Mum had me when she was twenty-five years old. By then, she was all grown up, done with school, living by herself, and working; she even owned her own private business. One would think that was enough reason to be ready but mum said she didn’t ‘plan’ me. However, she didn’t neglect to hammer on the fact that I wasn’t a mistake.
“You are not a mistake, Nicole” she said one day.
“You were and still is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was just that you caught me off guard…like the greatest surprise ever” she had said grinning
But we all know that it was unconventional- at least that’s what our school counselor said after i was dragged into the principal’s office for fighting with a classmate who had stupidly called me a By-low. She continued that it was unethical to have a child out of wedlock which by the way makes me wonder:
If mum says it wasn’t exactly a big deal, that the world was no longer a conventional place being that a lot of young men now preferred their women getting pregnant first before putting a ring on it- Why wasn’t she happy about it?
I know my mum to be a very conventional woman and a very spiritual one at that. I usually catch her praying and begging God for mercy-not for having me though, but for not waiting till she was married- Which by the way trumps the question:
What the hell happened?
“Mum, what happened?” I asked one day, finally putting a voice to my probing thought. We had just returned from a runway show in Ghana. Mum always took me along to her business trips and events ever since I was four years old and she was in a pretty good mood today. She had just launched a new line for her brand “corner” and it was selling in almost all the West African countries, Paris inclusive.
“Huh?” she asked me settling down our luggage on the kitchen floor, a confused look on her face.
“Why didn’t dad marry you?” I asked taking off my shoes; my toes were aching seriously.
“Nicole?” she asked raising one of her brows, a smirk on her lips. A look she used when she gets irritated by my questions, but I don’t care. I want an answer.
“But mum, you never told me why” I asked miserably as I moved towards the kitchen table and drew out a chair to sit.
“Well, maybe it was because I was saving it for when you are much older” she answered smiling.
“Why? I’m older now, don’t you think? I’m thirteen Mum. I can’t get any older than this” I lamented
Mum laughed and then said. “Of course you will. You are gonna grow up…finish school…get married and then have your own kids. Unlike me, you are going to do it in that order”
“Mum, please…I really wanna know” I cut in, knowing how great my mum was at swerving from topics.
“Nicole, can’t you just wait till we’ve had dinner? I’m hungry. Aren’t you hungry?” Mum asked moving towards the refrigerator
“Hmm…I’m famished actually” I said jumping down from the chair to assist her.
“Well let’s make something to eat then. I promise to tell you why, when we are done” Mum replied her gaze suddenly fixed at particularly nothing in the fridge. Another thing she does when she has abruptly drifted away in thoughts.
“Promise?” I asked resting my back on the sink to watch her.
“Promise” she replied shutting the refrigerator door. A bowl of salad in her hand.
Mum said it was fourteen years ago she met dad. They both worked in the same company, a food manufacturing company called FOODMAC in Lagos, although they worked in different departments. Dad worked at the finance department, mum in the advertising department. Mum said they became fast friends as soon as dad started working there. It was like there was this invisible force pulling them together.
“Force?” I asked confused…”what kind of force?”
“An inexplicable one. It was like we were destined to meet. Like God had orchestrated that we are to be friends” she replied.
I exhaled, my ears itching for more. So dad and mom were friends….cool!
Mum continued that they became so close that everyone including their bosses thought they were a couple. Because the company had no strict policy against couples in the office, they didn’t seem to mind. They let everyone believed whatever they wanted.
“Really?” I interjected excitedly.
“Ni, are you going to let me finish the story or are you going to keep interjecting me?” mum asked a grimace on her face.
‘Oh oh sorry mum…continue…I promise I wouldn’t cut in again” I answered apologetically. This may probably be the one chance I get to have answers to my question. I definitely didn’t want to ruin it. So I sat quietly at our kitchen table, with our empty plates and glass cups in front of us and I listened rapidly…
It was after a year and half dad and mum became something more than friends. I couldn’t understand it but mum said she started to love dad in ways that she couldn’t explain but dad didn’t feel the same so she was heartbroken. Because I promised I wasn’t going to interject anymore and even though I couldn’t make sense of what she was saying, I let her continue.
“You see, when I met your dad, he was in love with another woman, a woman he was planning to marry. He’d told me of his intentions and as a friend that I was at the time, I was thrilled for him but you see, this woman left your daddy, breaking him into tiny pieces. As a friend, I did what I could to get your daddy back on his feet but I could never make him love again. That alone had to be his choice, his decision.” Mum said pausing to take a deep breath.
I was perplexed.
“See? I told you wouldn’t understand” mum laughed as she stared at my confused face.
“No No! mum…I may not understand but I want to hear it…please don’t stop” I pleaded. “So what happened next?”
“Hmm… nothing really” Mum answered “Ni, I’m tired. You know we just had quite a long flight. Let’s get some sleep” Mum insisted getting up from her chair
“Mum please…please” I pleaded joining her on my feet.
“But you don’t understand any of what I’ve just said. How then can you understand what I’m going to say next?” Mum asked staring down at me, her eyes suddenly filled with sadness.
“But…” I stammered not sure what to say… I just like hearing about dad, I let my thoughts answer
“I thought so” mum answered sarcastically. “Come on Ni…let’s go to bed. It’s getting late” she pivoted towards the door. I stood there lost in thoughts.
Just when she was about to cross the door, she turned and smiled at me “Don’t worry Ni…you’ll have your answers soon. Just give it time”
to be continued………….
(All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental)