her visit. My mom said it won’t do to severe the bond between the families

She came. My mother-in-law came to visit us with two kids in tow. A boy and girl. And one look at them and I knew they were Ken’s from the other Lady.

How could she? Like really, how could she? What was the point? Bringing those kids to my house? They got to my house before I did, I got home to see all four kids playing in the living room. My kids; God bless them, welcomed them innocently without knowing who they were. Really if they did, what difference would it make?

“What’s the meaning of this?” I asked my mother-in-law without preamble. I had smiled at the kids, not betraying my boiling anger; but no; dearest mother-in-law, the architect of this whole mess wasn’t going to escape my anger.

“Miriam, my dear, you see, I thought….”

“You thought what?” I interrupted her ramblings. I tried to control myself. Tried to do the deep breathing thingy. Like seriously why would this woman tempt me like this?

“For the sake of Kenechukwu. Kenechukwu of blessed memory. Biko nwam, for the sake of the children. ” Her voice broke.

Who cares, she shouldn’t come with any theatrics. She lost a son, I lost a husband! Gini? She wasn’t getting out of this one with tears o. I waited for her to continue, she had to explain herself, and I doubt if there was anything she could say to make this acceptable.

“It will be good for them to know each other. They are one blood.” She clasped her hands together to show oneness. “Their father is gone, I don’t want them growing up not knowing each other, and perhaps growing to be enemies. It is for your own good. Let them spend a week here, bond as children, without any cares in the world. Look at them.” She opened the door a crack. Playing together. Blood is thicker than water. Biko nwam Let us help them bond now that they are young and innocent, so we won’t have problems of them growing to dislike each other in future. Biko.” She made to kneel.

I pulled her up and began pacing. How does this whole thing make sense to her? Where was she when Ken took the other lady for a wife? Ken had set-up a new family without my knowledge under the guise of visiting them and they hadn’t raised eyebrows. When Ken had been alive they were content for both families to be apart, now he was gone and they suddenly wanted a united family. No, they could spare me all that. I wasn’t interested.

“Mama,” I said slowly. “The respect I have for you, is what’s keeping me from asking you to leave my house tonight. But tomorrow is soon enough. First thing in the morning, you and those children are leaving my house.” I walked out on her and left her gazing open-mouthed at me.

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