Engee Mbah (Dept -Radiography)
The problem with being the only single amongst all your girlfriends is that they are always trying to fix you up, especially when you are avidly searching and you actually need them to fix you up because you are mostly too busy to meet eligible men; plus your mother is always on your neck.
So that’s how I ended up sitting in the police station, being interrogated about something I knew zilch about. Let me take you back to the beginning. Not the very beginning, but the beginning of how I ended up in this mess.
That tuesday (the beginning, I mean), I had just come back from work, very tired. I dug into my hand bag and got out my keys. When I inserted my door key into the key hole, I realised the door was unlocked. I probably had forgotten to lock it when I hurriedly left for work in the morning, I figured. Blame it on the tiredness, I am not usually that careless. I walked into my sitting room and released a very loud yell.
“Blood of Jesus!” I screamed. The figure that caused my alarm jerked up from the sofa where it was lying, equally alarmed and looking ready to bolt.
“What is it?” inquired the figure. The moment I heard the voice, I realised it was my mother.
“Mother! You scared me to death.” I all but yelled, breathing hard as I sat down on a chair and waited for my racing heart to slow down.
My mother relaxed when she realised I had been shouting over nothing.
“How did you get into my house?” I wanted to know, as I stood up and opened the windows to let in sunlight. The room was so dark, my mother was just a dark figure. I couldn’t see anything. When the room was sufficiently illuminated, I sat down, beside my mother.
“How did you get in?” I asked yet again. Her bow shaped lips widened in smile that enhanced her already beautiful face.
“I cloned your key.” She answered, looking quite proud of herself. Shock rendered me silent for some seconds.
“How?” I finally inquired.
“One of my students taught me.” She replied, still looking pleased with herself. My mother was a secondary school teacher. Moments like this made me wonder who was the stronger influence, her or the students.
“Remember the last time I came by?” She inquired. I shook my head in answer.
“It was last three weeks. You hurried me along because you claimed to have an appointment. When I used the bathroom, I made impressions of your key on a soap bar and made a copy.” She explained, her eyes shining with excitement. I made a mental note to change the locks as soon as possible. There was no way I was letting my mother frequently harrass me.
“I need privacy, mother.” I pointed out.
“Children don’t need privacy from their parents.” She gave a wave as if waving away my complaints as inconsequential. I noticed the watch on her left wrist. My new watch. The one I had been looking for for the past three weeks. My mother had colonised it , obviously. She did that all the time. She would see something of mine that she liked and just collect it.
“Mother, adults need privacy. I am an adult not a child.” I said slowly.
“Which reminds me; Uju, you are not getting younger.” She said. A dull throb started in my head. She had come with her marriage talk again.
“Mother, I am not old, either.” I said in a tired voice as I stroked my forehead.
“At thirty, you are well on your way to menopause.” She told me, with her hands clasping each other on her lap. African parents, a minute ago, I was a child who didn’t need privacy, now I was menopausal; Make up your mind, already!
“I am thirty three and people don’t get menopausal until they are in their fifties.” I corrected. Her eyes went wide and her left hand came to rest on her chest, theatrically.
“Thirty three!” She all but yelled. She raised her face towards the ceiling and raised her hands.
“Chim o! What did I do that my daughter who is well on her way to menopause does not want to marry and give me grand children eh…” She wailed. I could not resist rolling my eyes. My mother could be such a drama queen. She turned to me.
“One day, you will wake up and your ovaries and womb would have rusted away.” She said with such a serious face. How did my mother come up with these things? Now, I had an image of rusting female parts in my head.
“Sometimes, I think I got swapped in the hospital.” I murmured in a low voice, forgetting how good my mother’s hearing was. She hit me lightly across the head, making a mess of my hair in the process.
“Shut up. You know you have my eyes.” She told me.
“Unfortunately.” I thought. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for my mother to come back to the topic of marriage.
“Seriously, you should have given me plenty grand children by now.” She pointed out. I stroked my forehead with my right hand as the headache intensified.
“Mother, don’t you think you should go and see Kaycee or Clara.” I suggested in a low voice. Kaycee was my twin brother, older by twenty minutes. He got engaged to Clara last year, leaving me alone to be tormented by my mother. My mother laughed.
“You want me to leave you alone?” She asked.
“Yes.” I answered, hesitantly, wondering if that answer would get me into trouble.
“I will go if you promise to find a man this week.” She said. Sometimes, I suspected my mother enjoyed torturing me. My brows rose. She was blackmailing me now? She even looked happy about it.
“How am I supposed to do that? Carry around a placard that says ‘man wanted’?” I inquired.
“It might work. You could however, ask a man out, or go somewhere aside from work.” She suggested with a careless shrug. I couldn’t have heard her right.
“Did you just tell me to ask a man out?”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” She replied.
“Mother, I am not desperate and I go out.” I corrected. She gave me a disbelieving look, squinting her eyes.
“Really? To where?” She asked. I opened my mouth to reply.
“And please don’t say market and church.” She added. My mouth snapped shut as that had been exactly what I wanted to say.
“Just promise and I will leave you in peace, for now.” She dangled the bait. I leaned back on the sofa. I was so hungry.
“Fine. I will do it.” I muttered. She grinned, rose from the sofa and grabbed her handbag from the center table.
“I will be on my way now. Bathe and eat, I made food for you.” She told me, as she headed to the door. I thought I heard her mutter something like, “mission accomplished.” But, I wasn’t sure. As soon as she left, I headed to the kitchen to get some food.
Later in the night, I called up Perpetua, my friend. She had been trying to get me to go out with one of her husband’s friends. I had refused because the last time she fixed me up, it had been a disaster.
“I will do it.” I said as soon as she picked up.
“Please be specific, so I can make sure you are saying what I think you are saying.” She said, in that throaty voice of hers.
“I will go out with him.”
“What changed your mind?” asked Perpetua.
“Nothing.” I told her. She grunted her disbelief.
“If you say so.” Her doubt was clear in her voice.
“See you tomorrow?” She inquired. Tomorrow was girls’ night out with Perpetua and our other two friends, Osawe and Chika. It had recently turned to girls’ evening out since they were all married and had to go home early to their families.
“Yes. Good night.” I said before I ended the call and got ready for bed.