My Aunty was the lastborn in my father’s family. She was such a pleasant lady, she always put a smile on people’s faces and erases sadness in their hearts with joy. She was calm and loving. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stay with a man. No one knew why she was single despite the multitudes of suitors that flocked in and out of her home. She once confided in me about how she loves her freedom and a man would tie her down and snuff out the good in her leaving her bitter, weary and constantly sad. Now, I kind of believe her because I was indifferent about everything. I remembered when I was overly in love with Daniel. I couldn’t make a sentence without having Daniel’s name chirped in. I couldn’t tell a story without drawing inference from the characteristics of Daniel.
Today, Daniel was the last thing on my mind, I was sleep deprived and angry that he could leave me with this responsibility. Nursing a baby was not child’s play and at that instant I pitied teenagers who dabbled into unsolicited sex for pleasure without protection. Since the birth of Greg, I had not slept for 3 uninterrupted hours. I was always in dire need of sleep and food. My tiny body couldn’t take the batter Greg gave me from excessive sucking. I wondered who sent me to opt for exclusive breastfeeding. My mother mounted pressure on me to give him water and formula. It made me all the more stressed. Why couldn’t she support me rather than stress me out with her outrageous suggestions and advice. Anyways, I strengthened my resolve not to be bothered with her insensitive remarks and boastful comments about child upbringing.
Aunty Labi was hurt by some of those comments. One evening I saw her crying quietly and when asked what the matter was, she refused to say. I knew it had to do with my mother’s comment that ‘some people do not know nothing about taking care of a baby because they have never had one.’ It appeared that my mother wanted Aunty Labi to leave. She only wanted the food and money Aunty Labi brought but not her presence.
Aunty Labi was a fighter in her own way, she never spoke ill of anyone, she took actions. She woke up earlier than mother to help me bath the baby and she even prepared meals before mother woke up. So Mother had the three children to take care of and occasionally carried Greg when he cried.
Aunty Labi couldn’t stay for over one month, she had to get back to work and, I was grateful she made it even though my mother was around.
‘My sweet Rara, take care of yourself, life is full of ups and downs and you are a survivor. Remember it won’t always be easy. I have exhausted my annual leave here so I won’t be able to come visit till next year. Please mend the broken relationship you have with your mother.’ Aunty Labi said.
Tears gushed like a stream from my cheeks. I was sad that she had to leave. At least her stay made life bearable even though I ate twice for lack of food. She did all she could to make sure I was comfortable.
‘Will you call me to encourage me?’ I asked.
‘Yes, I shall always call. You are still my sweet little Rara.’ Aunty Labi said.
I walked her to the gate, leaving behind my mother and Greg.
‘If you ever need a place to stay for a while, come over to Port Harcourt.’ She whispered.
I nodded and walked back mournfully into the house.
My mother appeared to be having fun, the children were dancing to some funny song on the TV and she cuddled Greg while she stretched out her legs on the table.
I said nothing as I walked past them and headed straight for my room because I wanted to be alone. Aunty Labi’s departure was painful. More painful than Daniel’s trip. I knew the sacrifices she made, she couldn’t travel to the United Kingdom for her vacation because she paid me a visit. I knew how badly she wanted to travel and she gave it all up for me. She was a great woman even though she never found a man who truly stole her heart for she had a heart of gold.
I opened my diary and wrote a few sentences before the voice of Greg interrupted me. He was crying non-stop.
‘Rara, Rara, Rara, come and feed this boy now. What is wrong with you?’ I heard my mother screaming.
I placed my head in my hands and cried. I couldn’t have a moment rest. One sentence and am rudely interrupted.
I walked towards the living room and bumped into my mother and Greg.
‘He is hungry.’ She handed him over and waited.
I took him to the room, he was quiet, I checked his diapers and, it was all soiled. Cleaning Greg was therapeutic for me. My phone rang, my mother grabbed it as if it were hers. She wanted to see if my dad was calling me she said.
I ignored her and starred at the number, I couldn’t tell who it was. The number was strange; it wasn’t like any of the numbers I had seen before. I picked the phone cautiously, having heard about the people who died from picking phone calls. Not that I believed it.
There was no response.
‘Hello who is it?’
‘Rara, this is your husband Daniel, I have arrived safely.’ He said.
‘What? You took one good month to get there. Eh? Why did you not communicate all this time.?’ I shouted.
‘Relax now, I had to settle myself, get a phone line and all.’ He said.
‘So, Daniel has finally called.’ My mother said.
‘Let me speak with him,’ She made for the phone but I was faster than her, I ducked but her constant rambling made it difficult for me to hear Daniel. He spoke in a funny accent and I couldn’t quite hear what he said for most of the conversation other than the first few sentences. His accent changed when I heard the door slammed from his own end. And he sounded all business like with me. As if I was a business partner or something.
‘Daniel, what are you saying? Which business? See, there is no money to feed me and Greg, can you send money?’ I said.
‘I shall send the business documents as soon as I get it too. You know I have to study the environment before I know what we can establish in Nigeria.’ He said.
‘What business document? What is wrong with you? Just send money for me and Greg. Is this your number?’
‘Yep.’ He said.
‘I shall save it.’ I said.
‘No, no need to, I shall call you when it is necessary. Am using a joint phone, I may not be around to pick your call.’ He said.
‘ehn ehn. Ok o.’ I hung up without saying goodbye. I was too angry with him, first he did not call for a whole month since he travelled and when he called I could barely give meaning to his words. I breathed in and out.
Greg kicked his legs in the air and I smiled for the first time since that day.