A Mercedes Benz E Class was parked in front of the school gate. I tried making a detour so I could get going but the sound of my name drew me back. I turned around only to see nobody. I continued on my way, my uniform which was well pressed but old clinging to my skin like a leprosy.
“Justice, don’t walk away from me.”
The voice was feminine. It wasn’t my aunt neither was it one of the female teachers. I stopped walking but refused to turn back. Soon enough I heard footsteps behind me, tempted as much as I was, I still held my ground. A heavy hand on my shoulder with a beautiful smell greeted me.
“Hey, don’t walk away from me.”
The voice was husky, sounded tearful and was filled with emotions. I still remained adamant until a pink flowery dress came into view. Black shoes to match with the wrist hanging down adorning a golden bracelet. I lifted my head slowly until I looked at the face. Beautiful, fair, a knitted eyebrow and lips that were curved in sadness. Her eyes, red and bloody and snaking its way down her face in springful torrents were tears, huge ones.
I was shocked. I never knew it had gotten to the point where my wretchedness could trigger emotions in people. I opened my mouth to speak but closed it back when nothing came out. I just stood like a condemned prisoner staring at the ground which stared back at me as if in a battle of stares. My patience was fast ebbing away and when I got to the limit of it, I made an attempt to remove her hand from my shoulder.
This seemed to open another channel of emotion because for the first time in my life, I felt the hug and the closeness of another human. Her arms wrapped tightly around me, the snickering turned to a full blown wail with tears, warm ones cruising down my neck. We were beginning to draw attention as I started hearing the voices of people around me. The more I wanted to break away, the more her grip tightened until she said something that made me shove her away in shock.
“I am sorry Justice, I am your mother.”
She did not whisper it so the reaction from the crowd that had gathered sounded rehearsed.
“Ahhhh… Eya…! Poor boy…!”
I stumbled backwards, My heart beating hard and fast. My pen and calculator had fallen from my hands which I had knotted into a fist. But something was also happening and happening real fast. The ground was drawing closer and night was fast coming.
That was the last thing I heard before blanking out totally.
Mama paused and looked at us, her gaze specifically fastened on me. I looked back at her. The story couldn’t have ended like this. Justice just met his mother after many years, fainted and now my mother paused. Old women and suspense.
“Justice, get me a cup of water.”
She did not finish the statement before I dashed into the kitchen and to the fridge to get her a chilled keg of water accompanied with a cup. After gulping down a cup full, she stood up and walked towards my sister, Chidinma, who was sprawled on the rug dozing. She lifted her up, took her back to the chair, sat down and cuddled her. Mama was quiet for some moment as if in deep thought. The flame from the lantern flicked about, casting shadows and light at the same time. Mama cleared her throat.
If it was a bad dream, I refused to wake up because this bad dream contrasted sharply with the bitter life I lived. Quiet, conceding aunt, a brute for an uncle and a cold hard ground for a bed.
I opened my eyes slowly. It wasn’t a dream. Leaning over me with care written all over her face was the woman who had claimed to be my mother. Her lips was beginning to part in a smile. As the drunken effect of my fall wore off, I felt anger wash over me.
To Be Continued