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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

'She abandoned me as a baby. Now it's payback time!' (4)

From my grandma's story, it turned out that it was not rape that resulted in my Mum's pregnancy. 
"We found out it was a brief holiday romance that caused it," she disclosed. The boy in question, she said was the nephew of a family friend who lived in the neighbourhood of their former house in the city. "He had come visiting from the U.S on holiday, the two had met, supposedly 'fallen in love' and you were the result. By the time we found out about the pregnancy, the boy had returned to the States. His people here wanted nothing to do with the pregnancy. He was just 19, still in school, and too young to bear such big responsibility, they pointed out. We should go and take care of the problem ourselves, they said."
 "Your grandfather was understandably mad but I calmed him down and worked out a plan of action. I had a cousin who taught in a school in a small town near the city and that was where we sent Carol to. She was to stay there, give birth to the baby then return and continue with her education. My cousin was to take care of the child till a certain age before we would bring it home for me to look after. It was to minimize the shame and embarrassment of her having a baby out of wedlock. You see, your grandfather was an important personality in society and he had a name and reputation to protect. He did not want anything that would soil his image as a respectable person," she said.
 "The plan went well till your mother had the baby, a girl. Then she showed up one day when you should have been about two months old and told us the baby died. How? We wanted to know. She said the baby had fallen ill and had died at the hospital where she was admitted. I sent someone to my cousin to verify the story and she confirmed it. I felt bad at the loss. It was my first grandchild and I had so looked forward to bringing her home to be raised by me when the time was right. Anyway, we put the incident behind us and soon after, your mother travelled to the U.K for her University education."
 "To think she was carrying this big secret all this while and she never gave a hint! How could she do such a thing, abandon you in the orphanage all these years when you have family here who can care for you? What informed such a decision? And my cousin? Why did she agree to such a plan? Its a pity she's dead now and I can't go and confront her. She would have been in serious trouble with me! As for that Carol, that child has serious explanation to do!" she said in an angry tone. 
  Then turning in the direction of the kitchen, she called out: "Tina! Call my daughter on phone and tell her to come and see me tomorrow. No excuses o! She should drop everything and come! I need to inform your uncles too," she said to me. "Two are based abroad, one is in Abuja and the other one is in Lagos. You have to meet all of them. And your cousins as well. Do you know you have so many cousins? I can just imagine the surprised look on their faces when they meet you. Ha ha! I can't wait."
 "At least Carol did one sensible thing in this whole mess. The bracelet! It was with that you were able to trace us. She must have taken it from my room before leaving for my cousin's place. I searched for it everywhere as I loved it so much. Maybe, she wanted you to be able to trace your family when you were older. Who knows what was going on in her silly little mind back then? I hope you don't hate her too much for what she did to you. She was very young then, you know, not mature enough to understand the implications of her actions," Grandma said.
 I told her that I had been more curious to find out why she abandoned me at the orphanage than anything else.
 "I just wanted to know the reason for her action, Ma. From what you've said so far, I'm beginning to understand a little," I told her.
 "That's alright. Anyway, I'm so glad you found us. Today is one of the happiest days of my life! To have my granddaughter whom we all thought was dead, alive and well! Come, my dear, give your Grandma a big hug. And welcome to the Clarkson family! This is your home, this is where you belong!"

 Face to face with my mother
I met my mother the following day. It was a surreal moment, meeting the woman who gave birth to me for the first time in my life. It's not something I can describe in words. All that was going through my mind as I set my eyes on her was how alike we looked. Looking at her was like seeing my face in the mirror, though an older version. No wonder my grandma was confused the first time she saw me.
 Unlike my grandma, she received me in a somewhat lukewarm manner. After the old woman told her who I was, 'This is your baby, the one you told us was dead,' were her words, my mother looked at me up and down as one would eye something that one did not particularly like. I was happy to see her but the feeling was not mutual.
 "And what is she doing here?" were her first words.
 "What kind of dumb question is that? This is a child you dumped in the motherless babies home for years and you dare say that? Carol, what's wrong with you? How could you do such a vile thing and lie to us she was dead?" Grandma stated angrily.
 And my Mum replied: "That's not the issue now! She has to go back to wherever she came from. She doesn't belong here."
 "Says who? This is her home and this is where she stays!" insisted Grandma. Turning to me, she said: "Nora dear, go to your room. I want to talk with your mother."
 I was in one of the guest rooms upstairs and I could hear some of their conversation as they were in the upstairs living room.
 My mother was saying she wanted nothing to do with me as I would only end up disrupting the life she had created for herself.
 "Seeing her reminds of a past I want to forget. As I said, she has to go! She only brings back bad memories!" my mother maintained.
 "Can you just hear yourself? What kind of mother are you that you are rejecting your own child! She's your flesh and blood for crying out loud! And what will your husband and your two other children say? Don't you think they deserve to know? All you think about is yourself! So selfish!" said Grandma with a hiss and the argument went on and on.
 It was glaring my mother did not welcome my presence in her life. Here was I thinking she would be overjoyed to be reunited with me after all the years of separation. How wrong and naive I was! I felt bad, hurt and dejected. All my efforts to locate her were all in vain then. What was the point of seeking her out when she obviously didn't want me? I needed to clear my head so I went outside to the garden and sat under a small hut that overlooked a little pond. I sat there for sometime deep in thought when Tina came to call me.
 "Madam wants to see you," she said. Thinking it was my grandma, I went inside the house.
 It was my mother. 
  "Here," she said proffering a cheque to me," Take this money and disappear! You can go to school, do whatever you want with your life. I just don't care as long as you don't come to look for me again!" she said. 
 I looked at the cheque which had N5m written on it and I just could not stand my mother's attitude to me anymore. She was trying to bribe me with money so I could go away! Why?
 This was the final straw and refusing to accept the cheque, I blurted out, nearly close to tears:
 "Ma, why are you treating me, your own child like this? Why do you hate me so? You rejected and abandoned me as a baby; now you are doing the same that I'm now grown-up. What did I ever do to you that you treat me so shabbily? Do you consider the emotional pain your actions have put me through? What I have gone through growing up without a mother's love and care?"
 She shook her head.
 "I don't care. Just go and leave me and my family alone!"
  Just then my grandma came into the room. She shouted when she saw the cheque in my mother's hand...

To be continued

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

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