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Monday, October 26, 2015

'She abandoned me as a baby. Now it's payback time!' (2)

Apart from Maria, I also sought Big Mama's counsel on the issue of my mother. She was all for it, encouraging me earnestly to look for her.
"I know that at nearly 23, you might think you are grown up, a big girl. But the truth is, you still need adult guidance in your life now so you don't derail," said Big Mama when I paid her a visit at my old home. "We brought you up on sound moral values and you have been a good girl all this while. But who knows what can happen in the outside world with all the bad influences out there? This is where an older person particularly a parent comes in. I and your other 'mothers' here will always be here for you if you need anything. But our love and guidance can't take the place of your own flesh, that of your birth mother. So, my dear, go and look for her! I'm certain she will be glad to see you and will want to make it up to you in anyway for all these years of separation," she added.
She pushed a piece of paper across the table to me. Written on it was a name and address.
"They are the best goldsmiths in town at least back in the day when they were still very active in the business. These days, most people buy imported jewelry especially gold from all over the world so I'm not sure if they are still open. But visit the address and ask around. I'm sure you will get some hints on that bracelet as I believe it was made in the country because of its design and vintage look," Big Mama stated.
Back home, I started making arrangements to search for my mother. After much pleading, Mr Johnson, our manager at the office gave me a few weeks off from work, with the threat that if I did not resume on time, I would not be paid that month.
As I set out on the search, I felt some excitement and anxiety as well. Everyone I had spoken to on the matter had assured me my mother would welcome me with open arms when I finally meet her. So, it was with that mindset that I went in search of her, believing that for the first time in my life, I would feel and have a mother's love and care. I would no longer be all alone in the world, with no one to support and care about me. I would be somebody with roots, a background like any normal human being.

The old goldsmith
"This wasn't made here," stated the old man firmly, shaking his head covered with the whitest hair, I had ever seen. I was at the address Big Mama had given me at the orphanage. Though still functioning, they no longer made much jewelry but more of locks and other security gadgets.
The old man, whom I had been directed to on my arrival said he had retired some years back and his son was now in charge of the business. "I had to stop work because of my hands. They had begun to shake so much, it was dangerous to keep working- you see, we deal with fire a lot and you can't work with fire with shaky, unstable hands," he said. Then glancing again at the bracelet in my hand, he said: "This is not our work. And I should know. I started working with my father at age seven. That was over seventy years ago. I can recognise most of our pieces done during that period. This is not ours. But it looks like the craftsmanship of the Simon Brothers," he stated. 
I had to explain to him the reason for identifying the craftsmen behind the bracelet before he agreed to give me the contact of the Simon Brothers. "The world has changed so much from what it was during our time. You can't trust anyone now. I'm not sure if old Simon is still active as he's my senior in age. Have not seen him for years, at least since I retired nearly ten years ago. But his children should still be around. Good luck, child, with your search. I hope you find your mother," he said, getting unsteadily to his feet as I made to take my leave.
I thanked him profusely and left. The address the old goldsmith gave me was at the other end of the city and since it was getting late, I decided to wait till the following day before going there.
The old goldsmith was right; his friend, Old Simon had retired years before and returned to his village in Edo state. I got the information from one of his children who was managing the family business. 
"And why do you want to see my father?" he queried. I could see he was not as friendly as the old goldsmith and I wondered if he would be able to help me in my quest. I brought out the bracelet and showed it to him. I also told him about my quest, of my desire to reconnect with my birth mother whom I believe was the owner of the bracelet. He was silent for a while as he studied the piece of jewelry. From a drawer, he brought out a magnifying glass which he used to examine it closely.
His next words made my heart beat fast.
"It's ours, alright. I can see my father's seal on it." he stated.
"If that's the case, you should have the contact of the owner since she must have been your customer," I said eagerly.
He shook his head.
"We don't divulge personal details of our customers. Besides, this bracelet was made long ago, in the 1960s. I doubt if we still have such information in our records," the man said.
I pleaded with him, stating that the search meant everything to me and he had to help me. Seeing how desperate I was, he conceded a little. 
"Well, the only thing I can do for you is link you up with my father. Tell him your story and if he agrees, then we will get the address of the owner for you. But you have to come back tomorrow as he hasn't been well. He was just discharged from the hospital yesterday and he's resting. We can talk to him on phone tomorrow."
It was late the following day that I was able to speak with Pa Simon. When I mentioned the name Clarkson, he exclaimed:
"That must be Jay Clarkson, the judge! I know him very well! He used to patronize us a lot in those days! I made a lot of jewelry for him which were mostly for his wife and mother. So, what do you want to know about him?"
I told him about my mother whom I was looking for and about the bracelet with her name engraved on it- C. Clarkson.
"That should be Clarkson's wife, Christy. I remember he had a bracelet made for her to mark their wedding anniversary. I designed and made it for him and he told me later how much she loved it. So, you are actually saying the woman who left you at the orphanage is a Clarkson, Jay's daughter? That must be Carol, their only daughter and last child..." 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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