We have all lost someone. I lost Mike, Nelly lost Bruce and mummy lost her sweetheart, my father in-law. Hmmm, I don’t want to entertain any weird thoughts, but (looking lost in her sober world), what is really wrong with this family? Why are all the men dead?
Betty! Betty!! Be…
Turning briskly towards the source of the sound, she manages a smile “Hi Nelly”, heaving a sigh Betty continues “Hope you slept well, the night was long and the air a bit still, so I couldn’t sleep much.” She realises that Nelly had sought her out and not the other way round, certainly she must have something to say. “Sorry, I just went off on a tangent, what did you need me to do for you?”
“Betty, Mike, Bruce and Papa have been gone for years now, how long will you mourn them? I know it’s difficult forgetting people you have loved and lived with for a while, but sis, life goes on,” Nelly said philosophically, the pains in her heart etched on her face “with the way you are going about it, you might likely join them; I don’t want to be left alone with mama, please get a grip on yourself.” She concludes with uncertainty. Bending over to pick the water pot which she places firmly between her body and arm, “I’ve been considering something for a while now, before we grow old and become grouchy old women, is it not better we re-marry? I’m so ready to live life again and so should you. After all Mama doesn’t have any more sons for us to get married to” lowering her voice at this point “and even if she did, I’m not sure I would consider it,” “Why?” Betty asked with as she picked her own water pot. “They might be like their siblings and die early of course!” With that she stomped off towards the path leading to the stream. Betty followed quietly pondering why Nelly was always such a drama queen and almost heartless in a way. But underneath she’s such an angel. If you can stand her assertiveness. I wonder how Bruce and her survived that long, some mothers do have them. “Wait up for me Nelly!” Betty called out hurrying after her.
Mama had pondered about the matter for weeks now. She loved them like her own, what will people say?
“If they were her own children, would she do this?”
“Wicked woman! After killing their husbands plus her own through diabolical means, she has thrown them out.”
“It’s about time, carry your bad luck and leave our land for us.”
Life had been unkind, why? What did I do wrong? Who did I offend in my youthful age? Why me? She started on her tirade of thoughts which usually ended in sobs. When is this going to end? I can’t even go to the stream or the market freely. Well, I cannot continue like this or I might lose my mind. It is better I am amongst my kind. I’ll feel a lot more welcomed there that the pure undiluted hatred I feel here with every rising of the sun. It has been years but the pain is still so fresh!
Where are these children? She wondered. “Mama, they went to the stream”, someone answered in the compound before she could scream their names again. Since morning! I’m sure Nelly is slowing down the train with her plenty stories. “Thank you” Mama shouted after the voice.
“Like we discussed last week. I’ll be on my way now, you know I have to be at the park 30 minutes before take-off. Don’t forget anything I told you; as you have been good daughters to me, remain so; and may God give you great men as husbands.” Hugging them tightly as if their heart would disintegrate if they separated, they sobbed in each other’s arms briefly, stepped and wiped their dripping noses. “Mama,” Betty began “last night I made up my mind to follow you back to your State. Since Mike and I got married, we never found the time to go there, especially since the crises between them and the neighbouring State.” The mixture of joy and sadness that sprang into Mama’s eyes was obvious and with a questioning gaze she looked towards Nelly. “Mama, I’ll remain here and possibly get remarried.”
“Back in the days, she was the belle of the community. Because of girls like her, girls like us went unnoticed.”
“Ehen! So this is how life is? After all their shakara, they have come back again.”
“They? You mean she and that strange girl?”
“She left with three men and returned with a girl. Wonders shall never cease.”
“Have you guys heard?” another interjected “Mmakamba, sent the girl she brought back” “Betty, you mean” one supplied the name. “Yes, Betty, to go and work at the new factory down the road.”
“Tell me something! You know the CEO is young, tall, dark, handsome, loaded, Lekki-living, hummer-driving, money-spending… and single!”
“Mmakamba has started again o! I hope she hasn’t forgotten that we also have daughters and sisters who have never been married, she should not even go there.”
“Anyway I’m sure Eric will not look at her twice. Don’t forget she’s a widow. When there’s fresh blood to go round. Who wants used ones?” Hahahahahahahhahaha they all reeled out in unison laughing.
♫Here comes the bride, all dressed in white♫ they all sang and Mmakamba smiled forgetting her pains of past losses, as Betty strolled down the aisle towards Eric, looking every inch an angel.
Ruth 1 – 4
© 2015. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved