Her mind went to many years ago when Dorcas was just a baby and Sam was just a gangly boy of about nine. Or was it ten?
On that day, Sam, Who was in J.S.S.1, had gotten back home late because he had joined his fellow school boys in a game of football. The way it was organised, the boys would contribute money, class by class, and all the monies would go into a pot and the cash prize would be split between the classes that came first, second and third in the ratio 50:30:20. It just wasn’t the juicy cash that was the highlight for the lads but the fact that the winner would have a year’s bragging right. The girls were not left out too. They were always on hand to cheer their class boys on.
This football competition wasn’t organised by the school but by the students so they used a field outside the school but around the area. The field was big enough with bamboo poles as the goal posts. It was a tradition that was passed from generation to generation and even though the teachers knew that the competition was an event that was organised annually by each class from J.S.S.1 to S.S.S.3 and outside the school’s calendar, they turned a blind eye towards it. Infact, many of the male teachers actually attended the matches as it was a good source of entertainment. It was also a good place to spot the talents on show when the school football team needed new recruits. It was the one event outside the school calendars which students and to an extent, teachers too, usually looked forward to.
In Sam’s school, the classes were lettered from A – H and he was in J.S.S. 1D. He had been chosen as a player for his class and he played as the striker. He was very good at playing soccer and he really enjoyed it. By the time his team got to the final to play J.S.S. 1F, thanks to some really important goals he scored, he was the heart-throb of almost every girl in his class and many girls in other classes too. He really enjoyed the attention and walked around school with a chip on his shoulder. He couldn’t wait to get to the final to beat Class 1F so that they could win the money and he’ll be the hero for a year. He was so certain his team had what it took that he could almost taste it on his lips.
The final game was played on a Saturday so that as many people could see it. As many adults too that were interested also came to watch the spectacle. The 3rd place match was played first before the final match which started by 2pm. Sam was supposed to help his mum with house chores and to help sell at the market but he sneaked out of the house when his mother wasn’t watching. He was so interested in the glory that awaited and was ready to face his mother’s wrath. Winning the final would be worth it.
Coming back home later that day, Sam was a picture of despondency. He was so devastated with the fact that his team had lost the final that he didn’t remember the trouble he was in at home. What made it so worse was that he missed two glaring chances that would have taken the wind out of the opponent’s sails. He was certain another chance would come and come it did but it wasn’t to him or his team. The opponent grabbed their chance with appreciation and scored a delicious goal. Sam and his team chased the game but they never caught up.
‘1 – 0’
It was like a bad dream. The cash prize they won meant nothing to him. His team mates blamed him for his profligacy and the fact he was showing off. His class ladies eyed him distastefully after. It seemed everyone had unanimously decided that his shoulder was best suited to carry the blame. It was a burden he would have to carry for a year. Maybe he could make things right then. But the question was whether he’ll be picked again.
The moment he entered the house, the mother grabbed him and started beating the living daylight out of him. The father came in just in time to save him from being smacked into the next week and asked what was wrong. His mother explained how he left home all day without attending to any of his chores while Sam explained to his dad about the match. Being a football lover, Sam’s dad was sympathetic to the boy and proceeded to scold the mother for beating him so much over a minor offence.
Where and how that slap landed had always been a mystery to the young Sam. It was perhaps when his mum was arguing with his dad that he had lost his temper and neither Sam nor his mum saw the swing of the dad’s arm. What he noticed was that there was an explosive sound and his mother staggered across the room like she was struck with a spirit like he usually saw in white garment churches. After a moment when the mum had recovered from the slap, she rushed towards her husband to hold his shirt but the man saw it coming and met her midway with another blinder. Sam’s mum must have had little birds floating around her head because she moved as one in a daze, ran into the room, picked up her sleeping baby and before her husband and Sam could say ‘WHAT’, she dashed out of the house.
Without as much as a second thought, she went to her parents house a good hour’s bus ride away that evening and refused to return home that night. And the night after.
She wept and wept that she had had enough suffering and battering from the man. Her mother comforted and cursed at the man while her father sat brooding in a corner of the sitting room. He said nothing for three days which unsettled the two women. On the fourth day, he called the two women to sit down and his words were cool and very measured. They were words that Sam’s mother never forgot in her life.
“My daughter,” he started “I have waited patiently for three days for your husband to come and pick you up here but since he has refused to come, then i’ll have to kindly ask you to go back to him.”
Sam’s mother was about to say something in protest but her father raised up his hand to silence her.
“Don’t interrupt me, let me finish.” he declared. “Remember i specifically warned you to stay away from that man but you defied me. You didn’t honour me by letting me receive the bride-price on your head. Instead, you ran off to his house to start living with him as wife without him doing the necessary things. He didn’t come to beg for you, you ran to him so tell me what else you were expecting? Just the same way you ran to him back then without our knowledge, you have three days to get yourself and your daughter out of this house and back to your husband’s house. You no longer have any room in this house to return to. Your mother and i will not take you back to him (he fired a warning look at his wife) because you made this bed of yours so you’ll lie on it whether you like it or not. Alone.” With that he got up with an air of finality and he went inside.
That Saturday evening, she arrived at her home and met her husband and son standing just outside the door. Whenever she was with Sam in public, people usually exclaimed that he looked just like her. But standing there looking at the dark, angry eyes of father and son, she realised this boy looked nothing like her but was rather a real miniature version of his father. She knelt down to greet her husband but his glare didn’t soften. To cool the tension somewhat, she tried her lamest to grasp at whatever straws she could find. She faced Sam and asked softly “Is that the way to greet your mother, Samson?”
“Didn’t you hear what i just said, Samson?”
“I’m sorry, ma but i didn’t hear you.”
“I asked if that is the way to greet your mother.”
“I’m sorry, ma.” he bent slightly in respect and said, “Good evening, mum.”
“Good evening, my son. It’s been ages. How have you been?”
“I’m fine, ma.”
There was another awkward silence as mother and son kept looking at themselves. They were fighting their different personal emotions. The mother decided to break the ice.
“Even if you won’t ask after my trip, will you at least be kind enough to help with my bags?” she said.
“Mum, you really shouldn’t have come.” Sam blurted out. “You could at least have given notice. You cant just barge in on people like this.”
“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” the mother cried. “I AM YOUR MOTHER! Or have they found another mother for you in Lagos?”
“It’s nothing like that. But you know I’m married now and it’s not fair when you just come in without letting us know in advance.”
“Sam, I’ve been trying to come for a while now and you’re the one putting me off. If you don’t want to come visit me back home to see how we’re doing, fine by me but i want to see you and see how you’re doing.”
“I told you i’m doing great. You worry too much.” He began to help her with her bags.
“The curse or the blessing of motherhood. When you start having your kids, your wife will help you understand better.” She called ‘wife’ with obvious malice. “Don’t know why you don’t have children yet.” She muttered.
They walked to his car and he helped her open the door as he kept her stuff in the back.
“How long will you be here, mum?” Sam asked as he got behind the wheels to start the car.
“As long as it takes.” She replied.
“As long as it takes for what to happen, mum.
“As long as it takes to be sure everything is alright.” She replied. “But i cant spend more than two weeks for now.”
Sam could surely feel the headache now. He was in no mood to argue. So he just drove.
“There’s no way I’m going for this, Andrea. No way!” Eddie burst out of his room looking flushed and angry with Andrea close behind.
“It’s just for a couple of days max, Eddie.” she pleaded.
“The answer remains ‘NO!’ Nothing is gonna make me accept that bullshitty idea of yours.” Eddie fired back at her as he descended the stairs.
“But Eddie…” She paused in mid-sentence because Senami just happened to be coming up the stairs then. Eddie eyed Senami contemptuously as he paused on the stair to let her pass and then he descended the rest of the way and headed for the front door.
“Where are you going, sweetheart?” Andrea asked.
“Outside. To catch some fresh air. I also need to try to understand how i got into this kinda mess.” He replied. “And when i come back, my answer will still remain ‘NO’.
He parked his car in the parking lot of the Protea hotel situated in Isaac John, a Government Residential Area and turned to look at his mum.
“What is this, Samson?” she asked. “What are we doing here? Is this where you live?”
“No,ma. I just thought since you were tired and all that, I didn’t want to stress you driving all the way to my place in Lekki so I thought you should come and relax here and enjoy the five star treatment in Lagos just for tonight.”
“Hmmm…” The mother muttered with a look that could have given a policeman cardiac arrest. “Samson, let me ask you one question; are you also going to be staying here for the night with me?”
“Erm… No ma.” Sam responded. “Like I said, your visit was impromptu so I need to get home to make sure the house is, you know, set for your arrival.”
“Samson, in case you have forgotten, I cleaned your room virtually everyday till you moved finally out of the house. I’m your mother and not the principal of your school that is coming for inspection or your girlfriend that you need to impress. I’m coming with you to your house tonight whether you stay in Aso Rock or in a pig sty. Thanks for your generosity but I’m not interested in spending an extra minute here even though the place looks like heaven I’m not interested.” With that, she clasped her hands and put it between her thighs.
Sam sighed. He had always known it would be no good but he had to try. He knew the game was up when the mother set foot in Lagos. He had always warded her off but he never counted on his mother travelling down so soon. Well, she was here and they had to work something out. He couldn’t handle the elderly lady alone. He took his phone and typed… “Plan A just failed. we’re coming over now so you might wanna get a Plan B in place. as a matter of fact, get as many alphabets as possible. See you soon.” He sent the message to Andrea then he put down his phone and started the car.
“Wonders shall never cease.” His mother said while clapping her hands thrice as he drove out. “What has come over you, Samson? Is it that you’re bewitched or something? What ears do you want to repeat it that you have a house but you decided to take your own mother to a hotel? Are you sure there isn’t anything else in this matter? Was it just your decision to bring me to………..”
There were times when Senami wished she could just leave the house and it’s madness but she knew that she owed Andrea every shred of loyalty that she was showing. She really couldn’t understand it all. Her boss must really be crazy being married to two men but what could she do about it. She could never imagine this kind of scenario but she was neck deep in it. She hated it because it stood against every thing she believed in, not only ethical or moral but also spiritual. Andrea’s kindness to her had overruled all her misgivings and she had continued to stay quiet over it. All she needed to do now was to finish cleaning up the kitchen and go see Andrea. She was curious what it was all about. It probably had something to do with oga Eddie being so angry today. She had never seen him so mad as he was today. He had actually been looking at her in a way she was so uncomfortable with all day. She really wondered what Andrea would have done to make him lose it that way because he was usually the cool and polite one and hardly raised his voice. He was nothing like that Sam. She always liked it when Sam had to step out of the house. She put the final piece of China-ware away, wiped her hands clean, switched off the lights and went to see Andrea.
Sam parked outside his gate and paused. Just at that moment, a call came in and he listened for a few seconds before he said, “Okay” and cut the call. He sighed heavily as he honked. All this while, his mum was trying to get a good glimpse of the house. Dogo, the security man, opened the gate as Sam drove in.
“Erm… Samson, is this your house or you have brought me to another hotel?” The mother asked as she gaped at the mansion in awe.
What he really wanted to say was; “Stop asking me stupid questions, ma. Afterall, you got what you wished.” But what came out instead was; “It’s my house.”
He picked up her bags as they stepped out. The mother stood outside looking around. She had a big wow all over her face. She was impressed.
“This way, mum.” Sam snapped her out of her reverie and ushered her to the front door. Dogo came to help with the bags but Sam waved him off. Mother and son now went in.
He took out his keys and opened the door. As he stepped into the living room, Andrea rushed to meet them at the door with Eddie seated on a sofa.
“Welcome, ma.” Andrea beamed. “It’s great to have you here, ma. How was your trip?”
“Hmmm” the elderly woman responded coldly. “It was fine. thank God for journey mercies.”
“Great” Andrea said. “Let me help take your bag to the guest room.”
“Not now, please.” Sam’s mother replied and sat down on the Sofa.
“Welcome, ma. Great to have you here.” Eddie said with a smile that even Andrea was surprised he could come up with considering the circumstances.
“Thank you. And is it just this few number of you living in this massive house?” Sam’s mother asked.
“Yes ma.” Andrea replied.
“So who are you, young man. What’s your name?” Sam’s mother faced Eddie as Sam collapsed into a sofa nearby. He thought he was going to be sick. He gave Andrea a look of doubt but she didn’t act like she saw it.
“Well, ma, my name is Edward but they all call me Eddie here.”
“That’s good, my son. Are you a friend or what?
“Let me do the proper introductions, ma” Andrea responded hurriedly.
“Please meet, Eddie, he’s a family friend and we all live here together.”
At that moment, Senami came down the stairs even as Andrea beckoned on her to come over. “Hey Senami, come and meet Sam’s mum. She just got into town.”
Senami knelt before the elderly lady. “Welcome ma, she said. Hope you had a great trip?”
“Yes i did, my dear.” Sam’s mother replied with a smile. “Thank you.”
Andrea cleared her throat, “Mum, Senami is Eddie’s fiancee.”
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