After mother’s burial, my maternal family left the house, and so did father and Nora. I was left once again to myself, but this time, there was no counting the hours until mother would be back and filling it up with reading. There was no anticipating mother’s voice as she shouts “Leke bobo” as she climbed the stairs. The house was quiet and cold, it was like mother had carried the life of the house to her grave, or perhaps, she was the life of the house. With her sing song laughter that rang around the house and made me smile whenever I heard it, even with her shouts when she was angry with the house servants, she made the house alive. Now it was just cold and dead. I lay on my bed, not bothering with my shoes. The rain began to fall lightly, I thought of mother in the grave, the rain falling on her. She had hated the rain when she was alive, she said it made everywhere dank and colorless, but I suspected it made her cold, as she always layered on clothes when it began to rain. Who would protect her now from the pelting of the rain, she was there alone in the grave, not even her beloved son had stayed back to keep her company. A line from a sermon I heard in church sometime ago crept into my little mind.
“The dead has nothing to do with the living” I cried, I hit the bed, hoping to inflict some of the pain I felt on it. I heard the door open, and before I saw her, I knew it was Mary. Mary is not intrusive, I was only six but when she enters my room, she does it like am older.
Mary: “Leke, I brought you pop tarts” she said. The mention of “pop tarts” reminded me of my shopping spree with mother, a day before Christmas.
Christmas had come and gone, even with the New Year, and for the first time, the other rich kids did not get floored by me. All the expensive things mother had picked up for me, were in my wardrobe untouched, I detested them.
“Take them away” I said in a low tone, my throat choked with sobs. Mary came to the bed and pulled me into her arms, and rocked me like a baby. Then, the door opened for the second time, and the devil’s mistress came in. She was wearing black, and she was wearing a dark makeup. She reminded me of “Lucifer’s Queen”, a book I read a fortnight ago.
Nora: “Don’t you have something to do in the kitchen or something?” she asked rudely, glaring at Mary.
Mary: “My job description is limited to Leke’s needs” she replied her, and began to loosen the lace of my shoes.
Nora: “Is he not a little old for a nanny? Please leave the boy, he can undress himself” Mary got up abruptly; I knew she was vexed, but was trying to control her temper.
Mary: “The boy has just lost his mother, why are you picking on him?”
Nora: “Why would you say a despicable thing like that?” she yelled on top of her voice. My father came in at that moment; he was probably looking for his executive secretary.
Bamidele: “What is going on here?” he asked looking frightened, like he was expecting another bad news. At that point, I realized I was only thinking of myself, but my father was also in grief too, he had just lost his wife, but that’s what kids should do right? Worry about themselves, but I am not like most kids, I understand what Adults do not expect me to understand. I was not that close with my father, we have our moments, when he was not busy being pursuing millions. I was still thinking that me and dad have to grief together, we have both lost the woman we both loved, when Nora opened her mouth and released the bomb.
Nora: “Adeleke is just being a naughty boy, he asked for pop tarts, now he said he wants chocolates” My eyes opened wide in disbelief. I knew adults lie, but they always had a reason, but she was lying for no reason. What was she up to.
Bamidele: “Give the boy whatever he wants” he barked, his frustration was evident on his face.
Leke: “She is lying father, I asked for nothing, Mary was just here when she entered and asked Mary to leave, Mary…”
Mary: “It is alright, Leke’ she said and patted me on the head. Nora was so vexed that Mary could just stop me from giving an explanation to my father, that the veins of her neck stood out and her eyes became even darker. The truth was, Mary had a lot of leverage with my parents because they depended solely on her to take care of me. They saw she was good to me, she gave them peace of mind, and they could pursue their dreams without worrying about me.
Bamidele: “What do you want, Leke?”
Leke: “I want my mummy” I said as fat tears rolled down my cheeks. Father crossed over in two long strides and pulled me into his arms. He began to weep, sobs shook his body. We were both sad, we had both lost our woman.
Nora: “Bamidele, you know you have to be strong, you have a company to run” she said as she walked over to us and extricated my father from the embrace, then she embraced him. I watched them and wondered what kind of secretary called her boss by name and embraced him in such manner. My little mind could already see what she was doing, it was the reason she had lied, she was warming her way into father’s heart.
Nora: “Come on, let’s go make you some tea to calm your nerves, you are meeting with the investors from…”
Leke: “You know what else I want, dad? I want her gone” I interrupted her, pointing my finger at her.
Nora: “Oh my God, Bamidele, your son is being nasty” she began to cry, her mascara ran down her face, she looked just like a witch.
Bamidele: “Apologize to Aunt Nora now, Leke” Father thundered, gone was the man, who was crying at the loss of his wife.
Leke: “I am sorry” I said, trembling at father’s anger.
Bamidele: “That’s better, Mary I do not know what you have been teaching this boy” he said. Mary looked up at him, with pain in her eyes, this was the first time, father complained about the way she handled me. She turned and looked at Nora; she was obviously blaming her for this change.
Nora: “Let’s just go” she murmured and pulled my father out of the room. Mary told me to go to the bathroom and shower, after which I wore my pajamas and another day without my mother ended or so I thought.
I fell asleep the moment my body hit the bed, my six year old body was tired, even though my mind was still trying to comprehend the things that were changing. Then a piercing scream rend the quiet atmosphere in the house, it was coming from a room on the same floor. I got up with fear in my heart, was I going to lose my father too. I had woken up to this type of scream and my mother had died after ward, was it my father’s turn. I was too scared to move, I stood in front of the door, unable to turn the knob. I saw the shadow of two feet stop in front of my door, and my heart lurched into my mouth, the feet traipsed down the hallway, as the scream grew louder. The fear of the unknown gripped me and paralyzed me, I fell down in a heap.
When, I woke up, my room was lit by the sunlight streaming in, through the flowery curtains Mother had decorated my room with. Fear gripped me as I thought of last night.
Leke: “Father!” I screamed out in fear, I could not bear to lose my father; he was all I had now.
Bamidele: “I am here son, do not be afraid” he replied as I hugged him fiercely, and then I noticed Nora looking down at him with a menacing glare. I looked around and could not find Mary. That was when I remembered the tiny detail about last night. It was a woman’s scream I heard.
Leke: “Father, where is Mary?” I asked eagerly. Father looked at me with sad eyes and began to pat my head. I pushed his hand away angrily; he was trying to hide something away from me.
Bamidele: “Calm down Leke, Mary is going to be alright”
Leke: “She was alright when I went to sleep last night.” Before my father could explain further, he was informed by one of the housekeepers that policemen were downstairs waiting for him.
Bamidele: “Adeleke, please stay in your room and do not come out” he said and ushered everyone out, he closed the door but did not lock it. I sat on my bed and pondered. My father had never called me “Adeleke” before; things were changing fast, too fast for my little mind to comprehend. I went to my reading table where a picture frame of mother stood; I picked it up and held it to my chest. After a while, I dropped it, my curious mind wanted to know what was happening downstairs and why Mary had not come to my room. I opened the door confidently, knowing everyone was downstairs and walked down the hallway in a hurry. I went down the stairs, in slow quiet paces. Just before the landing, a bit obscured from people in the living room, I squatted to listen.
Police: “How long has Mary been working for you?” I arched my eyebrows, why were they talking about Mary? I asked myself.
Bamidele: “Since Leke my son, was a baby. He is six years old now” father replied.
Police: “One last question, where is your son?” I heard the police man ask, it seemed I came when it was all over.
Bamidele: “My son is not in the house, he went to be with his grandfather” I heard father lie to the police man. Why was he lying to a policeman? I asked myself, nobody was giving any answers.
Police: “Mary is still in coma at the hospital, it seems she went into the shock. I am surprised though that someone that has been with your child since infancy will be attacked in your house and nobody from this household is at the hospital with her”
Bamidele: “I had to take care of my son” he said before he realized he had told the police that his son was away from home.
Police: “Is it the same son, you told us went to his grandfather’s?”
Leke: “I am here, no need scolding my father” I said as I walked down to the living room, father just shook his head in resignation.
Question: What happened to Mary?
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