“I am sorry I have not been here for you” she said with watery eyes. “I never meant to hurt you my dear, but I wanted to give you time to balance things with your husband. You would agree that your marriage was pretty unusual, I thought it would be best if both of you stayed together without any disturbances”
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I swallowed. It was a very sensible explanation, I thought. One would expect that living with Alex would at least lessen the pregnancy tension; if only they knew the true situation of things. I stared at my mother and put a small smile on my face. Although it irritated me that she hadn’t visited, I couldn’t express how happy I was that her appearance was splendid. The clothes she had on were nothing compared to the rags she used to wear in the village. “You are looking good mum” I said truthfully.
She did not smile, she even seemed pained. “But you are not, my dear”
“Amara; is your husband not giving you enough money to take care of yourself?” she asked. I noticed the tiny trace of anger and hatred that crept into her voice.
“I do not need his money” I said smoothly.
“But you should. Look at yourself Amara” she traced my body with her eyes. “You do not befit this house in these clothes. I can see that that husband of yours does not have feelings for you my daughter. You should take advantage of this situation, take as much as you want from him, so that you can leave his house as fast as you can”
Oh no! “Mama” I called, “did papa ask you to come here to deliver this lecture?” I asked in shock. This was the last thing I expected from my mother. “Were you not the one that taught me that money and wealth should not be allowed to cloud our senses? Have you forgotten those lectures mother? How can you ask me to do this?” My voice rose. I stood and paced and sat back down in total confusion.
She stood up and came to sit beside me, holding my gaze. “Amarachi, you are my daughter, and I know what is best for you. Yes, your father suggested this and I argued against it” considering her recent attitudes, I highly doubted that last statement but I kept mute, staring at my mother like she was some sort of stranger. “I argued it but immediately I got here and saw you looking tired and lean, I knew it was not a totally bad idea. True, I taught you the values of integrity and self-respect, but you have to admit that I never envisaged you getting pregnant out of wedlock for a man like Alex.” She swallowed slightly. “He is maltreating you Ama. You have to think of money now because you are not the only one involved. You have your baby to think about. If you leave empty handed, what would you use to raise a child? Tell me” she demanded fiercely.
“I never said I was leaving this place mama” I said dryly.
She started. “But… But you cannot be satisfied with the way he is treating you. You are in the same old clothes you took from the village Amara, and he does not care”
“I am in my old clothes because I wanted it that way.” I countered.
“I would not let you stay here Amara; I would not allow you hurt yourself and my grandchild with this foolishness. The man clearly does not care about you, why stay with him?” she asked in bewilderment.
I smiled in sudden irritation. “It is rather late for all these mama; I would not be married to him in the first place if you had been this aggressive with papa. I am a married woman now and I am not ready to get a divorce. Don’t worry about my marriage, I can handle it myself. Something tells me that you have your own issues to fix mama” My voice softened. My mum had really changed; even the blind would see it. “What is going on mama? Is there something that I need to know?” I asked worriedly.
She shifted nervously again and I felt the great urge to hug her. Before I could control myself, I hugged my mum tight. She seemed stunned at first, later, she melted into me. She held me so tight like she thought I might vanish. “You can tell me anything mum” I whispered. “I know that I am still a small girl and may not have any word of advice to give but maybe if I listen to you, it would make you feel better”
She withdrew suddenly. Her eyes seemed unusually bright as she pasted a fake smile on her pale face. “I can handle my problems dear, my focus is on you. I want to help you my girl. I want to put a smile on your sweet face again” she said desperately, holding my face, and I could see that she really meant it. I looked at my mum in concern. I did not like the pain and struggle that was obvious in the haunted look in her eyes. I felt the deep desire to get rid of her problems. If I could only do that, I would get my old ‘mama’ back and she might be able to help me through my own problems
“Let’s make a deal. Tell me what is troubling you and I would do whatever you want” I said with determination. She froze slightly, blinked and stood up instantly. She looked around, searching for something.