I could see the confusion as it spread all over his face. He is probably wondering why a call from my mum should make me speechless. He didn’t know the story, he didn’t know that I have not spoken with my mum for almost a year now. He did not know the bitter words we spoke to each other the last time we had a conversation, he didn’t know the hurt I feel in my heart that my mum rejected me during my lowest time. He does not know what it means to see her number flash on my screen.
I shut my eyes, opened them again and pressed the green button to receive the call. “Hello, mother.”
Daniel stood up and went out to the balcony overlooking the street. He probably did so to give me some privacy. I was grateful to him for that small concession.
I can’t believe my mum is calling after almost a year of not speaking. What does she want now?
“Ella, where are you?” she asked non too graciously
“I’m in Lagos, mother.” I can’t remember the last time I called her mum. It’s being mother for as long as I can remember.
“Lagos ehn? So you cannot call your mother all this while, ehn? You have no respect for me at all.”
“Mother, we didn’t exactly part on amicable terms. The last time we spoke, you said you never wanted to see my face again.”
“And I still don’t want to see your face.” she snapped. “Not when you insist on prostituting yourself to every man in this world. That’s why you refused to stay in your marriage with that fine Tony. Bayo, I could understand, I never trusted him anyway; you can never trust Yoruba boys but Tony was different, he was the epitome of a great husband.”
“Mother, Tony was knocking me around.”
“So what? Your father knocked me around a time or two too. Did you see me pack my bags? Marriage is about sacrifices.”
“Not when I was covered with bruises every day.” I sighed. It’s the same old story with my mother. Nothing ever changes.
“You are just a child. You don’t understand what marriage is about at all. You are just playing at it.” She continued in a tone oozing with self-righteousness.
I was tired of her usual tirade. I wish she will just get to the point of her call. Or maybe this was it. We had not spoken for almost a year, and the first time she calls me, she badgers me with hurtful words. I stared at Daniel’s back as he leaned on the balcony railing.
“Mother,” I cut in as she went on. “Why did you call me?”
She sniffed. “I called to ask you why you have not spoken to anyone in your family for almost a year.”
“Because my family doesn’t inspire such devotion in me, mother. I don’t see why I should keep in touch with people who don’t understand me, or even help me when I was in trouble.”
She was silent for some moments. I’ve never known my mother to not have a ready come-back at any time. Her short silence threw me. Did I finally get through to her?
“Mother? Are you there?”
“Yes o. So you think we are not there for you abi?”
“Mother, you just finished giving me the riot act now. After I have explained to you many times why I had to leave Tony. I believe if you really care you’ll at least see the situation from my own perspective.”
“Hmm, just get your act together because me I want grandchildren o.”
And, that is the crux of the matter.
“And make sure you call your father and sister too.”
“Okay mother.” My sister, Sidi and I were close at one time. Not so much now.
“And call me from time to time if you don’t want me to come to that Lagos and drag you home by your ears.”
I almost smiled. I know she would do exactly as she threatened. “Yes, mother.”
“Okay o, bye.” She hung up before I could reply.
I sighed and laid my head on the back of the chair. Talking with my mother always drained me. I thought back to the last time I spoke with Sidi. I had been so angry I almost spit in her face. I don’t remember when her relationship deteriorated to that extent but I remember it started changing when I decided to leave Bayo. She felt I should have told her we were having problems. She thought if I had talked about it, it would have made it better. Naturally, I disagreed.
I was still deep in thought when I felt a hand on my knee. I had almost forgotten I was in Daniel’s office. I opened my eyes and found him staring at me intently. I swallowed a sigh. The poor guy deserves an explanation after this little drama that just unfolded here. And if I am intent on refusing him, it’s only fair he knows why.
“Are you okay?” he squeezed my knee. I could see the concern in his eyes.
“How much of that did you catch?”
He smiled. “Not much.”
“I guess it’s time you hear the whole story.” I said, ready to spill my guts. I’m not sure what I want out of this, but I don’t want to think of it too much, so my hopes will not be dashed. I’d rather curb my expectations than be disappointed when those expectations are not met.
“I’m listening.” He said, and my heart skipped a beat.