‘Dabira, please open the door!’ Mama Tola’s voice sounded innocently. ‘I’ve bought the daily devotional you requested for.’
’Devotional? I pondered.This is absurd!
After a second thought, I opened the door slightly.
‘Mama Tola, I’m highly disappointed at you. You’re such a…’ the tears choked the rest of my sentence. I felt like banging the door before her face, but I felt a restraint.
‘Da…Dabira…what’s the matter?’ her innocent looking eyes pierced through my heart.
Staring at the ‘chameleon,’ without an inkling on what to do, I just left my door ajar and sat on my bed in a pensive mood.
‘Dabira, please I need to know what’s happening to you?’ she moved closer, ‘you know I’m always there for you…
Before she completed her statement, I heard the same sarcastic voice which filtered into my room, a while ago.
‘Oh no!’ I rushed towards the window and quickly raised the blinds; and with mouth agape, tears of guilt streamed down my face.
‘Dabira, what’s the problem?’ I could feel the genuineness in Mama Tola’s tone.
I knelt before the middle-aged lady and began to plead for forgiveness. In her characteristic manner, Mama Tola cuddled me like a child while I dropped the bombshell!
‘Before you knocked at my door, I heard the voice of a lady from the outside, talking sarcastically about me … and because her voice sounded just like yours, I concluded it was you. And now, seeing you in my room, and then hearing that same voice simultaneously from the outside…oh I’m sorry, ma…I’m sorry for false allegation…’
‘It’s okay Dabira. Other people too have told me about the similarity in our voices…’ she stressed in a motherly tone.
‘So, you know her?’ I wiped my face still feeling remorse.
‘Yes, that woman is one of Buky’s customers. She comes here often; I’m surprised that you’ve never met her…’
I could not look Mama Tola in the face, as my heart burnt in guilt. I was to learn afterwards that the sarcastic lady, as I chose to call her, was not even talking about me!
I resumed work the following day with a new zest. The funny episode of the previous night had taught me a big lesson. If God had not intervened, my relationship with Mama Tola would have ended on a very bad note.
‘Nothing is going to steal my joy again!’ I assured myself as I hurriedly left the staff room for the school auditorium.
Pink Rose Schools had its open day activities that day and being the last one for the year, the event saw the attendance of more parents than before. I had barely walked into the auditorium when a grey Infinity Jeep 2010 model pulled into the school compound, as my curiosity soared to know who the occupier was, the door of the car flung opened and Emily Akala, clad in Kaftan outfit, stepped out gracefully.
Apart from being a parent of one of the kids in my school, Emily Akala, was also the President of the Parents Teachers Association. Although a highly educated lady and well-travelled, yet my respect for her declined the very day I learnt that she was the third wife of a grassroot politician within the neighbourhood.
Apart from my Christian faith which frowned at polygamy, I detested the practice with a passion. The complications associated with it, had been my mother’s undoing.
‘Good morning Miss Dabira!’ one of my students ran towards me.
‘Good morning Nkoli, how are you today?’
‘Fine ma,’ she gleaned from ear to ear. ‘You won’t believe it ma, my dad finally made it to the open day.’
‘Wow. I’m sure you must be very happy…’
‘Happy is an understatement,’ a baritone voice cut in from behind.
I turned instantly and a tall, sturdy man smiled at me.
‘Good morning, sir,’ I studied the dark complexioned oval face, ‘i don’t think I need any introduction, ‘you’re Nkoli’s father.’
‘Blood is thicker than water. I’m Chief Mbadiwe Okwudili,’ he extended his arm for a handshake,
‘I’m Dabira Alakija.’ My eyes remained locked in his gaze as I received his handshake.
The sparkle in those large eyeballs communicated a thousand words within splint seconds. Enthralled by his imposing height and the rich fragrance of his cologne, I felt as though I was standing before the prince of Wales.
‘The open day is about to begin!’ Nkoli’s tiny voice jerked me from my reverie.
‘Please, shall we move to the hall now?’ I switched over to a more professional demeanor.
Although the program went on a smooth sail, yet the indelible mark left on my fragile heart by chief Mbadiwe Okwudili, lingered.
‘It’s a good thing I was able to make it to this year’s open day,’ Chief Mbadiwe spoke heartily as we left the hall, ‘I’m really impressed by my daughter’s academic performance and, the privilege to meet the much talked about Miss Dabira.’
‘It’s my pleasure meeting you, sir.’
‘I have a small confession to make before I leave,’ he lowered his voice wary of prying eyes.
What confession does he want to make? My heart pounded restlessly.
‘When my daughter told me about her Math teacher, little did I know that I was coming to meet an African queen…’
He paused as he pulled a strand of his grey beard playfully.
‘Sincerely, Dabira, you’ve made my day,’ he continued, ‘it was a good thing I attended this open day. And just like Shakespeare would say, I came, I saw, and I con…’he withdrew the rest of the quotation.
And who has he conquered? my heart skipped.
‘And please, don’t hesitate to call me whenever you detect my daughter in any juvenile unruly act.’
‘There is no cause for alarm, sir, Nkoli, is such a sweet girl.’
As soon as his car drove off the school premises, a feeling of emptiness overwhelmed me.
Dabira, what is the matter with you? I scolded myself,
Ha! Ha! Ha!!! You’d soon end up like Emily Akala, a contrary voice ridiculed me. ‘You’re going to be his second wife!
‘Impossible!’ I cried out aloud before I realized it.
Another Emily Akala, in the making…the voice taunted me the more.
TO BE CONTINUED…