I was pressing the bell a second time today filled with anxiety as I stood at the entrance of the cream coloured well designed Victorian – contemporary house. It was not my first time here, but today the character flaw its design screamed out dissatisfaction. At face value, it did not look out of place but judging with a critical eye; the architect should have stuck to either a period house or a contemporary one or look for a way to harmonise both seamlessly.
The door was opened by a young girl I had not seen before.
“Please, I would like to see Mrs Coker and her sister”. I could not remember my birth mum but could get to her through her sister.
I tried to think what I had seen on my birth certificate, My Father handed over to me on the day of the engagement, but my mind was blank.
“Mummy is in, but her Auntie is not,” replied the petite young girl who answered the door.
Thinking of either leaving on learning my main reason for coming was not available or going in to say hello to Bode’s mum. I did try to reach my birth mum. I could defend myself when accused of not making any effort to see her.
I was not left with a choice as I heard Bode’s mum’s voice and there she was before me.
A look of recognition shone in her eyes as she warmly embraced me. Had things gone to plan, she should be my mother-in-law. I felt the pain slowly stealing back into me. When would I be free? Would I ever be able to get past this hurt and loss?
“She waited so long for you to come. She left this afternoon but not without leaving a box for you,” she said pulling me away to take a look at my face.
“I am hanging in there,” I assured her although far from it. I was a basket case of many emotions.
I tried, I said to myself trying to still the feeling of despair threatening to sweep over me like a hurricane, the sense of losing something so precious. I did not know her, why was I feeling this way?
Mrs Coker took my hands and led me in.
“Sit, let me get the box.”
I have not seen her since the failed introduction. Her warm reception was almost making me cry as tears pooled in my eyes and I willed them not to fall.
She went in and came back dragging a suitcase which filled me with curiosity about its content.
I stood up to leave once she handed over the box to me.
“Thank you Ma, I have to go,” I gushed. I had nothing to say to my almost mother-in-law and now Aunt.
I fled with the speed a dragging suitcase will allow afraid I could no longer hold the tears.
Back in my room. I sat on my bed battling whether to ignore or open the suitcase to check its content. Eventually curiosity won. I opened a small envelope addressed to me, and there were letters penned to me with several dated photos of me as a baby till about two years old.
How did she have access to these pictures? Was she in touch with my parents?
There were letters for each year of my life. Every month of the year and the last was written last night.
I spent the whole night reading my birth mum’s letters. She never wanted to give me away, but she knew she could not give me the kind of life I deserved. She would have had to drop out to take care of me. Going back to my Dad was out of it she did not want him to think she had tricked him into marriage by getting pregnant. They had always used protection. She knew Segun would not have minded, but she felt playing the marriage card would not have worked for their relationship.
Time would come when resentment would set in. She never wanted the day Segun will look at her and hold her responsible for not fulfilling his dreams because of a forced marriage.
It was bad enough she had gotten pregnant. Her parents back in Nigeria would hear none of it. She took the easy way out by giving up the child. She was delighted when Segun’s brother and sister in law decided to take the child and help raise pending when Segun decided what he wanted to do.
She wrote of nights she longed to hold me. Nights she cried that she had made the wrong decision. However, she needed to complete her medical program, become the surgeon she had always dreamt of being.
She stumbled one day at the park where Mum brought my sister and me to play and kept coming to observe from a distance. She could tell I was happy and began to feel she might disrupt my life should she want me back
Not too long they stopped coming to the park. She made up her mind on my fifth birthday to come and pick me up. She now had a good job, and she could juggle her life and mine together. She was shocked when she located the house and they were no longer living there.
It was later she got to know that the family had moved back to Africa. She was devasted. She did not know how to contact them. She had been so silly to think they would always be in the United Kingdom.
The letter on my 16th birthday was about boys. How to keep away from them and keep your head in your books. I smiled at that one.
My 21st was how I must have become a lovely woman. I had her eyes while the rest of my features favoured my Dad.
It was the early hours of the morning, and I forced myself to go to bed not before sending a text message to uncle Segun that she won’t be able to make it in for work today.
Uncle Segun replied the text immediately.
Does the man ever sleep? I wondered to myself.
Uncle Segun: Are you okay?
Me: Yes. I did not want to go into details.
I laid on my bed, too much on my mind.
My birth mum loves me. She did not give me away because she did not want me.
I wondered what it would be like to get to know her.
With that thought, I bolted out of bed to pick my laptop.
There was an admission offer from Cambridge I was to respond to, but with all happening around myself I had forgotten.
I opened the email. Today was the deadline for the offer.
I applied over a year ago when I was considering going away for my masters before Bode and I came back together.
I deferred and now was not a perfect time. I could do with a distraction and change of environment. Something to take my time and energy.
I accepted the offer then realised I had two weeks to resumption!
I groaned. What was I thinking? I could send an email to defer, or I could get ready in two weeks. My thoughts went back and forth. Reasons why I should and should not but I knew that going away for the program was what I needed now.
I chose to go.
I had to tell my parents, friends, stop work at the firm and a long to-do list to clear in 14 days.