Not much has changed, I thought as I sank deeper into the leather seat of the Mercedes Benz – GLK that had come to pick me up from the airport. After five years away from home, I was undecided about whether or not it was good to be back. I unconsciously twisted the ring on my left middle finger, a habit I had picked up three months ago, when my fiancé…then boyfriend popped the big question. The flawless princess cut diamond was set in a platinum band with the words “for my beauty” engraved in it. I sighed.
“Madam are you ok”? Mr. Vincent asked from the driver’s seat.
I smiled. Mr. Vincent has been my mother’s personal driver since I was seven and I am pretty sure he knows more about my family than I do.
“Mr. Vincent I am fine. Thank you for asking. How is little Daniel and his sister…” I tried to remember the name of the little girl who had been christened a few days before I left for the United Kingdom. Mr. Vincent came to my rescue…
“Her name is Deborah. She is fine madam, thank God”. He said.
I smiled at the way he had pronounced the name Deborah…Deboooorah the typical Nigerian way. I thought about correcting him but then I chose not to. After all, he had given his daughter the name and could pronounce it whichever way he chose. I have come to realize that Tunji my fiancé does have a point when he says I don’t always have to say what I am thinking. Mr. Vincent’s voice broke me out of my reverie.
“You didn’t ask about the small one…Dorcas”. He said with a hint of laughter in his voice.
I was surprised!
“Mr. Vincent, do you have another child”? I asked in utter dismay. With the economic situation in the country, didn’t blue collar workers know better than to give birth to too many children.
“Yes ma and Mama Daniel go soon born again”. Mr. Vincent announced.
Our eyes met through rearview mirror and I smiled. He had a triumphant look on his face. I threw my hands in the air as though in surrender and we both laughed. Who was I to question the things that made him happy? The man was entitled to having as many children as he wanted. It wasn’t a sin and certainly wasn’t a crime to the state.
As we made our way to my family home in Ikoyi, I noticed every filling station we passed had unusually long queues.
“Mr Vincent is there fuel scarcity again”? I asked
“Madam, the queue just dey long every day”. He informed me.
“Nawa o” I said in response to the unsettling news.
Mr. Vincent laughed. “Madam welcome back to Naija”.
“Thank you Mr. Vincent, it feels good to be back”. I hoped my voice was convincing enough because deep down inside I knew this wasn’t a chapter of my life I was looking forward to. My name is Adesewa Ade-Williams. Welcome to my “dream life” which I sometimes wish I could trade for a normal one.
I was received by my mother who was waiting in the driveway when the car pulled up. She began dancing and singing in Yoruba testifying of God’s faithfulness at the return of her only daughter. I rolled my eyes…my mother’s dramatic expressions seem to be getting worse with each passing year. At 63, I really can’t explain where she gets the energy from. Some of the household staff also joined in the charade. I couldn’t blame them they knew better than to stand there watching while my mother, Adunni Ade-Williams danced. It was not a good time to incur her wrath, in fact it was never a good time to incur my mother’s wrath.
“Mummy what is all this drama about? I was only gone for five years and I have seen you every six months in those five years. Stop acting like your long lost prodigal child has arrived”. I said to my mother in my best no-nonsense voice.
“My daughter you cannot understand. When you have your own children you will know that the only way a mother can sleep at night and have good dreams is when she knows her children are close by”. My mother said pulling me into a warm embrace.
“Oya let me see the ring” She asked, her eyes twinkling with the excitement of a schoolgirl during summer break.
I held up my left hand and flashed the ring at her and instantly began dancing again.
It was obviously going to be long morning of dancing, and so I signaled to the maid standing closest to me to begin to move my things into the house. The maid obliged and I followed closely behind. Seeing I was trying to escape the show, my mother scurried towards the house trying to catch up with her me.
She followed me up to my bedroom, which had been thoroughly cleaned in anticipation of my arrival. My mother does have her good sides. She sat on the bed and watched me as I tried to settle in.
“Do you like the bed sheet? I went to buy it myself”. She announced patiently waiting for my validation as she ran her right palm across the expensive looking sheet.
“It’s very nice Mummy. Thank you” I said walking over to the massive closet that still housed many of my clothes and shoes. I couldn’t wait to see how many of them were still in style and still fit. I had put on a bit of weight during my time away from home.
I opened my wardrobe and it was obvious to me that there was some sort of mix up.
“What is going on here Mummy? Whose things are these? Where are all my clothes and shoes? I asked in shock.
“Surprise Surprise. Tunji had some people come in and clear out all your old things and put in these new things for you. He said he wanted to change your wardrobe. God will bless that boy, see how he is taking care of you”. My mother announced with pleasure!
I was very upset but I knew I had to remain composed. What my mother did not realize was that this was Tunji’s way of making me dress in a way that suited him. I could bet that he had carefully selected every item himself, because God forbid I one day showed up at his house or office not impeccably dressed. I was however impressed that my mother had somehow developed the ability to bridle her tongue and actually keep a secret. Adunni Ade-Williams was the reason that there were no surprise birthday parties in the family as she could never keep a secret for more than a few hours.
“Mummy, please can I have the room for a few minutes? I need to call Tunji and let him know I have arrived”. I asked politely.
“I have already done that dear. He would be joining us for dinner, his flight from Abuja lands at 5pm. His parents would also be joining us“. She said jumping to her feet.
“When was this dinner agreed? I spoke to you just before my flight took off and you said nothing about this dinner”. I said. I was tired and drained and not exactly in the mood to handle my mother’s fussing and Tunji’s mother’s criticizing stares.
“Please don’t be angry my dear. I thought it was a good idea. Your brothers and their wives are coming too and a few people from my women’s society”. My mother said as she moved slowly towards the door.
“Mummy! Are you throwing a party”? I asked in frustration!
“Party ke? No o”. With that she rushed out of the room and slammed the door shut behind her.
I sat down on the bed with a thud.
“Welcome home Adesewa”. I said to myself.
My phone started ringing…it was Tunji my fiancé. I hadn’t seen him in three months (since he proposed), and I was undecided about what my reaction towards him should be.
Why hadn’t he arranged to take an earlier flight from Abuja so he could pick me up from the airport himself? It was a Saturday after all! Why did he think it was okay for him to do away with my things without any recourse to me? Why was he planning a party with my mother without informing me?
I thought about calling Onye my best friend but I knew what her response would be…. “Awwwww he’s so sweet”. I rolled my eyes at the thought of having to hear her say that one more time! Everything Tunji did was “sweet” to Onye, so why did I sometimes feel as if I was a passive observer in my relationship with him?
Should I let it all slide or should have a conversation with him about it? I was undecided and so I simply let the phone keep ringing until it stopped.
Dear Reader, do you think Adesewa should tell Tunji how she feels or should she just say a big thank you for the party and new wardrobe and keep the peace? Let her know:
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