He hurried home when he heard his mom had been declared a witch and thrown out of the family house. It was the last thing he wanted to deal with now. His finals were in a couple of days and he was still struggling to cram the essential parts in his notes. If he could get those down, then he would sail through. He wasn’t looking for A+. He could barely keep his B- average this semester. He just wanted to make it to the next semester. He promised himself he would do better in the coming semester. Now this…!
He knew it was Mama Grace. The witch! How dare she start the rumor that got his mom thrown out of her home? He’d always known the woman was a treacherous bitch and he’d told his mom to be on her guard. What was her problem? She wanted the house in the village? She could have it! Her and her brats! He didn’t need it! What did he care about a rundown family house in the village? He was planning to make it big and build his mom a house someday. Right now he had to find where she would sleep.
He was still struggling to believe that his mom was sleeping outside of her home. When a relative had stopped by at his school to tell him, he thought he was about to lose his mind. His mom was sleeping in the wooden shed formally used as the kitchen because she didn’t want to bother anyone. He was seething as he realized that she probably couldn’t find anyone to take her in since she had been pronounced a witch. Wait until he got his hands round Mama Grace’s neck. He was definitely going to stuff out her miserable life. How dare she? The scruffy church rat his mom had taken in to help her family now wanted to be Madam of the house.
He couldn’t understand why his mom had agreed to the unpalatable arrangement in the first place. He would never understand her guilt because she couldn’t have any more kids after him and the solution was to bring in the scruffy church rat. She bred like a rabbit in the past couple of years and now she had six brats whom she now wanted to inherit his dad’s property. Property? The man was so poor even the house he’d built looked like a mousetrap. Well, she could keep it! She and her brood! He was going to get his mom out of there once and for all!
He could hardly contain his anger on the trip to the village. He kept muttering to himself like a demented man as he thought of ways to kill Mama Grace. Just like her to try and bite the hand that fed her! What is it with this people? You do them a favor and they turn round to stab you in the back. He wished his mom had thrown her out once his dad died. But she didn’t want to do that. The woman and the kids were part of their family, she’d argued. Well, she can now see how her family has turned true to type.
When he found his mom and her things in the wooden shed, he became enraged. He’d probably been thinking none of these was true until he arrived at the village and found his mom actually living in the wooden shed. It was only his mom’s pleads that had stopped him from going into the house to kill Mama Grace. It took her several minutes to get him to calm down as she continued to plead with him.
Finally he got her things and told her she was coming with him.
‘Where?’ she asked.
‘To Lagos; Aunty Uzo’s place.’
‘You think I’ll let you continue sleeping here when your sister has a house in Lagos and can take you in?’
‘I don’t want to be a bother…’
‘You won’t. Let’s go.’
On the way to Lagos, he tried not to think of the money he’d spent for the trip to the village and now the trip for two to Lagos. He couldn’t afford this! Not now. He was so broke. Why didn’t his mom let him strangle Mama Grace? That would have given him some satisfaction. It would worth every kobo he’d had to spend on these trips.
The night bus they boarded got into Lagos before four-thirty in the morning. The driver was of course speeding like a madman. As his mom continued to pray intermittently through the whole trip, he found himself echoing her amens as he dozed on and off.
They had to wait until past five before they began to make their way to his aunt’s place in Ikeja from Jibowu. It was safer at that time to venture out of the bus park since the busy city was already coming alive.
He brooded for most of the trip to his aunt’s as his mom continued to doze on and off. The woman was probably tired after spending most of the night praying for their safety and protection. He didn’t have any doubts that his aunt would take his mom in. He was just mad at the turn of events. His dad had really made a mess of everything taking counsel from his extended family. And where was he today? He was dead and now his mom was paying for his sins.
He’d always liked his aunt’s place. The woman and her family of three with the house-help lived in a two-story building of four flats. The maintenance of the building was contracted out to a management firm that made sure that was constant supply of water and electricity, and every other maintenance issue was taken care of promptly.
They were waiting for someone to come to the door after they had knocked when the door of the flat opposite his aunt’s opened and a girl stepped out. He felt like he’d been stuck by lightening as he stared at her.
‘Good morning,’ she said to them cheerily as she headed for the stairs.
He just stared at her as his mom responded with a warm good morning. He didn’t even realize he was following her until he suddenly found himself at the top of the stairs. He watched as she went down the stairs and disappeared from sight. He felt suddenly depraved.
It took him a while to realize that his mom was trying to alert him to the fact that someone had come to the door and they could now entered his aunt’s flat. He almost couldn’t resist the urge to go after the girl who had just stole his breath away.
He didn’t even follow the conversation as his mom and aunt began to talk excitedly. He vaguely remembered his aunt’s husband coming into the living room to welcome them as he prepared for work or the kids yelling excitedly because they had guests. He kept staring at the door wondering if he hurried downstairs he would have an opportunity to see that girl once more. Just once more….
He almost burst out laughing as he realized that he didn’t have to go downstairs. His aunt’s flat had a balcony. If he hurried he would probably get a glance of her before she disappeared. Even as he hurried towards the balcony, he knew it was wishful thinking on his part. She was probably long gone by now.
He could hardly contain his excitement when he found her standing before the gates leading into the compound. He surmised that she was waiting for her ride. She had on earplugs and from the way she was tapping her foot, he knew she was listening to high-tempo music. He wished he could listen in.
As he leaned against the wall and just adored her with his eyes, he wished he knew everything about her. She was incredibly beautiful from her neatly braided her to the stylish high-heeled shoes on her feet. He could still remember her eyes which had stuck him first. They were like two bright lights. From where he stood, he could see her skin was light and smooth. She was dressed in a smart dark-colored skirt-suit which showed off her lovely legs and had a trendy handbag strapped to her shoulder. Where have you been all my life? She must have recently moved into the flat opposite his aunt’s. He’d been visiting his aunt since she moved into the neighborhood three years ago and he’d never ran into her. She must be new in the neighborhood.
A sudden blare of a car horn scattered the silence and as his goddess hurried towards the gates, he knew her ride had come. Unable to contain his curiosity, he craned his neck to see the ride and its occupants. There was only a female passenger behind the male driver and as his goddess slipped in beside the driver, he wondered why she would do that. Unless the driver was her boyfriend… As he checked out the Honda Civic, he couldn’t help feeling inadequate. If that guy was her boyfriend…..
He turned as his mom joined him at the balcony. ‘Yes, Mama?’
‘Breakfast is ready. Come and eat something before you head back to school.’
He found himself daydreaming for next couple of days. It was only the thought that he was going to flunk his exams that made him focus at times. From time to time he would drift off and begin to think of the girl who had stolen his heart in a few short seconds. He had never been so affected by a girl in all his life. He didn’t even know her name yet she was torturing his dreams and his waking thoughts were filled with her. He knew he was crazy obsessing over a girl who didn’t even know he existed, but he couldn’t help himself.
It was only the thought that his mom was expecting him to make her proud that kept his focus on his studies. And of course he must make it big. He didn’t think his goddess would want to date someone who didn’t even have a means of making it in life. Armed with a degree in Civil Engineering, he knew he would make it. It would take a lot of hard work and prayers, but he was going to make it.