John and Eureka sat opposite Sheila in the sitting room. They wanted to have a word with her before they headed to Sheraton hotel where Martha was having her birthday party.
She turned forty a few days ago and had decided to throw a party and celebrate with her family and a few friends and colleagues.
She hoped her parents wouldn’t talk at length. She wasn’t sure if she could sit and listen to them for more than an hour. There was a time they spoke to her for three long hours! She thought she was going to go mad that day. At times, she wondered why parents liked giving their children lectures.
“We have beaten this same issue to a pulp. I am tired of talking about it. We are your parents and we love you, but, we will not tolerate this senseless attitude of yours, ” her father’s stern gaze drilled into her blank ones.
“Must you reply anyone, I mean, anyone that insults you? Must you retaliate whenever someone offends you? Why can’t you let peace reign in your relationship with people?” Her mother’s angry tone wasn’t lost to her.
Everybody including her parents felt that she had a bad attitude. But, they didn’t understand. A long time ago, she had decided that she wouldn’t allow anyone to take her for granted.
Whoever brought trouble her way should be prepared to fight a war. She couldn’t just sit back and allow people to walk all over her. She was not a weakling.
“You used to have good friends at school. But where are they now? You have driven all of them away with your braziness. Your are going to graduate from school soon, aside from getting a certificate, you are suppose to build meaningful relationships. This world is a small place. You can meet anyone anywhere.”
Sheila looked away. What did her father know about her friends? Ex-friends since the beginning of the second semester. She hoped their lecture would end soon. What time was the party supposed to start?
“As a born again Christian, you are not representing Christ at all.”
She rolled her eyes. Here we go again. Trust her mother to bring God into the conversation. God himself was not stupid. Didn’t he say an eye for an eye in the Old Testament?
Although in the New Testament, Jesus said, if someone slapped you, one should turn the other cheek. Hogwash! That is being chicken-hearted. A very dumb response to an angressive action.
She believed in God and all that, but, at times, following biblical principles was suicidal, especially in this age and times.
“Are you listening?”
Sheila shifted in her seat and avoided looking at them directly. Why wouldn’t she be listening? She had ears, and the last time she checked, they were working perfectly. John and Eureka exchanged glances.
“It is your aunt’s birthday, we hope today will end in peace,” her mother eyed her.
A frown creased her brows. Peace? Of course, as long as no one antagonized her. Did her parents think she went about looking for trouble everywhere?
“We have been labelled with bad names among the entire family because of you.”
Her frown deepened.
“Just try and avoid trouble today.”
Her parents got to their feet. Sheila crossed her arms against her bosom.
“I will stay back.”
Eureka placed her hands on her hips, “Young woman, pick up your bag and let us go. I am not in the mood for any of your tantrums. It is your duty as a member of the Adams family to attend all the family functions, except if you are sick. Are you sick? Answer me!”
Her mother rarely raised her voice at her, except when she had lost her temper. Duh! She was also upset too. She didn’t like it when people assumed things about her.
John placed a hand on his wife’s shoulder, “It is okay darling.”
Sheila picked up her bag and stormed out of the sitting room. Everybody should just avoid her at the party. If anyone dared attempt to upset her, heads would roll.
Eureka collasped in her husband’s arms, “I am tired honey. I am so tired. That young woman… I am at my wits end.”
“I know love. I know. God never fails,” he held her closer.
Sheila and her parents walked into the party hall. They scanned the room and sighted Martha at a table conversing with her friends. Her parents approached her while she followed them in slow deliberate steps.
“Happy birthday big sis,” John gave her a peck on the cheek. She chuckled and leaped to her feet.
“Oh John… Thank you,” they hugged briefly.
“How does it feel to be forty?” He winked at her.
“Well… I feel great.”
Eureka pulled her into a warm embrace, “So happy for you.”
Sheila watched them at a fair distance. She felt like walking away, she had not forgotten being slapped by her aunt. The witch must pay! Although God said one should forgive as He has forgiven, she could not let go of the fact that her aunt had raised her hand against her.
Her parents had never hit her, no matter how angry they were. May be she would just turn around and walk away. She would probably find somewhere to sit and wait till her parents were ready to go home.
“Sheila…” Her mother’s call interrupted her thoughts. She blinked and noticed that her aunt and her parents were all looking at her. But it wasn’t just them, everyone at the table were also watching her.
She noticed that her grandparents were at the table, her aunt, Dorcas and her husband, Imabong, with their children, Boma and Edidiong, were seated together with a few close friends and relatives.
What? Why were they staring at her? Did they want her to wish her aunt a happy birthday? Lord God! This was pure torture. Why should she? Was it compulsory? But she knew that if she didn’t, her parents would fry her alive.
She cleared her throat and looked up at her aunt. The woman looked fabulous in her short white and black body hugging sleeveless dress. She cleared her throat again, “Happy birthday,” she met Martha’s expressionless gaze. ” I… I… your dress is … nice.”
Martha turned away and pulled her brother and Eureka closer to the table.
Sheila bit at her lower lip. Could you imagine? The witch had ignored her. Why in the world did her parents bring her here? She would have been contented if they had allowed her to stay back at home.
Her aunt reached out for the hand of a man seated beside her grandparents. He was clad in a white and black long sleeve shirt and black glittering pants. When he stood, someone gasped. He was not just tall, his broad shoulders and muscled chest were quite obvious.
“I will like you all to meet Daniel Oluwadamilere.” He pulled her closer, “He is the man I am getting married to at the end of the year.”
Despite the loud music coming from the speakers and the murmurings of the guests seated at different tables, a still like calm settled around Martha and her family.
Sheila took a good look at her aunt’s fiance. He was easy on the eyes and he looked like he was in his early-forties. Her grand parents would be so happy for their first child. Finally, she would be getting married.
Charles grasped Daniel’s right hand, “Welcome to the family son.”
“Thank you, sir.”
As if on cue, everyone at the table got up and started congratulating Martha and Daniel. Dorcas and Nnese were in tears, John pulled Daniel close and introduced him to everyone. Boma and Edidiong hover around their aunt, scheming how to get on the groom’s men and bride’s maids list.
Sheila watched them all. A plan was brewing in her mind. The intensity of its sure success warmed her from hair to toes. This seemed like the perfect time to make her aunt pay. The witch was going to harvest what she had sown. Her lips widened in a mischievious smile.