Read Chapter XIX here.
Bisi heard footsteps approaching. They were unfamiliar; they were clearly a woman’s and she was the only one who wore heels in the house. As she wiped her hands dry with a napkin to go take a look, a female figure appeared at the door of the kitchen.
“Hello, who are you and how may I help you?”
“I’m Nhyira’s mother and I’m coming for my son.” Bisi gasped.
Bisi woke up with a start. She touched her chest and felt her heart pounding and her body covered with sweat. Fiifi was deep asleep. She got out of bed and stepped out of the bedroom. She quietly entered Nhyira’s room and walked to his bed. She touched his forehead and listened to his breathing. She sighed in relief when she noticed he was fine. She planted a soft kiss on his forehead and went back to bed.
“Are you okay?” Fiifi asked in a whisper after Bisi had settled in bed.
“I’m sorry for waking you. Just went to check on Nhyira.”
“Nothing; just had quite a disturbing dream.”
“What was it?”
“Let’s talk about it in the morning, okay? Just want to go back to sleep.”
Bisi could still hear her heartbeat in her ears. All was well, she assured herself as she closed her eyes to sleep. A few minutes after the alarm clock rang some hours later, Bisi heard some rushed footsteps out of a room entering another. Then she heard, “Happy Birthday!” and some giggles. Fiifi woke up.
“What’s going on?”
“Your girls wishing your boy a happy birthday,” Bisi said, sitting up.
“And they couldn’t wait till breakfast?” Bisi smiled.
“You know how excited they have all been about this particular birthday. Let’s go and wish him.”
“Won’t he still be sleeping?”
“After that scream? I’m sure he teleported back to earth with that.” They got out of bed and joined the others in his room. Kukuaa and Ewuresi were tickling him and he was giggling heartily.
“Leave the poor boy alone,” Bisi said with a proud smile on her face.
“Mummy!” Nhyira called excitedly as he stood on his bed. Bisi opened her arms and he jumped into her embrace.
“Happy birthday, sweetie.” She kissed him loudly on the cheek.
“Thank you, mummy.”
“Happy birthday, buddy,” Fiifi said as he hugged his son.
“Thank you, dad. Do I get gifts?”
“That would be a surprise. Now, everyone should get ready. We leave here before six!” The girls rushed to their rooms.
“What would you like to have for breakfast, birthday boy?” Bisi asked Nhyira.
“Cereal.” Bisi’s scowled in disappointment.
“Cereal? You eat that almost every day. Why wouldn’t you want a special breakfast?”
“Because you make every breakfast special, mummy. And I don’t want you to be tired on my birthday. My breakfast is special when you make it whether cereal or toast.”
“Awww…you just made my morning! You’re so sweet! Oh gosh, I’m going to be the biggest rival to your wife, honey!” Bisi said as she hugged her son again.
“Go on and get ready, buddy.” They went back to their bedroom. Bisi sat on the bed.
“You go first,” Bisi said, taking her Bible and Our Daily Bread devotional from the top of the drawer.
Fiifi was heading to the bathroom when a thought struck him. He turned.
“What was the dream about?”
“Huh?” Bisi looked up at him.
“You woke up at dawn and said you had a disturbing dream.”
“Really? I can’t seem to remember.”
“Oh okay; when you do remember, let me know.”
“Of course, honey.” He entered the bathroom.
“Aha!” Bisi exclaimed as she took her phone to send a quick text message.
In the car, Bisi turned up the volume of the radio when the morning show presenter wished all listeners who were celebrating their birthdays a happy one.
“A special one goes to one Nhyira Pratt, the son of the CEO of Pratt Group of Companies and our very own TV ace personality, Bisi Pratt. The entire Pratt family wishes you all the very best of life and want you to know you make their world complete. Stay blessed, Nhyira.”
“Awww…” Everyone in the car sang out. Nhyira covered his face. Ewuresi tickled him and he giggled.
“That was thoughtful, sweetheart. Thank you,” Fiifi said. Bisi smiled proudly.
“Come closer for a birthday selfie,” Bisi said, taking out her phone.
“Ready?” She tapped the capture button.
“Aww…beautiful.” She gave to Ewuresi and the three took a look and began taking their own selfies.
Constance was pouring herself some hot water for tea when she heard the birthday wishes on radio. Her heart leaped when Bisi and Fiifi’s names were mentioned. She startled when she felt the hot water on her foot.
“Ouch!” She put the kettle down.
What was today’s date, she wondered. She checked her phone. Wow…it was the day she delivered Fiifi’s boy. How many years had it been? She had subconsciously repressed any memories about the boy. If she had settled down, her family would be growing by now. How she wished she could just see the boy and imagine how life could have been for her if she were in Bisi’s shoes.
She was about to call Fiifi’s number but she hesitated. She hadn’t heard back from him since that clash at that corporate cocktail function. She knew they keeping each other at arm’s length was the best thing for everyone but she needed to make this request even if that would be her only and last chance. She inhaled deeply and called the number.
Fiifi’s phone rang. He took a look at the caller ID. His eyes widened. This woman had some nerve. He canceled the call and put it back down. What did she want now? He hoped she would just get the implied message and back off.
Constance stared at her phone when the call abruptly ended. Fiifi could be so rude sometimes, she fumed. She knew she had been fully compensated for what she did for him…even more than she asked for but he had no right to treat her like trash. Maybe she should send a text message. No, that was dangerous. His wife might come across it and though he might not believe her, she had no intention of ruining his marriage. Seriously, where was his manners? She eyed no one in particular and brought the mug to her lips. She spewed it out instantly.
Out of rage, she had forgotten to put the tea bag in it and she was about to gulp down raw hot water. What a man’s contempt can drive someone to do!
Fiifi had meant to call Constance back when he arrived at the office but some early scheduled meetings made it escape his mind. Constance tried his number again but he had left his phone in his office. After having back-to-back meetings, Fiifi finally entered his office tired and hungry. He was served his lunch and he took his phone to check for missed calls and unread mails as he ate. He noticed there were two missed calls from Constance. He sighed. What did she want, more money? He wasn’t going to allow himself to be blackmailed. He was just finishing his meal when the door opened and there stood Constance.
“What the hell?”
“Sorry; your secretary isn’t at her desk so I decided to let myself in. I hope you don’t mind,” she said with a sly smile as she entered and closed the door behind her.
“Do I need to file a restraining order against you for you to understand that I don’t appreciate you barging in here whenever you feel like it?”
“Well, if you had shown the courtesy of answering my calls, I wouldn’t have to drive all the way here.”
“Well, in case your brain can’t process it, I am a very busy man with a lot of meetings to chair. I don’t have much time on my hands like you do. Maybe you should try working for a change. Maybe you’d understand.”
“I won’t let you disrespect me like that, Fiifi Pratt. And for your information, I do work even if you don’t regard it. But if I may remind you, it was through my ‘revolting’ job that we met and I gave you the one thing you’ve always wanted. Show me some respect!”
“What do you want? Money? Plane ticket? I thought I had paid you more than enough.”
“You very well have and I am not Olivia Twist to ask for more.” Fiifi’s brow arched at the customized Oliver reference.
“I’m here to ask for a favor. May I sit?”
“Do you promise to never show your face here under no circumstance henceforth?”
She raised in hand in mock compliance. “I promise on my honor.” Fiifi snorted.
“Thank you.” She sat. Fiifi leaned back in his swivel seat with folded arms.
“I know when I handed over the boy…”
“I remember you calling him my package,” Fiifi chipped in. Constance bit her lower lip.
“I admit I didn’t display the right emotions back then; it wasn’t my finest moment. But looking back at my life, I’ve realized what a mess I have become and the only good thing I have done is the boy. I heard the birthday wishes your family gave to him over the radio today and it got me thinking. I could have been a mother. I could have been raising my own family now. But it’s not too late for me to start. I just want to see him on this special day.”
“Wow…nice speech. Sounds very well-rehearsed. What makes you think I’d allow you any proximity to my son?”
“Because beneath your classy rude attitude on the surface, I believe you are a good man and you wouldn’t deny me this request of seeing the boy I bore you.”
“I don’t know whether you think life is like the Hollywood movies where you come and put up a show and somehow I’d feel sorry for you and give you what you want. I’m not going to fall for that.”
“Please Fiifi, I promise not to cause any trouble.”
“We agreed that there would be no contact with the boy or the family after you handed him over and you gladly signed to that effect.”
“I know; I’m pleading with you here.”
“And how will I introduce you?”
“An old friend, a colleague, whatever. Just let me see him.”
“I will think about it.”
Suddenly, the door burst open and Nhyira came running in. They both stood out of shock.
“Daddy!” He threw his arms around his legs.
“What time is it?” He asked, checking his watch.
“Kuks and Esi are having club meetings so John brought me here. Thank you for the birthday cake and drinks, dad. Everyone loved it!”
“I’m glad.” Nhyira noticed the woman looking on. Constance felt like the elephant in the room.
“Um, Nhyira say hi to Auntie. She’s a friend and she came to say hi.”
“Hello cute boy. It’s your birthday today, huh? How old are you?”
“Wow. Congratulations.” Constance blinked hard to prevent tears from falling. Finally getting to meet her son was emotionally overwhelming.
“Thank you.” Constance smiled. She glanced at Fiifi whose eyes spoke a clear message.
“I’ll take my leave now. Enjoy the rest of your day and happy birthday.”
“Thank you, Auntie.”
“Bye.” She walked out of the office and rushed to her car. When she sat in, she broke into sobs. She finally realized how much she had wasted her life going after material wealth and ‘living the life’ when she could have done much better for herself. She had gladly sold the boy off and there was nothing she could do about it now. Had she known…
Bisi later went to pick up the girls and joined Fiifi and Nhyira at a Chinese restaurant for a family dinner. Nhyira narrated how his teacher and close friends came in with the cake and sang for him. Some friends gave him snack bars as gifts and his teacher gave him a novel.
“Awww…that was so thoughtful of your teacher. We must thank her,” Bisi said. Fiifi agreed.
“Well, we have our gifts for you as well. I and mummy got you this,” Fiifi said, bringing out a parcel.
“Thank you!” He excitedly took it from him.
“And this is from Esi and me…” Kukuaa said, handing another parcel to him.
“Can I open them now?”
“Of course.” He began to gingerly rip the wrapper apart.
Constance couldn’t stop crying. She had traded what could have been a lifetime insurance for an amount she didn’t even remember how it got exhausted. It should have been her celebrating such a special day with the boy and his father. Her!
Josephine Amoako (c) 2016
Read Chapter XXI here.