As good as her mother’s meal was, Amara couldn’t eat beyond a few spoonfuls. The news of her child’s existence was still too fresh in her memory; along with the painful throb of Kelvin’s betrayal. Her fingers shook as she held the spoon, toying with the food in her plate. Distantly, she heard the voice of her mother as she filled her in on all the things she had missed the past six years. She was the one who asked her mother to do so, but now, she wasn’t listening. She couldn’t, not because she wasn’t interested in knowing how her parents had been faring, but because her brain kept on replaying her enormous dilemma.
Utter silence descended on the room and this time, Amara heard it. She didn’t raise her eyes from her plate because she feared that her brimming eyes would give her away. She didn’t have to though.
“What is wrong Amarachi?” The concern in Mrs Peters’ voice almost made her weep for real. Amara shook her head, not trusting her voice to come out without betraying her emotions. “Something is bothering you… I can see it clearly” Mrs Peters persisted.
The urge to tell her mother all her troubles was overwhelming. Her hand shook as she shook her head. “No. It isn’t right to unburden to you now mum” her voice broke halfway through.
Mrs Peters was out of her chair at once. “What do you mean by that? There is nothing more right than having you confide in me” she pulled a dinning chair closer to Amara and perched on it. She put her hand against Amara’s chin, forcing her to look at her. “I am listening”
Amara burst into tears at that. Mrs Peters pulled her close, holding Amara’s head to her chest with a frown. “Oh mama” Amara sobbed. “You can’t possibly fathom what I am going through now” she raised her head to look at her mother’s eyes as more tears slipped down her cheeks. “My son is not dead Mama, he is alive”
Mrs Peters stiffened, almost turning to a statue. Her face turned slightly pale as she stared at Amara as though she had lost her mind. “What… what are you saying?” She gasped out. “Stop saying nonsense Amara”
Amara stood up them, too tense to remain seated. “It is not nonsense mum” she laughed bitterly. “I almost fainted when I heard it today. My son is alive; has been alive all these years”
“How come… how did that happen?”
Amara sighed and told her everything Kelvin told her that morning. The more she said them, the more they hurt terribly, but she refused to think about Kelvin and his betrayal now. Her child was more important.
Mrs Peters’ face grew paler the more she talked and soon, she was looking into space. When Amara finished, silence descended into the room for several seconds. “I have a grandson” Mrs Peters whispered almost to herself, as though she couldn’t quite believe it was true.
Amara nodded gently as her eyes watered again. “Yes ma. A grandson”
Her mother jumped up suddenly, her eyes widening with a brightness Amara had never seen. “Oh my God Amara. I am a grandmother” she squealed. She pulled Amara close for a two seconds hug, and released her quickly from over-excitement. Mrs Peters was practically jumping up and down, with great smiles on her face. If only Amara could bounce about happily like this! Mrs Peters took one look at her face again and her excitement reduced. “Why do you look so pale my child? This is a really good news!”
Amara slumped into a chair. “I am scared mum. I have always thought that my life would be so blessed if I had my child, but now that it is happening, I am so scared” she raised her eyes to her mum. “What if I can’t be a good mother? What if he hates me? I have not been with him his whole life, do I expect him to jump into my arms?” She shook her head and looked away. “I totally have no idea how to be a mother”
Mrs Peters sobered considerably and sat close to Amara. She grabbed her hand and held it firmly between hers. “Look at me Amara” Amara did. “You don’t need to know how to be a mother; you are already a mother” she stated. “You don’t train to be a mother, my child, you are trained on the job. Don’t be scared that he might hate you, even if he does, all you need to do is win him over. A mother never gives up on her child, and surely, if the mother’s love is true, the child would come around and come to love her dearly”
Amara’s eyes watered as hope flared in her. “You think he might love me?”
Her mother smiled and raised her hand to Amara’s cheek. “Of course Amara. He would love you very much. Do you know how I was when I found you?” She smiled and shook her head in remembrance. “After trying for years, I had already accepted that I could not have a child. Then, I found you” she laughed. “You were so small, so fragile; I have never seen a child more beautiful”
Amara wiped the tears on her cheeks but her face grew wet again.
“I took you home but I didn’t know what to do. I was in complete confusion; I didn’t know anything. You used to cry a lot” she grinned, her own eyes also growing misty from the remembrance. “I didn’t know if you were hungry or wet whenever you cried”
“What did you do mama?”
“I continued to take care of you the best way I knew how, I got advice from some mothers, but after some time of practice, I became used to it. No one is a perfect mother Amara, love and determination is all you need to bring your child up”
Happiness floated through Amara and she hugged her mother fiercely. “I knew you were the best person I could come to mama, thank you so much” she murmured, loving her mother the more. Mrs Peters might not have been her birth mother, but she was definitely the best mother in the universe. “I love you mum” she whispered against her mother’s shoulder.
Mrs Peters held her close. “Oh my child! I love you too”
Tega glared at the two policemen at the counter as she bubbled with anger. “What do you mean 48 hours? My boss is missing and you expect me to wait until after 48 hours? What is wrong with your brains?” She yelled at them
The man on the right glared back at her. “Hey woman, if you no carry your wahala commot for here ehn, I go show you pepper” he returned.
Tega shook her head. “What are you policemen for when you cannot do your jobs; lazy people”
They were about to get a decent retort when their eyes caught someone behind her. She looked back as Maxwell approached, looking like the rich man that he was. Tega hadn’t waited for him but ran into the station while he parked the car, now, noticing that the policemen were grinning at him, she rolled her eyes in annoyance.
“Welcome oga” They murmured, looking at him like he was a rare object of fascination. Tega almost insulted them.
Max smiled at them, glanced at her furious face and gave her a small wink before turning back to the men. “I see there is a small misunderstanding, actually we need you to help us use your expertise in finding my missing friend. She seemed to have just vanished and we are really worried.”
The policemen grinned. “Ehn, that is what she should have said, of course we would help you oga” the one on the left said, rubbing his palms together.
Tega hissed and would have given the guy he response he deserved if her phone hadn’t interrupted. It was an unknown number. She picked up and put it against her ear.
“Hello” she murmured.
Tega slumped against the counter as relief washed over her. The men noticed instantly. “Oh boss” she squealed. “You’ve almost sent me to an early grave with worry. Where have you been?”
“Amara?” Max asked with wide eyes and Tega nodded.
“I am so sorry Tega, some things just came up and I had to… rush off” Amara explained.
“Oh boss, we have been so worried, we went to your house and even checked with Miss Tina. Right now, Mr Babs and I are at the police station”
“What? You got arrested?” Amara squealed over the phone.
Tega almost laughed. “Of course not. We came to report your disappearance”
“Oh… Sorry I put you through the stress. Maxwell is with you?” she sounded stunned.
“Yes” Tega answered, looking at Maxwell who was looking at her with expectation. “You want to speak with him?” She asked. Without waiting for a response, Max took the phone.
“Hello Amara, you gave me quite a scare! I have almost gone crazy”
“Oh my; I am really very sorry” Amara answered. “I just had something really urgent to take care of”
“It is nothing. I am just a big relief to know that you are OK”
“Thanks. I am sorry if I would be an extra burden but I want to bed for a favour please” she murmured. “Actually, I haven’t been able to check on my friend in the hospital and she has the habit of skipping meals. I would be extremely grateful if you could help me out. I know you are extremely busy and…”
“Don’t worry about it. I would take care of her. Just take care of yourself” Max assured her.
Amara sighed. “Oh, I can’t thank you enough. Thanks so much.”
The Senator knocked on the door gently. There were several things that he needed to be doing in Abuja, but he was stuck here, unable to leave when his family was in shambles. His wife had refused to talk to him ever since it was revealed that Alex wasn’t her son. Could he blame her? She had every right to be angry. But he loved his wife. Despite her betrayal and infidelity, he still wished they could make it work.
The door opened gently and Mrs Bello stood there, a shadow of the woman he used to know. She looked lean and strained. “Katherine” he called gently.
Mrs Bello looked at him drily. “I told you I don’t want to see you Bello, stay away from me”
She tried to close the door but he quickly stopped her. “Please Katherine, we can work things out, I am sorry” he pleaded.
“Sorry? You are sorry? I have been begging for your forgiveness for years and you treated me like trash. I was fading away, yet you did not forgive me, but now, here you are, begging for my forgiveness and you expect me to forgive you? Just like that?” She asked, bewildered. She shook her head. “Maybe we are not meant for each other Bello. There is nothing joining us together anymore. The only bond I thought we shared was Alex, but now that the truth is revealed, I think the best thing for us is to go our separate ways”
Mr Bello shook his head. “No Kate. God has joined us together, we can make it work again” he said forcefully.
She shook her head. “Yes, God joined us together, but I am putting asunder” with that, she closed the door firmly.
Amara returned from her mother’s place greatly relieved. She had wanted to spend more time with her mother but knew she had to leave. They had talked about several things and Amara had told Mrs Peters everything, including the appearance of Alex and Mrs Bello but Amara particularly didn’t want to remember the heated conversation they had had about Kelvin. She didn’t like the fact that her mother had tried to defend Kelvin’s actions. The betrayal was still too fresh. She had waited endlessly for her father but he didn’t arrive until she left.
It was already dark when Amara alighted from the taxi. She paid the man and walked into her compound. I can do this! I can be a good mother! She told herself, more confident now. She saw her door and remembered what Tega had told her with a smile. She couldn’t believe Max had actually brought down her door. She shook her head. The door looked the same way she had left it now because Max had called someone to fix it.
She whirled around, shocked as Alex’s voice rang in her ears. He came in through the gate, walking rapidly towards her. Oh no! The last thing she needed now was another confusion. She gritted her teeth. “What do you want Alex? I thought I made it perfectly clear that I never want to see you again.” She folded her arms across her chest.
“I know, but I couldn’t stay away. I am sorry”
“What do you mean by that nonsense? Leave my house this instant Alex or you’ll regret it” she warned.
“I can’t Amara… I… I just saw him” he stated, looking almost pale, like he had just seen a ghost.
Amara tapped her feet against the floor impatiently. “You just saw who?”
“Our son Amara”
“Our son isn’t dead Amara, I just saw him”
Her fingers shook as she moved a bit closer to Alex. “W… where?”
“He is with your father”
Amara frowned. “Father? Which father” was he involved in this too.
“Your father, the police man” he stated. “Oh my! He looked just like me, I couldn’t believe it. Someone told me that he might be alive but I never believed it, not until I saw him today, walking with your father.” Alex’s eyes watered as if overtaken with emotions. “He had my face and looked so handsome, oh Amara, I thought it was a dream”
Amara gripped the burglary to keep her feet steady. She had hoped that her son wouldn’t look like Alex, not even in the slightest. Her desire to see her son increased, it didn’t matter if she had to beg Alex for this. She didn’t know if she could wait for Kelvin to bring him. She had to see her son, hug him and kiss him.
“Do you think it is destiny?”
Her brain snapped back. “What?” She couldn’t put together what he was talking about.
“Maybe we are meant to be together Amara” Alex stated and Amara’s brows drew together. “Only recently, we found out that we are not siblings, now, the child we though was dead, we discover that he is actually alive. Don’t you think this is destiny bringing us together?” Amara could only stare at Alex as his gaze grew intense. “I have not been happy since you left years back Amara. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I had developed feelings for you and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I… love you Amara”
Amara was finding it hard to close her mouth. “This couldn’t be happening, could it?”
“I am sorry for all the hurt I caused you… I will make it up to you Amara, I swear it. We can make this work Amara. We can be happy again. You and I, together with our son” he drew closer, standing dangerously close. “We can be a big happy family. Please marry me Amara… please”
With her mouth still open in shock, Amara watched as Alex went down on his knees before her.
…to be continued