Read Chapter XII here.
Days, months and years passed and Nhyira Pratt grew up into a very lively lad. Before he started school, Bisi would take him along to work and he soon won over everyone at the office with his boyish charm. He was the perfect replica of his father. Gradually and steadily, the Pratt family grew to accept Nhyira as a part of the family.
Getting Nhyira enrolled in school was one emotional moment for Bisi. Because they have spent most times together, Nhyira had grown much attached to her and wouldn’t want her off his sight for more than a minute. He used to admire his sisters as they got ready to go to school, how they looked in their uniforms, when they did their assignments and talked about school life. He wanted to start school so he’d go out with his sisters and return home with them.
Bisi watched in amusement as Nhyira admired his new school uniform.
“It’s nice!” He said excitedly.
“I know, right?” You’ll look great in it. Should we try it on now?”
“No, no, no. If I wear it today, it wouldn’t be new for school tomorrow. I’ll wear it tomorrow when I’m going to school.” Bisi smiled.
“Okay; if you say so.” Nhyira checked out his new backpack.
“You like?” He nodded.
“I’m going to school!”
“Yes, you are and you’re going to be one of the smartest kids in your class,” Bisi said as she playfully pulled his cheek. He giggled and hugged her. He pulled back when he heard his sisters enter the house.
“Kuks and Esi are home!” he said and ran out to meet them.
“Hello lil’ brother. You seem excited. Did mum buy you ice-cream?”
“I’m going to school tomorrow!”
“Oh wow, Nhyira wants to go to school. And I want to quit. Can we trade places, mummy?” Esi asked.
“Sure of course. If you want to grow up to be the PR of nobodies, be my guest.”
“That’s mean, mum.”
“Good; you won’t think of quitting school again. How was the debate club meeting today, Kuks?”
“Great. I think I got the boys in the club mesmerized by my voice and poise. I must be that good.”
“Of course they would be. Kukuaa has earned herself the popular girl tag. All the guys drool over her,” Esi informed her mother.
“Of course, I’m a Pratt. I have to stand out.”
“That’s my girl,” Bisi said proudly as she hi-fived her.
“And how was drama club?”
“It went well. I have a script to memorize.”
“Come and see my uniform,” Nhyira said, taking Esi by the hand and dragging her upstairs.
“Nhyira seems very excited about school. I’m sure someone will cry tomorrow,” Kukuaa said.
“Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of. I don’t want him to start his first day with a headache.”
“Oh I wasn’t talking about him. It’s you who’ll cry tomorrow.”
“Me? Why would I cry? I’m not a crybaby.”
“Oh really? You cried after you dropped off Ewuresi, mum. And Nhyira has been your teddy bear for years now. You’ll definitely cry after he enters the classroom.”
“That’s true; he’s been a sweet warm teddy bear. I’ll miss him.”
“And the tears begin,” Kukuaa said teasingly and started towards the stairs. Bisi chuckled.
Fiifi arrived home with an Avengers’ customized pencil case which contained some stationery. Nhyira was beside himself with joy. After dinner, the family sat together and recalled their first day in school memories.
The following day, both parents decided to drop the kids at school. Before Nhyira was led to his classroom, he hugged Bisi for the last time and placed a kiss on her cheek. He got a bear hug from Fiifi and entered the classroom. Fiifi helped Bisi up from her squatting position. She sniffed.
“Our boy just left us for the first time and he didn’t cry.”
“He’s a brave young lad. I’m proud of him. Aren’t you?” She nodded. He put his arm around her neck and they turned towards the car.
“Thank you for raising him to be what he is so far.” She gazed at him.
When Fiifi came over to the school premises later that day, Ewuresi suggested they celebrated Nhyira’s first day in school with pizza. At the sound of pizza, Nhyira’s eyes lighted up and seconded the motion. Being outnumbered by three persuasive kids, Fiifi gave in. Bisi wasn’t a fan of feeding the kids with outdoor food but he knew Bisi would understand considering the circumstances. When he pulled over at Eddy’s Pizza, the girls insisted that they would go in and order. He was too exhausted to argue. As he waited, he looked in the rearview mirror and saw that Nhyira was fast asleep. First day at school can be tiring. He yawned. It had been a long day. He couldn’t wait to get home and catch some sleep.
He woke up when the car doors opened and the girls hopped in. Kukuaa was holding two family-sized cases. She didn’t wait for him to ask.
“I thought that we could save some for later.”
“Sure. Let’s go home.”
Bisi arrived a bit later and they had pizza for dinner. The table was being cleared when the doorbell rang. Fii and Bisi glanced at each other, the obvious question dancing in each other’s eyes. When they both shook their heads, Fiifi went to open the door.
“Mr. Pratt, shalom!”
“Shalom, Deacon Bonsu and Deacon Asare. Please come in.” They entered.
“Sorry we didn’t call in advance. We know you both are very busy with your work and we were in the neighborhood so we decided to drop in and find out how you’re faring,” Deacon Asare explained their presence.
“I appreciate it, deacons. Please have a seat. Would you want something to drink?”
“Water will be fine,” they both said. He excused himself and went to the kitchen.
“Guess who just showed up. Deacons A and B.”
“Wow, what do they want now?”
“Apparently, they were in the neighborhood,” Fiifi said, opening the fridge and taking out two small sized Voltic bottles. He poured the contents into two glasses and placed them in a tray.
“Let me,” Bisi offered, wiping her hands dry and taking the tray from him. He followed her out of the kitchen. By the time her feet stepped into the living room, Bisi was wearing a warm smile on my face.
“You’re welcome, deacons.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Pratt. I hope all is well.”
“By God’s grace, yes.” She served them. Nhyira came running into the room.
“I can’t find my coloring book.”
“Um…I saw it around. I’ll look for it, okay?”
“Oh is it the baby boy you adopted? Look at how much he has grown!” Deacon Bonsu said proudly. Fiifi and Bisi exchanged a nervous glance. Nhyira stared from mum to dad to understand what was going on.
“Let’s go and get your book, okay? I’m sorry but you have to excuse me. I have to clean up after the kids.”
“Of course, sister.” Bisi took Nhyira’s hand and they left the room. Fiifi sat down.
Bisi sat Nhyira down and quickly finished up with the tidying of the kitchen. She took a Voltic bottle from the fridge and sipped. She turned to look at Nhyira.
“You want water?” He shook his head.
“Mummy, what does adopted mean?” She almost choked on the water she was sipping. She was dreading this. She and Fiifi had never explicitly told anyone Nhyira was adopted but someway somehow, everyone had assumed that he was. She didn’t really blame them. She wasn’t pregnant but she has been raising a boy for years now. It was only natural for people to think that. How was she going to explain it without lying to him?
He got off the chair and patted her leg.
“Sorry…are you okay?” Bisi nodded and coughed a little.
“What does it mean, mummy?”
“Um…it means added to the family. They were surprised to see you this big because you were just a baby a few years ago when they last saw you.”
“So when you get a new baby, he’ll be called adopted too?”
“Well, it depends. People call it different names. But don’t worry about it, okay? It is not a bad word. It only means you’re the last one to join the family.”
“B?” Fii called out.
“They are leaving.” Bisi went to meet them.
“Thanks for passing by. Sorry I couldn’t sit down with you.”
“It’s okay. It’s been a while since we came on visitation and we decided to drop in.”
“And we appreciate that. Our regards to the church leaders.”
“Of course. Goodbye. Bye, big boy. You’ve gotten a good family. God bless you,” Deacon Asare said and they left. Fiifi closed the door and sighed. Bisi gave him the ‘we-need-to-talk’ look.
“Nhyira, why don’t you go to your room? Mummy and I will be there soon.” He nodded.
“My coloring book,” he reminded Bisi.
“I’ll search for it. You go ahead.” They waited for him to be out of hearing shot before they spoke.
“Can you believe Nhyira picked up the ‘A’ word?”
“What do you mean?”
“He asked me what adopted meant.”
“And what did you say?”
“I said it meant he was the last one to join the family. I don’t know if he believed me.”
“He’s a kid. He’ll believe you.”
“We better hope so. We can’t have anyone putting doubts in his head that he’s not part of us.”
“I know; I won’t let that happen.” He put his arm around her waist.
“Let’s go upstairs and talk to him.” She nodded. They took slow steps up the stairs.
When they entered Nhyira’s room, he was lying on the bed, his eyes on the ceiling. He sat up when he saw them. He took a book beside him and waved it.
“I found it, mummy.”
“Good.” They sat on his bed. Fiifi ran his fingers across his scalp.
“Mummy told me you asked about what the word adopted meant. Why did you ask?”
“Nothing; it’s the first time I’ve heard it so I didn’t understand it. But mummy explained it so it’s all good.”
“Good. You are our son and we love you very much, okay?”
“Yes, daddy.” He kissed his forehead.
“Mummy, will you read me a bedtime story?”
“Yes, dear.” Fiifi nodded. “Goodnight, Nhyira.”
“Goodnight, daddy.” He left the room. Bisi lay beside him, took the Three Little Pigs book and began to read. When he yawned, Bisi closed the book and kissed his cheek.
“Have a good night, my love. May God watch over you throughout the night and may He grant us the gift of life tomorrow in Jesus’ name.”
“Amen,” Nhyira said sleepily. Bisi got up, covered him well and left the room after putting off the light.
Nhyira stared at the ceiling. Mummy’s definition was nice. But something still remained unsettled with him. He knew his parents would not lie to him but the deacon’s words rang in his ears “You’ve gotten a good family.” What did that mean? It sounded…not right.
Adopted. The word that stuck in his mind and troubled his heart. Adopted. Adopted. I am adopted.
Josephine Amoako (c) 2016
Read Chapter XIV here.