Bunmi was having a hard time getting her son’s affection, she had initially thought that once she got to Lagos and he saw her, he’d fall into her arms and cry while she soothes his tears away. Gbenga proved to her that she couldn’t stay away for a long time and waltz back into her his life as though nothing happened.

“Hello…Gbenga darling.” She called out, knocking at his bedroom door.

“Gbenga is not there.” Mummy Justina said, walking up to her with something akin to anger and resentment in her eyes.

“Where is he?” Bunmi asked.

“If you are really the doting mother you’ve been trying to prove to Gbenga all along, you’d have known that he went to study with his peers.”

“Oh…that! I totally forgot…he told me about it.” Bunmi lied.

Mummy Justina gave her a long look and shook her head.

“What are you doing here?” Mummy Justina asked.

“What sort of a question is that?” Bunmi fired.

“The boy has survived for so long without you, how do you think you can just appear from nowhere and be the messiah you think he’s searching for.”

“Look here, woman…I will not stand here and listen to you, spew trash from that miserable poverty-stricken mouth of yours. The last time I checked, you are the mere housekeeper of this house.”

“Well, yes, I am the housekeeper and I have also been a mother to Gbenga since he was a boy.”

“Did you give birth to him? Did you endure fourteen hours of labour before he reared his head in the world?”

“Hahahahaha….” Mummy Justina laughed. “It’s pitiful that you take pride in the fact that you did what all women with children have done. Pushing out a child doesn’t make you a mother, bringing up one makes you a mother.”

“Blablabla…you’ll eat your words someday, I promise you.”

“Me? Eat my words? Do you plan to deal with me? You’ve spent almost one month in this house already. Haven’t you stayed for too long already?”

Bunmi walked up to her, so that their noses almost touched.

“You will eat your words…I don’t think you know who I am. If you did, you’d rather be in the same place with the viper rather than with me.”

Mummy Justina looked at Bunmi, threw back her head and laughed. Bunmi stormed out of the hallway and made her way to the guest bedroom.

***********

Gbenga walked into the house and slumped on the sofa, he was tired and he really needed a glass of water.

“Gbenga.” Mummy Justina called.

“Yes ma.” He answered.

“Take your bag to your room but before you do that, come to the kitchen. I’d like to have a word with you.”

Gbenga nodded and stood up from the sofa. He followed Mummy Justina to the kitchen and when he got there, he leaned on the counter.

“How was your study? Did you learn anything new?”

“Yes ma…I really learnt a lot.” Gbenga said.

“Your dad asked if it’s still necessary to have your lesson teacher come and teach you after school. You know he stopped when you changed schools.”

“Yes, that’s true…” Gbenga said. “Well…it’s okay if he starts coming again but on one condition.”

“What’s the condtion? Don’t tell me you want his hours reduced or you want to make some kind of a silly request.”

“I want my reading partner to join us.”

Mummy Justina looked at him and raised her brows.

“Is she your girlfriend?”

“No way…” Gbenga said quickly.

“So, why do you want your father to pay extra for after school lessons?’

“Chekwube has been really selfless. She has helped me learn a lot and she’s been paitent with me. This is the least I can do for her, at least, to pay her back.”

“Are you sure?” Mummy Justina teased.

“C’mon Mummy Justy, there’s really nothing going on between us. She’s just a good friend of mine.”

“This is how it starts. Love doesn’t really happen at first sight but when admiration and respect comes in, love somehow finds its way.”

“You’re funny.” Gbenga said and turned to go.

“Wait Gbenga, I want to tell you something.” Mummy Justina said placing her hand tenderly on his shoulders. “I want you to know that your father loves you so much, and so do I and all the staff in this house.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Gbenga asked.

“I guess I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone to feel that she can buy your love or cut corners to get your love.”

“Are you talking about my mother?”

“Just heed my words, okay. We all love you and no matter how much someone who has not been in your life for years showers you with love and attention, bear in mind that all that glitters is not gold.”

Gbenga looked at Mummy Justina in silence.

“I didn’t say that you should hate anyone but…” Mummy Justina started.

“I know what you’re saying but she’s my mother and she flew all the way from Brazil to Nigeria just to be with me. I think I need to give her a chance to be a mother to me.”

Mummy Justina didn’t look too happy with his words.

“That’s not a problem, I just need you to remember all that I told you and if you ever need my help, I am here.”

Gbenga nodded, smiled and left the kitchen.

*************

Chekwube stood by the kitchen sink and washed the dishes but as she did her chores, her heart sank. Nosike was in the sitting room with his aunt and from the loud exclamations coming from auntie Lizzy, she knew he was telling her something pertaining to her sister.

It had all started from the gate when she’d walked Gbenga to the gate after their study. Nosike had alighted from a bike covered in blood and had rushed into the house to see auntie Lizzy. She had quickly bid Gbenga goodbye and rushed into the house to know what had happened.

“Chekwube, get into the kitchen now!” Aunt Lizzie had snapped at her. Aunt Lizze had never raised her voice at her since she’d started living with her.

“Ola! I can’t believe she did this to me…” Nosike had cried like a baby.

Now, as she stood beside the sink, something told her that her stay in Lagos was nearing its end and that she was soon going back to the village to stay with her parents. She was still deep in thought when someone pinched her ears from behind. She turned and saw EM smiling wickedly at her.

“Your sister has finally ended your stay in my aunt’s house.” He sneered. “So, it runs in the family ehn. The love for boys and boyfriends ehn….to think that Nosike picked your sister from the village and decided to bring her to Lagos and all she paid him with was infidelity. I even heard that you guys are very poor.”

Chekwube didn’t answer him, she just stared.

“I will speak to my aunt and make her send you back home. We don’t need your bad luck in this house. Who knows what you will do in the near future? Perhaps you’d fall pregnant and make my aunt look as though she’d never looked out for you. You are bad news.”

Tears welled up in Chekwube’s eyes.

“Are you crying? Ohhh…I thought you were strong…powerful and always got your way. I remember the way you strut into the house with that boy this afternoon for a stupid study group blablabla but I didn’t buy it at all…in fact, I know for a fact that he is your boyfriend.” EM sneered. “Now, I’ll be able to prove to my aunt that you will only bring badluck to this house just the way your sister brought badluck to Nosike.”

Chekwube didn’t speak, tears fell from her eyes.

“Ooooh… poor girl, why are you crying? Aren’t you the one who’s brought this upon yourself? My dear, crying will do you no good but if you beg me…” He said stroking her face with his fingers. “I could help you stay here. My aunt loves me and she will listen…”

The door to the kitchen opened and aunt Lizze walked in. EM’s hand fell from Chekwube’s face and he turned to stare at his aunt guiltily.

“Errrmm…have you finished with Nosike? Is he still here?” EM asked.

“No, he left. I helped clean his wounds and he has gone home. He will be going to the village tomorrow to talk to Ola’s parents.” She said.

Chekwube looked at the floor in fear and apprehension.

“Can you excuse me? I want to talk to Chekwube alone.” Aunt Lizzie said.

“Aunt, there’s no problem if I stay here while you talk to her…I can…”

“Go away from here Ebuka, this is a private issue which affects Chekwube and not you.” Aunt Lizzie fired.

“Yes aunt.” EM said and left the kitchen.

Chekwube’s head was still bowed when EM left the kitchen.

“I know you know what happened.” Aunt Lizzie started.

Chekwube nodded.

“Did you know that Ola was seeing someone else all these while?”

“No ma, it was Mickey who told me about it yesterday and I confronted Ola but then, she fainted and we found that she was pregnant so I couldn’t talk to her about it anymore.” Chekwube said shakily.

Aunt Lizzie nodded.

“I thought you’ve always known about her affair before you came to live with me.”

“No, ma…I didn’t know.”

“Chekwube, you should learn to trust me. Even if you found out about it yesterday, I know you were trying to protect your sister but you should have told me about it. I took you into my house because I want to help you. Don’t keep secrets from me, if you are bothered about anything or there’s something heavy in your chest that you can’t deal with, I am here.”

Chekwube looked at Aunt Lizzie, she was surpised.

“Do you…does it mean that you’re not going to send me away?”

“Send you away? Whoever thought of that? I can’t send you away because of the things your sister did. The two of you are different people so, I can’t punish you for her actions. That would be cruel.”

Chekwube rushed to hug Auntie Lizzie, she’d never felt so relieved in her entire life.

 

To be continued….

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