Written By Shalomdee
“Don ’ t worry , Isaac , Mama will give you a sweet after you eat your rice eh ? Mommy is wicked , she doesn ’ t want you to have a sweet . She doesn ’ t even like giving you sugar at all. ” Aunt Gloria said to Isaac whose whining had turned to a slow but unmelodic tune. She drew him near to her and cleaned his mucus using the blue T -shirt with a picture of Tom and Jerry in a funny pose which he was wearing. His tune stopped as she did this and his eyes focused on her .
The light from the rechargeable lamp was waning by now . Since it was Saturday it was unusual for them to have power supply from PHCN . She should have made the jollof rice herself when it was 4 p. m but she felt too lazy . Since Jane had been around she had stopped doing most things in the house . Jane would wake up daily by 5 a . m to sweep , dust , mop and cook breakfast before going to open the shop by 7 a. m. She , Aunt Gloria woke up when she wanted to take breakfast and have her bath and also bath her grand nephew. She would then put on the T . V so they could watch cartoons and when she felt like visiting any of her friends she would drop Isaac with his mum and come back by noon to stay in the shop while Jane went into the house to cook lunch . Jane did not however feel she worked too hard, while she was in the shop she entertained herself by reading novels by Nigerian authors or browsing the Internet on her new smartphone given to her by one of her cousins who came on break to the house .
The only thing which bothered Jane was the fact that she was not in school. Outside of that Jane was happier and more contented . Her aunt would watch her from the corners of her eyes or eavesdrop on her conversations with people to find out if she showed any signs of discontentedness but found none at all. When her two daughters were around she would still do the normal chores she did in the house except she was offered assistance and she never begged her cousins for any of their clothes or shoes . She would only ask them to tell her about life on campus and how they coped with lectures . She was always happy to see them knowing that it will distract her son ’ s attention from her for a few days .
Isaac was a child very much attached to his mother. Even when Aunt Gloria showered him with things , he preferred to be doted by his mum . It was a big crisis when the time came to wean him , Jane had had to go to her mothers ’ for a week while Isaac stayed with her. That one week was like hell to her because Isaac cried every single minute and did not allow her to sleep at night. On Sunday when Jane came back, he still remembered her breasts and wanted to suck but Jane was so angry she gave him the beating of his life and told him :
“If you ever touch these breasts again I will kill you with caning ”. She had sounded so serious that Isaac believed her and Aunt Gloria wondered if she loved Isaac or was bound to him only as a matter of duty .
Her beatings were more frequent than her treats , despite this, Jane was his favourite companion. They nicknamed him Chewing Gum because he stuck to her like glue. One day Aunt Gloria remarked out of concern when his whines became incessant :
“Perhaps he misses his father ” .
Jane pretended she had not heard what she said .
“Somewhere in his mind he still remembers a man who used to raise him high in the air and pat him when he cried . Children have good memories you know ; it could be he wants to see his dad . ”
“Nothing of that sort Auntie , this scallywag here is only out to drain all the energy from me , but I will first of all give him a good caning. ”
“He is a little boy , caning him now will not do him any good. He just needs more coaxing that ’ s all . ”
“I have tried that Auntie , it didn’ t work, that ’ s why I resorted to beating him . ”
“If you beat him , he will cry the more and the noise will become more unbearable for you which will get you stressed out . ”
From then on when Isaac cried at inappropriate times, she overlooked him and let him cry the way he wanted . This certainly
was no way to treat a child but Aunt Gloria understood that Jane was young and had passed through difficult times of abuse , it was possible she still thought of the hurt she experienced and when Isaac cried that way she became embittered not particularly because she blamed him but because she had no other way of coping with the pain. When Isaac saw his mother ignored him certain times he took comfort in other people consoling him , though he quickly forgot his mother’ s snobbish behaviour and would break away from whoever was cheering him up to go play with his mum .
Since there was little work to do , Jane’ s aunt had free time to get to know her more . Before then , she had never known her niece was a perfectionist . She scrubbed the pots white so that she herself was scared of dirtying them , the upholstery was dusted every single day and the floor was mopped every evening . These were all characteristics of a melancholy . In parenting, Jane transferred her perfectionist desires to raising her son . She bought a whiteboard with markers which she used to teach the Alphabet , numbers and art to her son . Isaac seemed not to grasp what she taught but made an effort to grab a thing or two just to please his mother who seemed very enthusiastic to see him learn . He could recite A-E and count 1 -5 , but that was as far as he could go . His favourite subject however was art , he took keen interest in drawing shapeless objects and scribbling what he referred to as ‘ jogu jogu ’ . Seeing her son interested in art , Jane purchased drawing books , a magnetic slate, crayons and pencils and taught her son how to draw circles and make straight strokes . It was fascinating to watch them during their sessions ; Aunt Gloria would sometimes chuckle at the sight .
Jane would not hear any advice to let the boy alone till he was 3 . She had drawn up a curriculum for him and aimed at making him a genius before his third birthday. She however made an effort to include nursery rhymes , songs and lots of fanciful colours to attract Isaac ’s attention . His favourite rhyme was Pussy Cat Pussy Cat , he recited this whenever anyone said “ sing me a song ”. At the rate Jane was going , Isaac was going to be smart whether he liked it or not .
The 17 th of December 2014 was a big day in Jane’ s family . Her two cousins Esther and Rachel were around. The house was boisterous and bubbly as Jane, her cousins and her aunt prepared to go for the wedding of Rahila Dung . Jane’ s mother , Caro Dung was dressed and waited for the rest of them to finish so they could all go to the church . She had come with her old Peugeot 504 to convey them to the venue . She was dressed sophisticated with a sunshade and high heels to go . Her pink lipstick matched with the colour of the asebi and her eyebrows were finely shaped . She looked 10 years younger and her grandson , Isaac , could not keep his eyes off her tall aligogoro as the two of them sat and waited in the living room .
Caro ’s eyes shifted uncomfortably . She was tense at the sight of Isaac . Ever since her daughter had brought him to her house a year ago , she had only seen him on two occasions . She was still not settled with the fact that her daughter had a child and found it somewhat distressing . She did not know how to behave towards this child that looked so much like the man that brought shame to her family. Both of them sat opposite each other in silence stealing glances at each other.
Minutes later , Aunt Gloria walked into the sitting room dressed the same way as her sister -in – law, though her aligogoro was not as tall . She held a much bigger purse and she was looking through it as she entered .
“I see you have finished , ” Caro said .
“Yes , I have , except for… yes yes yes … my perfume . ” She went back to her room.
The room fell silent once again and their eyes met each other briefly . Jane entered this time around, the gown she wore was tight fitting and stopped at her knees . She was a pretty sight to behold . Caro smiled at her daughter . “Omo ge!” She hailed .
Jane smiled and went to her son . She buttoned his shirt properly and tucked it again in the chinos he wore . He looked like one of those rich kids that posed as models on blogs . His hairy eyebrows , long eyelashes and full hair gave him a supposedly handsome look . Luckily, he took half of his mother ’ s look so he could pass for a handsome kid .
“Stand upright ” , Jane said to Isaac in a tutor ’ s voice .
Isaac stood up at once . Jane bent down and straightened up his socks so that he looked like a schoolboy . Esther and Rachel entered the sitting room looking more fashionable and elegant them all of them . They had done a lot of make up and the artificial hair they had plaited was reaching up to their waists. Their heights were intimidating because of the high heels they wore and they carried blue and white attractive purses . In contrast they had an air of superiority around them , while simplicity and neatness was all over Jane. She was adorned only with a simple gold earring and her face was powdered and instead of lipstick she had put on lip gloss . Her hair was plaited with black wool and it was packed in a doughnut style .
“Mhmm, fine boy . ” She said to Isaac when she was through with dressing him up .
He smiled broadly revealing incomplete but white set of teeth .
“Let us go , oya , maza maza . Let us not be late , I want us to sit in front and get the programmes. ” Aunt Gloria said as she came out of her room .
In the car , Caro handed over some chocolate bars and biscuits she had bought in the supermarket to Isaac . “ Here you go dear , ” she said giving him .
Isaac collected it fixing his eyes on her till his mum interposed.
“Sweetheart , say thank you to Granny” .
“Ank you … Gwanny ” .
“Welcome dear ” , Caro said and started the car as Isaac got immersed in eating his chocolates .
They arrived COCIN LCC , the church where the wedding was taking place , it was located in the suburb of Rayfield. The church was a grand building with cream painted walls and stained glass . The fence of the building was coloured an impressive white with red bougainvillea hanging proudly . Cars were already parked outside the building and it took some difficulty before they found a parking space.
To be continued