Ada was lying on her bed when Ifeoma knocked on her door. She stood up, looking surprisingly at the door. That was strange, nobody ever knocked on anybody’s door in this house. Something was wrong, she was sure.
She walked up to the door and opened it, not knowing what to expect.
Her mother was facing her; they stared at each other for some seconds and the older woman walked into the room looking around the room like she was seeing it for the first time.
Ada continued to stare at her even as her mother sat on her bed.
Ifeoma looked intensely at her from the bed, “Have you been crying? Your face looks swollen.”
“No mum but…”
“It’s okay, you just have to brighten up… sit down, I will like to chat with you.” Ifeoma quickly said.
Now this was definitely strange. How was Ada going to have a mother daughter chat with her mother? That would be weird; she had never seen her from that angle. What will they talk about? This was something she wasn’t used to and didn’t even know what to say. She would have taken it easier if her mother had come to shout on her and call her names for being pregnant.
Something wasn’t just right, Ada noted. She sat down, looking at her palms.
“For how long now have you noticed that you were pregnant?” Ifeoma softly asked.
This melted Ada’s spirit. She looked up at the older woman and surprisingly could hold the stare. She suddenly saw herself as a child, “I have been late for three days and it has been bugging me.” She replied, her eyes pleaded for help.
Ifeoma could see it.
She felt really bad all over again. She didn’t even know the dates that surrounded her daughter’s monthlies. What kind of mother was she? What good was she then expecting from them if she couldn’t just play her part as a mother?
But she was a bit hopeful that Ada might not be pregnant after all. “What has been bothering you for the past three days? She asked.
“I don’t know mum, I …”
“Don’t be afraid, I won’t scold you,” Ifeoma encouraged her.
“I had unprotected sex with… my boyfriend the last time I wasn’t safe and it had gotten me scared all these while; I have been anticipating my period even before now.”
Ifeoma continued to stare at her, but there was no trace of anger in her face. “Ada, I must be honest, I have always suspected that you were sexually active and I am very sorry that I didn’t do anything about it. The problem now is that you are doing it without protecting yourself. Why are you taking such risk?” she gently asked.
“I… I don’t know mum, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
“You are too young to make sex your priority; you obviously cannot handle it. As you can see it is capable of distracting you from your focus in life and by the time you know it, it is already too late as time waits for no one.”
Ifeoma really felt good saying those words to her. “Now you are not even protecting yourself, you could contact HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Presently, pregnancy could be knocking on your door. I am sure that you can now see that the risk you have been taking is not worth it.”
Her words were really affecting Ada. Painful tears started to flow from her eyes, “I am very sorry mum, I didn’t know what got over me. I didn’t think anybody cared and got carried away by frustrations. I allowed myself to be deceived by Mike and…” her sobs couldn’t allow her finish.
Ifeoma could now see it, there was an unconscious and uncontrollable desire in her that wanted her to hurt her parents for neglecting her, and the best way was by hurting herself. None of this was actually Ada’s fault, she thought, she and her husband were to blame.
“It’s okay now,” she said and held her onto her bosom, it felt good to have her baby back. “I promise that you won’t feel neglected again, I will always be here for you. Don’t cry.” She allowed Ada to cry for some time, “Now I want you
to promise me that you will start acting accordingly, No more missing lectures for anything, you party with only my permission, I want to know who your boyfriend is, bring your friends home and make me a part of your life. Can you do that?”
“Yes mum, I will try,” Ada answered, wondering how she could fulfill the promise.
“Don’t worry, we will work together to bring you to the right path, and I will also like to learn some new tricks you girls have nowadays, you know I am already old fashioned?”
This got Ada smiling, “You are not old fashioned mum, you are still young and beautiful,” she said, surprised at how easy that came out from her mouth. This wasn’t going to be difficult after all.
Ifeoma sighed heavily, “Ok, I want you to have a rest, relax you mind and allow nothing to trouble you.” She stood up and headed for the door, she remembered that Ada’s mobile phone was still with her since Benson had given it to her to read the dreadful text message. “I wouldn’t like to see something that might spoil my day,” she said as she handed it back to her. “I will be preparing food for everyone with your dad in the kitchen.”
Now this astonished Ada, “With dad?” she asked.
“Yes, and I will call you when we are through.” Ifeoma winked at mum and shut the door behind her.
The mobile phone rang in Ada’s hand just as her mother closed the door; it was Mike.
“I really can’t talk to you now,” she spoke to the phone without interest. “Yes, I said I will come but I didn’t and you’d better start getting used to that,” she rudely spoke to the obviously angry Mike at the other end. Some she felt good, she finally could say how she felt or what she wanted without fear of rejection.
John gently raised his head when his dad walked into his room. He had been sleeping but was already awake minutes before the older man entered. To Benson, he looked like someone who was tired of life. That wasn’t a welcomed development, he thought.
John slowly sat up as he entered, looking at him suspiciously. He couldn’t understand why his father was in his room. But Benson wasn’t looking angry and that helped calm him down a bit.
Benson sat down beside him, an awkward moment of silence lingered. He couldn’t help but stare at John’s childhood picture on mini drawer beside John’s bed. He stretched his hand and picked it up, looked at it, smiled slightly and dropped it back. “You know I attempted smoking when I was quite young.” he was gentle, John listened. “I really didn’t want to do it, but then, my friends would think that I was too dull and wouldn’t want me to continue to be their friends again. I wanted them to like me. I was so young and inexperienced and my need to belong misled me into putting up with the wrong friends. But then my grades began to depreciate and luckily for me one of my teachers called me to order. He made me realize that I was following the wrong path and I knew that my dad would be very disappointed in me if I didn’t change.
Do you know that most of those boys were expelled? Some destroyed their bright future just for a few minutes of satisfaction. I even heard one of them became addicted to drugs and is presently in a psychiatric home now.”
John shifted uncomfortably on the bed.
“And if I hadn’t changed from bad ways, I wouldn’t have been able to have a wonderful family and even be able to carter for them.” He stopped and stared directly at John “Why did you do it son?”
John looked up into his dad’s face in confusion. He didn’t answer the question.
Then in a very soft tone, “Why did you make the choice to start smoking at a very young age?”
“I… I don’t know dad. My friends were doing it and… just like you, I wouldn’t be their friends if I didn’t join them.” John stammered.
“But didn’t you know it was wrong?”
“I… I knew it was wrong dad but… I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I was afraid of losing my friends and doing it felt right even though I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t talk to you or mum and my teachers are always mean; I couldn’t
possibly talk to them without getting my friends into trouble.”
Benson sighed “I am really sorry son for not being there for you. But always remember that there must come a time when you must make decisions on your own even without the presence of a guardian. You must know how to make the right decision for the sake of those you love and those who love you. The fact that you are just 14years old does not mean you should not be wise in making tough choices”
“I am 15 dad,” John injected, but with a smile. He was already overwhelmed with the way his father was talking to him.
“Fifteen? Wow!” Benson was really surprised. When did you get to fifteen? My little boy is almost a man,” he said, hitting John lightly on the head. “But seriously, you must learn not to be afraid of your friends leaving you and most importantly, you must learn not to be afraid of making the right decision.”
“But how do I know I am making the right decision dad?” John asked with a childish innocence written all over his face.
Benson saw it and felt worse. How had he allowed this young man wonder off all alone? “We all have conscience son and we always know when we make the right choice. And if you are confused about making any choice, come to talk to me.”
“But you are always at work dad.”
“I promise you that as from today I will always be there for you to talk to. Don’t worry about my work; I will work out something that will be fair to every one of us.”
“Thanks dad,” John said. He was deeply glad.
Benson stood up and stared at him for some time, “You know I can’t believe how big you have grown. Just yesterday you were my little boy and it hurts me to realize that I have missed out throughout your period of transiting into a man.”
John smiled sheepishly.
“I know at this stage in life you are filled with so much energy and excitement about finding out much about yourself and the world at large. You are filled with so much curiosity and you will want to do everything and feel like an adult. But
remember that you must be responsible to make the right decision and be mindful of the information you get, how you get them and what you do with them. Do you have a girlfriend?”
John looked sharply at him, “No”
Benson regarded him for a while, wondering what he was doing with a sachet of condom.
“Girls don’t like me and I am scared of talking to them” John found himself saying.
“That’s not true; you are a very handsome young man. You see, girls like intelligent and confident men. That’s why you must concentrate on your studies and build your self-confidence as you discover your strengths. All these you can’t
achieve by missing classes. You must be focused and know what you want. And by the time you know it; you will have as many girls as you want. But you must realize that for you to indulge into intimate relationship you must be matured and
responsible. You are way too young to even start thinking about that. Right now your only priorities are your studies.
If your friends can’t accept this decision then you leave them. People will respect you more when you make the right choices always; you are only a fool when you always make wrong choices. Thank God you were even thinking of protection,
but can you handle the consequences? No. it will only succeed in distracting you from your studies.” Benson preached.
“I am sorry dad,”
“I want to trust you to make the right decision and talk to me when you are confused. I want you to promise me that you will concentrate more on your studies and make better grades this term. Will you do that?”
“Yes dad, I promise,”
“On your own, you must know how to handle your friends. I won’t follow you to school to stop you from being their friend, but you must know what to do to make you a better person from now on. No more smoking, no thinking about sex and always study your books.”
“I believe we are all starting afresh. Please do not disappoint me.”
“I won’t dad.”
Benson walked out of the room leaving John feeling more relieved than ever.
Ifeoma was very busy in the kitchen that she didn’t notice her husband standing at the door, and carefully observing her.
“How did it go?” he asked.
She quickly looked behind her, “Oh, you startled me,” it was not every day that her husband comes around to meet her in the kitchen. “Well, the response was fine and I am glad I talked to her, I don’t really think she is pregnant, she is just anxious that all.”
“Wow, that would be a great relieve. I had a long talk with John. Hopefully if we play our parts right as parents from now, we will witness a positive change in them soonest.” He slowly walked up to her and held her by her waist, “What are
you preparing” he asked in a soft husky tone.”
“Your favorite, do you want to join me?”
“Of course…” he looked at her deeply in the eyes “Do you remember when we used to cook together?”
“Yes, it was one of the memorable times of my life,” Ifeoma replied as she chuckled and laughed out softly.
“Then the kids started coming. And we shifted focus from us to them.”
“We wanted to give them the best in life but we had to go through a lot of pressure to keep up our desire.” His wife added.
“As a result of this pressure we lost communications not only between the two of us but even between the kids.” Benson put in again.
Ifeoma maintained her husband’s stare, “And this is where it has gotten us to.”
“It’s about time we have a real family, you know,”
“Yes and thank you very much for coming back to us, I have missed you,” she whispered as they both shared a warm make up kiss.
Linda was sitting in her room, still wondering what she was going to do about the key in her possession. She was really scared and needed someone to talk to. The only person she could think of was sister Ada. Linda had never been in this kind of
situation before and right now the only choice she felt she had was to talk to either of her siblings.
She was sure they would get angry with her and blame her for causing them to get into trouble with dad, but she’d rather prefer making them angry than having her dad mad at her, not even today. Beside if she could tell them, then automatically she wouldn’t be alone in this crime, they would all be in it together.
With the bunch in her hand, she hurried into Ada’s room.
Wow, she looked different; Linda noticed but couldn’t really explain what was different about her. There was just nothing to fear in those eyes. In fact from this new look of hers; Linda instantly knew she could confide in her.
Ada just stared at her, expecting her to say something.
“The key is with me” the little girl cried.
Ada’s eyes opened up wider in shock. “You have been with the key all these while?” she asked, obviously trying to understand what her little sister was up to.
“I didn’t know I was with it, I must have ‘sleep walked’ it into my bag last night before going to bed last night.”
John must have heard them from his room, because he rushed out of the room to make further enquiries. “Did I hear you say you have the keys with you?” he asked as soon as he approached them from behind.
“Yes, I mistakenly put it in my bag while parking my books last night before going to bed.”
“But why didn’t you bring it out all day?” Ada asked.
“I found out when it was already too late and I was scared of letting anyone know.” Tears filled her eyes.
But surprisingly, they were staring at her thoughtfully, no mean face and no rude words.
“What do we do now?” John asked Ada.
We? Linda wasn’t sure she heard him right.
“Give it to me, mum and dad are in the kitchen right now and once they are through they will call us to eat. I will open up that I am with the key.” Ada looked at the little girl and drew her closer, “Stop crying, dad is not going to be mad at you. “
Linda later went back to her room to lie down; feeling like a heavy burden had been taken away from her. She couldn’t believe Ada was going to take the blame on her behalf. She resolved that she wasn’t going to allow her to do it.