” Mama, i want to be a teacher when i grow up” Serwa suddenly announced during dinner. Her grand mother laughed and gave her a peck.
” You wanted to be a lawyer before, like your gramps. Why the change of heart?” Tade asked, cutting into a drum stick with his cutlery.
” Teaching is a humble profession” i said
” I want to be a teacher because of my aunt in grandma’ s church” Serwa said.” She is so intelligent and she knows so many stories. She knows all the stories in the bible!”
” Oh we are back to that, ” Abosede said, laughing.” Funmi is such a lovely girl and she’s good with the children.”
” I have to meet this world famous Funmi my daughter is crushing on,” I said,” Serwa hardly ever gets close to anyone not family. We had to change her nannies thrice before we finally decided not to take on anyone again.”
” I am also surprised Serwa likes this Funmi person” her father said.
” Like i told you, Funmi is a graduate and she has a flair for teaching. children takes a shine to her” Abosede said.
Serwa had followed her grandma to church on three different occasions since our arrival and she had taken to the teacher in the children department. She even begged me to let her style her hair afro but i wouldn’t have any of it. I was curious to meet the young lady in question, i wondered what my daughter had seen in her to be so magnetically drawn to her.
” I want to meet her,” i said.
” Yeah!!” Serwa exclaimed, wiggling in her chair. ” Mama, is Miss Funmi coming to dinner?”
” I could invite her to dinner.” Abosede said,” She’s such a good girl, she and Dupe”
” Who is Dupe?” Tade asked.
” She’s Funmi’s friend and she’s also my pastor’s daughter.”
” What does Funmi look like?” I asked, i wanted to know if she was beautiful.
” She’s not bad but she’s a very churchy kind of girl” Abosede replied, sipping her red wine.” Picture a chubby dark skinned girl with dimples in a big bulbous skirt with a loose blouse, no ear ring, no make up and a head full of afro.”
” Matches the description of Tyler Perry’s Madea,” Tade joked.
I knocked on the big white gate, Papa love opened it and welcomed me warmly with a smile. Papa love was one of those people whose past and origin was untraceable. He had no family, living or dead known to anyone of us. Nobody knew how he came to be a member of God’s love gospel church, one day he was just there and everyone got used to the man with shaggy beards and blood shot eyes. In time, he became a part of our christian family.
” Hello, you must be Funmi” a tall, dark skinned man with a deep baritone voice said. He had on shorts and a polo. ” Come in” he held the door open for me.
” Good evening sir,”
” I am Tade, ” he stretched out his hand for a handshake
We both walked into the elegant sitting room, decorated with a theme of butter color and white. The room spoke of wealth and rich taste. Serwa, a little ebony skinned child ran down the stairs and wrapped her little arms around my waist. A beautiful lady with a long weave on cascading down her back walked into the room. She had on a bum short and a crop top, revealing her ringed navel. She was also spotting a dark tattoo just below her abdomen.
” Funmi, at last we meet ” she said with laughter, her Ghanian intonation made my name sound as ‘ fu_me’.” I have heard so much about you, you are a genius and you know all the biblical stories by heart”
I laughed. ” Serwa has been blowing my trumpet”
” Forgive my manners, I am Mabel and this is my husband Tade” She said, ” please sit down”
” We have met,” he replied her
I sat down on the soft creamy colored sofa. The man excused himself and the little girl settled herself on my thighs.
” Serwa, don’t be a bother ” her mother said.
” No, she’s not” i replied
” What can i offer you? Wine? Juice?”
” Juice please,” I said.” Is Mrs. Afolabi not at home?”
” Mother_in law is still struggling with her eye brows upstairs ” She stood up, ” excuse me for a moment please” She returned few seconds later with a tray laden with fruit juice, a glass of water and cookies. She placed it on the table in the room.” Serwa, run upstairs and play with your princesses ”
” OK Mama, ” the child said and left the room.
” Mother_ in law told me you are a graduate and you have a flair for teaching”
” Yes, i am a graduate of English and Literary studies. I love teaching, children are so much fun to teach”
” Huh? really?” She laughed, ” I can’t believe that. Children are…..”
” Funmi!” Abosede said, walking into the room. She wore a long flowing gown known as bubu, her hair was neatly tied in a ponytail and her face was heavily made up. ” You are welcome,”
” Thank you ma,”
” Mother_ in law, She was just telling me that children are fun to teach!”
The older woman laughed, ” I told you! She’s just something else. Have you met my son?”
” Yes i have.”
” Where do you work?” the Ghanian lady asked.
” I am still seeking for employment” i replied
” A smart and hard working lady such as yourself shouldn’t be seeking for jobs! jobs should be seeking for you” She said.
” My dear, that is the problem our graduates are going through here o” Abosede said, ” over here it is not about how brilliant you are but who you know. It all has to do with connections”
” That’s preposterous, such a practice has to be curbed”
I couldn’t help laughing.” Corruption has really taken a deep root in this country.”
” If i offer you a job will you accept it? ” she asked, stunning me.” You seem so gentle and nice. Besides my mother_ in law and daughter also vouched for you. Will you come to Ghana as my daughter’s tutor?”
” Yes,” i heard myself reply as i wiped my suddenly clammy hands on my skirt.
Uche had been somber since the death of his younger sister. He was often lost in thought and his handsome face was always marred by worry lines. Some days, he would pull me into his arms while we lay on his bed in silence, just listening to each other’ s heart beat without saying a word. Some times he would lay his head on my bosoms while my hands gently caressed his head, wishing i could take away his pains, wishing i could wipe away the sorrows in his heart and refill it with happiness. His mother too was shut away in a world of her own, she was always in her room, she wouldn’t talk to anyone. I tried to find out the cause of Nonye’ s death but i let it go when i realized that they might never be able to talk about it until they were both completely healed. Chinasa, the other twin girl was left on her own so i took her under my wings. For some strange reasons known to him alone, Uche asked me not to ever let Chinasa out of my sight when she comes to see me. I was locking up my shop for the day when he walked up to us. He looked tired and dusty, i knew he had gone to some construction sites to carry concrete and blocks. Since his mother had locked herself away in her room and they had to survive, i couldn’t blame him for resorting to that.
” Good evening bro Uche,” Nasa said.
” How are you?” He replied, ” what’s up Dupe?”
” We are fine, how are you too?” i replied.
” Still alive, can’t complain ” he said. ” I want to see you in private, Chinasa wait here”
We moved some distance away from the young girl. I reached out to wipe away some specks of dirt on his lean cheek. I felt tears crept into my eyes and i blinked my eyes to stop it from dropping.
” Don’t ” he said.
” Don’t do what?” I asked.
” Please don’t feel sorry for me,” he said,” I can’t stand it”
” I am sorry. ” I said quietly.
” I got a call from Dominique today, a congratulatory call.”
I jumped up happily and hugged him.” Wow, that’s a good news!’
” Yes.” He replied. “Apparently they were testing my patience the last time they kept me waiting.” A certain look stole into his eyes and he sighed heavily.
” What happened? you don’t seem happy”
” I have to move my family from this area as soon as possible. I have been able to raise some money. ” he said, ” I sold off some things but it is not enough to get us a new apartment. Can you lend me a hundred thousand naira?”
” I don’t have up to that amount. I have only fifty,” I said, ” what’s the need to move? is there anything you are not telling me?”
He sighed.” Yes, but i can’t talk about it. The wound is still too fresh in my heart, maybe some …”
” Shhh” i said, ” You don’t have to if you don’t want to talk about it. I will transfer the fifty to you and i will try my best to get the remaining fifty for you. Where do you want to move to?”
” Ikorodu,” he replied.
” That’s far!” I exclaimed.
” The farther away from here, the better for I and my family.”
“When will you start at Dominique Petroleum?”
” Tomorrow,” he said.” Let me walk you home.”
” Congrats dear.”
He shrugged.” Nasa! Let’s go”
The young girl walked to us and we walked down the street, heading towards my house. Uche’s hand sought out mine and i gave it a gentle squeeze. I realized with a start that today was sort of like our anniversary. A big smile registered on my lips.
” Today is our sixth month of being together, so happy anniversary dear ”
He grinned in spite of the sadness he carried in his heart. He squeezed my hand in return and mouthed ” I love you,”
” I love you too” i mouthed back.
I walked into the sitting room and paused in surprise. Funmi was watching a TV drama, she jumped up on seeing me.
” What a surprise!” I said, ” why didn’t you come to the shop instead? ”
” I don’t have enough fare to come to the shop.” She said, ” You won’t believe what i am about to tell you”
” You won’t believe what i am about to tell you too” i replied.
” I have gotten a new job! No interview, no aptitude test, no stress! Just like that!” She said excitedly, ” accommodation and feeding is provided, pay is 95k when converted to naira”
” Wow!” I screamed, ” no way! Wait! converted? you mean the job is outside Nigeria?”
” Yes. Mrs. Afolabi’ s daughter_ in law offered me a job as her daughter’s tutor. She will also pay for my flight to Ghana. ” She replied excitedly, ” what’s your news?”
” Dominique Petroleum called Uche today. He’s been hired!” I said, laughing.
She threw her arms around me, giving me a hug. We placed our hands on each other’s hips, dancing round in circles as we often did during our happy moments.
To be continued..