“Awww my baby. How was school today?” Esther opened her arms wide as Eki ran towards her. She looked smart in her uniform. Her cheeks glowed against the caress of the sun rays. The chubbiness of childhood had returned to her frame, though tiny scars still stood out on her face. She was a beautiful child. Esther was glad she took this one. She was so glad.
“Fine mummy. You’re late, again.” Eki pouted her lips at the woman she now called ‘mummy’. She circled her arms around her waist and buried her face in her bosom. Eki loved to do that. It made her feel secure.
“Oh dear, pardon me. Mummy has to work. You know…”
“Yes I know,” Eki cut in. She lifted her face and looked up at the warm face she had grown to love. She gave the older woman one of those looks she hadn’t known she could muster; something between feigned disappointment and anger.
“I so love it when you do that.” Esther said. She opened her arms and held the child at arm’s length, looking into her eyes in the process. “You’re such a darling, aren’t you? Look how far you’ve come. At this rate, you’ll get into secondary school before you know it. And you’re so beautiful. You remind me so much of Omi my last child.”
“You keep saying that,” Eki blushed, the blood rushing to her cheeks. “When will I finally get to meet your children? I mean, my siblings?”
Esther smiled, “Where did you learn that?”
“Oh!” Eki laughed out loud. It was a beautiful sound of joy and freedom. “I’ve been going to school mummy. Haba!”
“Okay o. Don’t worry. Soon enough. You’ll meet them soon enough. They’ll come with my husband next month. Then you’ll get to meet your new family.”
They got into the car. Esther reached over, making sure Eki had fastened her seat belt. She looked at the child again and smiled. It had taken many days for Eki to get used to her new home. She had found it extremely difficult to adjust from being a slave to a normal child. But she had finally accepted the idea, and everything else had fallen into place. Since her husband got the Ambassadorial nomination to France the previous year, Esther had been all alone in their big house in GRA. Her last child, Omi got into Oregon University Ghana almost at the same time. Her two boys were both in Germany. They seldom came home.
Esther looked sideways at Eki. “Yes dear.” She was trying to join the busy traffic on airport road.
“Can I eat something first before my appointment with the Psychologist?”
“Sure! Your appointment is not until 2:30 pm. And it’s just,” Esther glanced at her tiny gold plated wristwatch, “1:50pm. We’ll go home right now. Don’t worry.”
“You’re welcome dear.”
Inibokun looked up as the car drove into her compound. The smile enveloped her face when she saw who it was. She dropped the tray of beans she had been filtering and moved towards the car.
“Hello my sister,” she said when she got close enough to Esther. “How are you today?”
“My dear, I’m fine o,” Esther said, enveloping the younger woman in a warm embrace. “Where’s your husband?”
“He’s still at work. But he’ll be home before six.”
“Good evening aunty”. Eki greeted her Aunt with a big smile.
Inibokun still felt funny whenever she saw her niece. She could never understand how a child could have forgiven and forgotten so easily. The pangs of guilt gnawed at her insides afresh.
“Good evening my dear. How are you?”
“I’m very fine aunty.” Eki answered. She hugged her Aunt briefly and ran inside the house to play with the kids.
“Madam Esther, I can never stop thanking you for what you did for my family.” Inibokun couldn’t look at Esther in the eye.
“Oh it’s nothing. This is best for Eki. It helps heal her memories. So we’re doing each other a big favour.”
“She looks better and better everyday. Thanks so much for all you’re doing.” Inibokun led Esther to the verandah. They sat on an old wooden bench and continued conversing.
“You know, your decision not to press charges saved my life and that of my family.” Inibokun began. “When you had my husband arrested as soon as he came back to the city, I thought we had lost it all. But thank God your heart is this warm. I couldn’t imagine that you would later on help him secure a better job. I have never experienced such kindness in my entire life. Not like this. My husband never stops talking about you.”
Esther smiled. She had not been interested in sending them to prison. That would have been too much for their young children. She was content with the fact that they were remorseful and they had no issues with her decision to raise Eki as her adopted daughter.
The children rushed out of the house squealing at the top of their voices. Eki carried baby, while Odegua and Ehiabhi ran after her in hot pursuit.
Both women got up at once. “Stop running like that.” Inibokun shouted.
“Be careful there!” Esther called to them, almost simultaneously. The women looked at each other and laughed. Nothing could equal a mother’s love for her children.
(c) copyright. Oselumhense Anetor. April 2016.