…continued from the previous episode
‘Come on, mum’.
‘Showing evidence one’, she said and started lifting her dress.
‘Okay, okay’, I said and stood up, dragging her up with me, ‘Can I have everyone’s attention please? This woman standing beside me is my biological mother and I love her so much. Don’t be deceived by her looks, she is a crazy one’.
There was a smattering of laughter, chuckles and smiles in the café and mum poked me in the ribs as we sat down.
‘What? I did what you asked’.
‘We didn’t agree on the aside. You don’t know if I had a potential suitor here and now I’ve lost him, thanks to your wise-ass comments’.
‘You are welcome, Mummy. Anything for you’.
She hugged me again, tighter this time and my hackles rose instantly. I was jolted back to my present predicament and it dawned on me that mum had been distracting me from the real purpose of our meeting. It had been a week since Chioma’s announcement and mum had been appalled when I had called to inform her. She called her lawyer immediately and sued for custody, took the first available flight from Massachusetts where she resided and they had been having meetings all week long with the judge and Chioma’s legal representative. She called this morning to say she wanted to see us but I was already on my way to see Lincoln so I gave her the address of the café, figuring I would give Sheila updates.
‘I’m really gonna miss you, baby’.
Her use of informal English confirmed my suspicions. Mum had always been adamant that we use Standard English and she only switched when she was being playful or trying to placate us.
‘We are going to live with you, mum’, I said.
She was silent.
‘Right, mum? Mum, please answer me; tell me we are moving to Massachusetts. I am packed already; I’ll help Sheila complete her packing. Please, mummy’.
I heard the tears in her voice before I watched them trickle down her lovely face. The judge had refused to grant her custody on the basis of it being dad’s last wishes and dad’s will was ironclad. He had thoroughly covered the legal aspects and his lawyer was ruthless. The judge agreed with him that it was only fair for us to meet our father’s family and get to know our homeland since we had been in America for all fourteen years of our life. She was willing to make a concession though, if after two years of living in Nigeria, we could prove that we were uncomfortable, then she would grant mum custody.
‘That’s fucking unreasonable. Sorry, mum’, I apologized when she raised her brows at my uncouth language, ‘But seriously, mum, I can’t survive two years in that….that place. I won’t even try; can’t I run away with you? Please, mum’.
‘You know I would love to have you with me in any way possible but that’s a felony. There will be no one to take care of you if I land in jail. Don’t worry, Ronnie love, I’m sure it won’t be that bad. It’s just two years and I’m sure you will grow to love it there. It will be fun meeting your extended family and Chioma will take good care of you. She has a good heart’.
‘I don’t care about any extended family. And Chioma is a pretender; she is a home wrecker and I’m sure she can’t wait for us to be on her turf before she displays her true colours’.
‘Don’t speak about your stepmother in that manner. She wasn’t responsible for the divorce so respect her. Promise me you won’t be difficult about this and you won’t give Chioma a hard time’.
‘Promise’, I mumbled. I wasn’t going to give a hard time; that was too simple, less than she deserved. I was going to give her a terrible time but I was going to work on my other plans first.
‘Promise me you won’t do anything rash or stupid and you will inform me before trying any plans’.
I groaned inwardly, I hated it when she did that, it was as if she could read my mind. I didn’t say anything for a long time and then I burst into tears. Mum held me and tried to console me but my anguish was weighty. I cried for what I had lost and what I was still going to lose. There was no silver lining ahead, only harsh, unfamiliar clouds.