I stood from my sitting position and looked into the streets from the window.
You have to do something Omoh, you have to do something. You have to do something.
I couldn’t stop myself from repeating the words over and over again.
I rushed out to the bathroom outside the house, took my bath in a hurry and returned to the house. I have to stop pitying myself and believe that Madam Afia will be nice. I checked the grandfather clock on the wall, I had wasted one extra hour crying.
I used the money Madam Afia gave me the previous day to pay for a bike. Bike was more expensive than bus but it was faster. I ran to the home restaurant; I didn’t care if Madam Afia will throw me out or shout at me. I was going to kneel before her and ask for a second chance. Everyone was busy and Madam Afia was nowhere to be found, I looked around in frantic search.
“Hey you, carry that cooler for me,” one of the girls yelled at me. I lifted the cooler immediately.
“Where is Madam Afia?”
The girl gave me the stink eye and continued to order me around. I needed to find Madam Afia or maybe talk to Meefa. I worked so hard from morning till noon when the bustle of the restaurant reduced drastically.
No one was talking to me or giving me any info about Madam Afia’s whereabouts. Meefa sat to eat and I went to sit before her.
“Sorry to disturb you. I haven’t seen Madam Afia since morning.”
Meefa spooned a heap of rice into her mouth, drank some water before nodding her head.
“Why do you ask?”
“She employed me to work here and I haven’t seen her all morning.”
“Madam Afia -for the very first time since I met her – is sick.”
“Oh!” My face must have creased with worry since Meefa touched my hand from across the table.
“She has probably been stressing herself these past weeks. Don’t worry, she will be fine. I am in-charge until she returns. I saw you come late but you should thank your stars she isn’t around.”
“I hope she gets better soon.”
“She will. Madam Afia is a strong woman, even sickness must fear her.” I heard the boast in Meefa’s voice and the smile on her face told me she adored this woman.
Madam Afia returned to the restaurant the next day and I worked more than I did the previous day when Meefa was in-charge. Madam Afia was a slave driver but she makes sure none of us goes home hungry, we ate breakfast, lunch and even took food home for dinner.
I didn’t care if my parents would eat or not. They could go ahead and rot in hell for all I care.
After two months of working at Home Restaurant, I bought a small phone. I began to try the number Nana gave me. Sometimes it would ring, sometimes it would be unreachable. I kept trying the phone number. It was the only way I could reconnect with Nana. I stopped being religious when my mother decided to be the opposite of all religious things. I stopped going to the church too. I wasn’t interested in sitting through any mass or homilies. The whole God concept was looking like another fable and story told to people who wanted it. Couldn’t these people see that Mama and Papa were the incarnate of the devil himself? Or did they just shut their eyes to what was going with each other as long everyone was dressed in fine clothes every Sunday? Fellowship of the brethren my foot!
Mama Fifi, was the only different woman among them. Why didn’t she leave the midst of these hypocrites? What held her down? Why did she believe in these things that don’t exist?
I was angry with God if he exists, angry at my parents and gradually I began to resent Nana for leaving.
It was six months already after Nana left the house. Six months of fending for myself. Six months of attempting to reach Nana.
It was a Saturday evening; I took a stroll to the palm tree close to the village square. The breeze was blowing and I needed every ounce of strength it gave me.
As I got to the palm tree, my phone began to ring, it was the number Nana gave me.
“Who is this?” It was a female voice this time.
“Omoh Kwame, I want to speak with my sister, Nana Kwame.”
I heard the woman shouting Nana’s name, my heart lurched in my chest.
“Nana,” my voice broke. “How are you?”
“I’m fine Omoh, how are you?”
By this time tears had begun to stream down my face. I sniffed the mucus and smiled. “I’m fine Nana. Can you call me with your phone number?”
“Is this your phone number?” she asked.
I nodded then replied, “Yes, please copy it and call me as soon as possible.”
“What about Mama and Papa?”
“Same.” I shrugged.
Nana was silent, then she said, “Hang in there Omoh, I’ll call you soon.”
“May the good Lord keep you always.”
I should have told Nana that I have lost the faith, but I couldn’t give her one more thing to worry about.
“I miss you Nana.”
The line disconnected. I threw my head back and laughed. Finally, spoken to my sister and everything will be fine. Nana always knew what to do, her voice was as lovely as I remembered. I had grown these months; I had become stronger as I moved closer to my 16th birthday. I just knew everything will fall in place.
Here’s Nana Story, against all odds. ❤️