I’m happy to be back. We’re three chapter to say bye. I thought to ask so you help me with what themes next you think I should explore. I’ll be diving into short stories awhile after this. Drop your ideas in the comments. Don’t be silent on me. So here’s to XXXVI, enjoy.
Sefa Addison peeped out of his curtain. He stepped back, pulled the settee to a slant and went back to the curtains, this time, pushing the ends into a holder so the sun will light his room. He had never liked the idea, the sight of sharp rays reflecting on his floors. But today, he decided to do what he’d not allow himself do naturally — because anyway, Fiona and his daughter and his son-in-law will be here before he is ever ready for the conversation. He sat where he’s been seated the past hour and looked over the portion of scripture his morning devotion today; Proverbs 10:12 — hatred stirs up strife but love covers all offenses.
He bit his lips and exhaled. He could feel his heart swell with his fears, almost as if they’ll tear through his blue striped Lacoste for the whole world to see. He wasn’t ready for this. He wasn’t ready for anything — certainly not the advice from this scripture. But he knew he needed to go God’s way. Many months of straying and then slowly finding himself back into fellowship has been harder than he imagined it when he set out on his own way. He thought he’d just snap back when he wanted. Just like what addicts believe. The pride of his human heart did deceive him and it did quite well. He heard the familiar honking of a car. He closed his Bible, put it on the arm of the chair and opened his door, leaving it ajar slightly. Dear Lord, help me. He prayed briefly. He knew he needed to make these amends. For the past weeks, at least twice in each, he’s woken up having lay unconscious from doing regular routines. He feared his time is up. Should it be, he wanted to leave his daughter happy and free to go to her mum. He also wanted to leave Fiona with no guilt and regrets. He wants to love them.
“Is he in?”
He could hear Kate asking Kwaku. Perhaps Kwaku was ahead and she was wondering why the slant in the door, showing it’s open. He didn’t plan to pull a stunt but one to keep his daughter concerned wouldn’t have been a bad idea. He smiled at his own corniness.
“He should be.” Kwaku kept any anxiousness out of his tone. He knew how worried sick Kate can go to from minutes of being extremely excited. He didn’t want that now. “Perhaps he wanted to save us the code entering or the knocking. You know your papa.”
Kate agreed. Kwaku held the side of the door for Kate, his eyes laying on Sefa’s with a smile.
Kate hugged her father in the chair, squeezing him for each day she spent away trying to find the strength to forgive in her own heart.
Sefa’s voice came through as though his throat was clogged. He glanced back and swept his palm under his eyes.
“Are you crying?” Kate laughed. “Oh, Papa. You’re so mushy.” Sefa took her hands off from around his neck and frowned. Kate almost toppled over with laughter. She turned her attention to Kwaku. He was still standing by the door looking like a little kitten awestruck by a puppy and his mum’s play. “Here, a perfect example of the dramatic I like. Learn well.” Kwaku bowed. Sefa shook his head and offered the couple bottles of water.
“I have no juice or food. The meeting is obviously going to be short.”
“Of course.” Kate still played along. “So…” She gulped down a bottle of water. “…when is mum arriving? Has she called? My calls didn’t go through the whole morning.” Kwaku gazed at her. He was amazed at how hard she’s working to eliminate any awkwardness in the meeting. The whole week, they’ve continually prayed for this. He hadn’t imagined the answer will look like this. Sefa went along. He must have noticed how overly normal Kate was acting.
“No. I haven’t called and she hasn’t either.”
Fiona’s head came around the door as she announced her arrival. Her voice was kept in moderation. It didn’t speak of excitement or that she had a right to be here or that she knows everyone and gets along with them. It wasn’t that kind of I’m here.
“Hey, mum.” Kate stood and met her at the door, giving her an appropriate hug. “I called you non-end.”
“My battery died and won’t charge.”
Fiona followed Kate and sat in the other lone settee across Sefa. Kwaku giggled to himself. Her English accent was as American as he could imagine. Of course, his work made him meet Americans regularly but there was something about his mother-in-law’s accent that ticked him. Perhaps it’s the New York accent he’s heard about so many times. Fiona said hi to him and then to Sefa without looking into the eyes of any of them. Kwaku understood. Guilt has a way of trapping you in.
“We can pray and start.”
Sefa said to no one in particular.
Kate offered and without waiting for anyone’s approval, she closed her eyes, placed her hands calmly on her beige skater dress and prayed.
“Lord. I don’t know who else is but I’m extremely glad you have by many wonderful means brought my mum here and we are seated together like a family should. I’m also very glad that we are here in pursuit of reconciliation. Our hearts are before you, Lord. I only ask that your love will be felt so tangibly in our heart and will shape this discussion until we owe ourselves nothing but that, love. I thank you, Lord. Amen.”
Sefa and Kwaku said in unison. Fiona nodded and looked away from every eye.
“Kate here called the meeting.” Sefa spoke slow and hesitant. “She’ll tell us why we’re here and I guess take over.” He leaned back in his chair. No one said anything for a full minute. Kate cleared her throat in a bid to get prepared.
“Okay.” She said with a large smile taking over her face. “After everything that’s happened…” She paused and look towards Fiona, empathy and grace sparkling from her eyes. “…mum’s coming back and dad’s sickness and…” Fiona was suddenly saddened. How come Fafa never mentioned about Sefa being sick. Fafa is their mutual friend, hers and Sefa’s. She’s been the third friend in their perfect trio. She’s been the only contact she kept when she packed out of her home with Sefa and when she run off to America in chase of what now seems to her like the wind with another man having a family of his own. Fafa is also Sefa’s doctor. She must have known this. Unless perhaps to keep it from her, Sefa went through the trouble of finding a new doctor. But she knows her husband, no, her ex-husband too well. He is a true-blue. He will always be. So, it rather should be that Fafa kept the fact from her. She sighed too loudly and had the attention of everyone on her.
She mouthed and tried to follow what her daughter’s speech. She had lost her at dad’s sickness. She was now talking about her reaction.
“…I was truly taken aback. You know, knowing your mum is dead and seeing her show up and finally getting to put the pieces together…how dad will get a random call and want to be excused, the Awoonors vanishing with dad at their own dinner…to add to the season in my own life where I was already on a trial I was dreading…” Kwaku was beyond grateful Kate didn’t mention specifically what that trial was. “So I thought through everything. I didn’t want my relationship with any of my parents to take off from that day I found the truth and my husband…” Kate held on to Kwaku’s arms. “…he suggested I meet with mum and we thought why not the two of you.” Kate smiled and looked deep into Kwaku’s eyes. “I want us to say our sorrys and find the path we want to take as a family…I mean all of us.” She looked from her mum to her dad. “That’s why we are here.”
Should this be a recovery class, everyone would have applauded loudly and smiles will go round. But it wasn’t. So there was silence for about two full minutes, Kate looking from one parent to the other and hanging more tightly on Kwaku’s arms with each passing minute.
“I can go first.”
Fiona said timidly and set her handbag that has all the while laid on her lap by the leg of the sofa.
“This family only needs to forgive one person. That person is me.” She for the first time stared straight into Kate, her daughter’s eyes. “Your daddy loved me with everything he had.” She gently coughed back tears. “He adored me and I was too full of myself to appreciate that.” She took in deep breaths in between her words. “He wouldn’t leave the dream he was building here to chase after some dream in the states. I disagreed with him and that saw me moving out into an apartment with someone else’s husband and then finally running off to the states with him. I only came back because I want to make amends and have the right to call you my daughter again. I…I…” Her tears began to fall without restraint now. Sefa looked away from her. Kate hurried to her, kneeling beside her and hugging her, however far her arms could reach.
“Please forgive me.” Fiona said, her words muffled. “Please forgive me.”
“Mummy, I have already.”
Kate’s own tears fell. Fiona laughed quietly and then burst into more tears. She was being called mummy again. She’s being held by her daughter again. She let go of Kate and wiped her eyes and slowly made it to Sefa’s seat. She knelt by him and took hold of his leg.
“Sefa.” She looked up at him. “No man loved me the way you did. No man ever will. I shouldn’t have left you. I should have never walked away and broken your heart and trust the way I did. Please forgive me. Please.”
“I forgive you, Fiona.” Sefa looked into her eyes, his eyes tender and affectionate. “I should have fought harder for you. I let you go too easily.” He looked away briefly and returned his eyes to her again, his own regrets sounding out loud. “I also need you to forgive me.” He looked at Kate. “You both. I shouldn’t have lied to you, Kate. You should have known the truth earlier — that you have a mother who left us but whom I knew will never stop loving you. Forgive me.”
Fiona got up and returned to her seat.
“Papa.” Kate smiled. “I have forgiven you. You taught me how to.” She stood from Kwaku’s side and hugged both parents in turns.
“I told you it will be a short meeting.”
“You’ve always been brief.”
“Oh so some things never change.”
Kate teased her father and made sure there was enough laughter to go around the whole world between the four people who will always remain to her family no matter what happens. Being back home and laid back against her husband, Kate wouldn’t have had the day any other way. Earlier before the meeting she had met with Dzidzor and Kwaku had met with Sule. Apparently, they had planned it that way so they each tell their friend between the couple who had run off with her mother; Kwaku’s dad. She appreciated that they did. She didn’t mention it to her dad because she didn’t think it necessary. From Kwaku’s narration, Sule remembers seeing his dad countlessly at his home till her mum left for the states. He should already know. Perhaps not Sule. But that didn’t matter, even if he is Dzidzor’s godfather and Kate is too convinced Dzidzor will end up married to Sule. Thank you. She whispered to God, her eyes shut. The future is not totally laid out but the notabilia of her past shows her where she can go from here. Should all else fail — her pursuit of her abandoned career, relationship with her mother and holding on to the love of her husband — the only one who has proved her firm support won’t. God won’t. He is truly true-blue.
M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2017.