“But why can’t we go and see her?”
Claire was home now and talking to her dad who refused to look up from his phone or say a word.
“Dad?” she said, her voice slightly raised.
“Claire, what do you want?” he spoke at last
“To see her, to show her my result”
“To what end Claire? She doesn’t even recognize you any more, doesn’t recognize me either, so what would your result mean to her?”
“The doctors said it would help to come over often and talk to her…”
“It’s been what now? 5years since she’s been there, it’s worse every time we go there, the drugs don’t even seem to be helping at all”
“But they were helping when she was home, they stopped when we took her to that institution” Claire was close to tears.
“And we took her there because she was becoming a danger to herself, to you…”
“And an embarrassment to you” this was almost whispered, but he heard her clearly.
“Claire, this conversation is over!”
She stood her ground and stared into his eyes, a riot of emotions threatening to make her crumble in a mass of tears, and still she was determined to stare him down. Then she heard the honk of a car in the drive way and took off to her room.
Susan was back. Susan, the woman her dad now introduced as his wife, a woman Claire refused to accept or acknowledge as part of her family. How could she? Her parents were not divorced, her mum was not dead, she was just ill, she would get better, and she had to believe that she would.
Ola, that was her mum’s name, was always, as far back as Claire could remember, at either one of two extremes. Either very happy, very playful or just completely depressed and angry. Claire chose to remember only the happy times. She wouldn’t want it any other way. Ola didn’t work, she always prepared Claire for school, was always home to receive her, except for those dark times. Then things started getting darker, she came home one day and her mum was not at the door, the door was left open, all the doors were left open, she could hear her mum sobbing in the kitchen, but she stood still for a few moments in the doorway, the sitting room was in disarray, broken frames containing pictures of the family scattered on the floor, the couches were gouged. Then she started running for the kitchen but stood still again at the door way, her mum was in a black boubou, standing in the center of the kitchen, surrounded by broken dishes. She was sobbing as she picked eggs from an egg tray on the center of the table and dropped the on the floor.
The action was slow and the drop of each egg was almost meditative. Her sobs were undulating.
“Mum” Claire called, tentatively, she was eight at the time and the sight thoroughly disturbed and scared her, her mum looked in her direction and started walking in her direction, completely oblivious of the shards of glass piercing her feet. She stopped inches from her daughter and asked, her voice barely audible,
“Where is your brother?”
“I don’t have a brother mum” Claire was completely confused now.
“Yes you do and you shouldn’t be here without him, I want both of you”
“Mum, you are scaring me” Claire was visibly shaking
“I want both of you” Ola’s voice was several notches raised.
Claire was in tears but her mum who was now mumbling unintelligibly kept staring at a spot on the wall, just above her head.
Just then, her dad walked into the kitchen, he was just returning from work, he immediately swung into action, he walked up to his wife, shards of glass cracking under his shoes and draped his arm over her shoulder. She let herself be led quietly into her room. Claire was not allowed to see her for days and no explanation was given to her other than “Your mum is ill”.
Her dad wouldn’t even look her in the face. Scenes like this were recurrent over the years until Ola was finally committed.
Claire would not start blaming her dad until Susan came into the picture, she just could not understand why he couldn’t wait for her to get better even if it took forever. She didn’t understand why he needed another woman. Claire never gave Susan a chance and Susan was never bothered by this. As far as she was concerned Claire was nothing but a spoilt brat. The good thing however was, she knew that the only sure way to remain a part of the family was to keep trying to get in Claire’s good books. She was really good at keeping up this pretence. Claire saw through it but her dad didn’t.
Ken; Claire’s dad had never been head over heels in love with Susan and he was absolutely convinced that this had nothing to do with Ola. He just felt she was good for his home which had become bland and colourless after Ola left. He hoped against hope that Ola would get better, recognize people she used to know, and regain the ability to keep up coherent conversations for reasonable periods of time. After two years with no visible improvements, he gave up. He met Susan through a mutual friend; he was really taken by her boisterous and larger than life personality. He could feel it deep in his bones that she was exactly what his home needed. Her laughter which gurgled in a girlish way. She was also very adventurous with colours and the first thing that struck him was how she still managed not to look garish with so many colours. The play of colours was actually pleasing to the eye. He could just tell that she would bring some happiness back into his life and hopefully that of Claire’s.
“And if it doesn’t I can always protect Claire” he thought a bit too fiercely.
“Are you always this absent minded?” she asked. It was the first time they met. They were at a friend’s get together; a really small affair and Ijeoma the mutual friend had purposely invited Susan over hoping she and Ken would hit it off.
“What?” Ken blinked hard coming back to the present.
“Oh yes you always are” Susan supplied the answer herself and was able to find her own response funny as she let out her signature laughter.
“She is perfect he thought to himself” It was the first time they were meeting but he had been away from the dating scene for so long that he just could not imagine himself meticulously sifting through any number of women to find the perfect mate. This one with her flame colored loose chiffon gown under laid with red, her navy blue heels, hair covered in a flame colored pashmina – tied turban style, gold hoops, a thousand and one bangles on her left hand, huge gold wristwatch, this woman who just loved to laugh would do – if she would have him that is.
Stay tuned for episode 7next week Friday.
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Categories: storytelling, written series
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