It was a Friday some days after the sad news, Bolanle and I wore the baby a pink and white gown my mum had sown for us the last Christmas. Who knew that was the last we were going to have of her collections. Mum was a hardworking woman, she and dad owned Fashion Lounge. Dad designs men’s wears while mum designed women’s wears; they employed tailors to sew for them. What would happen to the business?
My compound was filled with different people, some I had met before, some I had never seen, some customers, some teachers from my our school.
We sang praises to God, and the service began. The casket was opened for us to see her for the last time. Ma’ami wasn’t mum anymore. She lay numb and lifeless. Lifeless. She was swollen with cotton wools in her nostrils and ears. Hands placed on top of eachother. Her hair was packed in a bound. Ma’ami was gone. She wore a white gown. Opening the casket was chaotic. Everyone wanted to see her for the last time, the wailing was endless. I remember a young man who was dressed in a white shirt and trouser, as he saw her, he started weeping uncontrollably and rolling on the floor. I wondered how he knew Ma’ami, I was worried he was going to hurt himself too.
I still held the tears and kept it together, I wasn’t going to break; I was hoping she would be raised from the dead, I was told God could do anything and since I heard the news, I had been praying concerning this miracle.
It was time to pour sand on the casket as it was lowered into the grave that was when it dawned on me. I was never going to see Ma’ami again. I would miss my cook, gist-mate and personal person. That was when my tear gland let loose, oozing uncontrollably. I was indeed never going to see Ma’ami again, never again.
People said prayers and made promises to help us attain heights Ma’ami never reached; she was quite young, thirty-four.
We moved back to our house, Grandma, Dad, Bolanle and I. One big happy family. We can go through this together. We would weather the storm. Grandma has been living with us since I met my parents; she just adds the extra touch to the home. Gisting with her was usually hilarious; she can talk for twenty-four hours even without pay. She could be extremely friendly with strangers, I guess that prevents her from getting bored, and old age was beginning to tell.
On Monday, dad helped us get water to have our bath, grandma made breakfast and it was school time. We got on the bus just in time. I got to school, and from the look I got from my classmates and other students, the news had gone round. It was the look of pity I hated the most, and the nightmares, I kept dreaming of her returning from the grave. I think it’s probably because I held on to the belief that dead people could visit the home they once lived in the form of a strong wind.
Later, I was told I could talk to her when I felt alone. Different people kept telling me different things, perhaps, to console me and make me believe I was still connected to my mother. I wasn’t even bothered.
It was God and I who had business with each other.
I wanted to know why my pregnant mother? My dad later revealed she was pregnant. She was going to church, didn’t God realize that too? She was a devoted Christian, a chorister in church. What else did God want?
Well, all these people that have been visiting us would be there for us, they promised.
Two weeks later.
Dad just returned from work, he entered the parlour, he wore a brown ankara buba and sokoto. Immediately he entered and bent to remove his shoes, he looked angry with so much displeasure. I was on the study table in the parlour doing my assignment, reminiscing how I missed mum helping me out with my homework. The shout of my name brought me back to reality.
“Tara, Tara. Tara. Why is everywhere scattered, can’t you arrange the house.”
I cut in trying to explain. “Dad, it’s Bolanle who scattered the parlour.”
“You are the first child, you have to be responsible and set good examples for Bolanle.”
In the twinkle of an eye, I saw dad bring out Mr. do-good aka Pankere. Each whip made me resent my sister and father whom I believed were one big happy family. Apparently, I was alone in this world.
My new responsibilities in the home included cooking. Washing my dad’s clothes. Arranging the house. Taking care of Bolanle. Reading and doing my school assignments. Grandma had traveled.
It was overwhelming for my ten-year-old self. One morning as I was trekking to school, I broke down in tears, how long could I endure this. Dad’s business wasn’t doing well either and bills kept piling. I didn’t have anyone to share my worries with, I had become so reserved or anti-social.
A year later, dad came for open-day at my school. After looking through my books, my class teacher said , “Tara is a good student, only that she doesn’t talk to anyone or go for lunch break like other students.”
I wondered what dad was going to do concerning the report my teacher gave about me, I was worried he would get upset again. As I guessed, dad called me into his room when he got back in the evening but he didn’t talk about my class teacher’s report. He talked about something else.
“I am marrying another woman, you’ll meet her soon. I want you to call her mummy.”
To be continued next Thursday at Noon.
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