As Maxwell turned the door knob, he heard his grandmother ask, “Who is there?”. She asked that question out of fright rather than out of curiosity. After the death of her husband, she always complained of one day receiving a visit from him. It took the help of a clinical psychologist and a catechist to finally convince her that there were no such things as ghosts. She had been living in the house with a house help after all her children were made to move out of the house because of their constant arguments over their father’s property. Maxwell and his siblings always wondered why she was scared but left their curiosity to deal with itself. “It is me”, Maxwell responded with a smile on his face because he knew exactly what was going to follow his response. “You who?”, his grandmother queried. “Me, Maxwell, your grandson.”, Maxwell replied. Maxwell walked into the living room where his grandmother was seated. He had not seen her for ten years and the old woman had changed physically. Her once black hair had now greyed out totally. There was a walking stick not too far away from the couch in which she was seated. The only thing that Maxwell remembered from ten years ago that still remained the same was her face. His grandmother still had a wrinkle-free face. She had been served with a cup of tea and three slices of bread which she found difficult to eat. She was clad in a heavy sweater to prevent her from getting cold even though it was broad daylight. When Maxwell saw her, the first thought that came to mind was that his once beautiful grandmother had little time left on earth. When she saw him, her face lit up with joy mixed with surprise. “Today, you have remembered that you have a grandma”, his grandmother said as he leaned in to place a kiss on her cheek. “Don’t say that, grandma”, Maxwell rebutted. “You know that I love you so much and like you would always say, ‘I cannot go and take any other woman to fill you place as grandma’ because”…. “No matter how poor I am, I am still your grandma!”, they both sung in unison and they both laughed out loud as they shared a hug. “What brings you here?”, Maxwell’s grandmother asked. “Does your father know that you are here?”, she added. “Grandma, relax”. “This house legally belongs to you and you have the sole right to determine who can come here and who cannot so your children have no right whatsoever to fight over this edifice”, Maxwell added. “My children do not understand this, my child. They have been blinded by greed and hatred and it is tearing our family apart and what hurts me is that I am too old to do anything about it”, Maxwell’s grandmother said with tears in her eyes. “You don’t have to cry grandma, we will find a way to put a stop to all this nonsense and get back as the loving family we once were. Don’t worry about it because I have a plan I believe will get us all together as we once were”, Maxwell said, as he gave his grandmother his handkerchief to wipe her tears and patted her on the shoulder. After wiping her tears, she gave Maxwell her most ‘famous’ lecture. Maxwell’s father disliked his mother for one thing. He knew deep inside that she always reported his activities and dealings to her other children and Maxwell could attest to the fact that she knew how to exaggerate when talking about his father. “Your father always says that I don’t love him like I do his other siblings but the truth of the matter is that he is mistaken because among all my children, he is the one I love and cherish the most because of how intelligent he is”, Maxwell’s grandmother said. “Sometimes, he even says it to my face that I am not his mother because if I was, I would not allow his siblings to treat him the way they did”, Maxwell’s grandmother added. “But in all things, the Bible says we should give thanks so if your father says that I am not his mother, I have nothing to say because I remember when I was in the operating room some fifty years ago about to put him to bed, it was even raining that day and I had to borrow money from my next door neighbour to board a taxi to the hospital because on that day, your grandfather, my husband, may God bless his soul had left for work”, Maxwell’s grandmother continued her lecture. All this while, Maxwell listened quietly even though he had heard this story over a thousand times. He knew too well that interrupting her speech would only make her talk more so he had to wait for the right moment to end the ‘lecture’. “That fateful Monday afternoon, my doctor was not on duty so another doctor helped me to deliver your father”. “That doctor was called something something Michaels”. “Hold on, I would remember her name”, Maxwell’s grandmother said as she tried racking her brain for the name. Maxwell saw this as the right moment to skip the long lecture so he quickly jumped in, “As you try to remember, let me take this empty tea cup and saucer into the kitchen, I am sure that by the time I get back, you would have remembered the name so we continue with the story”. With that being said, Maxwell quickly cleared the table and started his way towards the kitchen. As he was about exiting the large living room, he turned and said, “Take your time grandma because we have all day to talk”. As he stepped into the kitchen he was greeted by a familiar aroma, his grandmother’s trademark fish stew. He never liked the taste of the stew because he claimed it was not spicy enough. There were a few dishes already in the sink so Maxwell took them all out and filled the sink with water to use to wash the dishes. As he opened the tap, he had a flashback of how he used to stand on a kitchen stool as a child trying to help his father’s elder sister with the dishes while his younger sister swept the kitchen floor. Even though his sister did a shabby job, she was still lauded for a job well done and they all enjoyed each other’s company. “Those were good times and I would give anything to see this family return to its former place”, Maxwell said, as he grabbed the sponge dish. In a matter of minutes, he was done with the dishes. He opened the fridge and took out some pineapple juice and poured some into a glass for his grandmother. “Here you go, grandma”, Maxwell said, as he took a sip from the glass and handed it over to his grandmother. His grandmother had become very ‘sensitive’ because of her old age and could make a case out of virtually every situation no matter how harmless they were so Maxwell knew that taking a sip from the same cup was a step in the right direction because he knew it would put to bed any ‘suspicions’ his grandmother had of he being sent to poison her. “I want to look around the house, it has been a while”, Maxwell said. “Let me know if you need anything, grandma”, he added and stepped outside. Maxwell’s grandfather’s house was the first house in the neighbourhood to be walled when it was built. It was also the first house and still the only house that had a big sliding glass door. As he went through the door, he remembered his grandfather’s famous warning as they played around the living room close to the glass door. “I have told you children not to play around this door”, he would say. “It cost billions!”, he would often scream if any of his grandchildren even so much as touched the glass door. Maxwell loved his grandfather so much because even though he was seen as a disciplinarian by all of them, he always found a way of keeping both his house and his family in check. Their once beautiful lawn had now withered and all the beautiful trees and colourful flowers had either died or was at the final stage of losing its last flower. Maxwell remembered how their house used to be the talk of the town. Many people referred to his grandfather’s house as ‘The flower house’ because of the many flowers and trees in the house. Maxwell remembered how people often came into the house to take pictures while posing by the many colourful flowers. They often did this when his grandfather was not at home because the only time he would allow someone step on his lawn was when the gardener had to water them. That was how much he cherished his house. While his grandfather was still alive, Maxwell recalled him always standing in the middle of the house at night when all the lights had been turned on admiring the beauty he and the gardener had painstakingly created. Unfortunately, the beauty of the house faded away along with his death. Maxwell fetched the water hose from the backyard, connected it to the tap and put the running water into the already withered lawn to try to revive it. He took off his shirt, leaving only his undershirt, rolled up his denim jeans trouser and fetched a small garden fork from his grandfather’s garden shed. He loosened up all the flower beds in the few flower pots that had anything left in them and filled them with water. As he worked tirelessly, the gate to the house cranked open. A young lady in her twenty’s began the walk along the long walkway heading towards Maxwell’s direction. “Wow!”, Maxwell said, as the figure was a few feet out from where he stood. “Good morning”, she greeted. “Please when you finish with this one”, pointing to the flower pot Maxwell was currently working on, “come and let me show you something in the backyard”, she added. “I think our pear tree also needs pruning”, she added. Maxwell was dumbfounded but he managed to nod his head in agreement. The young lady, after saying this, made her way into the house. “This is a very beautiful young lady”, Maxwell said to himself. “I shouldn’t have rushed into getting myself into all this mess in the first place if I knew I was going to meet such a beautiful young woman like this”, Maxwell said as he wiped the sweat off his face with his palm. After about twenty minutes, the young lady came rushing back with a glass of pineapple juice in her hand. “I am so sorry, I mistook you for a gardener”, she said. “Your grandmother was just telling me about you”, she said, as she offered Maxwell the glass of juice. “So you wouldn’t have given me anything to drink if I was really a gardener?”, Maxwell queried. “Oh, far from that”, the young lady replied looking pretty much embarrassed. “All people deserve the same treatment whether that person is a gardener or the landlord”, Maxwell scolded. The young lady was speechless. “Don’t mind me, I am only messing with you”, Maxwell said as he took the glass from the tray. “I am Max and this is my grandfather’s house.”. “As you can see, I am trying to restore it to its former glory so that my grandfather can at least smile down on me from heaven”, Maxwell added jokingly. “What’s your name?”, Maxwell asked. “My name is Linda and I live across the street”. “On my free days, I come over to give your granny a helping hand with a few chores”, Linda said. Linda was a joy to behold. She had all the outstanding features Maxwell dreamed about. She was curvaceous and busty. Her hair was put in place with a yellow ribbon and she had one of the smoothest faces Maxwell had ever seen. “Okay Linda, let me get this one done so we look at the flowers in the backyard together”. “Hope you would stay for a while”, Maxwell added and Linda nodded in affirmation. Linda walked back into the house with the tray in her hand and Maxwell watched her as she graciously cat walked into the house. A feeling of deja vu hit Maxwell as he bent over the next flower pot. “This won’t work out, Max”, Maxwell thought out loud. “You have too much on your plate to add more to it”, his inner voice spoke to him. “If only I can find a way to free myself”, Maxwell said and went back to his gardening.
…To be continued