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Simi couldn’t do this. She’d thought she could, but she was ready to pack her things and go back to PH. The only problem was, there was nothing to go back to. She had resigned from her job and packed up her life into her Toyota Matrix. She knew that she needed to find a way to make this work. However, standing there in the kitchen and facing her grandmother, fondly known by her neighbours as ‘Mama Rose’, Simi was fresh out of ideas.
They argued about everything and it seemed to her that Mama did not appreciate her coming back. They were having another face off, this time about church. Come to think of it, they mostly argued about Simi’s refusal to have anything to do with Church. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in God; she was a believer, but she had gotten tired of the hypocrisy that was synonymous with organized worship.
“Mama, I am not following you to church.”
This was the church she’d been attending when she still lived in Jos. The same church she was to have had her wedding. They’d had a front row seat to her humiliation and nothing was going to take her back there. Her grandma would have to wrap a chain around her neck and practically drag her there if she wanted her to go.
Simi’s grandmother pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. It was a look that used to put the fear of God into her and her cousins when they were younger and Simi felt her legs tremble a little. But she was not going to be intimidated. She weighed more than the woman for goodness sakes!
“You’ve been here for one month and I’ve just been looking at you,” she began, eyeing her granddaughter from head to toe as she spoke. “No husband, no job and no God and you’re raising shoulders feeling good with yourself. You need help.”
Simi went cold. It was as though the old woman had physically delivered a resounding slap across her face. No…this was what they called a ‘backhand.’ She felt her eyes sting with unshed tears. This was just too much.
“Mama how can you say that? How can you be so wicked?” She felt tears trickle down her face and swiped at them in annoyance. “You know what happened…if Lucas hadn’t done what he did barely one week to our wedding I would have been married…”
“Dan anebi!” Mama Rose threw her hands up in exasperation as she called upon the prophets for help. “So Lucas cheated on you, shine menene? So what? That boy begged you with everything he had, and you refused to forgive him. It has been five years…shakaru biyar!” She held up a hand with five fingers splayed open. “And you are still here talking about what Lucas did or didn’t do. You need Jesus and you’re going with me to Church.” She stated with finality.
Simi watched her grandma walk out of the kitchen and she just stood there rooted to the spot. The pain was as fresh as the day it happened. She had done her best to forget about Lucas and the humiliation she’d suffered in his hands, and for five years she’d done a good job of it. Why had Mama brought up the subject?
Looking around the immaculately kept colonial style kitchen, she wondered not for the first time, if she had made a mistake in coming back home. She’d gotten a call from one of her grandma’s church friends that mama had been diagnosed with cancer and she’d given up her life to come home and take care of the woman who had been there for her when she’d lost her parents.
But if she were honest with herself, Simi knew that mama did not need her. Her grandmother’s life was tied up in church. If she wasn’t at the women’s fellowship, she was at one meeting or the other. The old woman lived a full life and she seemed happy and at peace.
Simi paced restlessly. She knew what it meant to have that peace that was so deep, nothing seemed to shake it. She’d had it once too, before Lucas. She had not really realized how much of the peace she’d lost, but living with mama brought it all back.
Somehow, she wanted what the old woman had; that calmness and sweet confidence. But she did not know how to go about recapturing that part of her anymore. She did not want to live mama’s life either. Simi didn’t think she could fit into that Church lifestyle anymore. She knew however, that if she wanted to reach her grandmother, she would have to be proactive, even if it meant attending church with her. She couldn’t just give up even though she knew that the old woman was doing her best to get her to do that, almost as though she was just waiting for her granddaughter to take off again.
“Well, I will show her that we are made of the same material.” If it took going to Church to get through to the old woman, fine. “But the next time she attacks me like that, I’m going to have something to say to her.”
“I’m sorry I hurt you.”
Simi took her eyes off the road for a few seconds to glance at her grandmother. She was looking contrite and more like the sweet old woman she knew. With a sigh, she turned to face the road again.
“Should I expect more of this Jekyll and Hyde stuff mama?”
“You know, you have so much going for you and to see you throw it away like that…”
“Aha! I knew it wasn’t going to last.” She drove into the Church compound, pulled into a free parking space and turned off the engine.
There was silence in the car.
“Lucas attends this Church.”
The words were spoken quietly, but they rang in Simi’s ears. She turned in shock and looked into the kind eyes of her grandma. She tried to speak, but couldn’t because her throat had suddenly gone dry. She swallowed and tried again.
“Mama, I can’t do this.”
The older woman reached out and laid a firm hand on her arm, never breaking eye contact. “You can do this, Simi.”
Simi was shaking her head, her heart pounding in her chest. “It’s too soon.”
“It’s been five years.”
Ha! What her grandma didn’t know was that an eternity would still be too soon.
“You are my granddaughter and the women in our family are strong. You will walk in there with your head held high and nobody will know how you feel. Is that clear?”
Simi gazed at her for a moment, drinking in the quiet assurance on her face. She shut her eyes tight. She was Simi Japheth. She could do this. She opened her eyes and nodded.
“Good because Lucas just drove in with is daughter. Let’s go.”
Without giving her a chance to respond, Mama Rose opened the door and stepped out of the car. Simi took a few minutes to tamp down the panic. What was the big deal anyway? Why was she behaving like such a brat? Five years was enough to get over anybody and she was so over Lucas Feng. She just needed to convince her racing heart of that.
“Get out of the car and stop wasting time girl.”
“I’m coming,” she muttered. She took a deep breath and let it out before stepping out of the car. It was time to face up to her past.
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