Watching the two most important women in my life walk in through the door was the best picture to behold.
One young and beautiful with the whole world ahead of her to take on while the other who has been by my side through thick and thin. I was on the thin verge of losing them both, but I was not going to give up. I was going to fight to get their affection back. To once again see the look of adoration in their eyes that spoke volumes of how important I was to them.
I mustered enough courage and faked a vibrancy I did not feel “Here come my girls!!!!”
I could sense Bimba seeking an escape as she fumbled in her bag until I heard her phone ring and she signalled to take the call which was a good excuse. However, without the call, she would have looked for another reason to get out of my presence.
Ever since she found out Lana was my biological daughter, she had moved out of our home but came to the office every day.
She had been civil and only discussed official matters. I wanted to give her the time and space she needed but now I needed to woo her back, or I might lose her forever.
Turning to Lana. “You should be home by now. It’s past your 6 hours of work.”
“Oh please Uncle Segun,” she said rolling her eyes. “I am as healthy as a horse. I do not need all the convalescence moves you have been pulling for the past couple of weeks.”
“Where were you coming from?”
“From the ………
She started to say but stopped midway.
My curiosity was piqued as I raised my eyebrows “when did you start keeping secrets from me?”
She shrugged and threw a barb at me “it starts one day, doesn’t it? You did keep who you were from me all my life.”
“If I could turn the hands of the clock backwards. I will Lana. I will say sorry a thousand times if it makes you feel better, or make the pain go away. I tried so many times to tell you, but there just was never the ideal time.
The period you moved to boarding school. I feared you would not take the news well, then you finished and passed with all distinctions. I wanted to shout it out to you, but it sounded selfish when all the hard work had been put in by others not me. You got admission to the university, and it did not look ideal to tell you at that time when you were testing the waters of freedom away from home. What if you reacted wrongly and flipped to the other side in rebellion. So I held on and kept postponing the day I would tell you.
Lana, I am sorry.” I had not realised the tears were trickling down my face as I pleaded with my daughter to forgive me.
I held out my arms hoping against hope that she would come for a hug just like the old times.
I could have leapt for joy as she ran into my arms crying a nerve racking sobs all over my crisp white shirt but what did it matter. She had found a place to forgive me, and that was what mattered the most.
“Are you ready to see your birth mum?” I ventured to ask Lana.
I had taken it very slow with Lana not wanting to push her. She had not shown any interest in meeting up with her birth mum, and I had given up hoping that she would have other opportunities.
“I guess yes,” she smiled amidst the tears that laced her eyes. “I am tired of fighting. What harm would there be to hear what she has to say and make peace with her? We can’t take back the years we have lost, but we can build on the ones before us.”
I was happy at the wisdom of her words and could not be more proud she was my daughter and the opportunity I had to invest in her upbringing. I had Agnes to thank. If she had not given up Lana from birth, I would never have been this blessed to be a part of the great woman she has become. It was this gratitude I had that propelled me to help to bridge the relationship between mother and daughter. “Lana you are one smart and intelligent woman who I am happy to have known.”
“You are always filled with praise. I should have known long ago there was something beyond the uncle – niece relationship,” she smiled her eyes twinkling. Wiping her eyes and smoothening her dress, she stood up. I got to go.
“Would you try and call her today?” I can give you her number.” I got out my phone and sent the contact to her.
“I will call her now. There is no need to wait. I have waited too long to mend this relationship.”
“Come here,” I commanded and engulfed her in a fierce hug as tears threatened to drop. “My sunshine,” I murmured.
“Hmm, Uncle Segun, whatever happened to Auntie Bimba?”
“That is my number one sunshine, and you are the second.”
“Not the first huh?” Lana feigned hurt.
“No not the first. You will get married and be someone else first let my wife be my first,” I teased.
It was no hidden secret that I would choose Lana any day above Bimba after all that’s what I had always done in the past, but it never bothered her. Knowing Lana was my daughter might change all that, but I hope she could see that she was the most important person to me next to my child.
“Then you had better go there and let her know,” she challenged me.
“Since you have taken a bold step to see your birth Mum. I should take a cue from you and go declare my undying love for your aunt contrary to the rumours peddled by family members.”
“I heard every word of it, and it was preposterous. Agnes is your mother and what we had has become history. She remains a friend but nothing more. I cannot love another person than your aunt. I breathe and live for her even if she is mad at me now.I intend to fight for what we have and get her back.
“I got to run, thank you, uncle. You got unfinished business here,” Lana said looking behind me.
I turned and was more surprised to see Bimba in my office.
I strolled into Segun’s office to pick a document on a case we were working on when I heard his open declaration of affection for me. I know Segun has always loved me. There were no doubts about that fact but what I could not get around my head was his betrayal. How could he have kept such information from me all these years was my concern and how many more secrets has he kept from me?
Lana had a look I told you so with a twist of cheekiness to it as she hurriedly gave me a hug whispering, “Auntie let it go and let him love”, and glided out of the office.
Her words stunned me. The girl has grown wise over the years. Segun was not the only one who doted on her. I did not unashamedly. We both poured out our love for a child into Lana. I argued it was because she was the only niece who spent time at our place with many sleepovers and outings. Her parents were never afraid to send her over to our place unlike the rest of the family who was over protective of their children. Not that I blame them. Knowing the truth behind Lana’s parentage gave credence to the reason her parents were free to release her. After all, she was going to her father’s house.
Lana and I shared a bond fostered by her visits and time spent together talking and shopping. None of my other nieces and nephews could have bolstered the courage to book a doctor’s appointment without my prior consent and drive me there. The thought put a smile on my face which I was not aware was plastered on my face until I heard Segun clear his throat the way he did when he was nervous.
I focused my eyes on him, and I got lost with love I saw in those eyes. I felt the butterflies in my stomach and laughed inwardly at my foolishness. Why this feeling of giddiness like a love-struck teenager? My hormones must be having a joke at my expense.
Shifting my gaze way towards the file on Segun’s table, I walked past him to retrieve the document.”I came for this,” I picked the file and made my way to squeeze through the closed up space to escape as he moved towards me.
“What do I need to do to make you forgive me?” he asked brokenly touching a cord in my heart. I was not going to do this. I was not ready for a reconciliation till I had figured out what I wanted for my baby.
“You’ll go back,” a voice said to my head. As I argued with the voices in my head. I don’t know about that. I’m not sure if I wanted to go back. I could remain civil with the father of my child but to work on broken trust was a hard bit for me.
“I would work at gaining back your trust,” he said as if he could read my thoughts, his eyes darkening with a resolution I know he would fulfil
“I want to believe we can have what we had before. But I can’t work past the hurt lodged in my heart. There are days I honestly could pick a gun if given one and shoot you without remorse. There are other days I try to understand that you had a good reason but what I can’t comprehend is how you lied to me for twenty years with the reason for your lies within our reach. Every day you looked at her, and every time you made a big deal of the milestones in her life was an opportunity to tell me, but you did not and that I find it hard to forgive. You know why? Because you willfully and knowingly lied to me for all the years of our marriage. Our home was fabricated on lies.What we had is over Segun.”
My heart broke, but I knew it was the best for us. May be somewhere in the future we might find a place to work our way back to what we once shared. I was too hurt to see a way out right now and being truthful to myself was what I owed myself, and the child I carried.
I saw the pain flash through his eyes so fleeting and quickly replaced with an expressionless face.
“Do you want a divorce?”
My no was so quick and vehement, and I did not realise it until I saw the smug look on his face as he closed the gap and kissed my lips ever so lightly that I was not sure if the kiss did happen except for the feelings it evoked. I could never consider a divorce I just needed the space from him till I was able to work out my hurt. But in my quick answer and his smug look, it was easy to see his conclusion that there was still hope.