I started missing home and my family, Tosin kept to himself most of the time and he did his best to keep his inquisitive daughter out of my room. It wasn’t like the child bothered me but she never tires of asking questions. She always had a question after another until i feel my head pounding, Tosin would apologize and cart her off to her room. My family kept calling and i was becoming uncomfortable in keeping them in anxiety so i decided to go back home. I was worried about Tomi too, i even had Tosin drive down to her place just to check up on her but she wasn’t at home. The strange thing was that her door was wide open, he had pulled it ajar on his way out,after waiting for her for hours. One evening i felt i would go crazy so i confided in him.
” I think you should go back home.” He had said.
” You think so? but they lied to me!”
” No matter what happen, they will always be your family and they will be worried about you ” he said.
” Whose daughter am I? where do i come from?” i said out loud. ” I feel lost Tosin”
” You can only find the answer to those questions from your father…..a thought just occurred to me” he said, pulling me down on the sofa. ” the hospital could have lost your file and it is also possible that the old matron you met there made a mistake. Twenty years is such a long time. ”
” So what do u suggest i do? go back to that hospital? ”
” No. You can have a dna test. If you can get a strand of your sister’ s hair or your dad’ s i will take you to the hospital”
” that is a good idea. Thank you so much Tosin” I felt so relived and i flung myself into his arms.
” You are welcome.” He said.
Small madam you don turn wily wily o. You just dey disappear anyhow ” the gate man said, opening the gate for me. i parked my car and walked into the living room. Auntie Maggie was watching a movie, she paused it and stood up. She pulled me into her arms.
” Victoria! where have you been?”
” I went on a little vacation” I said, moving back.
” Without telling anyone? do you have any idea how worried i have been?”
” Why were you worried?” i asked rudely. ” After all i am not even your blood!”
She blinked in surprise. ” Your father has been worried too and your sister too.” she said in a tiny voice.
I felt bad,she must have been truly worried.
” I am sorry Auntie. I decided to take a little vacation”
” Without telling your family first? that isn’t a nice thing to do”
” I am sorry” i said, even though i didn’t feel the least bit sorry. ” Where is dad and Linda?”
” They went to the police station ” she replied.
” Why? what happened? ”
” Were you with that girl……Tomi?”
” No i wasn’t with her and why would you think so?”
She let out a sigh. ” That girl has been through a lot because of you.”
” Why did they go to the Police Station?”
” Tomi was arrested but someone bailed her and……”
” What? why? what did she do?” i cried out.
” She stole an emerald ring. I tried to convince your sister that Tomi couldn’t have done that but the ring was found with her.”
” Is it that pearl stone that belonged to my mother?”
My eyes narrowed dangerously as i felt anger rose within me.” That ring has never left this house! it was locked in dad’ s safe. How could Tomi steal it?”
” Linda wore it to the office and she couldn’t find it. She thought it slipped off her finger”
” Has Tomi been released?”
I ran upstairs. I opened Linda’ s door gently, i picked some strands of hair from the brush on her drawer, tucked it into my jean pocket and let myself out, i came face- to face with my aunt.
” What were you looking for?”
” The ring ” i lied.
” It is back in the safe”
” I want to get something at the mall ” i lied. I was actually taking the strands of hair to Tosin who would take it to the hospital.
” Please don’t run away again ” she pleaded. ” What do you want? i could go get it for you”
” I will be back in few minutes time. Thank you Auntie.
That evening, my dad berated me for putting them all in anxiety. Surprisingly, Linda didn’t say anything, she looked troubled and i gave a little smile. Whatever got her pertubed must be something that is worth it. I escaped back to my room immediately after dinner, it had become my sanctuary. I would be picking up the DNA result tomorrow,i don’t know what i was expecting it to be. But it could change my life forever.
Tosin picked me up at noon, Auntie Maggie was beside herself with joy. She thought we were an item or about to become one. Tosin played along so as not to arouse her suspicion. I waited in the car while he went
inside the hospital to pick up the DNA result. It was in a big brown envelope and he handed it to me.
” Vicky i want you to know that no matter what this result says, it changes nothing. You are and will always be their daughter and it doesn’t mean that they love you less blood or not.”
” Thank you.”
” You are welcome. Don’t let that your sister know about it, that is if it comes out negative.”
” I am so scared. They are the only people i know as my family, i don’t want to believe that my life has been one big lie.” my voice was thick with emotions.
” The only person you should speak to is your father, he will be in the best position to explain things to you. Cheer up, okay?” he touched my cheek softly.” You will be fine.”
I hoped he was right about that.we drove back in silence, i crept up the stairs so as not to wake up Auntie Maggie who would be taking her nap. I sat on my bed with my heart throbbing, i tentatively brought out the brown envelope from my bag.
” What is that in your hand? ” Auntie Maggie asked, walking into my room.
I threw the envelope behind me on the bed.
” Its nothing Auntie. I thought you were napping so i didn’t check up on you when i came in”
She ignored me and walked towards the bed, i took hold of the envelope and she made to grab it from my hands but missed.
” What is inside the envelope? ” she asked authoritatively.
” I told you it is nothing! why are you so curious to know?”
She grabbed it from my hand but i clamped my hands on it tight, refusing to let it go. I couldn’t understand why she was acting the way she was. We struggled to have it in our grasp but she slowly gained the upper hand. And it was now in her possession. She brought out the result sheet and gasped.
” Victoria! what is wrong with you? why won’t you let sleeping dogs lie? ”
I grabbed the result sheet from her hand and paled as my eyes scanned through.. It was negative.my hands trembled and the paper dropped on the floor. My aunt picked it up and tore it into bits.
” Why? why did you all lie to me?” I asked, tears rolling down my cheeks.” Who am i ?”
” Keep your voice down ! Please keep quiet, i will tell you everything.” She pleaded, pulling the door close. ” Jennifer bought you from a homeless woman” .
” Bought? or adopted?”
” Bought. She…..she was a very sick person.” she whispered.
” Her heart condition? ”
” No. I mean mentally sick, to her, babies are toys……like a play thing”
” Why did she buy………me?”
” She saw babies as something to play with and dump when she got tired of it. She was already tired of Linda and left the poor child to my care. She tried to conceive but she couldn’t, she so desperately craved a play thing that she almost stole a baby”
My eyes widened in shock.” That’s not true! She was…..she was an angel!”
” That is the lie we led you to believe. That she was an angel. Why will i lie to you?what do i stand to gain?”
” Why?” i cried.
” One day she came across a pregnant homeless woman and she begged her to sell the baby she was carrying to her ”
” That is not true! ” I refused to believe what she was saying. It couldn’t be true, being adopted is better than being sold off like a pup.
” Mr Joseph traveled a lot then on business so she was able to fake a pregnancy. We kept friends away, even Linda wasn’t allowed to go see her in her room.”
” That is not true!” i screamed, my voice was hoarse and my eyes were blood shot.
” I am telling you the truth.please don’t breathe a word of this to anyone. It was a secret Jennifer made me promise to keep. I know this is hard on you but she was a sweet person albeit a sick one.”
She went out of the room and i sat like that for hours, staring into space. Auntie came to call me for dinner. She asked me to compose myself and act like nothing was wrong. Dad kept staring at me during dinner but i didn’t meet his gaze.
” Are you alright Victoria?”
” I am fine” i mumbled.
We continued eating in silence until dad cleared his throat. It means he had something important to say.
” I have two good news to share” he announced happily. ” The first one is that, i have decided to sign off our Lagos branch to my beautiful and hardworking daughter Linda”
Linda squealed with joy, she got up and planted a big kiss on his cheek.
” Thank you dad! I have a good news to share too! i will be walking down the aisle soon.”
I rolled my eyes. ” Kelvin?”
” Yes ” she snapped, sitting down. ” What is the other news you want to share dad? ”
Dad linked his hand through Auntie’s, he was smiling happily. ” This wonderful woman here has agreed to marry me” .
I could see the gigantic ring which had belonged to my mother, sorry, the late Jennifer Nwosu on her finger. Linda was trying her best to keep the frown marring her face away. She choked on the food in her mouth and went into fits of coughing.
” Dad isn’t that the ring that was stolen?’ I asked.
” Yes we recovered it back. Maggie had worn it to the office but somehow it had slipped off her finger and that girl stole it.” he said.
I looked at my aunt in surprise but she lowered her gaze.
” I thought Linda wore it to the office ” i said in an amused voice.
” I have a right to that ring because it belonged to my mother!” Linda spat out. ” Auntie had even accused me of stealing it when she couldn’t find it, not knowing that it was that Tomi girl! ”
Auntie laughed nervously and cleared her throat. ” You haven’t congratulated us yet”
” Linda who had Tomi arrested?” I asked, ignoring the older woman.
” Why? Auntie of course! She said she had a hunch that Tomi was the culprit, turns out she was right.”
I looked at my aunt and i really saw through her for the first time in my life. Why would she lie to me about Linda? i wondered what other lies she must have told me.
To be continued..