She dropped the receiver in its cradle and held on to the kitchen table for support. She feared that the contents of her stomach would want to be emptied on the kitchen floor and cause a mess. She avoided that by using the cold marble top to guide herself to the sink and let it all out.
She kept her eyes closed so she wouldn’t have to see the disgusting sight and get sicker than she already was. She allowed the cold water to run over her head for a few minutes, willing it to wash away all the thoughts that were rushing through her mind.
“How could Tefa expect me to do this again?” They had been through so much in the past couple of months and she felt they were finally beginning to weather the storm. He said he had gotten a good offer on the house and he had put it on the market. He wanted them to move to another apartment,”a cosier one”, he said. This was their fifth house since they got married. They had lived in this one longest, twenty eight months.
She looked around the kitchen, at the stains on the wall. Each had its own memory, like pictures framed in glass. There was the red stain from when Tefa tried making jollof rice but made a pudding instead, the dark stain from when she almost burnt down the house while starting a barbecue fire. She had learned why barbecues were for outdoor cooking and not indoor. She smiled at the memory. Then there was the blue crayon stain.
She let her eyes rest on the spot, a spot she had trained her eyes to avoid because of the tears it brought back. She starred at it hard enough to jolt the events of that day back to life. The day it all started, the day her life took another turn, the day she stopped living.
Their eighteen month old son had been born after seven years of waiting. He had been everything to them. They named him “George” after Tefa’s dad. He was olive-skinned with brown eyes and the deepest dimples. Maybe he wasn’t the cutest baby in the world, but to them, he was the most beautiful creature God had ever made.
But life just had to remind them that he wasn’t theirs. At least not for long. She hated to think of him that way, but it was the only way to lessen the hurt and pain- to think of her baby boy as a gift life had borrowed her because it had seen how unhappy she was. She had beat herself up a million and one times, telling herself she was negligent, a bad mother, a bad person. If only she had taken God more seriously, if she had shown more gratitude to the big guy up there for sending her an angel- maybe He would have allowed George to sit properly while she baked cookies that Saturday afternoon. Maybe he would even have made George fall into a deep sleep instead of being the hyperactive toddler he was. Maybe he would have warned her to put him in his chair rather than on the table top.
She blinked back to reality. Tears had welled up in her eyes. She walked out of the kitchen, and went to George’s old room. Nothing had changed. Not even the smell of baby powder. The room had become more of a shrine, with memories of his short life.
Now Tefa wanted them to move. Again. George had brought stability into their lives. He had made them a real family. Life after his demise had been mere existence. And just when her life was coming together again, when her garden was finally blooming and her hibiscus was the most beautiful, he wanted her to up and pack. She had loved this about him in their early years – his spontaneity and adventurous spirit. But now her muscles ached from packing and unpacking. She was tired of turning houses into homes and then making them houses again.
Just like her flowers, she had grown roots here and despite all the thorns, remained beautiful. She knew Tefa was worried about her. He feared she needed a change of environment to forget about the past. But she was scared for him more, he needed to stop running. He tried to be strong for her, but he needed to be strong for himself first. He wanted them to move on, to leave the past behind, to forget about their son and start afresh but she couldn’t forget. She won’t forget. Her memories of George had been burnt deep into her memory. Leaving this house wouldn’t change that. Tefa needed to accept his fears. He needed to embrace life. Starting from this house -their home.
She looked at the little bed, neatly made in George’s favourite sheet. She laid on it, hugging his teddy bear tight and nuzzled her nose into his pillow, taking in the scent of her angel. This was her home and this time she wasn’t leaving it.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Piotr Marcinski