Mama knocked on my door and entered. I stretched and got out of bed.
” Good morning Mama,”
” Good morning Nnayi, how are you?” she asked lovingly,” ndo, you were asleep when we came in last night. Hope you were not hurt?” She examined my body in a motherly way.
” No Ma,” i said.” I am fine. Who borrowed you the money you sent to me?”
” It was that your Dupe girl o, she said she will help you with it.”
I was so touched that i was momentarily rendered speechless. Mama moved closer to my bed, her gaze was fixed on the sheet and a frown had replaced the smile on her face.
” Uche, what is this?” She asked, pointing to the dried blood stains on the sheet.” Uche, i have warned you not to have anything to do with that girl! this is the last time i will bring it up with you. If you want to throw away your life biko do so.”
” Mama, how could you say that even after seeing for yourself how selfless she is?” i asked, ” I am old enough to do whatever i want with my life. Do you know that Chidubem is into fraud? do you know he’s a yahoo boy? do you even care where he gets the money he gives you? for christ sake the boy is twenty years old and he’s not yet in school. He is not even making any efforts to get into one. Those are the things you should be worried about Mama,”
” Are you calling me a bad mother?” She said,” Did you just imply that i am not a good mother? all because of that girl! that Yoruba girl! if i ever talk to you about this again then call me a b—–d. What kind of girl lays with a man that has not paid her bride price and she calls herself a christian and a pastor’s daughter? ”
” Mama, i love this girl and she loves me too. All i am asking is for you to give her a chance.” I said,” OK, please give her the grace of only six months. If at the end of the six months you are still not pleased with her then i will sit down and listen to you ” i said.
” Hmmn, are you sure?” She asked,” OK o”
” Good morning Bell,” Tade said, kissing me awake. I yawned and sat up. The sweet smell of bacon drifted to my noise, and i sniffed the air.” Something smells good”
” Breakfast in bed for my Bell,” he said, lifting up a tray from a little fancy table. He placed it on my thighs.” You made my night love, so i wanted to give you a treat”
I laughed ” Awwnn, so sweet. Why am i so lucky? ”
” Hey, don’t get used to it” he said.
I laughed.” I should ride you more often so i can get treats such as this”
” Yes, you should” he said.” Bell, i called my travel agent”
” Why?” I asked, munching on a crispy bacon.
” We are going to Nigeria for easter”
” honey, that’s a month away!”
” No, it’s next week.”
I sighed. ” When do we leave?”
” On Monday ”
” Tade! this is an ambush! today is Saturday! when will i shop? Where is the time to pack a bag for us?”
” You don’t have to pack a bag love. Just pick a few things for you and Serwa”
” I have to buy your mom some things! what sort of daughter_ in law would i be if i went to Nigeria empty handed?” I asked, ” We have to go shopping today! Oh God! I hate shopping at a short notice! all the stress and running around! not to talk of the headache!”
He leaned over and kissed me soundly. ” You look so cute when you get this way. Mum will appreciate whatever you get her”
” Go away, i hate you” i said.
He laughed. ” Yea , you hate me in a cute way,”
I sighed.” Tade seriously do you ever get angry?”
” I am dangerous when it comes to protecting what’s mine” he replied
” What happened to your fingers?” i asked, examining Dupe’s wrinkled fingers, she had cut lines on few of her fingers while the rest looked worn out like an old woman’s hands.
” My fingers are fine, how are you?”
“Dupe what’s going on?” I asked, picking up a stool to sit.” I hardly meet you in your shop these days. Your mom too is worried about you, she said you have been disappearing without notice. You were not even in church on Sunday!”
She stood up to place a set of beads she had made in the showcase glass outside her shop. She walked in again and sat down.
” Funmi, i am fine. You all should stop worrying about me”
” I know it’s Uche, is he keeping you away from God?”
” No” She cried, ” Funmi, please let it go”
” What are they doing to you over there that you are either too ashamed or scared to tell your best friend?”
” It’s his Mom.” She replied.
” What did she do?”
” She…. she has been calling me to help her run all sorts of errands and to help her with house chores. I think she’s testing me. Don’t worry it’s nothing ”
” So that was why you weren’t in church on Sunday? does Uche know about all this?”
” I attended their church on Sunday, she invited me and i couldn’t decline. She usually calls me whenever Uche wasn’t home and by the time he’s back i would have done all the chores”
” I don’t like this at all. You should speak to him about it, after all you are not yet their wife.”
” Enough about me, what’s up with you?”
” I am…..” Dupe’ s ringtone cut me off, she brought out the phone from her bag.
” Hello love, ” She said, she listened intently to whatever he was saying and gasped.” When? awww. I will be there shortly, no, no i have to come see her. See you in few minutes time,” She said and disconnected.
” What happened to them again o?” I asked.
” Uche’s younger brother ran away and left a note for them. His mother fainted on seeing the note”
” Oh that’s terrible. How old is the boy?”
” He’s twenty. He ran off to Malaysia. ” She stood up, ” Funmi, please help stay in the shop.”
” Don’t take too long o”
” No i won’t ”
I met Uche by the gate with some group of guys. He excused himself and walked up to me.
” How’s she?” I asked.
” She’s fine now. You shouldn’t have stressed yourself to come.”
” Well i am here now”
” How will you ever make any sales if your shop is always closed up. I told you over the phone not to come. Anyway, how are you?”
” I am fine. Where are you going? ”
” I am going to watch a football match”
” Your mother is not well and you are going to watch a football match? ”
” What would you have me do?” he asked.
” you could stay at home to keep her company, she might need something and i am sure the twins are not back from school. ”
” Dupe, let’s not have our first fight over something so petty. There’s no way i would leave her alone if i wasn’t sure that she would be fine .”
” Enjoy your match” i said, walking into the compound.
His mother was on the sofa when i entered the sitting room. She looked so tired and sad, my heart went out to her. Although i always had the feeling that she didn’t like me i knew she was a good woman.
” Good afternoon ma,”
” Afternoon ” She replied.
” How are you ma?”
” I am fine” She said.
An awkward silence ensued in the room until she drifted off to sleep. I draped a wrapper over her legs and went into the kitchen to prepare her lunch.
To be continued..