…Grace was done with school,and had gone to Lagos for her NYSC,,our joy knew no bounds,I was more than grateful to God for seeing my sister through school,at last her dream had come through, back home,my business was booming, mother’s supermarket was doing great,and dad business was doing well too,our lives seems perfect.
…..it was dad’s 55th birthday, I decided we celebrate it,I told my sisters and mother,we wanted to make it a surprise party for him,,, Grace was excited, hence she said she was going to be around,we bought most of the things from Lagos, since Gracie was there, we sent cards to all dad’s friends and Family, we also indicated it was a surprise party hence nobody should tell him,,,we invited our friends too,my fiancé was around,,,
Grace came two days to the day,and she was not her usual self, she seems troubled, I asked her what the problem was,but she said nothing, when I asked further she said it was pressure from the hospital she was serving at,,,,don’t worry dear sister,it’s just for a few months,I had encouraged her,,,,,we kept everything in the store room before dad came home,he was surprised to see Gracie at home,,, “my doc,he exclaimed in excitement upon seeing her,daddy,they hugged, why are you home?,,,, haba dad,are you chasing me from my father’s house,she had asked dad,of course am not madam,I just want to make sure my brain is still working well because I know its not up to a year you left for service .oh come on dad,can’t I miss my family, I had miss you, mother’s food,Bella’s and my other sisters, so I had to come see you all,we all laughed…..
Really,I hope we all follow you to your husband’s house,dad added,,when we get to that bridge,we shall cross it,,,everyone laughed…
It was the day of the p@rty,it was a Sunday,,,mother and dad went to church,,, mother knew our plans,,so she knows what to do,she was using her phone to communicate with us on how things were going…. The caterers were more than enough,we wanted the work fast,so we had employed extra hands,the hall for the p@rty had been beautifully decorated over night,the cakes had been delivered, there was a live band by dads favourite Benin musician, it wasn’t easy getting the legend to perform,but we wanted dad to have a memorable birthday… A popular DJ was also on stand by,,everything seems perfect….
The plan was for mother to bring dad straight to the venue after church,,,,,she did,,,getting to the venue, dad saw a lot of family and friends who had come to honour him,even the pastor who had preached the sermon in church some minutes ago and some members were all there,,, some family and friends present those he hadn’t seen in a long while,he was more than amazed,and of course seeing his favourite musician he was honored beyond what he had ever imagined,,,,he had tears of joy flowing down his checks,,,,
He looked at me,then Grace, ESE, Ehi,the Nehita and mother,,,,, and said what, “
“what good did I do in my life to have deserve beautiful children and wife life you,,,,you all are amazing, I can’t imagine my life without all of you my girls,and standing beside me my wife,,,,
Your lives shall be beautiful, your children shall celebrate you too,you shall be blessings to your generation,,, the blessed shall call you blessed, you shall be favoured above you imagination,, thank you my beautiful daughters,, and you my Darling wife,,,I am grateful for your love and care,un-derstanding and pure heart, thanks for standing strong for this family,,, we had a group hvg,and those who had come for the p@rty couldn’t help but be caught in the emotional moments of my family..,.”
This family is blessed, I heard a guest said,,, my sister,how I wish I was born into this beautiful family, another said,,, only if they knew the journey so far,,,I thanked God for everything he had done for my family,, the party went on, guest were served their desired meal,there was more than enough for everyone, it was a wonderful day,,,soon we all retired to our various homes as it was getting late…. Dad 55th birthday was the talk of the area for some time…
My sister Grace was still not herself,, I knew something was weighing her down, but why she didn’t want to share was what I didn’t know ,Gracie and I nor any of my sisters for that matter,do not keep secrets, I had tried to create that bound amongst us four, since NEHITA is just a child, in the evenings once or twice a week we come together in a room and share ideas On issues and anything bothering us, it has been our life style since i c@m£ back, and am proud to say we four sisters aren’t just sisters but friends,,, nevertheless individual respect still intact.
A day before Gracie was to leave for Lagos, i called her,,,Gracie,, I am your sister, I know you like the back of my palms,something is bothering you, you have not been your self,, even though you have tried so much to hide it by saying different stories,I know all is not well.talk to me,is the hospital for your NYSC been difficult?, are you facing challenges, did you offend anyone, oh Big sis,you worry too much,I am fine,very fine, Gracie said,, yes I worry,I do, that’s because I love and care for you,,,if you don’t tell me what the problem is or who is bothering you,I shall go with you to Lagos tomorrow,,, ha,Gracie shouted, come on na ,Bella,go with me to Lagos and let me show you the shock of your life..My eyes and ears were inquisitive, then she went on and said
“I SAW OUR MOTHER!!”
(A Taste Of Her Karma)
Grace continued “We tagged along on a routine outreach, this time it was to the Kiriki maximum security prison, to give free medical care to sick inmates. sister that was where I saw her o!” I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Grace, you saw mom in the prison? What happened? What took her there? For how long? What do we do? How do we…” My mind stormed up a retinue of questions that begged immediate answers as my wild imagination began to paint the most ugly scenarios of what prison life must be like for an inmate.
“This was the exact reason I was finding it hard to tell you sister” she interrupted my flurry of questions “I knew you’d be very nervous and start panicking”
“Why won’t I panic?” I found my voice again. “Mother is in jail! Like… Jail!!
“Well, that’s her problem, not mine”
I was half surprised and half unconcerned about her indifference, but couldn’t care about it at the time.
“Oh come on Grace, talk to me!! Why is she there? What happened?
“Are you seriously asking me what happened? How am I supposed to know? I didn’t ask. I saw her before she even saw me, so I quickly made an excuse for myself and left immediately. I don’t have time for unnecessary drama or pity parties. Mother is dead to me for all I care!”
Her total lack of concern for our own mother’s plight suddenly got on every single nerve in my entire body. “You will not talk about mother that way ever again Grace!! What has come over you? When did you become this cold?
Read – Out of the box episode 19
“Well I became cold the moment she left us without turning back, the moment she betrayed us and went away with a stranger, the moment she disappointed us as a mother! She was selfish, wicked and cruel! I hate that she’s even alive! I actually thought she’d be dead by now!”
“Grace, have you gone mad?!”
I yelled so loudly I’m sure the whole neighbourhood heard me.
I could tell at this point that she was beginning to get irritated by my show of concern for mother’s plight. Poor little Grace. She always had respect for me. She never had the nerve to use abusive or disrespectful words on me and I loved her very much for that. All she did was throw me a glance that said all her mouth should have, and then walked away.
I was angry with mother for all she did too. I had my fair share of life’s misfortune, the bulk of which she had been directly responsible for. Mother wasn’t perfect, but she was still our mother. I had more questions than answers. Why was mother in prison? What on God’s green earth could have influenced the set of circumstances that left her there?
My mind turned these questions over and over again on its front burner as I saw father’s wife walk in. Stepmom. That she was, but I was never able to bring myself to call her that. She was a mother to Grace and I in every single definition of the term, but the biological one. Such a sweet woman. Deep down something in me really wished dad had met her first, and she were my biological mother. Who knows? Maybe our lives would have been a lot different. Maybe our lives would have been a whole lot better! I knew she had been in the adjoining room, and since Grace and I hadn’t exactly been quiet with our outburst, she probably heard every single word. I was too lost in thought to acknowledge her presence, but there was no need to —her voice acknowledged mine, jolting me out of my own head.
�“My child, I heard everything you and Grace just spoke about. See ehn, you really can’t blame her for her actions o! It’s not easy to forgive, especially in a case like the one you both have with your mother. All we do is pray for the grace to forgive when we need to.”
This woman never ceased to amaze me. She had such a good heart!! An undetected smile fought its way across my lips in admiration of her, even though I tried to keep them stiff as she continued “I understand if you want to help her, but make your sister understand too. You two need each other now. You have always walked through tough times together, and you certainly can even now” She finished.
“Thanks a lot mother” I hugged her
“You are welcome my child”
�Later that evening, I walked into Grace’s room to find her engrossed in her books. This girl always had a thing for books, and even in the midst of the tense atmosphere that had surrounded the entire house all day, she still had the clarity of mind to read!
“I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier” I started
“I was just caught in the moment. See… I understand you perfectly well. mother was mean and heartless to us. She doesn’t deserve our sympathy at all, but my dear, didn’t we learn anything from dad, our mother here, and the church that we shouldn’t pay evil for evil? God has been so faithful to us. See how far we have come without her. Who knows? Maybe we wouldn’t have come this far if she was with us. Maybe she needed to go for us to find our path. Grace my dear, please, if not for anything but for being our birth mother, please Grace forgi…”
�“What kind of heart do you really have”
She shot at me before I could finish the very word “of the two of us, mom hurt you the most. You have suffered a Great deal, yet you speak this softly about her” I could tell by the look on her face that she was puzzled as to how possible it could be for someone in my position to ever have a forgiving heart “I am not promising to forgive her” she continued “Let’s just see if we can look into her case and then she can get out of our lives for good.
“Thanks my baby sis for understanding”
I said as a broad smile swept across my beaming face
“Oh come on Bella, i’m a young woman o. You still call me baby sis. It’s not fair o”
“Well. you will always be my baby sister, even when you’re sixty” we both laughed and shared a hug.
�As the day began to end, we told dad what we had found out about mum, and that we wanted to look into her case. He understood, told us we could go ahead, but advised we should be extremely cautious.
In two days, Grace and I were set to go to Lagos to pay mother a visit in prison. The rest of the trip is only a blur in my memory now, bu I do remember that on getting to the facility, we had to go through a complicated machinery of checks and balances before we were allowed time with mother. Of course we had to “grease” the palms of the chief warder and two of his “boys” before we were allowed access.
�Mother was shocked to her bones to see us. I was particularly taken aback by the spectre-like appearance of the woman in front of us. She looked as unkempt as a mad woman under any one of the huge overhead bridges we had seen on our way there. Suddenly, it began to dawn on me that I had perhaps overestimated my capacity to truly forgive. As soon as I saw her, my initial shock gave way to an overwhelming feeling of instant hatred which I was very certain Grace and I shared in that moment.
“Ivie!! Grace!!” she yelled out in a voice that I almost didn’t recognise anymore. She began talking on and on, but my mind failed to make any sense of whatever she was saying. I had no time for pleasantries.
“What brought you here?” I snapped at her.
�“My daughter, I am sorry for everything I did to you and everything I made you go through. I failed you as a mother. I am so sorry” she pleaded with the most passionate tone her now scrawny voice could muster”
“You failed us as mother” I replied “Do you have any idea what Grace went through because of your lover? He raped her and got her pregnant, made her go into shock, and she lost her voice for months! You dealt with us without mercy. It would have been better if we had no mother at all!!” I tried my best to bite back the tears I felt welling up, so as not to betray any emotion. Maintaining a stiff upper lip, I continued “Why are you here, I thought you left the country ?”
�“My children, I never did o! I transferred all the money to Fred’s account. About 42 million. Money from your savings for another building, and the loan I took from the bank. I thought he loved me. He didn’t!! That bastard was only interested in the money” she went on in a tone that made it difficult to tell if she was only trying to sound emotional or really was.
Grace shot at her, half in tears
“How could he have loved you when you didn’t love your own flesh and blood? You do not know the meaning of love at all! You’re wicked and irresponsible!”
“i’m sorry my child. I never knew He was planning for only himself. He gave me fake documents and planted drugs in my luggage. I was arrested at the airport. Fred denied ever knowing me. I was charged to court and given a fifteen-year sentence, and my life has been a living hell ever since” she was in tears by then. �
You gave that huge amount of money to a man you barely knew, because you didn’t work for the money abi? Do you have any idea how I made those millions? I had to sleep with everything in trousers with pockets of money for my services!! I did all that against my own will, at a tender age, just to make you happy! Just to give you and Grace a better life! And what did you do? You betrayed us without thinking twice! I shouldn’t even mention the countless times I was Raped by Clement, just because you weren’t around to guide me through life! if you knew you weren’t ready, why did you allow us to be born?”
“I am so sorry my daughters, I was foolish”
I had had enough of the emotional constipation resulting from thee conversation. I had reopened the darkest chapter of my past, and that wasn’t without its own share of emotional clogging. I needed fresh air!
As we stood to leave, mother called
“Grace my baby”
Grace was quick with her reply
“No no no! You will not dare call me that! I am here not because of you at all. Left for me, you should die here. You have sister here to thank for the fact that we’re even here in the first place!” Her expression seethed with rage!
OCTOBER 1ST�It was Independence Day!
I was watching the news on the Television at my fiancé’s place (I didn’t go back to Benin I decided to spend some more time in Lagos with my sister who was based temporarily in Lagos because of her job)
when I heard that a Presidential pardon had been granted to many inmates across the nation as a way of decongesting the correctional facilities.
Two phone calls after, I had confirmed that mother was among those freed. I reluctantly went there to show support and I’m sure she has no where to go.
Some paperwork, signatures, and more “palm greasing”, and two days later, we had mother on a bus to Benin while I boarded a flight ahead of her. I had left her my number so she could reach me upon her arrival, and five hours later, she called. I then took her back to the very house where we had all lived together previously. I felt the need to prove a point to her. The same room we had lived in was still vacant we gathered that the former occupant in the room got married few weeks back and had to move out to a more comfortable apartment. I had made arrangements for her to be the new occupant. I paid and had her move in that same day with only a mattress and a standing fan for furniture. I left her with a little money as well, all of this without a single word exchanged between the both of us! Yes I’d forgiven her, but she had to learn that words, actions, and inactions have consequences that can never be escaped from. She was soon to get used to life as a student of karma…As I walked out of the room I heard her say some very terrible statements I stood rooted on a spot.