“Man proposes, God disposes” is one of the most popular maxims in the English language and it is fitting for today’s post. When I started this series, I intended to update regularly but life got in the way. Anyway here’s the third instalment of this paranormal series and if you need to catch up on earlier episodes see Something Like Love
The first time Nneka heard the word bastard, she had just turned five. Her grandmother was cooking okro soup in the kitchen while two women conversed in the living room. Nneka was playing with Garichi- her doll and Aduku- her squeaky toy.
“What a pretty child that little girl is, it’s a pity she’s a bastard”
The woman who spoke was wearing a red gown with a black flowery pattern, Nneka didn’t know her.
“Don’t say that again!” Mrs Malo’s voice carried an edge that Nneka had not heard before, she suddenly wondered what the word meant.
“Mummy what is bascard?” the little girl was slightly out of breath five minutes later from running up the stairs to her mother’s room.
“Amy where did you hear that word?” her mother asked gently
“That woman who came with Mrs Malo said it is a pity that I am a bascard, she also said I was pretty.”
She was playing in her grandmother’s room when the screaming began downstairs a few minutes later, it was loud and sustained and her mother’s voice made the walls vibrate. She didn’t come down to look, she was too preoccupied with playing with her grandmother’s necklaces.
She turned to the door to see her mother standing at the door, her eyes were red and her cheeks were wet.
“Mummy who beat you?” She dropped the pearl and gold necklace and ran to hug her mother’s legs.
“Nneka baby, Nneka my angel, my only treasure, you are the most important person in this world to me.” her mother cooed and her voice broke before she finished the sentence.
She squatted to Nneka’s eyelevel and rubbed her nose against her daughter’s.
“If anybody ever calls you by that word, punch that person’s eyes” she said each word distinctly.
“Bascard Mummy?” her eyes widened.
“Yes that word”
The buzzing of her vibrating blackberry cut into her thoughts, it was a memo from the head of marketing asking for her presence at the weekly strategy meeting.
Is today my day of memories? She wondered as yet another memory hit her while she walked to the conference room. When she was eight years old, Mrs Malo came to their house with an unfamiliar woman. They were not living at her grandparents, her mother had rented the charming three bedroom bungalow they still lived in, her mother bought the house ten years ago.
Mrs Malo and the woman fell to their knees the minute she came into the parlour to greet them, she opened her mouth to scream but her mother’s quick wave of hand caused it to be stillborn. The woman had come to ask for Nneka’s forgiveness, a spiritualist had asked her to do so. Her businesses had failed, she had recurring nightmares that threatened her sanity and there was a shadow that seemed to follow her night and day.
“Good morning Ms Nneka” Patrick sang as he ran past her.
“Good morning Patrick, why are you running?”
“I’m making a presentation and I haven’t even put my slides in proper order, I hope Mr Okoto will not kill me’
“He won’t, he doesn’t kill…” Patrick was already out of earshot.
The first person she saw when she walked into the conference room was Marc. Marc could have been referred to as Dr Marc- he had a PhD, or Oga- he was the CEO of the company that funded Nneka’s pay checks but he chose to be called by his first name and even the lowliest staff called him by that name. He smiled when he saw her and motioned for her to sit beside him.
“How’s your mum” he began
“She’s fine, you both really hit off well yesterday.”
Yes we did, so what kind of wine does she like?”
“Wine?!” She squeaked.
“Yes wine, she invited me for dinner tonight and I’d like to bring some wine”.
“My mother invited you?”
“Are you an echo machine now?” He asked.
“This is strange” she muttered more to herself than him. “Very, very strange”