Read Chapter XLVI here.
“Just go, B. Don’t get late to work on my account,” Fiifi said for the third time that morning.
Bisi could conceal her excitement about her husband spending his last day at the hospital. After the dark moment of narrowly escaping death, Fiifi had recovered miraculously fast. Even the doctor was amazed at the turn of events.
“His unusual speedy recovery is making me skeptical about my earlier claim about his organs failing. Whatever prayers you said, don’t stop. They make miracles happen.”
“We thank God for that. And thank you for everything, doctor. If you hadn’t tried the last time, my husband would be at the morgue as we speak.”
“As I said, don’t ever stop praying.”
“I just want to make sure everything is intact,” Bisi said, looking around.
“Everything is fine. My mum will make sure everything Pratt is leaving when I finally sign out of here.”
“Oh I wish I was the one taking you home. Are you sure you’re okay with your mother doing that? I could ask for…”
“No, B. You’ve already sacrificed a lot since I was brought here. I’m fine now. Go to work. I’ll see you at home,” Fiifi urged. Bisi sighed. She hugged him. He kissed her cheek.
“Take care of yourself,” he told her. She nodded. As she walked out of the room, she turned abruptly to say something but a look from Fiifi made her change her mind and turn around. She left the room. Fiifi shook his head with a smile on his face. He couldn’t wait to get back home.
Constance had almost choked on her food when Nhyira told her over the phone about Fiifi’s recovery. After coughing for almost a minute and her tears had soiled the mascara around her eyes, she asked how it happened.
“I don’t really know; one minute dad was about to be declared dead and the next he was alive. All I can say is, prayers do work.”
“Uh huh. I see. Good to know.”
“You don’t seem excited by the news.”
“Oh I am; it’s just that the food going through the wrong path has taken the excitement from my voice. Do you know when he’s going to be discharged?”
“Um…not at the moment. I’ll let you know when I find out.”
“Thanks, dear. Send him my regards when you see him, yeah?”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Your name is sort of forbidden around here.”
“Oh yeah? I guess I’ll have to find a way to send him my regards anyway. Thanks, honey.”
“Sure. Talk later.” The call ended. Constance chuckled.
“If Fii made it out of the clutches of death, I should see it for myself. I guess I come from the line of the doubting Thomas. Damn it, I can’t believe I put the cart before the horse. Wasted money to buy mourning dresses I wouldn’t get to wear. Maybe I could return them, yeah, I could do that.”
“I’m not going to take your place, Fii. I refuse to die now,” she said and resumed eating.
Constance startled when she saw Bisi approaching in the hospital hallway so she hid behind a pillar. She waited for her to walk past before coming out of her hiding. She inhaled deeply and was directed to Fiifi’s room.
Fiifi blinked hard when he saw Constance. Maybe it was his eyes playing tricks on him. Constance smiled knowingly.
“It’s not a dream, Fiifi Pratt. It is me in the flesh,” she said, putting her handbag down.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well when our son told me you wouldn’t be leaving us, I decided to come see you.”
“Why does that sound that you wished me gone?”
“Don’t be silly, Fiifi. No matter what bad blood we might have, I wouldn’t wish ill for the father of my son.”
“If this were to be a movie, I’d say this is the scene you try to end me by stuffing my face with a pillow.” Constance laughed.
“I can see you’ve been watching a lot of movies. But come to think of it,” she said, looking around, “I think the plan could work if I had really come with that intention. But we can always try it out.” She attempted to take the pillow from behind his head but Fiifi slapped her hand away.
“But honestly I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Thank you. So you managed to maneuver your way into my son’s life, huh?”
“Our son, Fii; our son.”
“Or so he’s no longer a package, huh?”
“Hey that was years ago. I know better now.”
“Uh huh…like your bargaining chip to have a piece of my property if I were to pass. That’s not going to happen, Constance.”
“Wow…Bisi has left no stone unturned to keep me out of the loop, huh?”
“Leave Bisi out of this. And if you know what’s best for you, you’d take your greedy claws off my son.”
“Now you’re seriously making me reconsider the pillow idea. I will…”
“Fiifi…” Constance turned and swallowed.
“And who’s this?” His mother asked.
“Good morning, ma. I’m…”
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to find out how he’s doing.”
“As you can see, he’s fine.”
“I think I’ll take my leave,” Constance said uneasily as she took her handbag.
“Bye, Fii.” She hurried out of the room. Fiifi’s eyes met his mother’s cold look.
“I didn’t invite her over, mum. She came by herself.”
“And from the room temperature, you were making her comfortable. Isn’t she the one who almost drove Bisi mad?”
“Mum, I did nothing wrong. She walked in, what was I supposed to do? Tell her to leave?”
“Yes, that’s what you were supposed to do!”
“She’s the mother of my son, mum.”
“How unfortunate,” she spat. After a moment of silence, she asked, “Are you going to tell her?”
“Tell Bisi, of course.”
“Tell her what?”
“What just happened here, what else?”
“Why would I do that, mum? What good could come out of this?”
“After Bisi had gone through because of you two, are you going to start keeping things from her again? If you don’t tell her, I will and trust me; you’re not going to like my version very much.”
“Why are you pushing things? Things are finally okay with me and Bisi and you want to ruin it?”
“It’s exactly because things are okay that I want you to tell her. Don’t make room for another disaster. I seriously don’t know why she stayed after all you put her through when she had so much to gain if you two were to part ways. She must really love you.”
“You wanted us to break up?” Fiifi asked, stunned by his mother’s reaction.
“I wanted you to learn your lesson of what you stood to lose by your reckless behavior. Where was she when you were hanging on by a thread? She only shows up when you’re well again. I thought you were smart enough to decipher the code, Fii.”
“Mum, I’m being discharged today. I’m going to meet my family. Please don’t ruin the moment for me.”
A company driver took Fiifi and his mother home. Nhyira was the only one home to receive them. He helped his father sit down on the sofa. Fiifi requested for a glass of water. When he entered the kitchen, Grandma was scanning through the contents in the fridge. She gave him space to take water out of the fridge. She gave him a once-over. He looked like a stranger to her now. The many years he had been out of the country made him seem so. As for the girls, she had seen them regularly through family brunches and dinners. As he turned to leave with the glass of water, she told him to come and help her out. He nodded and left the kitchen.
Fiifi decided to go upstairs to his room and Nhyira assisted him. When he returned to the kitchen, Grandma decided to start a conversation with him. She asked him about school and Nhyira told her how he adjusted to life abroad. She raised a brow when he mentioned that Constance’s frequent calls helped him.
“Why? No one in your family kept in touch with you?”
“Oh they did. It did feel different though because of how it all went down. I left after an outburst so that hang in the air whenever we talked. But with Constance, it felt more homely.”
“I see. So you like her, huh?”
“Well, she’s my mother. I’ve no choice, right?” Grandma didn’t respond. She didn’t like the idea that the social climber had formed a bond with her grandson. She knew Bisi had done her best raising him but it went out of her hands when he went abroad. The earlier she was cut off, the better for them all.
The three ate lunch together where grandmother and father got filled in with Nhyira’s life events. Grandma watched the two closely. Nhyira did look like his father. But one could easily believe that Bisi was his mother. Or was it perception by association? If that gold digger hadn’t shown up, they would have lived together as a family happily ever-after but now she wasn’t too sure. She had avoided that woman for these years and pretended she never existed but she wondered if maybe it was time for her to meet her one on one.
After lunch, Grandma asked Nhyira to drive her to the market to which he agreed. Fiifi said he wanted to rest for a while. After having small talk for a while, she asked Nhyira if he was going to see Constance.
“Ah, I don’t know…maybe I’ll pass by after I drop you off,” he said nonchalantly.
“Take me to her place.”
“What? Why?” He asked, giving her a shocked face.
“To see the bearer of my grandson. Don’t you find it inappropriate that we’ve never met? Just want to have a little chat.” The smile on her face confused Nhyira the more. Whether it was a genuine one like Ewuresi’s or a mischievous one like Kukuaa’s, he couldn’t tell. Some traits really run through the blood, he thought.
When they arrived at Constance’s place, Grandma couldn’t conceal her curiosity.
“Does she live here alone?”
“She never married?”
“Huh.” Nhyira knocked. The door opened.
“Hey…” Her smiling face vanished when her eyes met those of Grandma’s.
“Hello, I realized that I let you go without getting to know you. Do you mind if we talked?”
“Um…sure. Let’s go inside.”
“Oh no, I prefer to stay out here. Nhyira may wait inside.” Nhyira nodded and went inside.
Grandma could tell Constance was uncomfortable. She had never had the mother-in-law encounter before. She didn’t have what it took to be anyone’s daughter-in-law, Grandma thought scornfully.
“From what my son told me, your relationship with my son was all but a business one. Am I right?”
“And you were fully paid for your services, right?”
“So what are you still doing hovering around the family?”
“He’s my son and I deserve to know him too.”
“No, you were just a service provider and the transaction wasn’t on a rolling basis. You’ve been fully credited so what are you doing?”
“Did Bisi send you here to shake me down because that’s not going to work.”
“Oh my daughter-in-law has nothing to do with this. I partly blame myself for letting things get this far. If I had stepped in earlier, this nonsense wouldn’t still be happening.”
“What are you calling nonsense, the fact that your grandson wants to spend time with his mother?”
“What kind of mother are you? The kind who sees him as a debit card?”
“I didn’t seduce your son, okay? If your daughter-in-law gave him what he wanted, he wouldn’t have come to me. He wanted an heir and I gave him one. As a typical African mother to such a successful man, you should be concerned that your son didn’t have a son. His daughters will be married off and take on their husband’s names. I did your son a favor and you should appreciate that.”
“You’ve been fully appreciated, I’ve been told. And I’m not a typical African mother as you say. I don’t agree with what my son did and I was content with him having only daughters. I believe my granddaughters are more than capable to take over my son’s companies. If you want Nhyira to come around to keep you company, that’s on him but stay the hell away from my son. You had no business visiting him at the hospital.”
“And if he had passed, would you have forbidden me from the funeral grounds too?”
“Oh you were hoping he wouldn’t make it, huh? I’m glad you were disappointed. Let me never set my eyes on you again, whatever you call yourself.”
“Well, you better not be a constant in my family. You should have had your own family by now.”
“Nhyira is my family.”
“He already has a family. What you sell is no longer yours, woman. Nhyira! Let’s go!”
“You’re taking him away?”
“Oh yeah, he’s my grandson, isn’t he?” Nhyira came out.
“Let’s go, my dear.”
“I’ll see you,” Nhyira said. Constance folded her arms with a scowl on her face as she watched them get into a car and drive away. Who did she think she was to come to talk to her like that? She felt highly unappreciated. She gave her son an heir and this was her reward? Becoming a second ‘unofficial’ wife wouldn’t have been bad. She was running out of funds and it didn’t look like Nhyira was in any position to help her out yet. She had to find another way.
Ewuresi arrived home quite early and helped Grandma prepare dinner. Bisi came home a little later.
“You shouldn’t have taken dinner upon yourself, ma.”
“Don’t be silly, Bisi. My son just escaped death. He deserved mummy’s special welcome home dinner.” Bisi smiled.
“Thank you. Is Kukuaa in yet?”
“No. She said she was on her way,” Ewuresi said.
When they arrived, Bisi asked Aaron to stay for dinner. He gladly agreed.
“You must be Nhyira,” Aaron said, offering his hand.
“Yeah.” Nhyira shook his hand.”
“I’m Aaron, your soon-to-be brother-in-law.”
“Oh you’re Aaron. Nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, same here.”
Bisi approached them.
“Now that the father of the house is better, the coast is clear for the wedding. You can take Kukuaa out of here,” she said with a smile.
“Great! Couldn’t wait anymore.” Bisi laughed and led him to the dining table. Nhyira watched as they chatted and laughed like mother and son. He felt a jolt of jealousy. Aaron seemed to be replacing him as his mother’s beloved son. Things were not going to be the same.
“What are you standing there for, Nhyira? Come sit down and let’s eat.”
He joined them and Bisi said grace.
The family table was full and dinner was all talk and laughter. But the only one not talking and laughing was Nhyira.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XLVIII here.