Read Chapter XXXIX here.
The family went to church the next day and then drove home after the service. John helped with the unloading of their bags and took them inside the house. They had lunch and everyone retired to his room to rest. When Bisi woke up from her siesta, she picked up an outfit for work the following day and entered Kukuaa’s room.
“You’re not busy, are you?”
“Not quite. What’s up?”
“Could you iron this for me?”
“Sure. Drop them on the bed. I’ll attend to it.”
“Thanks, sweetie.” She stepped out of her room and closed the door. Nhyira’s door opened.
“Can we talk for a second?” She entered his room and sat on his bed.
“I’m not too sure if you’re angry with me but if you are, I want to say I’m sorry.”
“Why would I be angry with you, dear?”
“For inviting Constance.”
“I’d be lying to you if I said her presence didn’t make me upset and almost ruined the mood for me but no, I’m not angry with you,” she said, touching his face.
“I’m sorry; I guess Kuks was right. I shouldn’t have invited her.”
“It was thoughtful of you to invite her. But she being an adult who can appreciate the implication of her showing up, should not have accepted your invitation.”
“I didn’t mean to ruin the night for everyone. I just wanted the chance to talk to her face-to-face.”
“I understand. But I need to tell you this: Constance has tried more than once to come between your father and me. She wants to break up this family and I’m not going to let her. Please don’t let her use you to hurt us, okay?” He nodded.
“I realized you and Kuks were not talking today. Please don’t fight over yesterday’s incident. We are one family and what matters is that we are all united. I understand her actions because she didn’t want Constance’s presence to ruin our night. You have to go talk to her.”
“Okay, I will.”
“Good boy,” she said, pulling his cheeks and getting up. She walked to the door.
“Mum?” She turned.
“Is it okay if I stay and continue school here?”
“Of course it is…but are you sure you want to do that? You seemed to enjoy schooling abroad.”
“Yeah, I did but I enjoy coming home to family more. So can I?” He asked excitedly.
“You can tell your dad about that; I’m sure he’ll agree,” Bisi said with a smile and left his room. She stifled a scream of excitement after she had closed the door behind her.
Everyone had been a bit low-spirited after they left Villa Victoria in the morning and had gone to church. Even after church, the drive home was quiet and Nhyira felt responsible for that.
He knocked on Kukuaa’s door but she wasn’t in her room. He checked Ewuresi’s room but she was sleeping. He decided to check out the laundry. He stopped at the door when he saw her ironing and listening to music through her earpieces.
“Hey.” He walked towards her.
“I’m sorry about yesterday.”
“It’s not me you should be apologizing to but to mum and dad.”
“I’ve already said sorry to mum. She told me to come to you too.”
“Oh okay. I’m sure you have your own reasons for trying to get to know Constance but…she’s a troublemaker, Nhyira. I thought our mum was enough for you.”
“She is, Kuks. She’s the best mum but knowing that my real mum is living all alone without a family…I felt sorry for her.”
“Just be careful with her. She’s not as miserable as she makes herself out to be.”
“So we’re good?”
“Yep; we are good. Wait, I know you still have your chocolate in the fridge. Can I have it?”
“Of course.” Kukuaa grinned.
“Thanks, bro.” He smiled and left the laundry room. He felt satisfied. He had really meant to eat the last piece of chocolate but for Kukuaa to forgive him, he’d gladly let it go. He was about to go up the stairs when he heard his father calling him. He turned.
“Come; I’d want us to talk.” Nhyira flinched inwardly. He knew he was in for a scolding. He walked towards him. Fiifi tapped the space next to him. He sat and gazed at him with innocent eyes.
“Nhyira, I want to talk to you about…”
“Auntie Constance, I know. I’m sorry for inviting her to the ceremony.”
“It’s not just that, Nhyira. You lied to me.”
“Lied? About what?”
“About your reason for wanting to stay behind in the States. You said you wanted to be far from her and I get to know you’ve been chatting with her?” Nhyira looked at his hands, ashamed of himself.
“I was curious to know who she really was. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t know if you’d fully understand what I did but getting Constance pregnant was wrong in the first place. I really hurt your mother and sisters when they got to know about it. It was supposed to be some sort of arrangement and Constance was never to make contact with you but she broke that agreement when she came to pick you up from school. I could have taken her to court for that. But I considered your feelings. Finding out about her must have been a big blow and that’s why I didn’t seek legal action against her. But allowing her into our family space to disrupt the peace and harmony here is going too far. Your mother might be a bit lenient but I won’t. The harm has already been done and you two have established some sort of relationship. But I’ve to warn you against bringing her close to this family. Is that clear?”
Nhyira nodded. This was the first time his dad was talking to him so seriously. He had no intention of ruining their ceremony but it was obvious his actions had made everyone uneasy.
“I’m sorry, dad.” Fiifi touched his face.
“It’s okay; just promise me it’s not going to happen again.”
“Okay; you can go to your room now.”
“Dad, can I continue schooling here?”
“Why have you changed your mind?”
“I miss home; coming home to you and mum. Please, I want to!”
“Okay; I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, dad.” He got up and ran up the stairs. Fiifi sighed. He felt much better telling his son how he felt about the whole Constance situation. Without Nhyira’s consent, Constance would have no way of intruding their lives.
Since Kukuaa had finished senior high school and was waiting for the WASSCE results to be released, some of her friends had planned a party to celebrate their ‘milestone’. Ewuresi was also invited. Days to the party, they went on and on about who would be there and how much fun it would be.
“Mum, you’ll drive us to the party grounds, right?” Kukuaa asked, half expecting her to say no.
Bisi looked up. “Why will I do that? I’m not your chauffeur.”
“Come on, mum. It’s kind of far from here.”
“You can join via skype,” Bisi said with a shrug. Both sisters dropped their jaws in shock.
“Is that your way of telling us you don’t want us to go?” Bisi gave them a tight smile.
“You know my reservations against parties like this and that’s why you asked for permission from your dad and not me.”
“Okay, so now that we have the go-ahead, why won’t you take us there? Dad will be busy.”
“And I wouldn’t?”
“Mum, please…don’t ruin this for me,” Kukuaa pleaded.
“Oh I’m not doing anything. Ask your dad if he will let John take you.”
“You know John is taking some days off.”
“Oh is that so? I had no idea,” Bisi said, feigning ignorance. Kukuaa folded her arms.
“You knew we would come to you for this.”
“Of course I did and I was waiting for this moment for you two to grovel.”
“Fine, what do you want? Cook for the next month? Deal.”
“Hey, you don’t decide what to do. That is my decision.”
“Okay…so what would you want us to do in return?”
“Um…haven’t thought of that yet.”
“Okay…so would you drive us there whiles making up your mind?”
“When is it again?”
“Oops, Friday won’t do. I’ve a long meeting at the office.”
“Fridays are your almost-free days.”
“Oh so you’re just pulling our legs, huh? We leave at 3pm.” Bisi chuckled.
“You might as well top up the data for the Wi-Fi. I have a big feeling that you would join via skype.”
“Not funny, mum.” Bisi laughed. Nhyira entered the living room.
“Mum, can I also attend a friend’s party?”
“It’s like a sleepover at one of my former classmates’ house.”
“Um…I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“But Kuks and Esi are going to a party.”
“Hey, we are big girls now. When we were your age, we had no sleepovers,” Ewuresi said to him.
“Please, mum. I just want to hang out with my old friends before I resume school.”
“I’m sorry Nhyira but I’m not comfortable with that. Let’s wait for your dad to come home and then…”
“Are you letting them go because you are their mother and not mine?”
Dead silence fell in the room.
“What did you say?” Bisi asked after barely regaining her composure.
“Are you punishing me for inviting my mother to your vow-renewing ceremony?” He sounded angry.
“How can you say a thing like that, Nhyira?” Kukuaa asked. He walked away.
“Come back here!”
“Let him go,” Bisi said, holding her hand and squeezing it for support. Her head was spinning. She couldn’t believe what Nhyira had just said to her.
“What is going on with him?” Esi asked, equally stunned.
“Dad must hear about this,” Kukuaa said.
“No, don’t tell him. I’ll talk to him after he has calmed down,” Bisi said.
“No, mum; if we entertain this attitude for even a little while, he’d be unbearable to live with. This attitude must be flushed out immediately,” Kukuaa said.
“I agree,” Esi said with a nod.
“I know you’ve been quite lenient with him because you want him to accept you as his mother but he knows the truth now and he will decide who to love as his real mother and who to get the leftover affection. But you can’t let him manipulate you into doing what you don’t want to do. You raised us the best way you know how and we turned out great. You don’t have to alter that because Constance is in the picture now. He must appreciate you for who you are. It would obviously take some time for him to do that but you can’t shield him forever. He needs to learn by himself.”
Bisi nodded, biting her lip so she wouldn’t cry. Ewuresi rubbed her back. Her fears of being rejected by Nhyira had finally come to pass and she didn’t know how to live with that after how much of herself she had invested into raising him.
Bisi was in the bedroom when she heard Fiifi kill the car engine. She was nervous about talking about what had happened. Did she really have to tell him about Nhyira’s outburst? Maybe he deserved a pass for this one time, she thought and came out of the room.
“Welcome home, darling…” She said as she started her way down the stairs. She paused when she saw the sisters with him. He raised his head and their eyes met. She swallowed.
“Where is Nhyira?”
“He’s in his room,” Esi said.
“Sweetie, it’s not as bad as they say it is. Let’s talk about this first,” she said, coming down the stairs.
“Nhyira! Come downstairs!” Nhyira appeared a few seconds later and came downstairs. He gave Bisi a strange look and walked towards his father who had both hands on his waist.
“What did you say to your mother?”
“I just asked to go to a friend’s place for a sleepover but she said no. I didn’t understand because Kuks and Esi are going to a party too.”
“So…what did you say to your mother?”
“Fii, it was nothing. Let it go,” Bisi interjected. Fiifi signaled her not to interrupt.
“I felt like she was not treating me fairly.”
“What do you have to say to her?” Nhyira turned slowly to face Bisi. He was about to speak but he stopped himself and turned back to face Fiifi.
“Auntie Constance was right. She told me you’d start treating me differently after finding out I’m not part of the family.”
“That’s ridiculous, Nhyira. All we’ve done is love you as our flesh and blood. How can you let her deceive you like this?” Kukuaa asked.
“Is that how you really feel?” Bisi asked. He nodded.
“Then maybe you don’t want to stay with us anymore,” Bisi said. They all stared at her, shocked.
“You told me yourself, Fii that this is my home. That I decide who lives here and who leaves. You promised me that if the time came and it has come, you’d let him know that he lives here because I let him. Now he doesn’t want to be here because his mother tells him this isn’t the best place for him to be. So perhaps he has overstayed his welcome,” Bisi said, tears in her eyes.
“Bisi, hold on…”
“I want to go back to the States,” Nhyira said.
“Fine; that’s where you’ll stay,” Bisi said and turned towards the stairs.
“Mum, wait!” Bisi ignored her daughter and ascended the stairs.
“I’m sorry but this isn’t my home anymore,” Nhyira said.
Fiifi entered the bedroom to find Bisi crying. He hugged her and she began to sob more loudly.
“Yeah, me too. I failed. I failed at raising him the way you wanted me to. I’m sorry.”
“No, you did a great job. The roadmap has just changed. That’s all.”
Mother and daughters stood at the door as Fiifi dragged Nhyira’s suitcase out of the house. They all couldn’t believe it had come to this. Nhyira came downstairs and paused a few feet from them.
“I’m sorry if I hurt you by what I said.”
“Do you really have to go?” Ewuresi asked. He nodded. She hugged him followed by Kukuaa. He hugged Bisi.
“We have to go,” Fiifi called out. He walked out and sat in the car. Fiifi gave Bisi a nod and sat in the car. He started the engine. Last waves were exchanged and the car took off.
“You know it feels like he’s been exiled from home, right?” Kukuaa asked.
“No; not exiled. He wanted to leave and I couldn’t force him to stay. I don’t know when he will ever come back but I’ve to believe he will soon,” Bisi said with a forced smile. They entered the house, closing the door behind them.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XLI here.