“.. And little Lisa is wondering why the world’s so cold…, Runaway Love”, she hummed along to the sound Mary J Blige on the radio. It was a hot Thursday afternoon indeed, driving her Toyota Rav4 Jeep home.
She admired the scenery as always from the houses in Ikoyi, to the tall trees that swayed as she drove past them and smiled, she was almost home. She was jogged out of her reverie by a motor cycle rider who almost hit her bumper and quickly sped off. “What?? Can’t I have just enjoyed the lovely drive home?” She asked no one, shaking a fist while tightening the other on the wheel.
Driving up to their lovely duplex on Lakeside Street, she always felt lucky looking at her home in the privileged section of town. Free of the street urchins, street beggar’s, constant electricity, good roads and neighbors who drive in posh cars with drivers and help at every turn. She honked twice waiting for the gateman to open up, ‘the driver must have picked up the children she thought’.
“Good evening madam”, Adamu said with a strong Hausa accent as he closed the gate.
“Good evening Adamu. Have the children come back from school?”
Bringing down the office bags, Adamu helped with the groceries, the children would bring down the remaining things, and she walked into the house. The twins came running towards their mother.
“Mummy, mummy, you are back”, Tobi and Bisola chorused.
“Hello my sweethearts, how was school today? And where is Adora?” kissing them both on their cheeks.
“I think she stepped out mum”, Bisola replied.
“Ok then, help me with the rest of the bags”
She often wondered what the problem with Adora was. Remembering, when she was a teenager, she was also a difficult one and that was when the hormones made lots of behavioral changes in her. Those in her daughter were becoming alarming to her and her husband Dapo had tried to help by talking to her and sending her to some child psychologists but there was not much of a change.
She gave birth to Adora out of wedlock and things had been difficult for them till she met Dapo the father of her twin boy and girl. Adora had always been reserved with Dapo from day one but always made effort for her mother’s sake but as the years rolled by, things had become worse. Even when she noticed Dapo showed her love, buying her things they knew a teenager would want she just had a cold response of ‘thank you’ and left the place.
Dapo had rescued her from debt, made her comfortable, and helped her get a good job while finishing her education. He had also married her and she had been blessed with a set of beautiful twins with one as a son, what else could she ask for?? Even though she and Adora had been very close before her marriage to Dapo and talked about everything now they didn’t talk but she felt it might be jealousy of all the lost attention that had been showered on just her alone now spread in four ways.
Shrugging it off after all Adora helped the twins with their homework, bought them things and played with them all the while being polite to Dapo.
Adora walked along the prestigious lakeside street with her iPod plugged into both her ears, thinking to herself ‘who knows what goes on behind these high fences and closed gates’. She said hello to the gatemen gisting in front of one of the houses she usually walked by. They were used to seeing the lonely girl on the street after school walking along the stretch of road they knew she lived on their road and had heard a little about their family from Adamu.
Stopping at a kiosk, she asked for her favorite lollipop and biscuit, strawberry squash lollipop and cream crackers.
“How many do you want?” the kiosk attendant asked
“Four lollipops and three biscuits” she answered
“Let me give you one more lollipop, customer” the mallam said
“Thank you Musa”, smiling for the first time that day as she hardly expected favors from anyone and it was always a surprise when it came without any catch, life had taught her that.
Picking up her package, she heard the gate opposite the kiosk open and out of curiosity looked up. It was the girls who teased her in school Toyosi and Sandra, she turned quickly hoping to avoid them noticing her presence. Too late, she tripped on a stone and heard their mean squeaking laughter as she ran away from the kiosk, down the street towards her house.
As she neared home, she slowed down her steps, looking around she had no friends to talk with or hangout with, with a sigh of being resigned to fate, she walked towards her prison.
“Hello, Hello, Adora”, he said as he tapped her on the shoulder as he stopped her in her tracks, almost causing a collision as she turned around meeting the big brown eyes and husky voice.
“uhmm, erhhmm…….. Please do I know you?” she asked with a confused look while trying to compose herself and removing her ear piece.
“No, I guess you do but never noticed. I live across the street and we happen to be in the same class in school”, he said.
“WOW! That is serious cos I don’t think I have seen you before this moment. Well what is your name then since you know mine?”
“hmm, he smiled, I know you are very pretty, brilliant and all that but you need to take more notice of your surroundings. So I’d leave my name to you to find out”, sounding seriously hurt but smiling charmingly.
“I’m really sorry, but can’t you give me a hint?”
She heard the familiar horn of a car, she looked back to see her step father slow down and turn to their gate. “See you tomorrow then” she mumbled and turned around walking stiffly home, the second smile of the day wiped off her face.
“Good night, see you tomorrow”, he shouted as she entered the gate of her house alongside her step father’s car.
Walking briskly, she greeted Adamu and barely hearing his response, went into the house. Opening the mahogany side door entrance then greeting her mother then trying to side step her up the stair case.
“Where have you been? I searched the whole house for you dear” scowling at her daughter. “don’t tell me you went walking about the neighborhood like a homeless person??
“Why? I’m here now, and this isn’t my home. I belong ….”
“Don’t you dare young lady; you live in a home now, our home. After all Dapo has done for you, can you still be this ungrateful to throw it in our faces??”
With a hurtful laugh she answered “you or your husband?”
Before Cassandra could respond, Tobi and Bisola ran in.
“Sister Adora, Sister Adora, what did you bring for us?” they chorused, oblivious to the angry currents they walked in upon. Looking up at Adora with the childlike eyes that showed her a lot of love in them, she brought out the biscuits and sweets and handed them two each. They quickly tore open the packs to devour their gifts.
“Hello darling”, she heard her mother kissing him. “How was your day?”
“Cass, mwah, my day was good dear and now, it is better”’ he winked at her. “And how are my darlings doing?” picking up the twins and spinning them in the air.
“yuppie”, Tobi said as his father put them down.
“Again daddy, again”, Bisola squealed.
“Later dear, I would spin you before bed. Adora, how are you?”
“Fine sir” she said. Leaving the room, she closed the door quietly and climbed up the stairs to her room.
“Aahhh, peace at last”, she was in her own space. The room was tastefully furnished and that was something she couldn’t complain about. The pink and brown carpets to the cream and brown wall papered walls, her bed had a cream and pink duvet on it. She had her own laptop with internet connection, bathroom with a sauna and more. Children with this kind of rooms were popular in her class, they had it all or so it seemed.
“Adora, it’s time for dinner”, her mother shouted from down the stairs. She changed out of her school clothes and prepared herself mentally for dinner as she plopped back on her bed and closed her eyes.
“Adora”, she heard a few minutes later. Opening her eyes, she went down the stairs and stopped at the table helping the cook to set the table. The cook came in the mornings, made breakfast and lunch, left then came back to make dinner and went home when all was cleared. Dapo didn’t want any help staying with them except the gateman who stayed in the boy’s quarters. Adora joined the cook to set the table much her mother’s annoyance, she believed since they were now among the rich and famous, they had to act like it.
At the table, they filled their plates with food, Dapo said a prayer and they began to eat.
“So how was your day Cassandra?” Dapo addressed his wife
“Oh, the manager claimed the documentation done by Kemi on the Cameron Securities has loads of errors and I should clean them up and present to him before the end of the week. Imagine that! Twenty large files, to be read, punctuation, grammar and all, whew I don’t even want to think about it now”, she sighed.
“Cas darling, I’m sure you would find your way to work through it”, he smiled at her.
“Daddy, I’m joining the football team”, Tobi said
“Dad, my gymnastics teacher said I’m very good with the cartwheel and better than most in my class. My brownie teacher said we should give our parents this letter”, she hands her father the envelope.
“We are going for an excursion to an SOS village next week so you need to sign the letter for me to return to school”
“Dad, Tobi said, what is an SOS village?”
“Well SOS means Save Our Souls dear. It’s a place where motherless babies and abandoned children are placed till someone decides to adopt them. It is also a place for the less privileged too, so you better appreciate the things you have.” Patting Cassandra’s hand, he said “Bisola, the letter says you are to pay five thousand Naira and bring things to donate. Well this weekend I would put a box in the garage for you to put things you want to give away so you can take to school, ok.”
“Thank you daddy”, they both said
“Remind me tomorrow before going to school to give you the money.
Turning to Adora, he said “Who was the young man you were speaking to outside the gate?”
“A friend”, she answered without looking up. That was the way she had been answering Dapo for years now.
“When did you start keeping male friends?? You are still a teenager. Who are his parents??
Looking up at him she said “human beings”