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Sunday, October 18, 2015

My master's son (1)


I first came into the Addamson family as a little girl of about nine. You see, my mother was the family's housekeeper, a job she did for many years until her retirement a few years ago. My mother, siblings and I lived at the back of the expansive compound in a small, two bedroom flat. Even as a little girl, I could tell that my mother's employers were a different breed of people. Because of their wealth and status, they lived a different lifestyle and had different values and attitudes.
There are five children in the Addamson family- three girls and two boys. Francis is the first son and heir while Edward, (the focus of my story), is the second son. Growing up, we did not interact much with the children of the family. One reason may be because they were hardly around. Once they finished primary school, they would be sent abroad for both their secondary and university education. It was like a family tradition. The only time I saw them was when they came home for holidays or special family events like funerals and weddings.
 The only one who stayed behind in Nigeria was Fanny, the last child. She had been sickly right from childhood- I think she was born premature according to my mother, and the parents had decided to keep her close to them to monitor her health. Being the only child at home most of the time, I think she was lonely for with time, she started hanging out with my younger sister Angela. They were about the same age and they would play and do things together. Sometimes, I joined in their games until I outgrew their childish pursuits.
 Fanny's parents did not seem to mind that their beloved daughter was getting so close to the housekeeper's daughter. They could see that she was keeping their child company so they encouraged the friendship. Besides, Chief and his wife were not the snobby type like some wealthy people out there. They treated us well and always bought things for us whenever they travelled out. Years later, their attitude will change due to certain events that happened as you will find out from my story...

***
The years went by and we all grew up. I finished secondary school and though I wanted to further my education, getting admission to a higher institution was a problem. After writing JAMB for two years with no success, I decided to do a computer course at a school in the city. After the programme ended, I got admission into a Polytechnic to do a business related course. I was rounding up my programme in the school when Edward, Chief's second son finally returned home from his sojourn abroad.
The last time I had seen him was nearly seven years earlier. Then, he had returned home after his first degree, and after resting for a while, had gone back for his Masters. He worked for some years abroad and would have remained there if his father had not ordered him to return home so he could enter the family business.
"The boy has grown so used to staying abroad, he finds Nigeria, his own fatherland, a strange place. He told me the other day that if he had his way, he would have preferred to remain in oyibo land," said my mother one day. I had returned home from school on a short break and I had found her and Angela talking about Edward, who had recently returned to Nigeria for good.
"Do you blame him, Mama. If I were in his shoes and had all that money, I'll not remain in this  country for one minute," Angela declared.
 "And what will you be doing over there?" I asked, joining in the conversation.
"Ask her o! You think life over there is a bed of roses? Don't be fooled by what you see on TV!" my mother stated. She had travelled several times with Chief and his wife abroad and had told us a lot of stories about life in Europe and America.
"I don't care as long as I leave this country!" Angela maintained.
"My friend, go and finish washing the dirty dishes in the kitchen before you start talking about travelling out. Look at her, somebody who has not even been to Cotonou talking about travelling to Europe!" my mother said mockingly.
 A few days later, I had gone out on an errand for my mother and was returning home when I ran into Edward. As I drew close to the large gate of the compound, it opened and a wine colored sports car drove out. Seeing that it was Edward, I waved to him and he parked by the roadside.
 "Is that you, Laura? Wow, you are such a big girl now!" he exclaimed as he got down from the car. I laughed as he said:
 "I could have driven past you, not knowing who you were if you had not waved. You've grown up to be so pretty! What has your mother been feeding you with?"
We stood chatting for a while, with him asking after my studies. He was very pleased to hear I had almost finished school, with just my project left to do.
 I saw him a couple of times after that before my return to school. The evening before my departure, he sent for me and gave me some money and some provisions he had bought.
 "Don't hesitate to call me if you need anything," he stated as he handed the items to me. We were in his apartment which was separate from the main house, a short distance away.
 "I still can't get over how grown up you are! In my mind, I still remember you as that little kid who used to skip rope with Fanny and your sister in the compound and play hide and seek in the garden!" he said.
 "That was then. I'm not a little kid anymore; I'm a big girl now!" I pointed out.
 "I can see that," he rejoined, looking admiringly at me from head to toe.
"So, what will you like to do when you graduate?" he asked sometime later.
I shrugged.
"I hope to get a job and make a living for myself instead of relying on my mother all the time," I replied.
"That's good. Maybe I can help in that regard when the time comes..." he said.


To be continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.


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Names have been changed to protect the identities of the narrator, Laura, the Addamsons and other individuals in the story.

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