Chapter 10 - GHOST FROM THE GRAVE
I didn’t forget to call my mother last night. We had a long chat on the phone on details of her upcoming 63rd birthday party. We didn’t have one for her when she was 50 which is a Golden Jubilee, but 63? I could not help but wonder why she decided to make a big deal out of it now.
“I don’t want my gala to have the same look as that Aremu’s own oh biko; my own has to be 200 percent better. After all, my own daughter owns the best events planning agency in the country, in fact in the whole of Africa.”
“Mom, your own daughter co-owns it please oh. Don’t get me in trouble with Kene before he sues me.”
I love the friendly banter between my mother and me. During those trying times in my life she used to call me every night to encourage me. Never once did she utter any harsh words to me, or make me feel like a disappointment; indeed there is no other love like the love of a mother.
“Ehen Nkem I have been meaning to speak to you about something important but I don’t know if I should go ahead with it over the phone. You know how busy you are, sometimes it’s very difficult to get a hold of you or even see your brake lights these days.”
“I can come over to the house this weekend or is it something more urgent?”
“No, just take your time my dear, tomorrow is always there.” She paused for a suspicious second and then went on to say, “It is about Lizzy’s father.”
For years it had been taboo to mention the name Obioma in my presence, so the new lingo to describe him was Lizzy’s father. I had not heard of or from him in years and I was hoping that that was not about to change.
“What about him?” I asked sharply.
“You don’t have to take that tone of voice with me young woman, don’t think I can’t still get my koboko out and whip you.” I could tell she was mildly annoyed.
“Sorry mom, I didn’t mean to disrespect you but I don’t want to have anything to do with that boy, and I don’t want to talk about him either.”
“That boy as you say is not a boy anymore. And are you doing this to protect yourself or do you honestly believe you’re doing it in the best interest of your daughter?”
I had never really thought about that question before. Lizzy is going to be 10 in November and she has a right to know who her father is. She asked me about it once when she was 7, but she never asked again. I never asked her if she wanted to know him, or considered how it was for her having to grow up without her father. Oh, I must be terrible at being a mother. I must be a selfish person.
Maybe it was time for me to put the past behind and forge ahead to a better future. I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to find Obioma if I really wanted to, but I was just scared to take the first step towards it. With all the social media available these days it is almost impossible not to find anyone.
My mother and I spoke for another few minutes going over details of the gala. After our conversation I stayed in deep thought considering what she had said to me and what I was going to do about it. I did not know how I was going to intrude on someone’s life to let them know they have a 10 years old child they never knew about! How was I to face his lovely mother who was nothing more than kind and generous towards me? What will I do if I told Obioma of his daughter and was met with rejection? Or worse what if he wanted sole custody of her?
I would never know the answer to any of those questions until I try something, but for now I just need to focus on planning my mom’s birthday gala and when that is over I can start on this finding-Obioma business. I immediately placed a call to my personal assistant Magdalene. She was basically my arms, eyes, ears, mouth etc. I came up with the plans but Maggi was the one who made sure they were executed perfectly. I had pulled all the stops for this party; after all it’s not every day I get to plan such an event for the most important woman in my life.
I thought more about my mom’s words as I drove to her house. I decided to just go and hear whatever she had to say sooner than later. The drive gave me time to also reminisce on my days after Lariba. I got into the US on a visitor’s visa but changed my status to student a month later after I had written my GED. Everything was done quickly and preparations had begun even before I left the shores of Lagos. My father did not want me being idle or making excuses to become a failure in life. I had to get a GED because I didn’t want to go to high school but I did not have a secondary school diploma or SAT to get into college. Community college was the next best option since it would not require me to take other exams in order to transition into a university.
My sisters were lower south in Texas at Texas A&M University in College Station. Even though they were in the country, my parents decided that I would stay with my aunt Ijeoma, my mom’s elder sister who lived in Maryland then. She is Mama Kay to everyone because her first son’s name is Kayode. She was a nurse at John’s Hopkins Hospital and she helped to nurse me all through my pregnancy. I owe so much of my success today to that woman.
Mama Kay was an extension of my own mother in America. She was there through all the morning sickness, weird food cravings, mood swings, and more weight gain. She was my personal cheerleader and therapist. When I told her about the stares I got at school with my swelling stomach she simply said, “How that one take concern their mama for house?”
The thought made me laugh as it did when she said it to me. Mama Kay always seemed to speak either Pigeon English or Igbo whenever I heard her talking which made me wonder what she spoke at a Hospital as prestigious as Johns Hopkins. She had a wild sense of humor and that also made me wonder how a woman who lost her husband in a tragic car accident so early in marriage managed to find any reason to laugh. She was pregnant with Kayode when her husband died and she never got married again.
I was just thinking about how good it would be to see my aunt and cousin again after so many years as I drove into my parent’s compound in Lekki. I stayed in touch with my aunt and cousin for years but now they were coming to Nigeria for my mom’s birthday gala. I was glad Mama Kay would be here just in case I need that extra support seeing as my mom had decided to start talking about that person whose name must not be mentioned again.
My dad’s Escalade was not in the compound meaning he was not home. He was probably out of town on another business trip. As I got out of my car I saw my mother’s figure stepping out of the front door. Another figure followed behind her but I couldn’t quite make out who it was. When I finally got out of the car and got a closer look at the two people approaching my hand bag fell out of my hand.
A chill ran down my spine and I froze. The world started spinning around me and I fell to my knees to prevent myself from falling on my face. I looked up again to make sure I was not imagining things but I wasn’t. I wished I was dreaming; I wished I was not being ambushed by my own mother. I did not realize I was crying until I saw my mother running towards me to put her hands around me. A ghost from my past just resurrected and I felt my world was about to crumble around me.
(To be continued)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Property of Pretty of Pot Of Africa.