She was so fagged out that she couldn’t help but sit on the fancy tiled floor that she had just finished mopping.It was one of those weekends were she had to complete series of chores that always left her spent and exhausted. The house of the Dafe’s was huge and so expansive. The duplex had three sitting rooms, six bedrooms, a gargantuan dinning room , a kitchen that could occupy fifteen people at a time and a guest aparment. It was her duty to keep every of the sections clean. Judging her progress, she still had a long way to go.
As she sat on floor, she looked up-stairs bracing herself up for the remaining task ahead. Tears started to spill down her once chubby looking face, in droplets. Within seconds it formed a puddle beside her.
“This is hell”, she thought to herself. “I never went through this when dad was alive”.
She wiped her nose and eyes with the hem of the faded wrapper that she wore. She looked up beyond the beautiful white ceiling, believing that God was there listening to her
“Why did you permit the greedy hands of death, take my father away from me?”. All she got was a deafening silence
“Are you listening? Answer me! Please answer me! God please answer me now”, she yelled and her weeping became intense. As she weeped, Unconsciously her hands started to trace the bare of her neck and it found the necklace that her dad gave her on the day she turned fifteen. Grief engulfed her. As she gradually drifted into a slumber, her mind also drifted back to the events that took place during and after the demise of her father.
Eyes peered down at her as if she was an alien as she started to regain consciousness. As Laura came into the ward Vianana couldn’t hold back the flood from her tear glands. Her eyelids couldn’t prevent it. Vivi grabbed Laura immediately as she sat close to her on the bed, then she sobbed on the shoulder of the young woman. Both of them had suffered a loss. They shared the same pain. Which person’s pain was greater? Your guess is as good as mine.
“Please don’t leave me”. Vivi whispered amidst tears. How ironic. Some weeks back, Vivi couldn’t stand her because she believed that, she was here to steal her father away feom her. Unknown to her she was hating the wrong person and for the wrong reasons.
“When will he be buried”, Laura asked Reverend Abass, when he came visiting.
“That’s a tough one. Hmmmmmm…….It has to be untill we locate a family member; that is, if one exist”.
Vivi was deaf to what the two adults were saying. She was deep in thought.
“Everything will be alright”, Laura said,trying to soothe her.
“Poor child. She is too young to be going through this. First it was her mother, now this”, the Reverend said and sighed.
Laura just wrapped her beautiful hands around Vivi. Giving her the comfort that she rightly deserves.
“I am leaving now, Miss Laura”.
She just nodded her head. Clearly, she didn’t want to let go of Vivi.
Vivi lost touch with existence. It was as though the world didn’t exist. She hardly went out to visit friends. That bossy and sassiness that was part of Vivi’s make-up was gone. Laura tried as much as she could to bring her out of the recluse state that she was in, but she couldn’t. Laura was also hurting. Mark was the first man that she had fallen in love with since Biola broke her heart three years ago.
A month later, Vivi came back to life. She was back to her usual self. She tried as much as possible to live with the fact that her father was no longer around. Laura showered her withvso much affection that at present it drove away the sadness that was almost becoming her companion.
Both of them were playing a game of scrabble, minds off the recent tragedy, atleast temporarily.
While Vivi was looking at her tiles to figure out what word to play, Laura was deep in thoughts.She was wondering how Vivi would take it when she told her that she would be leaving the country to take up an appointment abroad. And most especially Laura was bothered about the welfare of Vivi. Who was going to take care of her? She wondered if the Reverend would. Naturally he should, when she was no longer around. She knew that it might be challenging for her to adjust but, in Vivi she saw a very strong willed and determined young girl, who will not be daunted by trials and tribulations. At fifteen, she was coping suprisingly well with the loss of her dad.
“Aunt Laura! Aunt Laura! Its your turn”, Vivi’s vigorous tapping of her legs brought Laura out of her reverie.
“Oh! I’m sorry Vivi”, she apologised.
“Is everything okay”, Vivi asked.
She looked at Vivi and put on a very wide and captivating smile,
“Yeah! Am good”.
Vivi raised her eyebrow, not convinced.
“Really, am fine, Vivi”, she tried to be reassuring.
“Okay! If you say so”.Vivi said.
A few minutes later their game was interrupted by Laura’s phone. She had a phone call which she answered promptly. During the phone conversation, the expression on her face changed.
Her contoured expression made Vivi appear apprehensive.
“Is anything the matter? And who was that”,Vivi asked.
“It was the Reverend”, Laura said.
“And what did he say?”, Vivi inquired eagerly.
“Hmmmm…..It seems a familyof your late dad, just showed up”, Laura said.
“Who is the person?”, she inquired excitedly. She sighed.
“Your aunt”, she said with less enthusiasm.”
Interesting”, Vivi said with a giggle
Laura gave Vivi a glare that could have made a scare crow come to life. “What’s interesting?”, Laura asked.
“That’s great news”, Vivi said with so much gusto. “Or isn’t it”,she asked
Laura just smiled not because she loved the news but because it was the first time in two months that she had really smiled.
“Get dressed”, Laura commanded Vianana
“Roger that”, Vivi answered.
They were both ushered into the Reverend’s office by a receptionist. The office looked like a study but it was well furnished. When Laura and Vivi entered they saw a woman looking at some paintings on the wall. She was so oblivious of the presence of the two females. A door opened and the Reverend appeared from it. It appeared to be an adjoining room.
“Welcome Miss Laura”. The Reverend said.
“How are you child?”, He asked Vivi.
Vivi was somewhat distracted by the figure staring at a painting of a mother breasting her child.
“ugh ugh”, The Reverend tried to clear his throat and at the same time win the audience of this stranger. He succeded.
Vivi was stunned, because she thought she was looking at her father. The resemblance was striking that you would have taken this woman and Vivi’s dad for a twin.
“This is Mrs. Amaka Queen Dafe, your late dad’s sister”, the Reverend said. He Looked from Laura to Vivi and then to the visitor, waiting for a response from anyone of them. The silence lasted almost forever. Mrs. Dafe broke the silence
“You must be my niece, ‘Vianana’?
Vivi wanted to respond. She looked at Laura for approval, which she got.
“Yes I am”,she answered gladly
“Then come here and give me a hug”, she implored Vivi
Vivi was so filled with emotion that she ran into her waiting arms and started crying.
“Its okay my dear, its okay”, Aunty Amaka said.
Laura was filled with mixed emotions. She wondered why Vivi put up no atom of resistance. She just eased up so easily to a total stranger. Regardless of the fact that she looked like her late dad, she was an alien to everyone here. Jealousy was written all over her. “Where was she before now? Why did Mark not mention her to his daughter and also to me?”, she thought to herself.
As if Vivi read her thought, she asked, “Where have you been all this while?”
“Didn’t your dad tell you about me?”, Aunty Amaka replied with a question
“No!”, Laura answered very curtly. Aunty Amaka looked at her and she sensed the distrust in Laura’s voice.
“Aunty Amaka sighed, “I will answer any question that you may have later. Lets prepare for my brother’s burial”, she said and started to cry. Laura stared at her and she was in no way convinced of this strange woman’s tears.
Days later he was buried. Few days after the rites were carried out,Aunty Amaka traveled back to her base in Port- harcourt along with Vianana. It was an emotional departure. Laura and Vivi had become so intimate with each other. Laura made sure she had the contact of Aunty Amaka so as to reach Vivi when she wanted to.If she had her way she would have loved to be the custodian of Vivi. She allowed her to leave, though reluctantly.
A month later she was on a plane to England, North London to be precise. Its had been two weeks since she spoke to Vivi and there was that urge to talk to her and she planned to do that as soon as she got to her hotel.
She freshened up after she got to her hotel. She was about having a nap when she remembered that she had to call Vivi. She rummaged in her bag for her phone and she couldn’t find it. She had to turn her big handbag over and every content in it was displayed on the bed. She saw the phone. During the process of arranging the items into her bag she held a diary that was given to her by Mark, Vivi’s late dad. It was red in colour and It looked like all those small fancy bibles. And it had a lock. He gave the diary to her two days before his demise. She had never tried to open it before. Emotions came rushing back, because it reminded her of him. She found herself so drawn to the diary that she looked for the key to open it. She wasn’t expecting to find anything conspiratory or extraordinary in it. She just kept an open mind. Page by page she read and then abruptly she stopped. Her gaze fixated on a page.Trepidation gradually took hold of her. Alarm divulged on her face.
“Oh my!Oh my!Oh my God! This can’t be”, was all that came out of her mouth.