Bella Episode 5: Mother’s Visit
Fom the corner of my eyes, I could sense my mum was watching me.
She liked to do that a lot. When I was much younger, it really got on my nerves; it still did although thankfully, I didn’t see her as often as I did back then. She would always size up every part of my body; my legs, arms, breasts, buttocks, to the tiniest development of new curves. She always knew when I had a new pimple on my face and of course knowledge of my monthly cycle never eluded her.
I remember her opening a bottle of wine to welcome me to ‘womanhood’ when I got my first period. Then came the endless sermons on sex, boys and the entire package that came with it.
Speaking about boys… I knew the next question would be about the man in my life. I rolled my eyes; it was too late before I remembered that was one of my numerous habits that she disliked. She was going to talk now.
“Isa, kilode?” (kilode means “what is it?’’ in my dialect) She calls me Isa, a name I found unsophisticated and begged her to stop, especially when she would shout it in public or when I was with my friends. I finally gave up when I sensed she won’t budge.
“Why are you rolling your eyes? What is on your mind this time?”
“Nothing mummy,’’ I murmured as I continued to fold the pile of clothes on my bed.
My mum was around for the weekend. She had always wanted me to come over to hers but I had avoided it. I also avoided her coming to my place. This point of my life was crucial and I wasn’t ready for gists or catching up. There were times I just wanted to stay on my own.
Times like this…
Finally, she showed up at my doorstep this Saturday morning just as I had made up my mind to be by myself and do some spring cleaning. My house was a mess, I needed to fix it before I resumed with Edgewood on Monday because I won’t have so much time on my hands anymore. She was here as early as seven! She did that on purpose, of course. She didn’t want to give me a chance to escape [if I’d planned to].
Missy was at her best behavior. She usually did that around guests, that cat!
“Isa, you just did it again. Don’t be rolling your eyes for your husband o. That is a very…”
“Bad behavior’’ I completed for her rolling my eyes, but this time I had backed her so she couldn’t see me.
My mum had only me, she tried several times to have another child but suffered miscarriages until we lost dad when I was 12. She tried dating a couple of other men thinking she could get me a ‘father figure’ but it never worked out. Finally, she gave up. I still believed that the only man who could cope with my mum was dad.
Since then, I had been her everything and she never hid it. At some point she almost choked me. She worked so hard to give me all I ever needed.
Missy came into the room and rubbed her head against my mother’s left leg.
“Fair weather cat. I am a stranger to you all of a sudden.” As if to hear, she looked up at me and returned to the comfort of the leg of her new found love.
“I heard your boss is getting married,’’ Mum said bending down to stroke Missy’s head. I stopped folding; my heart beat twice as fast. The realization never hit me so hard like it did now. I didn’t say anything for seconds.
“Yes, how did you hear?’’ I tried to look unperturbed.
“I have cable at home, Isa!” She eyed me “I watch latest trends and don’t forget that they are high-profile people; your boss and his fiancée’s family. Now that you are working with him full time, how does that feel… what’s the experience like? I heard his dad left him a massive inheritance.”
“I haven’t started, mum. I will resume on Monday.” I started humming to a song to an imaginary song hoping I had dismissed her but I knew my mother too well, her next question would be with her big round eyes. Everyone said I got my eyes from her; what a feature to inherit!
Great! I tried so hard all weekend not to think or talk about Jeremiah and now, here I am with my very own mother discussing him. I was right; she was looking at me now. This time with Missy on her laps who was also looking at me with a tilted head.
“Why are you both staring?” I asked defensively.
“Isa, is there anything about this new job you are not telling me? You have become edgy all of a sudden and I can sense it’s deeper than just getting a new job with new responsibilities.” She asked, her voice filled with concern.
Missy meowed, left her laps and came to hug my legs. She barely stayed a second before returning to where she vacated.
“Mummy, I am fine, just a lot on my mind. There are lots of expectations from me and I need to get my act together to achieve the best results.’’ I lied.
“That Jeremiah, did you say he hired you personally?’’ Trust her to probe further. Her stare was very deep, like she was trying so hard to read me.
I nodded and continued to fold. “That’s the second time you are folding that particular cloth, Isa’’. My mother pointed out.
“I need tea,” I said as I dropped the cloth on the bed and walked out of the room with Missy on my trail.
The truth was I didn’t know how to cope with everything. I was to start working in two days and my feelings were on over drive. How would I tell my mother I was in love with my boss who didn’t have an idea that his fiancée was cheating on him with his cousin which I knew about? I didn’t know what to make of everything.
I knew I shouldn’t worry. It was a mega job. Everything was set up for me – an office, official car with a driver, heavy remuneration,… I even had a secretary. I should be happy. However, I had such mixed feelings. I opened up my laptop to hear the sound of my mother’s laughter over the phone. She was talking to Aunt Betty, I was sure; her younger sister based in Dubai.
I had a pile of emails waiting for me from Edgewood. Lately, I had been getting emails from the company to prepare me for my resumption but this particular one caught my attention.
The new organogram was out. The Chief Operating Officer had been replaced.
Lisa Momoh has been recruited into the company and I will be reporting to her directly.
I stared at my computer until the electric kettle started to whistle.
From time, I knew Chief Momoh was on the board of directors contesting a lot of Jeremiah’s decisions in the company. However, his hands were a bit tied because Jeremiah’s father was his very close friend and associate before he died and now, Jeremiah was officially engaged to be married to his daughter. What I didn’t understand was whose idea it was for Lisa to be Chief Operating Officer, and why?
Was it Chief Momoh’s idea or Jeremiah’s? Or did Lisa force both their hands to make her COO? Why did Lisa want to be at Edgewood? She didn’t appear to be a corporate person; she would be better off on the cover of a magazine. I rolled my eyes and bit my lower lip at the same time.
“Isa, the kettle has been whistling forever. Make up your mind, haba! Don’t just sit there rolling those eyes. One day, they will fall out o…” My mother stuck her head out of the room, the phone still on her ear. I stood up and walked to the kitchen. As I made tea, my mind drifted until I was in a state of limbo.
A lot of things had hit me. I would be working with Lisa, Patrick and Jeremiah in the same company; while Liza and Patrick knew that I knew they are together cheating on her fiancé and his cousin. This same cousin and fiancé that [I had fallen in love with.]
This was going to be awkward. Very awkward.
I needed to find a way to rise above this. I needed this job; that was one reason to make this work. Another reason was that Jeremiah needs me to make this thing work. He singlehandedly hired me against all odds because he trusted me and needed me to achieve certain results. This wasn’t the time to allow emotions weigh me down. If Lisa was manipulative enough to plant herself in Edgewood for whatever reason, that was completely up to her. I knew how to be professional and carry out my duties regardless of any form of emotion flying around.
“I think I would go to Dubai” I heard my mother’s voice in the midst of my numerous thoughts.
“What’s happening there?” I asked, fear gripping me. My mother may be clingy, overprotective and I may try to avoid her sometimes but I couldn’t bear the thought of her going far away from me.
“Vacation, of course. What else? Betty wants me to come.” She replied making herself tea.
“So, if Aunt Betty wants you to come, you must go?” I asked, knowing I sounded stupid.
“Isa, you have your job. I never see you! I am bored.” She frowned.
“Are you not seeing me now?” I asked. She sighed.
I kept quiet. I didn’t know what to say anymore. If I continued, she would sense I was getting emotional and then I may need to tell her everything and I wasn’t ready.
“I don’t know why you always stay closed up in the house. I want to go for a walk and feel the sunlight. I will take Missy with me.” Beckoning to Missy, she started to put on her slippers.
“She is not a dog,” I replied. I never took Missy anywhere. In fact, I hardly went anywhere.
“So? Did they say cats can’t go for walks?” She said rubbing Missy’s head who had gladly stopped licking her paws and started to follow my mother’s trail.
“Mummy, get ready to bath her… She hasn’t stepped foot out of this house before” I called after her.
Either she didn’t hear or she didn’t respond. Either way, they were both out of the house. Leaving me to myself.
Everywhere became quiet. I went to make myself another cup of tea. This time, adding a bit of honey, I drank all at once. I began to sweat, my muscles tightened up.
I went back into my room to see that my mother had folded all the clothes on my bed neatly into my wardrobe and laid the bed as well. The room was looking neater than I left it. I smiled in spite of myself. I really didn’t know what I would do without my mother. It felt good knowing I had her.
I turned on the airconditioning, laid down on the neatly laid bed with my phone in my hand. Ego’s messages were waiting for me to read them.
“Babe, hmmmmm… Guess what? I was at the salon yesterday minding my own business…’’
“So, what happened?” I typed back.
She was back online almost immediately, she loved gossip and somehow she managed to drag me into it.
“I came in contact with someone who knew Lisa Momoh. She came to the salon with her friend to fix her nails and they were both talking about Lisa.”
Lisa again? Just what I needed. I shook my head.
“So what’s new about Lisa Momoh apart from the fact that she is going to be my direct boss in Edgewood?”
Ego called me immediately.
“Babe, your boss? How do you mean?” Her tiny voice was echoing. She must have been texting in the bathroom all along. Ever since she bought a Jacuzzi, the world starts and ends with her in it. Thank God she wasn’t munching popcorn today.
“She is the new Chief Operating Officer of Edgewood. I report directly to her.”
“Wow, that’s big news babe. So, you will be working with Jeremiah, Patrick and Lisa in the same place? God help you.”
“Like I didn’t know, rub it in further. What’s your gist?” I snapped.
“The babe seemed to be Lisa’s cousin’s friend. They were both gossiping about Lisa. It seems Lisa and Jeremiah are getting married in two months.”
Could it get any worse than this?
I heard the door open. Mum was back with Missy.
Quickly, I dismissed Ego, ended the call and pretended I was asleep.
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