It was on one of those nights that I stumbled upon something. Mommy came back so tired that night and slumped on the couch dropping her bag on the ground. Her things fell out of the bag. She looked so cute and beautiful that night. I brought out a blanket and cover her. I can remember the warm kiss I gave her on her forehead. I knelt to arrange the bag and then I saw it. It was a paper with some things written on it. Names and numbers… No… Products and prices… it was a receipt from a hospital. She had apparently bought drugs that I had never known existed before then. What were the drugs for?
Hmm… There are questions you ask that when you get the answers to, you wish you had ever asked while there are some questions that even when you don’t ask, the answers will come creeping to haunt you.
Everything happened so fast. Roughly over a year after our arrival, I was in primary 4. I was pretty glad. I was surprised that I wasn’t asked to repeat. I can still remember how I jumped up when after all the anxiety and fear, my class teacher dropped the letter in my hand.
Mr and Mrs Arinloluwa
We are proud to inform you that your ward, OLUMIDE ARINLOLUWA has been promoted to PRIMARY 4…
I felt truly awesome for the first time in months. When I showed my bro, he was so joyous. He summoned the strength to lift me up and spin me around. He carried me on his shoulder all the way home.
We rushed home to give mommy the good news. Mommy had stopped staying out late during that period. Instead, she was usually curled up in bed. Well… At least, she was there.
We got home and went straight to her room. She was facing the opposite wall. We stood for a short while staring at her. We felt such sympathy. We knew she was sick. But we had to keep her happy.
“Mommy,” my big brother called her, “Ẹkule ma.”
“Oh my boys,” she turned around slowly with a smile, “How are you?” She was pale.
“We are fine. What about you, mommy? I hope you have eaten today.”
“Yes my dear, thank you.”
I was pretty sure she was lying. She was in the same position as we had left her and the kitchen and blender were untouched. The weakness had gotten too much.
“We have good news for you,” he continued, “Olu, bring the letter.” I handed him the letter. He gave her. Her eyes lit up with joy as she read it. It had been long since we had last seen her like that.
“Oh my child,” she took me into her embrace, “Ah… Thank God. Am so proud of you. God bless you and keep. He will never leave you. May He watch over you – you both. My boys, I pray you will never stop making me proud. Wherever I am, I will always keep seeing your greatness. I will always be proud of you.” I felt like she got too emotional about the promotion but it was all good to me.
“Thank you mommy,” I finally replied, “God bless you. Thank you.” I stared into her eyes for a while. I could see myself in them – my other half. I was complete for a moment. I hugged her tight. “Mommy, won’t you eat?”
“Don’t worry my dear. Am not hungry.”
“Please now. Just to celebrate at least. For me.”
“Hmm… Okay my dear. Go and make food for me Duro. Then Olu, go and have your bath.”
“No please,” I objected, “Let me prepare the food. Please.” Duro smiled and nodded. Mommy followed suit.
So we left her room. I rushed to the kitchen and washed some watermelon and pineapple. I chopped them up and I quickly blended them. I tasted some – delicious. I didn’t want to take the food to her in my uniform, so I quickly put on a red shirt though I left my school knickers on.
In time, I was back at her room with a large jug of blended fruit and a tumbler on a tray.
“Mommy, your food is here.” She seemed to have been asleep. I had to wake her up.
I dropped the tray on a stool. I sat down beside her on the bed and started to tap her.
“Mommy,” tap tap… “Mommy,” tap tap… My voice was thinning out and turning into a soft cry as she didn’t reply. I shook her but there was no answer.
“Mommy, if you don’t wake up, I’ll drink the fruit o.” I poured some in the glass and drank. “Mommy, wake up,” I cried.
Tears rolled out of my eyes as I went around the bed to look at her face. Pale. Paler than ever before. Her eyes were open and she had something of a smile on her face. But she was still. No breath.
“Mommy…” I sobbed bitterly, “I hope you are happy. But mommy let me tell you, I’m not happy because now they are going to take you away. Hmph… Is this how you planned to leave? Mommy why? Mommy why!” I yelled in pain. Duro rushed in with pure bemusement in his eyes. He paused in horror. His eyes went red but he held the tears in. He walked up to me and hugged me. He covered my face with his chest.
“Mommy,” he called her in pain, “This is goodnight then.” He closed her eyes. That was it.
“Olumide,” the school counsellor tipped my jaw up, “Look at me, not at the ground. Your WAEC is coming very soon and you have to work on your admission. But you are too detached. Something is disturbing you. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen you happy. Tell me, what is wrong?”
I finally looked up, “Hmm… I can remember when I was last happy… because it was the single happiest time of my life. But after it happened, everything went downhill from there. Now, I can’t remember how happiness used to feel. I’m frozen in grief.”