Read Chapter XXXV here.
The front door opened with a scream, “We’re here!”
Nhyira dropped his game console and rushed towards the door. “Kuks!”
“Hey!” He hugged his sisters.
“You’ve really grown. Have we been gone for that long?”
“Looks like it. Gosh, I miss this place,” Ewuresi said as they walked towards the living room.
“Where are mum and dad?”
“Dad is in his office; mum has gone for a meeting.”
“Let’s go and greet him.”
“What about our things? John can’t bring them upstairs, right?”
“Not everything. I’m sure he’ll bring them inside. We’ll figure that out. Let’s go.”
Fiifi startled when the door to his office suddenly burst open and heard voices shrieking ‘surprise!’ He sighed in relief and a smile crept up his face when his mind registered that it belonged to his two ever crazy daughters. He got up and they rushed to hug him. He had really missed them. The house had grown considerably quiet since they left. It felt good to have them back.
“We missed you daddy!” Ewuresi said.
“I missed you more. You two don’t look so bad. I thought you would have worked off all the fat in your body.”
“I’m a senior, dad. We don’t do that much work now. Can’t say same for the poor lady here though,” Kukuaa said teasingly.
“A new batch is coming next term, dear. My scrubbing time is almost over.”
“Great. Let’s go downstairs and tell me all about high school,” Fiifi said. They left his office.
Fiifi warmed up some lunch and they all sat down to eat. Nhyira recounted how things had been at home since they left.
“When is mum coming home?” Kukuaa asked.
“In a few hours, I presume,” Fiifi replied, checking his watch. His phone vibrated. He stared at it.
“Ha! Speaking of her, she just texted. She is asking if you two have arrived yet.”
“Tell her to come home!” Ewuresi said.
“That’s exactly what I’m texting her, honey,” Fiifi said, typing his reply. He put the phone down and smiled at them. He couldn’t wait to have his family complete again.
Bisi arrived home during the late afternoon. She entered the house.
“Where are my baby girls?”
“Mum!” She heard two pairs of feet rushing towards her. They hugged her.
“Awww…how was the nkontobeans?” They laughed.
“Nutritious, they say.”
“Uh huh. I got us some chicken.” Ewuresi took the bucket of KFC chicken from her mother.
“Yay! You’re the best, mummy!”
“I know.” Kukuaa took her bag and wrapped her arm around hers as they walked into the living room.
“Hi babe,” Fiifi greeted with a smile as she watched her come in.
“Hi darling.” Fiifi leaned his head over the couch. She leaned forward and kissed him. The girls looked away.
“Ewww…aren’t you two too old for this?”
“Old? Hello? It gets better with age. Do you want to see the extended version?” Bisi teased.
“Please no.” Fii and B laughed. Bisi touched Nhyira’s face.
“What about you, champ? Eaten?” He nodded. She smiled as she pinched his cheek.
“What are we having for dinner?”
“Well, now that you two are here, you can figure that out.”
“What? We just got home. We should have a welcome home dinner.”
“What about cooking us we miss you dinner instead?” Bisi countered.
“You should be cooking us that too,” Ewuresi said.
“Fine; we cook together and we catch me up on what happened this term. Deal?”
The three Pratt ladies sat in the kitchen, waiting for dinner to be ready as they chatted. After sharing a laugh, Kukuaa glanced at her mother.
“So your turn now. What happened at home when we were gone?”
“Well…it was all quiet and routine till…Constance took Nhyira.” The sisters shared a bewildered look.
“What do you mean she took Nhyira?”
“She went to pick him from school because…she felt like it.”
“That…” Kukuaa bit down on her tongue to stop herself from spewing insults.
“Witch?” Ewuresi offered.
“Well, that wasn’t what I wanted to say but that would do. Besides, it’s just the first letter that changes, right?”
“What did she want with him?” Ewuresi asked.
“To tell him her version of the truth.”
“And what is that?”
“Nhyira wouldn’t talk about it. I’ve tried to make him talk but he wouldn’t. But I do know she told him she was his real mother.”
“To what end? It’s not like she can contest his custody.”
“Apparently, she has this divine revelation that my husband and your father as well as my son and your brother are her family so she’s coming for them.”
“You went to see her? Did you slap her after she said that?” Kukuaa asked.
“I didn’t want to give her pleasure that she could elicit any reaction from me. So no, I didn’t. But I did very hard in my head.”
“Yep, that’s my mother.”
“So what are you going to do?” Bisi sighed.
“I don’t know. I wanted him to grow up normal…seeing us as his first family,” Bisi said.
“I think it’s time he knew the truth,” Kukuaa said. Bisi looked at her.
“I agree, he’s still young to process it but Constance has accelerated the clock. We should have been the first people to tell him but she beat us to it. But we still have time to get him on our side. He’s not talking about what she told him because he’s thinking about it, analyzing memories to see if she was lying or not. The more we wait, the more he’d believe her,” Kukuaa explained. Bisi nodded.
“You’re right. Oh God, if this cup can be taken away from me,” she said in despair.
“Don’t worry, mum; you and dad don’t have to do this alone. We can do this together,” Ewuresi said, patting her mother on the back.
“Thank you girls. I didn’t think I had the courage to face him and tell him the truth but with you two here, I believe I can do so now.”
“We’re stronger together…the Pratt legacy,” Kukuaa said proudly. “I can’t believe this happened in our absence. Maybe we should consider home schooling. What do you think, Esi?”
“Sounds great to me.” Bisi chuckled.
“That’s the smile that brightens this house,” Ewuresi said.
At dinner, whiles the girls shared funny stories about boarding school life, Bisi noticed Nhyira was a bit distracted. She’d call his attention and he would join in the conversation but after a while, he’d withdraw again. Bisi watched him, feeling heartbroken at the damage Constance had caused. Kukuaa was right. They were running out of time.
As they lay in bed later that night, Bisi relayed her fears to Fiifi.
“Are you sure you’re not imagining it?” He asked.
“No, Fii. We’re losing him.” She lifted her head to look at him.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“We should tell him,” Fiifi said. She nodded.
“Tomorrow after lunch.”
“You know everyone is exhausted after Sunday lunch. We need everyone to be alert for this.”
“You’re thinking dinner?”
“Yeah; dropping such a bombshell would ruin siesta for everyone. I suggest we do this over ice-cream.” Bisi smiled.
“You’re nervous, aren’t you?”
“Aren’t you? I don’t know how he’ll take it.”
“Hopefully he’ll take it well.”
After church service the next day, Nhyira went to his father for the car key. He always loved to unlock the doors. He liked the sound it made. It also made him feel in charge. He also enjoyed the attention he got from his colleagues from Sunday school.
As he was leaving the auditorium with the key, he met Deacon Bonsu and Deacon Asare. He greeted them. They stopped their conversation and shook hands with him and asked him how he was doing. He started walking away from them after giving them his response. But their exchange stopped him in his tracks.
“The boy has really grown well. For an adopted child, he really looks like his father.”
“Yeah, I noticed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the man’s child. Businessmen of today.”
Nhyira ran out. He began panting. He put his hand on his chest and tried controlling his breathing.
Their voices triggered a memory from long ago…about their comments when they visited their home. It was all beginning to make sense. His sisters walked to him.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He took his hand away from his chest.
“Want pastries?”Ewuresi offered.
“No, I’m fine.” She gave her sister a puzzled look.
“That’s the first.” Their parents joined them and drove off.
After dinner, they all sat together watching TV when Fiifi told Bisi to get them some ice-cream. She looked at him and he nodded. It was time. She nodded back.
“Girls, could you give me a hand?” She asked as she got up. They followed her into the kitchen. Ewuresi fetched the cups whiles Kukuaa got the ice-cream from the freezer. Bisi sighed.
“What is it, mum?”
“We’re going to tell him.”
“Okay…who will be doing the talking?”
“You’re sure? Nhyira listens to you.”
“Everyone listens to me. But this is your dad’s responsibility. I’ll chip in when I need to. So, I need you two to help us assure him that we love him and that we see him as one of us…as family beyond blood, ok?” Bisi said. They nodded.
Fiifi and Bisi sat on either sides of Nhyira whiles the sisters sat together. Fiifi cleared his throat.
“Um…Nhyira, there’s something we need to tell you.”
“About what?” He asked, scooping a spoonful of ice-cream.
“About what Auntie Constance told you.”
“Dad, I don’t want to talk about it. She was lying…”
“Not really. Auntie Constance is…your real mother.” Nhyira’s eyes met his father’s and Fiifi’s heart ached on seeing the horror in his eyes. Nhyira turned to look at Bisi.
“No, you’re my mother.”
“I am your mother. But I didn’t give birth to you. Constance did.”
“I made a mistake. I don’t regret having you but what I did was wrong. Wrong to this family.”
“If she is my mother, why am I not staying with her?”
“Because your daddy wanted you to grow up in a family; with your sisters.”
“You told daddy to bring me here or else you will take his money and company,” Nhyira said.
“What? Why would you think that?” Bisi asked, alarmed.
“Is that what she told you?” Fiifi asked. “Because it’s not true. Your mummy didn’t even know you had been born. I brought you home.”
“She also said you’ll say something different.”
“Listen Nhyira, you have to believe mum and dad. Dad brought you here because he wanted what was best for you. But that’s in the past now. What matters now is that we are one happy family. We are the Pratt family,” Kukuaa said.
“You had an affair?” Nhyira asked, looking at his father with teary eyes.
“No, it was a contract…sort of. I wanted a baby boy…”
“Because you didn’t want to have more babies,” Nhyira said, this time casting a glare Bisi’s way.
“That is not true! You don’t have to believe a word of what she said.”
“Why not? She was telling me the truth. You lied to me. I asked if I was adopted and you said, no.”
“You were not adopted. You are…” Bisi was saying but he cut her off.
“But I am not your son. That makes me adopted in a way.”
“No, you’re our brother in every way. Don’t let Constance’s words get into your head, Nhyira,” Ewuresi said. Bisi touched her son’s face and looked into his eyes.
“You’re my son just as your sisters are my daughters. I raised you, I loved you. I am your mother and you are my son.”
“No, you’re not my mother. She is!” Nhyira shouted and got up. He began to run upstairs. Bisi’s heart sank as his words echoed the ones she had dreamt about.
“Let him go,” Fiifi said. “Let’s give him space to process it.”
“Why does it seem that he is angrier with mum than with you? You’re the one who went outside for a baby not her,” Kukuaa said.
“He’s only disappointed that I’m not his mother. I don’t blame him,” Bisi said. She buried her face in her palms.
“Please don’t let me lose my son,” she said.
“You won’t,” Fiifi assured her, brushing his palm across her back.
“Let’s hope so. Because that will be your fault.”
Fiifi nodded. He deserved it.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XXXVII here.