Story: “Even The Rich Also Cry” (Episode 5)

    Egbe hungered after her son for weeks and then for months. She called a friendly gateman every month that she had met close to Major Festus’ house to confirm if the Major had return but she got a negative reply every time. To make matters worse, Omos, despite his role in the kidnap of her son, still came around trying to convince her to be his wife. She stopped going out, stopped talking and even stopped eating, as the thought of her son calling another woman mummy ate into her soul and curdled.

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    One day, Obianuju came home from work to find Benita sitting outside, her face filled with worry.

    Obianuju: “what is the problem? Why are you outside? Where is your sister?” she asked, her eyes scanning everywhere.

    Benita: “she is gone.” She said simply.

    Obianuju: “gone how? What do you mean by she is gone?” she asked, pushing the entrance door open.

    Benita: “I came back from market to find a letter on the chair. It is for you; I didn’t read it. She didn’t leave with anything.” She replied.

    Obianuju entered her flat and went to the sitting room. The note was still on the chair. She picked it and read it;

    ‘Dear Obi,

    I know you go angry that i have go. I sorry for that. you have help me well well. God go kontinu to bless you. I am go to find my pikin. I no know how long i go take to find am but I go find him and bring am come back. I know say you go ves o that is why I no tell you or Benita. Please take care of am for me, abeg and tell am say make she no cry. I go come just now. If I no come back, please take care of am laik your sista. If i see telefone for here i go call you. I sorry for the whole wahala. Please pray for me.

    Your frend,
    Egbe Osunbor.’

    Obianuju dropped the letter and dropped down on the chair heavily. She stared into the distance and shook her head. Benita entered the room and picked up the letter. She read the contents as her tears fell on the piece of paper. She walked slowly and sat down on a chair and wept.

    Obianuju studied the girl silently.“all this as a result of a mistake. A family has scattered to the wind because of an accident. God, what more can happen? Egbe where ever you are, I pray God guide and protect you.” She thought to herself and sighed.
    Egbe got to Lagos late in the evening. She quickly got to the house she was headed as it was not too far from the bus park at Ajah. The house was the residence of an old woman, Mrs Bakare, the mother of a serving commissioner of the state. She had through her gate man friend, being able to get a job as the woman’s maid, cook, washerwoman and companion of sorts. Mrs Bakare was a lonely old woman, who needed someone to spend time with. Her only child, Barrister Yemisi Yahaya was too busy with government work to come and spend time with her mother. The gate into the house opened a little bit then opened wider when she called her name. the gate man had been told to expect her. She entered the house and she was shown to her rooms. The old lady was very happy to see her and chattered on and on about her husband who died over ten years ago. Egbe half listened to her, her thoughts on the duplex about three buildings down the street.“They go return one day. They must. When them come, I go dey here dey wait and I go carry my son. I must.” She thought to herself as she nodded absentmindedly to Mrs Bakare’s chatter.
    Major Festus returned back to Nigeria with his family after seven years outside the country. They had moved to the United States after two years in Germany and now they were home. They drove back to their house in silent contemplation, except for Desmond’s continuous questions. He asked only his father these questions; his mother never talked to him except to send him on an errand. He had learnt early on that his mother didn’t love him as much as his father. He had asked his father why his mother always seemed to frown anytime she saw him. He had said that she had not gotten over the death of his brother. His father had told him that he reminded her of his late brother. So he avoided her and was very careful around her.

    Desmond: “why are the roads bumpy, dad?” he asked

    Major Festus: “it has portholes. The roads are in need of repair, son.” He replied.

    Desmond: “why has it not been repaired?” he asked.

    Florence snorted. Desmond looked at her quickly. Her eyes were covered in dark shades, so he could not tell if she was laughing and irritated. He turned back to his father, to see him watching his mother in a funny way. His father sighed and turned to him and smiled;

    Major Festus: “over here, things do not happen as fast as we would like. It will take some time before the road is repaired.” He replied.

    Desmond remained silent. He had other questions to ask but he didn’t want to earn his mother’s wrath. They drove home in silence.

    Major Festus looked at his wife from the corner of his eyes. he wondered what he had seen in her when he married her then. She was shallow and dull company. All she knew, even at this old age, was sex, shopping and money. She had zero diplomatic skill, zero mother skills; Desmond was basically raised by the maids, and she was a very poor hostess. He had to deal with this for the rest of his life. He sighed and turned to look at his son; he smiled. Desmond was the only light in his life. He was what made his life beautiful; his smile, inexhaustible energy, inquisitive nature, made him so lovable. For the boy’s sake though, he wished Florence was a better woman, wife and mother but it seems that will never come to pass.
    Mrs Bakare: “are you ready?” she asked. She was seated on a wheelchair close to the window in her room. She had stopped walking four years before.

    Egbe: “I don’t know. I don’t know. He will not know me.” She replied softly. She had changed over the seven years in Lagos. Gone were the wrappers and blouses and the uneducated tone of speaking. Gone was the haggard look of the worried poor widow. Mrs Bakare had turned her into a sophisticated young lady. She was now dressed in black jeans and a sweatshirt; her hair and nails well done. Mrs Bakare had become the mother she had never had.

    When she started working with the woman, she had minded her business and kept her secret from her, but one day the woman had come across her crying and that had led to a talk in which she told the woman her story. Mrs Bakare had been sad about her tale and had told her that she had been misused because she was ignorant not because she was poor. Several night school classes and a part time program in LASU later, she was now an accomplished primary school teacher. And now as she watched the gate of the house that had been locked for seven years open, she wondered if all these preparations will matter, when her son will not remember or know her. She clenched her hand into a fist as the gate locked; “I will not give up now. I have come too far to fail in my quest.

    To be continued.

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