A STORY WRITTEN BY SERAH IYARE
Charles Adams took a quick glimpse at his appearance in the standing mirror nailed to the cream wall of the master bedroom. A seventy-year-old six feet tall dark broad shouldered man clad in an Ankara outfit stared back at him. He had aged slowly; some say he looked as if he was in his mid-sixties. That was acceptable, but those who say he looked like he was in his fifties were liars. He had lived a good life, retired as a renowned medical doctor, although he still consulted for people once in a while, married to an extra-ordinary woman who bore him three wonderful children. He was truly blessed.
Martha, his first daughter and first child was doing very well in the banking industry, but her unmarried status casted a depressing pitiable shadow on her chains of success. She would be forty in two months’ time and he wondered how she fared emotionally. Whenever she paid them a visit, she always put up a wall labelled ‘I am fine’, painted with a plastic smile that barely reached her hazel eyes.
Dorcas, his second daughter and last child was married with two children who were in their teens. She was thriving in the event planning business and her husband was a famous professional photographer. The likes of TY Bello and Co. She and his wife had planned the party and her husband’s assistants were assigned to capture the day in pictures. Perfect, wasn’t it? Nice to have these set of people in the family.
John, his only male and second child was also married; his beautiful wife did not conceive until after Dorcas had, had her two children, although John got married before her. He and his wife were doing well, lost in the work and things of God. The young man could have done better things with his life. He had a PhD. in International Relations, Masters in Law, and BSc. in Political Science. His qualifications were wasted in the pursuit of an unseen God, not that he didn’t believe in God, but, should one stop one’s life and jump into, into…
What did John call it? Ministry, Calling? Yes, that is exactly what he called it, calling, divine calling to be precise.
Charles shook his head, dark brows knitted in a frown. If they were doing God’s work, why did God cursed them with such a trouble-maker of a child? Was Sheila their thorn in the flesh? That young woman could drive any sane person crazy with just a single word. He shivered at the thought.
“Young man! Don’t tell me that you are not yet ready. Everybody is here!” His wife’s voice drifted into the room from the hall way. She made her way into the bedroom and found her husband chuckling. One brow raised, “What is so funny?”
Charles walked up to her and pulled her close, “At seventy, you still call me a young man.” Nnese tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip.
“No matter how old you are, you will always remain my young man,” She winked, “We have guests to attend to.”
He sighed with resignation. It was his birthday, a few family and close friends were celebrating with them. He would have preferred an uninterrupted day alone with his wife, but, a small party had already been planned for him before he could voice his desires.
His dark brown eyes drank his wife’s petite frame. At five feet six inches, curvy hips and abundant bosom, she could carry herself even at her age. Her chocolate cream complexion hasn’t lost their glitter.
“Charles… Guests are waiting.”
“Queen Nnese…” He took a bow, “Let us attend to our hungry guests.”
She could hardly stop the laughter that bubbled through her. Her husband could be comical when he wanted to be. That was one of the reasons why she married him.
Charles and his wife headed for the garden. The moment they walked in, everyone seated got to their feet and started singing,
“Happy birthday to you…”
Martha and her siblings went over to their parents and hugged them, followed by their spouses and children. Charles thanked everyone for coming and the party commenced.
Sheila joined her cousins at a table. She noticed that Edidiong and Boma came along with their dates. She wondered why they always bring someone new to every family event. Their relationships barely lasted a month. Why bother? She wasn’t interested in dating anyone at the moment. At five feet nine inches, with a slim and well curved body, she had, had her share of admirers. But not until she graduates at twenty-one, she will not venture into any relationship.
“Sweet heart, have you met my cousin?” Edidiong was speaking to her date, but was staring at her. Sheila met her gaze, the look in her eyes spelt mischief and she could discern that her cousin was up to no good. She had promised her parents that she would avoid squabbles, but if anyone brings trouble her way, she was more than ready to fight back.
“Her name is Sheila and she is the black sheep of the family,” She and her date started to laugh. Sheila decided to ignore them.
“Cat got your tongue?” Boma addressed her. He and his date were also laughing.
She noticed that they were beginning to attract attention. If she allowed her cousins to go on with their ridiculous comments, she might lose her temper. She decided to end the whole tirade once and for all, before it got out of hand.
She pointed at their dates, “If both of you think they are serious about you, then you better think again,” they all stopped laughing, ” These two cousins of mine bring a different date to every family function. I have photos in my phone as proof.”
Boma and Edidiong starred at her in disbelief. An uncomfortable silence settled over them. Boma’s date picked up her bag and got to her feet. He reached out for her hand, but she used her bag to hit him and headed out. He got up and hurried after her.
Edidiong’s date pushed his food away and dabbed his lips with a napkin. He drained his glass in one gulp and pushed his chair backwards.
“Sweet heart…” He ignored her and left the table without a word.
Edidiong shot her cousin an angry look, “You will pay for this!” She threatened and ran after her date.
Mission accomplished! Sheila sighed and sipped at her drink. Martha saw her niece and nephew running after their dates. She wondered what was going on. She turned and saw Sheila smiling sheepishly. She left her seat and approached her,
“When are you going to stop this unpleasant habit of yours?”
Sheila looked up at her aunt, wondering what she was talking about.
“Were you born to make everyone around you miserable?”
Boma and Edidiong returned without their dates. Their countenance brightened when they realized that their aunt was scolding their cousin.
“Must you wave your wand of despair at every family function? Can’t you be normal just for once?”
Sheila placed her glass of chilled chapman on the table and stood, the only way to avoid creating a scene was to leave. She eyed her self-righteous aunt who didn’t even bother to find out what had happened before shooting blames and insults.
“Is it me you are looking at like that?”
Without a word, head high, shoulders raised, Sheila walked out of the garden. Martha starred after her in mad rage. “Look at this little ingrate…” She marched after her niece.
Boma and Edidiong exchanged glances, trouble brews for
Sheila. Both teens went in different directions to alert their parents and Sheila’s parents.
Sheila headed for the main house. Getting away from her aunt was the best thing to do at the moment. She does not want to cause a scene at her grandpa’s birthday bash. She had also promised her parents that she would be a ‘good girl’ today. She doesn’t want to disappoint them. But her aunt was bent on making her break that promise. That woman should go and get a life. How old was she anyway? Thirty-nine going to forty, what a shame.
Her aunt’s shrill voice stopped her in her tracks. She turned around and saw Martha marching towards her. What was wrong with this woman? Why was she following her? The devil himself must have sent her.
“How dare you walk out on me?”
“Why don’t you just leave me alone?” She turned and started to walk away. Something was definitely wrong with this woman.
“Sheila! Get back here!”
She ignored her and made her way into the house. She went straight to the living room, switched on the T.V and settled on the sofa. Her aunt’s attitude was beginning to get to her. The farther she was from her, the better.
Martha walked in fuming. It was high time she taught her niece a lesson or two. She has had enough of her rude and unpleasant attitude. The whole family has had enough. She wasn’t getting off easily this time. She picked up the T.V remote and switched it off.
“Aunt Martha, that was uncalled for.”
“You are a very silly girl. How dare you walk out on me? Who in God’s name gave you the audacity to disrespect me? You lack home training. Your parents are not… I repeat, they are not capable of impacting good morals into your thick incorrigible skull. ”
Sheila got to her feet, her aunt was beginning to get on her already fried nerves, “Please don’t bring my parents into this.”
“Why not? They have failed in their responsibility. How old are you? Eighteen? Look how you have turned out. Uncultured, manner less, spoilt…”
“Please, please… What do you know about responsibilities? You are not married, talk about having a child of your own. Here you are talking about what you do not know.”
Martha hit her across the face, “Don’t you ever, ever in your lazy life, speak to me like that again. How dare you?”
John and Eureka walked in. Boma and Edidiong had informed them that Sheila was being scolded for being mean to them. They had hoped that the day would end without squabbles, but it seems that, that was not going to happen.
“What is going on here?” John approached them. Her mother took a seat on the settee.
Sheila barely acknowledged them, her surprised gaze was trailed on Martha’s angry ones. She could not believe that her aunt had slapped her. This woman has gone too far.
“Martha what is wrong?”
“I am disappointed at both of you,” she eyed John, then Eureka.
“Martha, this is not the time to trade insults…”
“Insults…” She glanced at Sheila, “You should have been here when this ‘small thing’ painted me blue and black.”
Sheila attempted to hit her, but her father held her back.
“Sheila!” Her mother jumped to her feet, “What has come over you?”
“Leave her alone John. Let her try it. I will show her the stuff I am made of.”
She eyed her aunt and released her hand from her father’s firm grip. “You are going to regret this.”
She met her father’s gaze, he didn’t look too happy. She turned to look at her mother, she was frowning. She dreaded the long lecture they would give her when they get home.
“I don’t care what happened or who is at fault. I want you to apologize to your aunt this minute.”
Sheila eyed her father, she can’t and won’t apologize to her aunt. Why should she? They were not here when the witch slapped her.
She turned around and headed for the door. Eureka’s jaw dropped in astonishment. John sighed, God, what did I do wrong?
“Can you imagine? Look at your daughter. She has gotten out of hand. Both of you need to do something about her,” she eyed them again, “… something fast.”
John and Eureka exchanged glances. What else can they do but to continue praying and talking to her. What else can they do but to wait patiently for her to change. After all, she was their daughter, their only child, and they loved her regardless of her faults.
To be continued…………….
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