Her parents dropped her off at her grandparents’ home and promised to return in the evening. She didn’t know what to expect. The retired doctor and his wife had been nice to her since the first day she met them. She hoped they were not pretending.
The security guard allowed her in. She found her way into the mansion and met her grandparents in the sitting room.
“Baby girl, come over here.”
She smiled and joined them on the seatee.
“How are you doing?”
She nodded and relaxed. They were not pretending. They were as real as her own skin. Aside her parents, she felt safe with them.
“Have you eaten?”
“Have you seen the doctor this week?”
“Don’t worry. The check ups will soon be over,” he patted her on the shoulder.
“Since you are spending the whole day with us, I have got some things lined up.”
She smiled and met her grandma’s warm gaze.
“We are going to make lunch together, I will teach you how to make a local delicacy, then we will all play scrabble later on.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Glad you like my plans.”
“When do we start?”
“Now,” her grandfather pulled her up.
She looked at him with one brow raised, “Are you cooking too?”
He started to laugh.
“Your grandpa is an excellent cook.”
He placed both hands on his waist, “Young woman, I have got skills.”
She giggled, “Okay, let us find out.”
“Attention! Forward march,” he micmiked a soldier and headed out. Nnese and Sheila marched after him.
Cooking with her grandparents turned out to be fun. They gisted her about her father’s childhood and how he met her mother. They were so engrossed in their conversation that they almost forgot what they were cooking. After they had, had lunch, they sat in the garden and relaxed with a game of scrabble.
“I thought intelligence reduces with age,” she eyed her grandparents. They had won the first round of the game and it looked like they would win again. Their points were higher than hers.
“Who told you that nonsense?” Charles closed the dictionary.
“She is just venting, we won, remember,” she winked at her husband.
“You are right my dear.”
They both started to laugh. She bit at her lower lip and decided to win the next round at all cost.
“You better fasten your seat belts, this round is mine.”
“Really?” They both choroused and locked gazes. It had been ages since they had, had so much fun with their grand-daughter.
“I refuse to be beaten by a Seventy-one year old man and a Sixty-Six year old woman, not on my watch.”
Nnese giggled, “Young man, this sassy lady means business.”
“Let us teach her a lesson or two. My white hairs aren’t there for fashion,” he grinned and winked back at her.
Sheila picked up their empty glasses, “I will go and refill this and be back in a jiffy,” she got up and half ran and half walked into the house.
A teardrop slid down her face.
“Darling… ” His concerned gaze met her calm ones.
“God makes all things to work for our good… Her lost memory, look at her now… Can you compare her to the Sheila we used to know?”
He sighed. He had made the same observations. It had been years since his grand-daughter had acted or spoken in a civil way to anyone. It made him begin to wonder what had caused drastic change.
“I believe God is giving her… and us… the whole family a second chance.”
He folded his arms across his chest. His wife could be right. The Adams family was standing on a very shaky ground and they needed a divine intervention. This could be it!
Two days later, she visited her aunt, Dorcas and her family. Her cousins kept their distance, while their parents tried to keep her entertained. She wondered what kind of relationship she had with them all. She hoped her cousins would stop avioding her before she returned home. She would really like to sit and chat with them.
Dorcas left Sheila and her husband in the sitting room and pulled her children into the kitchen.
“What is wrong with you two?”
Boma folded his arms across his chest, while Edidiong frowned, but avoided her mother’s glare.
“She won’t be here forever… Stop avoiding her and try to chat her up.”
“Mum… This is not easy for us. Regardless of the fact that she lost her memory, we can’t just pretend and play nice.”
“Sheila is bad news. She is trouble with a capital letter ‘T’, I would rather give her a wide breth than clash with her.”
Dorcas placed a frustrated hand on her forehead. She dropped it and tried to convince her children, “I know the old Sheila… But the girl out there is one lost puppy.”
Boma and his sister groaned. Sheila had hurt them too many times, in words and actions. Her lost of memory was like an opportunity to take their pound of flesh. But their parents wanted them to help her. How does one play nice with someone who had been mean to them for years?
“I understand how you both feel. Your father and I feel the same way, but… Okay, what would Jesus do?”
“Mum… ” Boma frowned.
“Yes, what would Jesus do? An eye for an eye is not the solution here.”
“Really?” Edidiong rested her weight on the fridge.
“Yes, at this point, I believe we all need to forgive Sheila and look for a way forward.”
They stared at her in disbelief.
“I am serious,” she and her husband had discussed it the other night. Offence, unforgiveness and bitterness was tearing them apart. Every member of the Adams family needed to forgive one another and reconcile. That was the only solution to their problems. It was the only way forward.
Boma and his sister locked gazes. If their parents were willing to forgive Sheila after everything she had done and said to them in the past, they could also do the same, no matter how difficult it would be.
“I have a suggestion.”
“I think we should take her out.”
Dorcas scratched her forehead.
“Just me, Boma and Sheila.”
Her brother’s face brightened, “We could go to the cinema, eat out… It will help us to relax, talk…”
“And reconcile,” Edidiong added.
Dorcas sighed, it sounded like a good idea, but she wasn’t sure if she could trust her children alone with Sheila.
“We will be fine.”
“Let us discuss this with your father, and of course, Sheila.”
Boma shrugged. Edidiong wondered if their cousin would agree.
Boma, Edidiong and Sheila walked out of the cinema hall. They had just watched a movie and had decided to eat at one of the restaurants in the building before leaving.
“Have you tasted their new pizza?”
Edidiong and Sheila shook their heads.
“You need to. It’s like tasting heaven.”
Edidiong rolled her eyes and Sheila giggled.
“I am serious, come with me.”
They followed him. Edidiong picked out a table for them while Boma went to order their meal.
“I hope the pizza tastes as good as he sounds.”
Edidiong rolled her eyes again, “We will see.”
Sheila browsed through her phone and saw a ping from her mother. She decided to reply. She had, had a lovely time so far. Her cousins were cool to hang out with. They could do this every weekend or whenever they were free.
“What are you doing?”
“Who are you chatting with?”
“My mum,” her eyes remained fixed on the phone. Edidiong stared at her cousin. It was difficult to believe that she and her brother were on an outing with Sheila. When was the last time they had gone out together? Ten years ago? She wondered why they stopped. How did they all drift apart?
“Here you go!” Boma placed a box of steaming pizza on their table. The aroma distracted Sheila.
“It smells good.”
“I hope it tastes good.”
“Trust me,” Boma winked at them.
“What about drinks?”
“Your turn,” he pulled out an empty chair and sat down. His sister frowned.
“Don’t worry, I will get it,” Sheila got up and hurried away. Her cousins watched her go and exchanged glances.
“It’s hard to believe, right?”
His sister nodded.
“The last time she was this nice was when she was nine.”
Edidiong nodded again. She remembered being close to Sheila when they were young. She would give anything to have that friendship back.
“Do you think she will return to the old Sheila when her memory returns?”
Boma shrugged, “Let’s wait and see.”
She sighed. She hoped not. If the old and new Sheila could blend, excluding all the drama, that would turn out well, that would be fantastic, a wish come true.
Sheila stood at the gate and turned to look at her parents again.
“We will pick you up in the evening,” her father started the car.
“Go on… Go in,” her mother encouraged her.
She exhaled, turned around and pushed the gate open. The moment she stepped into the large compound, John drove off.
Her aunt’s house was as large as her grandparents’ mansion. She wished she didn’t need to visit them. The woman didn’t like her. She had sensed it since the first day they met. She took a deep breath and started walking towards the front door.
Martha watched Sheila from her bedroom window. She had dreaded this day for the past one week. If not for her husband’s constant plea, she would have disagreed when her father informed her that her niece would pay them a visit, all in the name of recovering her memory.
Daniel came out of the bathroom, “What are you looking at?”
Martha drew the curtains and headed for the door, “Sheila is here.”
“Oh, I see… ” He watched his wife leave the room. It had taken him a whole week to convince her. The young helpless girl needed their help. What else could they do?
Martha unlock the front door and opened it. Sheila halted when she saw her aunt standing at the door. Both women locked gazes.
“Don’t just stand there, come in,” she turned and walked into the house. Sheila felt like leaving. She could call her parents and ask them to pick her up. She wasn’t sure she could go through with it. She had a feeling that things might end badly before sunset. Her parents wanted her to do this. They believed it will help her. She exhaled, swallowed hard and stepped into the house.
Martha and her husband were seated in the living room. She greeted them and took a seat. No one said a word and the silence was irritating. What is she doing here?
Daniel nudged his wife, but she refused to say anything. She didn’t even look at him.
“So… Sheila, how have you been?”
“Can we get you anything to eat or drink?”
She shook her head.
“Okay,” he glanced at his wife and kicked her.
“Ouch!” She glared at him. What was wrong with him? Why must she speak to her? She was in no mood to chit chat with the girl. This whole visit-thing was a failed experiment.
Sheila stood, “I want to go home.”
Daniel opened his mouth, then closed it. He looked at his wife and frowned. Martha cleared her throat and said nothing. Good! Finally, she would have peace in her own home.
“I will call my parents, I don’t think they have gone far.”
“Why do you hate me so much?” Her question was directed at her aunt.
Martha blinked and looked at her.
“What did I do to you to deserve this… this coldness… and… and hatred.”
Her aunt eyed her, “I do not need to refresh your memory.”
Sheila shook her head and walked out.
“What is wrong with you?”
Martha ignored her husband and walked out on him.
“Martha!” He called again. What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she get past her bitterness towards her niece? It was beginning to affect them negatively.
Sheila headed for the gate. How she wished she could recover all her memories. She dialed her father’s number. The phone began to ring. Suddenly, her vision blurred. Images flashed through her mind’s eye. She stopped walking and tried to breathe. She felt as if a thousand bells were ringing in her head. The images played like a video tape, events, conversations, everything she had said and done in the past nineteen years ran through her mind. Her heart beat accelerated. She placed her hands on her head. Her kneels caved in. She hit the ground and darkness consumed her.