It was well past bedtime when the knock came on her door. She was seated in front of her desktop trying to do some work but was dosing off in the process, so she wasn’t sure if she’d heard a knock or it was something else that had jolted her back to consciousness. She tried to get back to work and then the knock came again. She was sure this time. She called out, “Tare, is that you?” wondering what on earth her daughter was doing up at this time.
“Yes mum,” came the hesitant reply.
“Come in,” she said, urging her daughter in.
Sotie was a hardworking migrant mother of two, a single mum who loved her 2 teenage daughters to bits but had a disagreeable way of showing it. She smothered them with so much “love” that they could hardly breathe. One couldn’t now dismiss the possibility of paranoia because she called her daughters practically every hour, wanting to know if they were fine. She also had a temper that would dwarf that of water at its boiling point. Her mother once told her “Sotie, you’ll send my granddaughters away from home, with your style of parenting.” Funny how it proved true, in time. Last summer, her older daughter Ladoh stormed out of the house after an argument they both had and has been living with her boyfriend ever since. But Sotie still loved and missed her daughter very much.
As Tare walked into her mother’s room, she couldn’t help but wonder if this was the right thing to do, judging by her mother’s reaction in Ladoh’s case. She decided that she was going to tread cautiously. “Mum,” she began, after she was beckoned close, “I uh…..” she started to stammer. Sotie sensed the hesitation and her eyes narrowed. She was always too quick to catch this kind of vibe, even ones that were yet to hit the air. Tare took a deep breath (she was going to spill it out anyhow, heaven could fall for all she cared!) and said, “Mum, there’s a boy at school, who really likes me. He wants us to be more than just friends.” This she blurted out and followed immediately with a heavy sigh of relief.
Now Sotie would, on an ordinary day, have gone off the handle immediately but a glance at the clock (it was past midnight) told her that hysteria couldn’t be more ill-timed. Too, she was fast realizing that that sort of reaction wasn’t working with her daughters. True, they were of Nigerian origin but having moved to the United States in their tender years, this was the only culture they knew. Now sitting before her daughter, the alarmist in her kept saying, “you stupid ungrateful girl. I sent you to school to study and you come here telling me that a boy is interested in you! What! Are you out of your senses?” In any case, on this night, while the struggle between Alarmist and Level-headed went on in her mind, Level-headed held sway. She smiled.
“Wow! Honey, that’s beautiful!
(“What!” exclaimed Alarmist).
Level-headed, pretending not to notice, continued, “You know, dating affords you the opportunity to get to know someone better, especially if you’re hoping he’ll be your Mr. Right. Now, tell me honey, what do you think about him?”
(Alarmist interjected again, “like seriously?! I think I’m having a heart attack!)
“Well, he seems to be a nice guy and I kinda like him,” she said, completely oblivious of the conflict going on in her mother’s head.
“Hmm, that’s not a bad thing, if you manage it well, was Level-headed’s gentle answer.
Tare poured out her heart and Sotie, for the first time, really listened to her daughter. She didn’t know what came over her that night but she was sure that they had struck a chord in each other’s heart. Tare, on her own part, knew that this was not the mother she had known all her life. This one was different and she preferred this one.
After that, they got closer and closer. Sotie would tease her occasionally while they did the dishes together, asking, “so how is Mr. Right today?” and she would say with her happy smile,” Last time I checked, he was still nuts over me.”
One Saturday afternoon, she chanced upon Tare’s phone. Actually, Tare had fallen asleep on the sofa while chatting and the phone had dropped off onto the fine rug lining the floor of their sitting room. She bent to pick up the phone and something caught her eye: it was the last line of a chat that read, “My mum’s my best friend. I can tell her anything. She doesn’t judge me” Her heart melted. She was so beset by emotions she didn’t notice her eyes fill up, only realizing it when she blinked. She said a silent prayer then and thanked God. Something was finally working.
Stealthily easing out of the living room lest she wake the young lady, she prayed again, this time for her older girl, Ladoh. She missed her so much but Ladoh wouldn’t even pick her calls.
She still spoke to her kid sister Tare though – they had a special bond between them as many siblings do, that withstood all pressure from without. Unknown to Sotie, Tare and Ladoh were talking more often these days….
It was Thanksgiving Day and the twosome of mother and daughter sat at the table, hands held together, eyes closed in prayer, grateful for the love they now shared and wishing for the day when this duo would once again be a trio, as used to be….
Then the bell rang. It was a silent question as they looked up at each other, wondering if the other was expecting a visitor. Tare said, “I’ll get it.”
Ladoh was standing at the door, baggage and all, her face covered in a grin. “Hello baby sister.” Tare flew at her, screaming with all of the excitement that she felt. Sotie edged questioningly towards the front door wondering what the commotion was about.
When their eyes met, it was to say how much they had both missed each other and how they both were sorry for the events that tore them apart. Sotie hugged her daughters tightly. This was no ordinary Thanksgiving. This time, their entreaties to God took on new meaning. This was a war where the three of them had all come off victors.