I drove straight to her house after work and she must be caught in traffic cos she was not home yet so I let myself in with the keys she gave me. I then called her as soon as I put my bag down and she said that she just drove into her street. I went straight to her refrigerator to get something to drink and as usual, her fridge was packed with different foods. That girl loves to cook. I started opening bowls to see what I wanted to eat. She had jollof rice with chicken, goat meat pepper soup and some okra soup with some oxtails and snails. I brought that bowl out and dished out some soup. As soon as I put that in the microwave, I went upstairs to get some flip flops to wear around the house. While in her bedroom, I heard her opening the door downstairs. “I’m upstairs so grab my bag as you are coming upstairs please.” I yelled at her. “You must be hungry like me, you got something in the microwave already” she yelled back.
Time spent with Amaka is always fun as we talked about everything ranging from work to men to our college days, growing up in Nigeria, our families back home to the kind of family we want to raise in the future. She flopped on the bed and kicked off her shoes while giving me a look over like the mother hen she acts like. She is the one that always notices that I have gained or lost couple of pounds, bags under my eyes and when I need to visit the hair dresser or when I have a new outfit.
“You look fabulous! I love those pants. She chimed. “Banana Republic?” She asked
Thanks! No, I got them from Express. I said as I ran a hand down my pants. “Amaka, when do you get time to make all those dishes?”
“Girl, you know I cook when I am bored which is like everyday these days”
“You are silly. That draw soup looks very good and I saw some snails in it”
“It has stockfish as well. Help yourself and get some rice and chicken for work tomorrow. You are loosing weight again.”
“Amaka, we agreed to try to loose some pounds each but you look like you are gaining some weight” I asked her. “Why don’t you get on a diet so you can loose your 15 pounds like we said” I asked her
She looked at me and smiled “I am on a diet Ada” she responds
“Which one are you on? Don’t tell me one of those Infomercials on TV”
“No, I am on a See-Food diet”
Perplexed, I ask her. “Do you mean Sea-food diet?”
“No, See-food diet, I see food and I eat it” she shrugs her shoulders and we both burst out laughing.
“You are not well Amaka” I tell her
“What did you have for lunch today? She asked in her matronly voice.
“Ikem stopped by today so we got some food from the cafeteria”
Amaka smiled and said “That man is a good man. He is very thoughtful, and highly romantic unlike most of our IGBO men. He is definitely a keeper. You should marry him Ada.”
“Are you going to propose for him” I asked her
“Don’t worry, he will. He is probably searching for the perfect ring now. Its so obvious he is crazy about you. I wish he had a brother or cousin or something unlike these losers I meet everyday.”
A good guy will come soon girl. Ikem is not bad at all and I know it will be nice to be married to him. He complements me greatly.”
“I will kill you myself if you hurt that man. He is a good man and they don’t come that good anymore these days. You have to marry him” she said quite sternly
“YES MA” I responded.
My phone started ringing in my bag and Amaka gave me an evil look as I was digging for it. “WHAT?” I asked her
“What is that cheap ring tone” she asked. “Please change it.”
“I got it from a coworker yesterday because I think it’s cute” I replied
“No, it’s so not cute. Change it abeg!” I finally found my phone.
“Wow! It’s my mum” I picked up getting very scared because she rarely called me at this time. It’s almost 11pm in Nigeria.
“Mama, Good evening.” Her voice was very faint on the other line and I could tell she was screaming for me to hear her.
“Adanna! Can you hear me?
“Yes Mama, Is everyone ok?
I worry so much when I get calls from my mum or my younger ones these days. Since Papa died couple of years ago, I’ve gradually turned into the breadwinner and I worry so much and have become very protective of my mum and siblings. My heart literally skips every time I get a call from them because that’s exactly the way it was the day that Papa passed on.
I was at work when that call came through and it was my brother Kenechi and he sounded very confused.
“Sister, he is not going to make it” he sobbed on the phone as soon as I picked up.
“Who! What! How! What are you talking about Kene” I asked him in a state of paralyzed fear. My mind was already running helter-skelter at this point.
“Papa was in an accident few hours ago and has been rushed to the Teaching Hospital but the doctors are not optimistic that he will survive this accident”
I screamed so much, the phone fell off my hands and all I remember was seeing my co worker Sasha rush in and I guess I passed out.
I woke up in a hospital and saw this elderly Caucasian physician looking at me smiling.
“Good to see those eyes open. How are you feeling my dear” he asked me gently as he adjusted something on the IV line and I just realized then that I had an IV running. I wonder what drugs they have in me. I hate hospitals very much and here I am lying in one.
“How is Papa?” I was still feeling a bit woozy and it was probably from the medications.
“Just calm down for a few moments ok. There are a couple of people anxiously waiting outside to see you” he said softly.
I felt so lost, depressed and had this shallow and uncomfortable feeling in my guts and was still in that dazed state when Sasha, Amaka and Ikem walked in. I already knew it was bad news when I saw Amaka’s red and puffy eyes and I burst into uncontrollable tears. “What has happened to my Papa” I wailed. They all wept with me and after Sasha went home, Amaka and Ikem were with me during that terrible time. As soon as I was discharged, they spent several days at my place.Ada cooked several meals and tried to make me eat something but I could not. Ikem made all my travel plans because I had to go home.
I had to be with Mama.
Several questions were running amok in my head. Papa cannot be dead. How is Mama going to cope? What is going to happen to my two younger brothers especially Kenechi who is in Medical School? Who will take care of us? Papa did everything in the house as per he really carried the financial burden of the house and Mama didn’t know a thing about his business.
Mama screamed again and that brought me back to the present time.
“Adanna, I have been trying to call you all day but the network has been very bad with the rains. Are you ok Nnem? She asked.
“Yes Mama, I am sorry. I was in a meeting all day and just got off work an hour ago.”
“Ok, Thank God. How are you though?
“I am ok Mama, I am with Amaka.”
“Eh, greet her for me and tell her that I was able to get her the foodstuff she wants and will give them to Mama CY when she is coming next month.”
“Ok. Mama, do you want me to call you back so you can save some call credit?” I asked
‘No problem, your brother Kenechi came home last night and put in a lot of credit in my phone for me.” Just like Mama to be always ready to give to her children but I insisted and she finally gave in and hung up after saying bye.
I then relayed her message to Ada as I was searching in my bag for a call card. I usually carry couple of them around because I might get a call from home at any time. I stock up on phone cards as I might need to call my mum or brothers at any time. We all have been traumatized by Papa’s death so I try to be available whenever they need me, as I started dialing Mama’s number, Ada whispered that she is going to get some food ready and I nodded as she left.
Mama picked up on the second ring and after we spoke generally on their welfare and life at home. I asked about Kenechi who is home from school. I had spoken to him few days ago and she confirmed that he is doing great. I knew Mama had not really said what was on her mind because she kept asking me how I was doing. Next, she asked me when I am coming home to Nigeria and I told her I wasn’t sure so she went this time directly to her point of calling me earlier.
Adanna, I want you to settle down. Accept a good man and marry so I can see my grandchildren. I appreciate all that you do for me and your brothers to help us out especially when it comes to my shop and your younger ones but I don’t want you to forget yourself.”
Mama, thank you. I have heard you and it will happen ok.”
“When will that be?” she insisted. “You know that was your father’s wish before he died. You’ve finished school, started working for about 3 yrs now and you know women have their biological clock so please hurry ooo.”
“Ok Ma but I won’t marry myself now but will marry as soon as a good man comes” I said
“If you don’t have anyone, I can help there. You know Mama Dubem has been bothering me because of you. Her son Dubem wants to marry you and he is from a good home and very well behaved.”
Oh hell No!
Dubem is one of our neighbors and we all grew up together. His mother has her shop next to my mother’s and Dubem had a crush on me when we were younger but he was not very much into school. He made it as far as his first year in college before he gave up. He is doing very well in business but he is not for me.
“Mama, I agree he is but Dubem is not educated” I responded
“He went to the University right?”
“Yes but he did not graduate. Have you forgotten so soon that this is the same Dubem who dropped out and started doing business”
“He behaves well and is doing very well. He has even started building a house in the village and his mother is very proud of him.”
“I am very happy for them Mama but I can’t marry him. Don’t worry Mama, I will get married soon you hear.” I tried to pacify her
“Ok oo. Let it be soon oo Adanna. Our neighbor’s daughter Ogechi is doing her traditional wedding by Easter and you were a year ahead of her in school”
Amaka walked in at this point and made a face at me. Silly girl!
“Mama, that was only because she failed a class and had to repeat. Again, I am happy for her but I am not in competition with anyone Mama. I will get married when I meet the right man for me so don’t worry Mama inugo. Mama, how is your shop doing?”
“Ok, oo Go ahead and change the topic. We are doing well” she grumbled
“Good. Please tell Kenechi to call me later so I can give him the number for that man that is shipping the cargo so he can pick up the things I sent you” I told her
“Thanks my daughter. Like your father always said, you act like a man and I wish your father was here to see you providing for his family but please think about what I said. That’s what will really make me happy.” She concluded
“Ok Mama, I promise I will ok. Bye Bye Ma”
“Bye Nne” She hung up and I sighed.
“Old woman! Go and marry before all your eggs shrink. All your mates are married with kids in the village to business men…”
I cut her off and completed her sentence…”who do importing and exporting” and we burst out laughing.
“But seriously Adanna, she is just concerned. So why don’t you want to tell her about Ikem so she can sleep better at night?”
“I am not telling my mum about a man who has not proposed to me yet” I replied.
“Na wa for you o! You know this man is going to marry you and Ikem will propose” she said and I agreed but “True but he hasn’t proposed yet. I don’t want to raise my mum’s hopes so let’s wait girl” I told her
We ate downstairs, talked about men, work and Amaka told me about the guy she met at the NAIJA FAMILY REUNION that we all went to few weeks’ back.
“Girl, he kept talking about himself in that fake and annoying American accent and his vocabulary was very heavy with profanity. The food at the restaurant was excellent but his company was horrible. He sounded very unintelligent and immature talking the way he did.”
We had a good laugh at the part when she got really tired of the date and told him that her neighbor’s dog had taken sick and had to be rushed to the vet doctor and she had to go home to be there for her neighbor.
“Amaka, that’s terrible. You couldn’t find another reason to leave?
“That wasn’t good enough? My neighbor really needed me around though” she said mockingly and we laughed again.
“Don’t worry girl, cos a good man is on the way to find you soonest ok as Pastor says.” I told her
“Ada, I have been hearing that for ever. He is really taking his time coming or does he need transport money?”
Again, we burst out laughing. “Amaka, be serious” I chided her.