Just Us Four

I had to give it up for her. Mom was bold. She was one of the most courageous women I have had the opportunity to know. And although we do not always agree on everything I am still proud to know her. It seems a twist in a tragic plot and I guess it is although at the time, we did not think of it in that way.
I wondered what made Mom so strong and also why Father left us. True, if not for mom’s determination she could not have seen me and my siblings through all these tough growing up years. But she was into politics, which we were all against but it fed us. It fed us but denied us our privacy, it clothed us but left us without a backbone when the media hounded. Mom tried to shield us but only to an extent and then we could not be tied to her strings. However, she kept the sordid little details from us.
The Navy background I had early on served me a little in trying to help myself. I inherited mom’s strong personality because I could walk into any place at any hour and carry on decent conversation and I can only say that I got my stubborn from father’s genes. It has also served me well at times.
On this night, I do not know if it was my will to live to see mom grow old or if I just had to prove a point by defeating death that pulled me through. I only remember that I cheated death with mom by my side and my brothers.
As a security measure, mother installed close circuit cameras around the house and ensured that we all had GPS mobile phones. She came home quite early this night and I was surprised to see her let herself in from the TV in my room so I went to the sitting room to welcome her. I smiled welcome to her because she looked good to me even after all the long hours she had worked.
‘’Welcome mom’’, I said and hugged her.
‘’Thanks my darling’’, she replied. She pulled off her jacket and flopped into a chair. I sat at her feet cross legged and pulled off her shoes. I noticed that mom still had nice legs even after she had to stand and debate. She was not perfect but she would certainly be a nominee for Mother of The Year. But that was to be the least of our worries’.
‘’Mom, how was your day?’’, I asked as I massaged her feet. She smiled and just grunted at me and I knew she was tired. But I wanted her to speak to me. ‘’How many enemies did you make?’’, I persisted.
She burst into gales of laughter. This was better than silence. ’’None! Honestly? Plenty-as usual’’, she replied.
‘’You are home this evening. No engagements?’’, she asked. I could see that I had loosened her tongue.
‘’Mom, the guys have stopped coming because they know that I have YOU as mother.’’ Realising that she was not happy about that statement, I tried this: ‘’Mom don’t take it that way. You look so unhappy. The truth is that they do not need someone smarter than themselves and truthfully, some of them are quite too boring for me. Plus I have a superwoman that can burst their balls if they mess up with me!’’, I said through laughter.
She just had to laugh too. I had taken the sting out of my words. And that much was true only that I had not tested out the true extent of my words. Then suddenly, the playful mood was shattered by miniature bombs-gunshots- and the next few minutes involved life threatening decisions.
The first gunshot kicked us into action and we both scrambled for the light switch to throw the house onto darkness. (We didn’t intend to be easy targets for the shooters). Just then a bullet sliced through the window and mother watched my top stain red. The bullet had caught me in the side but I still managed to put off the light. I sat with my back to the wall and mother squat near me trying to stop the blood by padding me with throw pillows. There was so much blood and I was dizzy.
‘’Mom…’’ she came closer. ‘’Teni and Temi are in their rooms. No light. They’ll wonder what’s happening’’, I said through clenched teeth.
‘’I’ll check on them but don’t you dare die on me. Okay?’’
I nodded.
‘’I’ll be right back’’, she patted my cheek and hurried off. I don’t know how I did it, but I kicked off my slippers to get more comfortable. I held a small pistol in the palm of my hand should any attacker come in. The alarm system was beeping annoyingly. Tick…tick…tick… I tried to use my feet to drag the remote closer but my world slipped away. Mother gave me a sharp slap to jolt me awake. My body was on fire. I was loosing my grip. I dozed off as the twins carried me through the secret exit and lay me on the back seat of mother’s car.
I woke up in the hospital with my side aching but tightly wrapped and I saw a lot of tubes disappear into my body. I blinked to adjust to the semi-darkness but while I was uncomfortable, my family looked calm. Mom smiled.
‘’Mom?’’, I needed reassurance and she squeezed my hand in response and I noticed that she was trying to blink back tears. The twins pecked my cheeks and roughened my hair affectionately. It felt good to be alive.
‘’I’m thirsty’’, I croaked. I felt a straw at my lips. Tiny drops of refreshment. ‘’What time is it?’’, I asked.
‘’Eight p.m fifty-two hours after you gave us a scare. Have an appointment?’’, Teni queried.
‘’You’re kidding right?’’, I started to rise but Temi pushed me back gently. ‘’Sis, no kidding. I see the question. It’s been a scary three days for us and you had us all worried. Don’t you ever try such a stunt again’’, he scolded.
Mom just sat watching us. Tears rolled down my face at the love I saw. I must have really scared them.
‘’You see why we need to take care of you?’’, Teni grinned.
‘’Oops!, the doctor’’, mom announced.
‘’Why didn’t you let me know she was awake?’’, he grumbled. ‘’Young lady, you gave us quite a scare but your condition is now stable. It seems though that you are not-‘’. I cut him off as he noticed my tears.
‘’No, I’m alright’’, I assured him. I needed my wits about me since I did not particularly like hospitals, and had no intention of taking tranquilizers. I even tried a smile but didn’t quite make it.
‘’That’s good. But-‘’, he turned to mom,’’-Allow me to do my job. I’d call you in when I’m through’’, he said as he ushered them out leaving me no choice.
He did the routine check to make sure I was functioning fine and then left me with the warning to concentrate on getting well. They all filed in again.
‘’Mom are you sure you wouldn’t quit after this?’’, Temi asked.
‘’I might. I am thinking of that but first some things have to be in place.’’, she replied thoughtfully.
After three weeks minus 2 days in the hospital, I returned home almost as good as new. I turned ‘ninja’ when I needed to stroll out of the house before the bandages were removed, so people did not recognise me. It was fun being anonymous. Mom continued her job and I continued my life. We started a ritual of hugging every night before going to bed. I felt it was silly but I also felt reassured. Mother returned my pistol after my total recovery and when she had a lull in her schedule, we went vacationing.
I did the Islamic ‘ninja’ cover up to the airport and it was fun this time. Mom felt I was trying to avoid someone. I still relish seeing the shock on the faces of the muslims when I pulled off the hijab on the plane. I wanted to show what I had in my tight jeans and fitted top!
I sipped a cold orange drink as the plane taxied…

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