THE ABANDONED HIBISCUS
Mama used the back of her hands to dry the tears that flooded out her weary and lagged eyes. Her voice drifted out of tune as she folded her arms across her chest like someone suddenly stricken by cold.
Her misadventure sent chills of regret down my spine. “I’ve betrayed true love for material lust”, so I sobbed within myself. Suddenly, a passion and unexplainable emotion erupted in my heart like a volcano; its lava consumed voraciously my lust, and uncovered the crystal veracity of my love for Ekene.
And with tears mama continued: “My daughter! That baby was you. And here you are today, grown fully into womanhood.”
“Hmmmm! (sobbing grievously) Mama, I’m sor…rrr……….r…yyy..y. I had no idea you went through all this.” Tears gushed from my eyes like a heavy down pour.
“Nne, I love you.” I stuttered and laid my head on mama’s lap.
“Nwam! I have always loved you” she replied mild and comfortably.
We didn’t have dinner that evening. We lost appetite gravely and for the first time after twelve years I slept in mama’s room again. It reignited sweet memories.
Morning dawned, and when I opened my eyes, mama was already out of bed. Thoughts paced through my mind as I stared at the rays of sun coming through the window on the east side of the room. I would imagine myself as a princess walking with guards and commanding respect. Spending money anyhow I want and buying all the luxuries of life. Then a voice within me would say: “you are a forbidden princess.”
Finally, I crawled out of bed and walked outside mama’s room. The sunrays peeped through the leaves of juniper, sausage tree and other beautiful ornamental plants around the house and flick over my skin with a heartfelt sensation. As I walked to my room on the north east end of mama’s room, I felt a need to attend to something. “What is it?” I asked and my inner self said: “look again you will see.” I looked, but could see nothing and decided to ignore the urge. As I was about lifting my head up, my sight fell on it; it stared faintly at me like one about to die. My hibiscus flower; Ekene and I planted had planted it a year earlier while I was sick and he said:
“Water this flower, take good care of it and do not let it die. In turn God will take good care of you and you recover quickly.” It did work out.
As I looked at the frail flower, I realized how cruel I have been to it. It’s been long I tendered it. I couldn’t recall the last day I watered it. Likewise to Ekene, I’ve been very bad. The kind of feeling I’d when mama told her story began, but this time it spread evenly all over my body, with exception to my heart where it seemed a coal was afire. At first, the feeling paralyzed me, but then I felt the urge to do something.
I had no idea what I was doing. I rushed and meticulously tendered it; uprooted from the flower, weeds; and push away other shrubs that had over shadow it. Even as I did that, I couldn’t stop crying. My heart prayed that God will speak to Ekene’s heart and make Him see that I love him so much.
Mama dashed into the compound calling my name.. “Ngozi! Ngozi ooooo!”
“Mama what is it?”
She continued. “I just heard from the market that Ekene has travelled to Ghana last night…”
Those words truck me like lightening, my tongue froze and the world halted. Unaware of what was happening to me, she continued.
“At first I didn’t believe it, until his neighbor that sells fish in the market confirmed it.” She took a pause and glanced at me. Then she asked: “my daughter, are you alright?”
An attempt to open my lips sent tears down my cheek, so I just nodded to the affirmative. Mama held me close and told me that everything will be fine, but deep within me I knew things were definitely far from fine. “I’ve lost him.”
The following day, Ekene’s neighbor from the market gave mama an envelope to give me. He didn’t bring it to the market, which was why he couldn’t give it to her yesterday.
“Open it. What’s inside?” I asked anxiously.
Mama opened the envelope and something fell from inside. ‘What’s that?” mama asked.
“I don’t know but it looked like a coin”. I replied
“There’s a later inside. I guess you should read it yourself”
Mama handed the paper to me. I opened it with little expectation for the sight of what apparently was a coin dashed my hope.
You’re the most beautiful flower I’ve ever beheld. Your eyes are colorful than any butterfly. You are the star of my heart and the angel I will always love. You have captured my heart. Besides God, you are my number one.
This may not be a sweet way of doing this; (imagine me on my kneels)
Ngozi! Will you marry me?
If Yes, Wear the ring in this envelope and call the number engraved on it
If no, throw the ring away and burn this letter.
I hope to be back in four months. A serious business has taken me to Ghana.
“Where is it? Where is that ring?”
“What are you looking for?” Mama asked.
“The ring” I replied with my head under the bed, Sweeping it my eyes.
“A coin or ring?”
“Mum, it’s a ring. Ekene has just proposed to me.”
“What!” Mama exclaimed. “In a letter, who has ever done that?”
“Ekene just did and it was so ro..ro…mantic. (I extended my hand a bit and there it was) Yes. Here it is; the engagement ring”
Well, it’s not often that mothers witness their daughters being engaged to. Come give me a big hug dear. I love you.
“Mama, ‘Afum-gi’nanya’. Thank you”.