I stared at my father for some seconds, uncertain if a hug would be accepted by him. A splitting smile lit his face and he opened his arms which I ran into for a hug. I have to accept that these are the only people in life who care about me. These are the people who love me unconditionally. They are there through the thick and thin. Despite the fact that my dad did not seem to show his love for me through his actions, I had a feeling that he loves me even though he does not show it.
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“How are you doing my daughter” he asked as he released me. “I see the pregnancy is changing your body” he commented.
“Yes Papa” I said. “This apartment is really beautiful” I commented as I looked around again.
“It is” my mother responded as she went through what I brought. “Wow, you brought so many things” she said satisfactorily.
“There is more” I quickly went outside to the car to carry things and the driver helped me as well. The happiness in the face of my parents was priceless and I was glad that I brought them a measured level of happiness. The rest of the evening was spent in happy chatter and for the first time in life’s history, I noticed that my dad has a healthy sense of humor. The gifts I brought had probably been responsible for opening that part of him.
Mum and I prepared dinner even though she argued continuously that I needed rest because of my condition. I ignored her and joined her in the kitchen. I wanted to be the only one cooking but my parents would have none of that. Mum and I chatted on as we prepared the food and laughter rang out. I deliberately avoided anything that had to do with Alex, not wanting him to spoil the mood.
“Mum?” I called when we both became quiet.
“Why were you and dad arguing when I arrived?” I watched her grow frighteningly still. “Can you tell me?”
She shifted, and then cleared her throat. “No… No, it is irrelevant. We are a married couple, it is normal to fight every now and then… we would always settle our differences. Don’t worry”
I wanted to argue but knew that I should not be meddling in my parents’ affairs, so I let it go. She sighed audibly when I did not argue and I almost changed my mind and probe further but she was smart enough to change the subject instantly. The dinner was really lively and my father talked endlessly, forgetting his own ‘table manners’ admonitions.
“You both seem very happy here, are you not thinking of going back to Iguocha soon?” I asked suddenly.
“Mbanu” My father said instantly. “I am not ready to go back to poverty. I would only go back when I have enough money with me to lavish there. When I start a business and make good money, then, I know that my arrival in the village would be respected.”
I thought of what my father said and had to agree with him. In the village, my father was not accepted in so many respectable gatherings because he had no penny to give. The disgrace had been much. Whenever I saw the way rich men and women were treated, I always wished that my parents could receive that same level of honour and respect. It had boosted my dream to make it in life, but Alex had effectively trampled on that dream. Anyways, all hope is not lost.
I left the dinning and went to take my bag. I again sank into the chair I vacated as I opened my bag. My parents were looking at me and I felt, rather than saw their widened eyes as I extracted money from my bag.
“Amara” mother gasped and I smiled. I placed the large sum of money in front of my dad.
“That is two hundred and fifty thousand Naira. I would give you another one tomorrow to make it five hundred thousand Naira tomorrow. Please manage it papa and mama. I hope it can start up a small business” I said with a soft smile.
There was silence for some seconds, then, my father was out of his seat, hugging me so tight, I found it hard to breathe. “My daughter, oh, I knew I could count on you” he said, unable to control his happiness. He instantly left me and started fussing with the money.
My mother was still where she was sitting. “Is this ok with you Amara?” she asked softly, surprising me slightly.
“Of course it is ok with her” my dad answered sharply, fixing her a stern glare. “Why shouldn’t it?”
My mum glared back at him and I looked at both of them in confusion. “Don’t worry mum, this is perfectly ok with me. It is my duty to take care of you and papa. You were right; Alex is a traitor and a beast. You are the only people who love me”
Mum swallowed and murmured a low ‘thanks’, while dad continued to count the money endlessly. I pushed all my questions away and enjoyed the look of pure happiness I saw on my father’s face. I was not happy that my mother seemed rather moody but I let it pass.
Feeling exhausted, I decided to retire into one of the rooms. Ever since I produced the money, dad treated me like a queen, insisting on making bath water for me by himself. I slept like a baby that night, happy that I was not at my husband’s mansion where there was nothing but sadness and pain.