Read Chapter XXXVII here.
Kukuaa and Ewuresi arrived home chatting heartily about a friend’s birthday they were coming from. Ewuresi screamed when she saw her dad sitting in the living room. They both rushed to his side.
“What did you bring us?”
“I hope you didn’t forget our list.”
“You can check out my suitcase. I hope I didn’t forget anything,” Fiifi replied with a smile. He was counting the seconds till they asked the question he was dreading.
“Great! Let’s go check it out,” Ewuresi said to her sister as they rushed to the stairs.
“Is Nhyira is taking a nap?” Kukuaa asked. Before he could answer, Ewuresi said, “Let’s go give him a welcome scream!” They ran up the stairs. Fiifi sighed.
Bisi was furious with him; having to add the displeasure of these two was tantamount to a full-blown explosion. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to let Nhyira stay behind. All he had to do was survive the day or the next few days and all will be fine.
The girls burst into Nhyira’s room but their ‘welcome home’ scream hit the walls of the empty room.
“Did mum go out with him?” They entered their parents’ bedroom and saw their dad’s suitcase on the bed. They zipped it open. They smiled and gave each other a hi-five.
Bisi entered the room.
“Hi mum. We just got back. Where were you?”
“Doing a little laundry. Did your dad get you what you asked for?”
“Uh huh; looks like it. We thought you had stepped out with Nhyira. He’s not in his room. Where’s he?”
“Why don’t you go ask your father?” The sisters exchanged a puzzled look.
“What is wrong? Did you two get into a fight?”
“I’m just saying you should ask your dad about your brother.” They dropped the items in their hands and walked out of the room.
“Dad?” Ewuresi called out as she made her way downstairs.
“He stayed behind.”
“Why? Did he fall ill?”
“No…” He dragged out the word as he put his mind to work about how best to put it.
“So why didn’t you bring him with you?”
“Because he didn’t want to come back,” Bisi replied, making the girls turn to look at her.
“What do you mean? What happened out there?” Bisi sat down and folded her arms.
“He asked to stay and I couldn’t refuse him.”
“Couldn’t? So you just left him? Mum, did you know about this?”
“No, apparently Nhyira asked your father not to tell me till he arrived home. I tried calling him but he doesn’t want to talk to me,” Bisi said.
“Why? What is going on?”
“That’s what I’m still trying to understand,” Bisi said, giving Fiifi a hard look. He sighed.
“He said he wanted to be away from Constance and I think it makes sense for him to be away from her. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? You suggested this trip in the first place!” Fiifi said, attempting to play the blame game.
“You know very well what I meant when I suggested it. I didn’t mean you should exile him from home.”
“I’m not exiling him. I’m only granting his request.”
“Something isn’t right about this. He was excited about going but I know he wanted to be back home. His Constance excuse don’t hold. Something is wrong,” Kukuaa said.
“I know; I’ve tried playing the final moments we shared before they left in my mind to recall if perhaps I said something to upset him. I can’t remember any such thing. For him not to want to talk to me doesn’t sit well with me at all,” Bisi said.
“So when is he coming back?” Ewuresi asked.
“It hasn’t been decided yet.”
“What? He’s going to stay with another family till he decides he wants to come back?”
“Something like that.”
“The last time I checked, he’s still a minor. Why does his request trump over mum’s? How many times did that not happen with us?”
“This case is different, Kuks.”
“How different? Is it because he’s a boy and we are not?”
“Don’t go there,” he warned.
“But you do know this plan of yours to hide him from Constance isn’t going to work, don’t you? They will be in touch if he wants to. All it takes is for him to hit her up on Facebook. And something tells me she wouldn’t be difficult to find on social media. What you’ve done is actually give them the liberty to interact without any intervention. You surely don’t want your baby mama influencing your golden boy if not you would have left him with her to raise. Am I right?” Ewuresi said.
Fiifi felt his head spinning. The heightened female emotion was beginning to suffocate him. He stood.
“I’m going to lie down. Let’s not talk about it anymore. He stays there: end of discussion.” He walked away. The girls sat on either side of their mother who was beginning to feel emotional.
“How he thought leaving such a young delicate boy with a relative he doesn’t even know very well was a good idea beats me,” Bisi said. Kukuaa rubbed her back soothingly.
“Do you think he’s trying to punish me for suggesting he goes with his dad for the holidays?” Bisi asked.
“Why would he think that? Did he think you wanted him away from him because you’re not really his mother?”
“Who knows what he’s thinking now? He’s not even talking to me.”
“Let’s try again. Maybe he’ll talk to all of us and tell us what’s going on with him.”
Fiifi Facetimed his cousin and asked him to call Nhyira for a chat.
“Hey buddy, how are you holding up?”
“Good. You home? How’s everyone?”
“Everyone’s fine. But you’ve made mummy very upset by refusing to speak with her. Why didn’t you speak with her?”
“I’m sorry…I knew she would be angry and I didn’t want her to shout at me.”
“You know she wouldn’t do that. You have to apologize to her so she can feel better. Should I call her so you can talk to her and your sisters?”
“Hold on a minute.” He got up and stepped out of the bedroom.
“I’ve Nhyira on video chat. He wants to talk to all of you.” The heads of the three ladies shot up in his direction.
“Really?” They got up and started up the stairs. Fiifi re-entered the room.
“They are on their way.”
“Was mummy crying?”
“She cried for a while.” Nhyira was silent. Mother and daughters entered and Fiifi handed his iPad to Bisi. She sat and the girls sat next to her.
“Hi baby,” Bisi said, forcing a smile.
“I’m sorry, mum.”
“Why did you abandon us here? We were supposed to have fun together this vacation,” Kukuaa said.
“I know; I’m sorry. I had a disturbing dream that’s why I didn’t want to come back home.”
“What was it about?”
“I don’t really remember it but I know it wasn’t a nice dream. I miss you all.”
“But you know your dad’s and mine anniversary is coming soon. I wanted you to be his best man for the occasion,” Bisi said.
“I won’t miss it,” Nhyira promised. Bisi sighed in relief. She hadn’t lost him after all.
“Are you sure you want to live there all by yourself? You can always go to college there after completing senior high school here,” Ewuresi asked.
“I know but I want to stay here for a while.”
“If I knew this is what you wanted, we’d have let your sisters join you for the holidays,” Bisi said. She would have felt much better knowing he was surrounded by family.
“It’s not too late,” Kukuaa said, smiling at her mother.
“You’re only home for three weeks. Maybe we can plan that for your long vacation. What do you say, sweetie?”
“That would be great!” Nhyira said excitedly.
“Be good, okay? We’ll be in touch,” Ewuresi said.
“Sure. I love you all.”
“We love you too, baby.” They blew him kisses which got him grinning.
“I’ll check up on you soon. Now speak with daddy,” Bisi said and handed the device to Fiifi.
“So we’re all good. If you need anything, let me know immediately, okay?”
“Including if you change your mind and want to come back home!” Kukuaa shouted. Fiifi glanced at her and then back on the screen.
“Okay, I will. Take care of mum, dad.”
“I will. Take care of yourself, buddy. I will tell uncle to get you your own iPad so we talk more often, okay?”
“Okay, dad. I left mine at home.”
“I know. We’ll be in touch. Bye.”
“Bye, Nhyira!” The girls shouted.
“Bye!” Fiifi ended the video chat. He sighed.
“Feel better now?” He asked, looking at Bisi.
“I’d have preferred to have him in my arms but I guess I have to make do with technology, right? Let’s go down for dinner.” She left the room with the girls following her. Fiifi sighed. At least she wasn’t as mad as she was before. It would take time for them to adjust to his absence but they would be fine. He was sure of it.
Weeks passed by and the girls went back to boarding school. The family had been in constant touch with Nhyira which helped them deal with his actual absence more easily. Bisi managed to convince herself that he being away was probably the best for his safety but she wouldn’t admit that to Fiifi.
Fiifi sat alone in the living room watching Bisi’s show; something he had enjoyed doing throughout the years he had been married. Getting to watch her doing her thing with such flair and expertise made him to fall in love all over again every time. She was good at her job; no, amazing. He remembered how attentively Nhyira used to watch her although he didn’t understand half of what was being said when he was a toddler. He admired seeing his mummy on TV. Realizing the woman he was so proud to call his mother wasn’t his biological mum must have been heartbreaking. But Fiifi hoped that he would realize that sometimes family could transcend blood ties.
The topic on Bisi’s show was about how parents could better relate to their children in the 21st children. Bisi should be the resource person on the show and not the hostess, Fiifi thought; considering what a phenomenal parent she was to their kids.
Bisi was reading messages her audience were sending via social media. She and her panel moaned in admiration over some of the texts and some others got them laughing.
“Okay so let me read a couple more and we’ll wrap up the discussion. This is from someone called You Know Who…okay, interesting name. Reminds me of Harry Potter,” Bisi said with a chuckle and continued, “How funny it is when the fake mother thinks she has succeeded in separating the real mother from her son by sending him abroad. She doesn’t know by her actions, she has even brought them closer…” Bisi blinked. It was too late now. She might as well finish her whole message. She cleared her throat.
“From C.A.” Fiifi held his breath hoping his wife won’t break down on live TV. Thankfully, Bisi quickly regained her composure.
“Okay…let me read another so we can end this on a pleasant note.” She read one more.
“So, you’ve heard what our listeners have to say about the topic. Any thoughts?”
“Very interesting. But I’d like to comment on the one about the fake and real mother.” Fiifi noticed Bisi take in a deep breath.
“I don’t know the details of their relationship but a bond between a mother and her son is so strong that no outsider can sever it. No matter how hard the fake mother which I’m sure she’s referring to the stepmother tries to replace the real mother, it won’t work. As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water. And I think it’s wrong for any woman to try to steal the spot of the real mother in the heart of a child.”
“Okay. Let’s hear your thoughts too, sir.”
Constance smiled. She had succeeded in riling Bisi up. Now she would know how it feels to be knocked off her high horse. She knew her phone would ring soon. Either from the TV goddess herself or from her ever faithful husband. She typed a reply to Nhyira. Her little abduction stunt had really worked to her advantage. Poor Bisi, she thought as she sipped her wine.
Fiifi could hear his heart pounding madly in his ears. Constance had the nerve to rub it in Bisi’s face on TV. How dare she? Was Nhyira really chatting with her? He took his phone to call Constance but he stopped himself. He wasn’t going to give her the pleasure. He called Bisi instead after her show ended. She answered on the first ring.
“Are you okay?”
“Oh you were watching?”
“Of course I was. I’m really sorry about what happened. That was mean. Should I come pick you up?”
“No; I’m good. I’ll be home soon.”
“Are you sure? I could be there in the next hour.”
“No need. Wait up for me.”
“Yeah, sure. Drive safely.”
“Uh huh,” Bisi said and ended the call. She sighed and bit her lower lip. She wasn’t going to break down over this. She was stronger than that.
As she drove home, Bisi contemplated how possibly true Constance’s message was. It was definitely her. C.A.? Constance Ameyaw. She wanted her to know it was her without no trace of ambiguity. This was beyond exasperating. Was Nhyira in touch with her? Of course he was. How else would she have known Nhyira wasn’t in the country? Maybe she went back to his school and was told he didn’t return for the next academic term. But Nhyira never mentioned he was in touch with Constance. Bisi wondered why.
When she got out of the car, the front door opened and Fiifi came out to meet her. They hugged and held each other for a while, no one saying anything. He kissed her cheek and looked at her.
“You okay?” She nodded. He took her hand bag and led her inside. Bisi threw herself on the bed when they entered the bedroom. Fiifi took off her shoes.
“I hope you haven’t called her.”
“No; didn’t want to give her the pleasure of my attention,” Fiifi replied.
“Good.” She sat up. Their eyes met and Fiifi could see the tears in her eyes. She was hurt. Who wouldn’t be? He wished he had the right words to say to soothe her pain but he was out of words. This was entirely his fault. If he had brought Nhyira home with him, they could have monitored him more closely. He was now away from home, free to interact with anyone he wanted with an iPad at his disposal. He had really screwed this up…big time.
“Kuks was right. Leaving him there defeats the purpose of sending him there in the first place. Gosh, who knows what she has been telling him?” Bisi said.
“Should we call him?” Fiifi asked.
“I don’t think I’m in a good mood to talk with him right now. You can talk with him if you want.”
“I’m really sorry, B. It wasn’t my intention for this to bite us in the back. I’ll go for him when his term ends.”
“What’s the point? He has already been breached. It’s too late to do anything.”
“Are you giving up on him?”
“No; but forcing him to come back will only do us more harm than good. We need to play our cards carefully. I can’t believe I have to deal with her throughout my lifetime,” Bisi said, burying her face in her palms.
“I’m sorry.” Fiifi hugged her. She began to sob. Fiifi rocked her gently, whispering consoling words to her.
He would call Nhyira and find out what was really going on.
Constance kept looking at her phone. Fiifi wasn’t going to call her to rant? Or they were going to pretend they didn’t know it was from her? Adding her initials made it clear enough. Or should she call to give them a sleepless night? She smiled mischievously and then laughed loudly. This was going to be so much fun. Telenovela in real time.
© Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XXXIX here.