Leave of absence! What would I be doing? The last couple of weeks I had almost died from boredom. What would happen now? I might become boredom personified. My parents have put their feet down that I must take the much-needed rest to recover before going back to work. Their argument being that the stress from work could induce a relapse.
Uncle Segun offered to pay my salary for that period if that was why I wanted to go back to work, or I could resume a role in his law firm working two hours a day.
My reasons fell on deaf ears, and I ended up abiding by my family’s wishes. What does it take for a family to stop meddling in ones’ affairs? Why is it so difficult for them to realise I am no longer a child but an adult capable of taking care of myself?
I agreed to work at Uncle’s Segun’s Law firm but insisted on four hours a day which I was obliged.
Adelakun & Adelakun Partners was an ideal law firm with about ten staff – six Lawyers, an administrative officer and office assistant. My coming on board was of no relevance to the company or so I thought. However, getting into the organisation, I could see a lot needed to be done to reorganise the office. And the myriad of paper and documents stashed in one corner of the entrance required emergency attention.
I was ecstatic to see Auntie Bimba in the office on resumption. The last I heard, she still had not returned home. Seeing her in the firm she co-owned with Uncle Segun was a good sign to me.
“Hello Auntie,” I greeted courtesying in the traditional way.
“Hi Lana, it is great to see you looking so well. One can hardly believe you were the one I came visiting looking so emaciated some few weeks back. Your eyes sparkle,” commented Auntie Bimba.
I glowed at her words. I knew I looked better than the first week I came out of the hospital but not as good as the picture Auntie Bimba painted.
“Thank you, auntie. And how are you doing?” I asked with more concern than I could hide.
“I am hanging in there, my dear,” she sighed.
“It is a lot to take in. But I see you have adjusted well,” said Auntie Bimba. It was more of a comment than the sarcastic feel of the words.
“Oops!, that sounded mean. I did not mean it that way,” apologised Auntie Bimba.
“I know auntie. You have a heart of gold. I am proud of the way you are handling it, and I know things will sort itself out,” I offered my unsolicited words of encouragement boldly.
Auntie Bimba smiled, and my heart broke at how sad she looked.
“I hope so,” she answered.
“It was disheartening to see she had lost the spunk she had for life.
Why was she walking away and not putting up a fight for her home?
“I hope you don’t find this place boring. I hear you are off work till you get much better.But the Lana I know it must have taken a whole lot to get you to give into this idea.”
“Your husband has his ways,” I said laughing as I stepped out of her office.
Questions were being asked by family members if Uncle Segun would be getting back with my birth mum.
I hoped not. How could Uncle Segun throw the years of history with Auntie Bimba to follow someone who left him in the cold with a child and now wants the whole family package back?
I know he has been meeting with my birth mum and the rumours going around by family members was that if Auntie Bimba insists on staying out. Uncle Segun was justified to bring her back after all the family was complete with, mother-child and father even if the cords that bound us together was brittle.
I was barely out when I heard the scrape of her chair on the ground, and suddenly I could hear the noise from feet rushing.
I turned back into her office and saw her kneeling on the floor of the opened toilet throwing up.
“Auntie, do you need help?” I asked worriedly.
“I’ll be okay. I must have taken something that upset my stomach.”
She washed her face and cleaned up and sat on the guest sofa.
“I will be fine, don’t worry about me. See the look of on your face,” teased Auntie Bimba.
“How did you cope in the hospital if you can’t bear to see anyone in pain?” she asked.
I smiled and quietly left the room after making sure, she was okay and had dozed off on the seat.
Was Auntie Bimba, taking the issue between her and Uncle Segun more than she was letting on. I needed to keep an eye on her and let Uncle Segun know if there was anything.
“You would need to have a meeting with her. Hear her out and talk things over with her. I do not think she is asking to come into our lives. She is just asking to make peace with her child,” said Uncle Segun trying to convince me.
“You think so?” I asked.
I did not want to have that meeting. I do not know if it was out of fear of finding out that I never meant anything to my birth mum. Perhaps she was here because her conscience won’t let her live with it. It was not that she loved me.
For two whole weeks, Uncle Segun kept barging me with the question of if I was ready. I could not understand the urgency of his persuasion, but I stubbornly refused to give in. He could barge me into taking six weeks leave of absence from work without pay, start work in his law firm, but he could not get me to have a meeting with my birth mother when I was not ready.
“When do you think, you’ll be ready?” Andrew asked as we talked over the phone which had become our daily routine. We talked every day over the phone and met up during weekends when none of us was busy.
“I don’t know. I don’t think I would ever be ready. I just want to have my life the way it has always been. I don’t want the confusion of my birth mum and my adopted mum or whatever. She gave me away years ago, and I want it to remain that way. She does not owe me any explanation. Period,” I argued and upset we were having this conversation.
“Do you feel anything for her?” Andrew prodded.
“No,” I answered.
“Then why are you upset with her?”
“I am not!” I raised my voice over reacting.
“You would need to make the decision on your own. One that you would not regret some years down the line. If I were to give you a candid advice, I’d suggest you hear what your birth mum has to say and make peace.
“Make what peace?” I lashed out.
“Make peace to someone who until some few weeks back I did not know existed? Make peace with a stranger who is called my mother because she gave birth to me? Make peace to a woman who was not woman enough to sacrifice for her child?
She is but a stranger to me. I owe her nothing. I had made my peace even before she came along. She should make her peace with her maker, not me. She owes me nothing.
The silence as a result of my outburst was deafening.
I was heaving and breathing over the phone, as I held onto it tightly.
I could hear Andrew’s breath on the other side of the phone but he said nothing.
We must have held on for more than fifteen minutes, and I broke the silence.
“Okay, I’ll try and hear her out,” I said grudgingly.
“It will all work out,” he said confidently over the phone.
“You don’t owe her anything, but you owe yourself to hear her out and make your decision.”
I knew Andrew was telling the truth, so I half-promised to hear her out in my own time but not right now.