Yaaay! It’s Saturday, again. For breakfast I am making local (jollof) rice; the one with palm oil, locust beans, dry fish and diced pepper. Not quite bougie, but I know you want it.
Anyways, I hope you had a rewarding week, and are enjoying some quality ‘alone’ or ‘family time’ this weekend.
I began writing a story a couple of months back, and although I haven’t been very committed to it, it’s about half way gone. The story casts the spotlight on the ripple effects of parental choices, dysfunctional homes, and the negligence for mental health care among Christians. Quick warning though, this is intended as a one-off post and not a series, but when the story is complete, you will see it first! I’ll really love to get your comments, opinions or questions. Enjoy!
Hannah smoothed out her skirt as she settled into a couch in the waiting lounge at the Teema Foundation for the Elderly. Nerve racked with anxiety, she tried to focus on the details of her surrounding. Only four weeks had passed since her last visit, yet the lounge had changed so much that she could easily be in a different building. The velvet settees arranged in a U shape had been replaced with chestnut-colored single leather couches that formed a circle. The revolving magazine rack which was usually at the center of the room was gone, in place of it were wall-mounted shelves which also held varieties of pot plants. The walls and drapes were still cloud white with just as many picture frames of nature hanging over them. For an organization like TFE, the decor had to be purposeful and so she wondered what this new look was supposed to say or do to visitors.
For her, velvet or brown mattered little, it was the cheerfulness and warmth of the staff that got to her; they made her imagine a room of her own within these walls. A place of solace, where she didn’t have to know or care about life outside. Parkinson’s or not, these oldies have it good.
Her reverie interrupted, Hannah looked up at the familiar face beaming with a smile, she had not seen her approach. “Hi, Olivia. Is she out now?”
“Yes she is, please come with me” The Hispanic-looking nurse replied.
Following fast behind she gave a little shiver. She knew she looked like a billion-dollar on stilettos, radiating confidence and composure with each heel click. On the inside though, she was scared, nervous, angry, tired, and caving. As she stepped out unto the orchard, on the west wing of the facility, her eyes darted towards the pavilion by the cupid-sculpted waterfall – Doreen’s favorite spot at midday.
“There she is!” said Olivia. “Would you like to get anything from the cafeteria? I can have it sent down to you.”
“No, thank you. I’ll be just fine.” Hannah said hastily and smiled to take the crisp of her response. As she neared Doreen she saw her sister’s familiar smile, sighing, she let a smile creep up her face to match it. It was always a relief to see Doreen. The voices in her head, the monsters that plagued her dreams at night and her thoughts at day time, always gave her a break when she was with Doreen. They were nine years apart but Doreen understood her and could read her just well. She wasn’t just her sister, she was her kindred spirit.
Doreen held up her arms inviting Hannah into a warm embrace. The sisters hugged and Hannah planted a kiss on her cheek. Settling into the wooden chair opposite Doreen, Hannah asked how she was doing. They made small talk about the beautiful weather and the new oldie on Doreen’s floor who had a sleepwalking habit. Doreen described the first night she had bumped into her on the way to the washroom in the wee hours of the night. The sisters laughed themselves to tears.
As the laughter subsided, Hannah clasped her hands on the table and stared past her sister to the waterfall behind her.
Doreen studied her little sisters face. Hannah had always been easily malleable and trusting, she bore no suspicion and could never read between the lines. For such a simple heart, she had grown into a deeply tormented woman. Nine years apart and she was looking just as old as Doreen, her make-up did little to hide it. Her lips were slightly parted and she had a slight crease between her eyes. Doreen clasped her hands around Hannahs.
“Love. What’s on your mind?”
Hannah moved her gaze towards her sister’s face and then their clasped hands. She pulled her hands away to reach for her bag. From it, she brought out a yellow A4-sized envelope and placed it on the table next to Doreen.
“I am leaving him” She muttered. Tears welled up in her eyes and she tilted her face upward to restrain them from draining out.
For a few seconds, there was a pause as the sisters looked at each other, pain etched in their expressions. Doreen stared long at the envelope before lifting her hands to her face with her elbows on the table.
Hannah wasn’t sure how she had expected her sister to take the news of her intended divorce, but it was certainly not this way, the silence was confusing. Then she saw the first streak of tear, and right after it another. Tears flowed down her sister’s face and hands as though they had been held captive for too long.
“No. No. No. I can’t do this” Doreen murmured amidst tears.
“Doreen?” “I thought you’d understand. You’re the only one who could understand. Please… say something to me. Tell me you understand, tell me it’s the right thing to do. Please.” Hannah reached out and drew her hands from her face. She saw raw pain.
Eyes shut tight, Doreen continued to mutter incoherent words, sniffing and weeping. Hannah got uncomfortable, if any of the nurses or staff saw Doreen this way they would ask Hannah to leave. Hannah drew her chair closer to Doreen, placed her head on her shoulder, and rubbed her back gently. As Doreen quietened, she looked at Hannah and said “I’m sorry Hannah, I am so sorry.”
“No Doreen. It is no fault of yours. It is I who should be sorry. I come here all the time to whine and cry when it is you who needs all the attention.”
“You don’t understand Hannah. You don’t. All that you’ve known is a lie. It’s all been a lie, my sweet Hannah. We’ve made you live a lie; mother and I. But I can’t let it ruin you anymore, not you too.”
“What are you saying? I don’t understand, you’re not making sense. What lie? What did mum do?” Hannah asked looking pensive.
Feature photo – iStock