Watching someone you love slowly lose grasp on life is like being forced to watch while your heart is being slashed open with a sharp razor blade. Mami was gradually losing her memory despite the drugs and treatment she was on. The drugs kept her sedated most of the time but it gave her eyes a certain glassy look, sometimes it brings her so close to the edge of reality and within the blink of an eye it snatches her right back into that dark place where all is lost to her. I adjusted her pillow and settled back in my chair, she looked so young and peaceful asleep. My phone vibrated in the pocket of the green jacket I wore, I slipped it out and pressed the connect button.
” Hi Arianna I said.
” Hi Mabel, how’ r you?”
” I’ m alright, how about you?”
” I am fine too and Jack sends his love,” She replied.
” Say me hi to him.”
” Sure will. Listen Mabel, something weird is going on at your house.” She said.
I rubbed my templed with my fore finger. ” What’s that?” She was a bit of a talkative so I knew her chatter was bound to give me an headache.
” I don’t know but it……it seems so weird. I ran into Tricia at the mall.” She said.
“Tricia?” I asked, trying to place a face to the name.
” Yea, Tricia from college. Remember she also moved back to Ghana two years ago?”She asked.
” Alright, what about her?” I replied, remembering the cute pretty girl who kept to herself althrough college although we grew up in the same neighborhood.
” Her son is in Serwa’ s class.She said some lady was at Serwa’s recital and the lady claimed to be her mother! I asked her to describe this impersonator and it turns out to be Funmi!”She exclaimed.” Funmi, claimed to be Serwa’s mother! Imagine that!”
I sighed in relieve.” It’s quiet normal, Nigerians are fond of that, they call their wards their child.Tade once told me that even in some schools in Nigeria the students refer to their teachers as mummy and daddy.” I explained.
” Oh really?” She said in surprise, ” Rose also mentioned that Funmi has been driving your car and that her looks has altered. She no longer dresses decent and she even braid her hair”
” You and I know Rose never liked Funmi. How’s Ghana?” I asked to change the topic. She had actually succeeded in giving me that headache I was avoiding.
” Ghana is bubbling as usual. We all miss you,”
” I miss you guys too, later babe”
” Laters” she said and disconnected.
I was about shuffling the phone back into my pocket when the ring tone went off again. A smile registered on my face when I saw the caller I’d.
” Hello baby, ” I said, smiling.
” Mabel,” Tade said.
” What’s wrong dear?” I asked, he sounded tired.
“When are you coming back?” He asked.
“Oh dear. You know I can’t abandon my mother”
” She’s surrounded by doctors and nurses. Your father is also with her, she will hardly miss your presence.” He said.
” My mother has Alzheimer. Sometimes she doesn’t even know who she is and it scares her. I don’t want her to completely forget my face.” I said, wishing I could make him understand how important it was to me that I should stand by her when she needed me the most.
” I am not asking you to abandon her. Bell, you have been gone for almost three weeks now. You should come home for few days, before going back. Serwa misses you a lot” he said.
” Is Funmi not taking good care of her?” I asked, remembering what Arianna mentioned about her looks.
” Funmi is not her mother!” He shouted.
” Why are you being so difficult about this? it is low of you to use Serwa to try to get me to come back! I will be back at my own convenient time!” I said, ” You think I don’t know?” I asked, suddenly angry at his childishness.
“Know what?” He queried.
“That you want me back because of s-x! does my mother mean so little to you?” I couldn’t believe how selfish he was. He was only thinking of himself when my mother should be our first priority.
“Really?” He asked, ” You think that’s the only reason I want you back? s-x? right now you are acting like an overgrown baby.” He said, ” how could you leave your home in the care of another woman? One who is not even a relative!”
“You are the one acting like a baby!” I said, ” I have been gone less than three weeks! is that too long?” I yanked the phone off my ear and pressed the end call button.
” Mabel,” My father walked in.
” I overheard your conversation. You are going about this the wrong way.” He said, ” Three weeks is actually enough time for a home or marriage to break up. You have a young child and your husband is not made of stone, you know. You could have gone back to Ghana for some days and return back here. Your mother is in good hands, she has all the care she needs. You are in no way helping her regain her memory, you are not a doctor neither are you her nursemaid”
” I am her daughter! What is wrong with me being with my sick mother?” I asked, wondering why nobody got my point.
” Everything is wrong when it is to the detriment of your own home and family. The problem is as our only child, your mother and I have over indulged you. Life is not the way you think it is.”
“Are you saying Tade will cheat on me?” I asked, remembering Arianna’s words again.
“I said no such thing but a word is enough for the wise. Pick up your bag and go back to Ghana. I have decided to stay here in America for a while. Please go back home Mabel, Tade and Serwa are your family now and your home is with them.”
I felt tears brimming in my eyes as I suddenly had the feeling that somehow I had lost the right to be in the nest and I was being told that it was time I make my own nest. Daddy pulled me into his arms.
” Mabel, you have a home with us” he said, as if he could read my thoughts. ” but Tade and Serwa comes first before us now,”
” Oh daddy, will Mami be alright? won’t she mind terribly that I wasn’t with her?”
” Your mother always understands” he said.”Your family also needs you in Ghana.”
“We are home,” Tade said, nugging me awake.
“Sorry, I slept off.” I said.
“It’s OK.” He said.
We both got of the car and he unbuckled Serwa’s seat belt and lifted her sleeping form into his arms. Tade had been in a dour mood since noon, Serwa had tried her best to cajole him into playing with her but he remained unmoved. We had gone to a children’s park to have a picnic, he had sat on a bench observing as I chased after his daughter. I wondered what had put him such bad mood but he was still my boss and I didn’t want to pry. Tade’s ringtone sounded as I was hoisting out our picnic basket from the car.
” Funmi, please get my phone.” He said, walking into the house.
I picked up the phone. Mabel was the caller. I pressed the end call button and disconnected it. Her call came in again and I ended the call before clicking on the airplane sign on the left side of the phone’s screen. The phone was then on flight mood. I dropped the phone on the passenger seat before locking the car. I walked into the house and I took the basket into the kitchen.
Tade walked in, opened the fridge and took out a bottle of wine. He gulped down three glasses before I realized what he was doing. I yanked the glass from him, before snatching the bottle of wine off the table. I emptied the content of the glass into the sink before returning the bottle of wine to the fridge.
He walked out of the kitchen without a word. My heart was pounding fiercely in my ears.I felt tension seeping between my shoulder blades.I don’t know why I suddenly felt this way. Anxiety or fear? I couldn’t tell. I tidied up the kitchen and walked back into the living room. The room was pitch black so I thought Tade turned out the lights before going to bed. I was heading towards the staircase when I heard my name and I turned around, surprised to see him sitting so still.
I walked to him and sat down. ” What’s going on?”
“When I was a little boy,the sound of my mother’s cry wakes me up every night. Sometimes I could hear her calling out my name as my father slam her hard against the wall. I would lay so quiet, pretending to be asleep under the duvet with both of my hands over my ears. I don’t know why mother called out my name each time the beating started. Worse still I didn’t know why she stayed with him and bore it all but now I do”
” Why?” I asked, imagining the slender Mrs. Afolabi enduring such pain.
” She bore the pains for me. My father threatened to disown me. She knew he made no idle threat so she stayed with him and endured the beating until the day his mangled body was delivered to us. He had crashed his car into a trailer on his way back from work one evening. All I could think of was, we were free. Nobody knew how he punched three pregnancies out of her, nobody knew she almost bled to death and the only help she had was her seven_ year old son. As I was moping up the blood, my mother kept crying and she repeatedly said, “Tade, that would have been your little brother or sister but daddy killed it”
I placed my hand on his arm. “You are hurting yourself, please stop”
“I hated my father but I hated myself more. I hated that I came out of him. I never wanted to be like him, I vowed never to lay my hand on my wife or any female. My grandfather abused my grandmother to death and it was said that his father before him also beat his wife. My mother watched me with an eagle eye, as a child even if I blinked an eye she considered it a suspicious move that I would also turn out to be a wife beater someday so she made me see so many shrinks. I treat ladies with outmost care and somehow I managed to convince myself that if I was very calm and quiet I will never turn out as my father.” He said, ” When I started dating, I let my girlfriends call the shots, I accepted whatever they told me and I never argued back because I was afraid I might awaken that monster in me.”
” Tade….” I began.
” I always let Mabel have her way, I treat my daughter with care and I give her so much attention. So many times I let Mabel take the reins but while I was scared of becoming like my father I have become someone even I don’t recognize.I have become someone who I detest more than what my father was. I can’t talk to my wife, because she’s now the head of the home. At work, my female colleagues tread on me and I let them get away with it. I hate myself”
” It is not your fault Tade. You are a good man, people will do you harm even when you have done them good. People will walk all over you and take you for granted even if you lay the world at their feet. I love you Tade,” The words flew out of my mouth before I could take it back.
He looked at me. His eyes searching my face, ” I can’t love you back. Am in love with my wife,”
I nodded my head. What was I expecting? I knew it was foolish of me to have feelings for him but will my stupid confused heart ever listen? I made to stand up but he pulled me back.
” It’s my fault… ” He started.
” No…” I protested.
Our lips met. I don’t know if I was the one who made the first move or if he was the one. His hands pulled me closer into himself and he deepened the kiss.
” Funmi, please push me away” He said hoarsely, still kissing me. His hands found my b—–s and he fondled them gently, this thumb grazing my ni.pples through my blouse. He pulled the blouse over my head and it caught on my braid. His hand deftly separated the errant braid from my blouse.
” Tade…” I whispered, pushing back his roving hand. I was suddenly scared although I could feel the wet moisture in between my legs.”P..please stop”
He unhooked my bra and he wrapped his tongue around my tender n—–e. I tried to push his head away, I was suddenly scared and this was moving too fast. This was Mabel’s husband, it was supposed to feel wrong but it felt so sweet. Tears was slittering down my cheeks, I was enjoying it so much but a part of me was feeling guilty. I felt him pull off my panties and I tried to get up. It was wrong!
” Funmi, baby ” he choked out, ” Don’t be scared, I will be gentle. Please…”
” Tade…..no, no….please…. please stop” I cried out, as he drove into me. It hurt a little but the dull ache was then replaced by a throbbing sweet ache. I clung to his sweaty body as he t—-t in and out of me
To be continued..