Read Chapter XLIV here.
The breakfast table was quieter than usual. Fears of what could happen to the man of the house kept everyone in a gloomy mood. Kukuaa was playing with her food, Ewuresi was lost in thought and Bisi kept calling Nhyira’s number which was somehow out of service.
“Still can’t get through to him?” Bisi shook her head.
“I’m worried. After finding out what happened to his father, I can’t imagine how he must be feeling. I just wished I could talk to him. I’ve never had problems reaching him before. I wonder why it is so this time around.”
“Could it be that he’s upset that you kept dad’s condition from him?” Ewuresi asked.
“That would be a reason why he’d want to get in touch and not to cut me off. I just pray he’s okay.”
“He is fine. Nhyira is a big boy now, mum.”
“He’s still my baby,” Bisi said, trying the number again.
The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get that,” Ewuresi said, getting up. She walked to the door and opened it.
Bisi and Kukuaa got startled when they heard Esi scream. They both got out of their seats to find out what had happened.
They walked in to see Ewuresi hugging her brother. They both sighed in relief.
“Mum!” Nhyira called out when he saw Bisi. When he broke away from Esi, he walked into Bisi’s arms. They both sighed.
“I missed you, mum.”
“I missed you too, baby.” Nhyira held her more tightly and kissed Bisi’s cheek. He was home. He felt it in her arms.
“Okay, am I going to get a welcome home hug too or what?” Kukuaa asked. Nhyira chuckled and hugged her big sister.
“Oh gosh, are you taller than me now? How is that possible?”
“But how did you get home? You should have called. We could have come to pick you from the airport,” Bisi said. Before Nhyira could respond, a voice at the door made them all turn their heads to that direction.
“Well, I picked him up.” Constance chuckled watching the smiles on the faces of the Pratt ladies freeze.
“This is your luggage, Nhyira,” she said, lifting her leg to step into the house.
“Ugh…ugh,” Kukuaa said, waving her index finger at her, making Constance freeze in her position. Kuks walked to the door and took the suitcase from her.
“Thanks for the help but that’s where it ends. You don’t get to step a foot in my father’s house.”
Constance glanced at Nhyira, hoping he’d back her.
“Thanks, Constance for the ride. I’ll be in touch.” When Constance gaped in shock at Nhyira’s response, he merely shrugged implying it was out of his hands.
“Bye,” Kukuaa said with the fakest smile she could muster and shut the door in her face.
“You seriously brought her here?” Kukuaa asked, walking towards him.
“She insisted on being the one to pick me up from the airport and I decided to oblige her so I wouldn’t have to endure her emotional blackmail. Sorry about that.”
“Enough of her. We were having breakfast. Join us and let’s talk.”
“So how’s dad doing?”
“Not too good but we’re hopeful. He’s going to be okay.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why did I have to hear it from her?”
“Because I didn’t want to distract you from your exam papers. It was inconsiderate of her to break the news to you like that.”
“Well, I must say that with Constance, it’s talk first and think second.” Kukuaa and Ewuresi chuckled.
“I missed you all very much,” Nhyira confessed. Bisi held his hand.
“We missed you too. How I wish your dad was home. It would have been such a happy moment.”
“And I’m sorry how I left home. I know I hurt you. Forgive me, mum.”
“It’s okay, son. I knew it was only a matter of time. I know you must be tired from the long flight so you can take a nap whiles we go and visit your father.”
“What, are you kidding me? Why do you think I rushed home in the first place? I want to see him too.”
“Okay then. Let’s finish up.”
Bisi and Nhyira sat at the back seat, Esi at the front and Kukuaa drove. They reminisced on moments they spent together when they were young. Some of them made them laugh heartily till they had tears in their eyes. Nhyira took his mother’s hand in his and squeezed it gently. She turned to look at him.
“He’s going to be okay.” She nodded. She needed to hear that.
When they entered the hospital, the doctor-in-charge of Fiifi’s case met them with a smiling face.
“He is? When? Why didn’t you call me?” Bisi asked, the excitement obvious in her voice.
“About half an hour ago. We needed to attend to him first. I knew you would be coming so I wanted to make sure he had some time to rest before you arrived. Let me take you to him. His body is still weak so be careful around him.”
“Dad!” The girls cried out when they entered his room.
“Hi girls,” he said faintly. Bisi went to his side and kissed his forehead. They held hands.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better now that you’re here,” he replied with a smile.
“Guess who’s back, dad,” Esi said. Nhyira entered.
“Oh I wish you wouldn’t have to see me like this. You shouldn’t have told him so soon, honey,” Fiifi said to Bisi.
“She didn’t. Constance did,” Nhyira said.
“Oh. You two still in touch?”
“She dropped him home,” Kukuaa answered.
“I see. We’ll talk when I get out of here. Why don’t you give us a minute?”
“Okay, dad.” The three left the room. Bisi sat on the bed and touched his face.
“I’m so glad you’re awake. I couldn’t sleep fearing the worst.”
“I promised I wouldn’t leave you, right?”
“Yes, you did. I can’t wait to take you home and treat you to a special massage,” Bisi said with a wink.
“Oh I’m looking forward to it. I wanted to talk to you about the shares’ allocation we worked on with my attorney the other time.”
“Uh huh, what about it?”
“I want you to activate it.”
“Why? There’s no rush. You can do it when you get out of here.”
“No, I…I think you should do it now. The kids are all grown up. They should have access to what it’s due them.”
“Is there something you’re not telling me? You’re getting better, right? Why can’t we wait till you’re out of here?”
“If I do get better, it’s going to be a long recovery…”
“If? You don’t believe you’re going to get well?”
“That’s not what I mean, honey. Just get in touch with the attorney and get on with it.”
“And if I refuse? If I decide to wait?”
“Then I’ll call him to start the transfer process.” They stared at each other.
“I don’t like the sound of this. You’re hiding something from me, aren’t you? I’m going to ask the doctor.”
“There’s nothing to ask, B. I don’t want us to argue about this. Just listen to me and do it.”
“Promise me you’re going to get well.”
“I promise.” He held her face and kissed her. It felt different and the look in Fiifi’s eyes scared Bisi. He wasn’t saying goodbye, was he?
“I love you, B. I always will.”
“Don’t you dare leave me.” He only smiled.
Nhyira parted ways with his family to meet up with Constance at the mall. Constance helped herself to some fries whiles Nhyira sipped on juice.
“So how’s your old man doing?”
“He’s okay; a little weak but okay.”
“So he’s going to make it?” He gave her an odd look to which she shrugged.
“Not that I was expecting anything different; just wanted to be sure.”
“Yes, he’s going to live. I’ve been wondering; ever since you handed me over to my dad, you never let go of him and got your own life? You still hang on till now? You could have had your own family by now.”
“You’re my family, Nhyira.” He scoffed and shook his head as he sipped his juice.
“Well, soon you’d be handed some prominent position in your father’s group of companies to manage. Don’t forget your poor single mother, okay?”
“I hope you don’t intend to use me as your feeding ticket, Constance.”
“Don’t talk to your mother like that, Nhyira.”
“I’m just saying. If that’s why you somehow wish my dad would pass away so you could have a bite of his wealth, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. I might not be the son you were hoping me to be.”
“Oh you will. Blood is thicker than water, remember?” Constance said knowingly, tapping his cheek lightly.
Later in the evening, Bisi and the others had dinner together. They were almost done when Bisi cleared her throat. They all looked at her curiously.
“Um…I’ve something to tell you.”
“Is it dad? Is his condition still critical?” Esi asked anxiously.
“No, he’s fine. He just asked me to tell you something. Now that you’re all grown up and old enough to be responsible for yourselves, he asked that the shares of his company be made accessible to you so you’d feel part of the empire he’s created. I’ll call his attorney to come over to explain the technicalities to you. Among other things, you’d be able to attend meetings and contribute your ideas in order to keep the group of companies thriving. I know that we raised you well and that you’re going to make us proud. So this would be an opportunity to prove us right.”
“Why don’t we wait for dad to recover so we can all sit down and talk about this?” Esi asked.
“That’s what I suggested but he insisted that I initiate this as soon as possible. I do as my lord commands,” Bisi added dramatically.
“I have a little request to make,” Nhyira spoke up.
“Sure; what is it?”
“I’d like a portion of my shares to be given to my mother.” The table was silent for a moment.
Kukuaa chuckled. “Um…I’m sure mum appreciates the gesture but she does have her own.”
“Yeah, you don’t have to do that, son,” Bisi said.
“Um…I was talking of my…real mother…Constance?” Bisi’s breath got stuck in her throat. It was like time had frozen in the room. But the shock spell was broken by the sound of Kukuaa’s cutlery hitting her plate as she slowly rose from her chair.
“That’s not going to happen.” Brother and sister locked themselves in a cold stare.
“Why…why would you want to do that, Nhyira?” Bisi asked, her voice faint from the shock.
He shrugged nonchalantly.
“She’s my mother. She deserves it.”
“She doesn’t deserve a penny! She has no right to earn anything from my father,” Kukuaa said.
“You mean our father,” Nhyira countered.
“Okay, let’s all calm down. What did she tell you when you went to see her today?” Bisi asked.
“What do you mean?”
“She means she figured that our dad isn’t going to make it and is counting on her stars to get a little something because of her contribution to our family, huh?” Ewuresi answered. Nhyira looked at his sisters’ angry faces and then at his mother’s disturbed look.
“I’m not asking that she be included in dad’s final will. I’m just saying that I want a part of what is rightfully mine to be given to her. What is the big deal about that?”
“Allowing her to own even a decimal portion of a share is an insult to this family, to mum for crying out loud! Dad wouldn’t want her associated with his hard work in any way,” Kukuaa said.
“Well, as mum said we’re all grown up so I can make my own decisions now. And this is one of them.”
“Mum? Why aren’t you saying anything?”
Bisi had covered her mouth with one hand and felt the other one on the table trembling. She fisted it to calm herself.
“Don’t allow her to manipulate you to humiliate this family any further, Nhyira,” Esi said.
“Humiliate? Are you calling me a humiliation to this family?” Nhyira asked, sounding hurt.
“If you want to give her something to compensate her for whatever, you could always give her money. Besides, I wonder if she even knows what to do with shares,” Kukuaa said disdainfully.
“Don’t you disrespect my mother, Kukuaa,” Nhyira said in a measured tone, his temper rising.
“Your mother? This woman seated next to you is your mother!” Kukaa said, pointing to Bisi. Nhyira glanced at Bisi guiltily.
“Of course you are, mum. But you know what I mean.”
“No, she doesn’t. We all don’t. You think it’s dad who holds us together as a family? Well, let me correct that. It’s her. If she isn’t in the equation, then this family falls apart. So if you denounce mum, you denounce this family and thus have no claim to anything in this family.”
“That’s not how the law interprets a family, Kuks.”
“Oh you want to talk law with me, huh? That’s great. Let me put it to you straight. I don’t care if that woman gave birth to you in whichever hospital but she’s not getting a pin from this house. I can assure you,” Kukuaa said firmly.
“We shall see about that,” Nhyira said, getting up.
“Guys, calm down. Kuks, don’t talk to your brother like that. Sit down,” Bisi urged.
“You mean, half-brother?” The manner she spat out the word made everyone freeze. Nhyira slowly turned to face her. He fisted his hands.
“It hurts to hear it, huh? That’s exactly how it hurts for you to throw in our faces that Constance is any more of a mother than our mum who raised and loved you as her own.”
“This isn’t over,” Nhyira said and walked out.
“Oh yeah, this has only began.” She sat.
“Ouch, that was harsh, Kuks,” Ewuresi said.
“He needed to hear it. He can’t have his cake and eat it. It’s either he’s with us or he isn’t. But there’s little we can do, right? No matter how long he’s lived with us, he’s still half-blooded.”
“Uh huh; he only has dad’s blood in his veins which qualifies him to be a Pratt but not mum’s blood which makes us family.”
“You’re seriously calling him half-blooded? Did you read Harry Potter recently?”
“It’s not fair to call him that, Kuks. Nhyira is family,” Bisi said.
“But he isn’t blood.”
“We are family beyond blood. I thought we knew that.”
“Come on, mum. That doesn’t even work out in telenovelas. Sooner or later, the adulterated part was bound to show up. And Constance’s side surely didn’t disappoint. She’s clearly manipulating him. She made him hurry back home when she heard dad was in a critical condition. And she met him today to drum into his ears that his family lies with her and dad. If we don’t put a stop to this, he’s going to ruin us,” Kukuaa said.
Bisi buried her face in her palms. She was suddenly suffering a splitting headache. Her phone rang. She took it. It was the doctor calling.
“Mrs. Pratt, you should come over quickly. Your husband isn’t doing well. It’s kind of serious.” Bisi’s heart sank.
“What’s going on?”
“He’s suffering some seizures and he’s growing weaker. You should come quickly. Who knows, maybe you could say goodbye before it’s too late.” Bisi felt her throat dry up.
“I’ll be right there.” She ended the call.
“What is it, mum?”
“It’s your dad. I fear he’s leaving us.”
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XLVI here.