Shouting for joy, I stepped out of the fairly used, grey Mercedes-Benz E 320. "Mama, come and see the new car."
Mama parted the lacey curtains on the door to the living room, her eyes bulging. She inspected the car while my proud gaze followed her, a big grin on my face. My bank account had added more red ink, but the pain was worth it. Mama mustn't hear of it, though.
"You're indeed the Male Girl." Mama caressed my back after going around the car. "I'm proud of you."
"Thanks, Mama. I pray this comforts him." But it wasn't only comfort I desired for my father.
Mama moved back to the porch and leaned on the balustrade, her face preoccupied.
"What's it?" I came closer.
"Your father may receive the car coldly, like he did for the house. That will hurt you. It's better you learn to cope with his rejection than to continue hurting yourself."
I held Mama's hand and leaned against her shoulder. "He appreciated the house, even though he had refused to express it. But the gift gave him something to reflect on. Now with Gilford on the way to jail, Papa will open his heart to us."
"Why not wait till he does?"
"I'm a peace-maker." I winked. "We go all the way out. This car will take away every trace of reluctance and give him the opportunity to acknowledge his wrong without much difficulty."
Mama chuckled disbelief.However, she needed not to believe me yet. I intended to give her more persuasive evidence.
"Besides getting Papa to acknowledge that one girl can be worth a thousand male children, I long to see you two reunite."
More wrinkles seized Mama's brow as she stared at me. "It'll never happen, MG, even if he comes crawling on broken glass. I have no grudges, but there's no more trust. And, what am I doing remarrying at sixty?"
It wasn't the first time Mama mentioned broken trust. Papa had rejected me at birth, even after Mama had risked her life against the doctor's injunction. She'd conceived me with a record of four previous cesareans. Mama had said she had no choice, for her beloved husband hungered after a male child.
The boundless love resulted in a rejection of six of us. Memories I'd often tried to swallow into extinction. But I still felt drawn to my father.
"I don't understand you," I whined. "When Gilford and his gang were arrested, I thought the news would excite you. Instead, you felt sorry for that woman's son."
My complaint was for the sake of it. Mama possessed the kindest heart I'd ever met.And I banked on that fact to get my parents reconciled. Twenty-six years is long, but a good dream fulfilled is worth the wait.
"Why should I rejoice?" Mama replied. "I've healed from the pain."
"I feel sorry for him too." I only wanted to please Mama. "But…um…I'm also glad for the turn of events. Karma is nobody's friend."
To prevent a sermon, I kissed my Jesus freak Mama and mounted the car.
Turning right at Mile 4, Nkwen, I glanced at the yellow Gendarmerie Brigade building housing my lone junior half-brother awaiting trial.
His clique of four had been arrested last week for burglarizing a residence and killing the security guard. A lawyer said either life imprisonment or death penalty expected.Poor father, what pain and shame.
Four blocks down, I parked in front of a white and maroon-colored, three-bedroom building. The house I'd built for Papa three years ago. An unusual feat for a young Bamenda girl. My sweat wasn't only blistering but abundant.
Its elevated roof and sliding windowpanes filled my heart with positive pride. After my parents' reconciliation, Papa would move in with Mama, and I'd possess the house.
Music played inside the living room. Thank God, Papa was in to receive my surprise visit and the august gift. I'd be brief to allow him ample time for an evening reflection.
At the porch, I raised my hand to bang the door. Oh, it was slightly open. I went in.
"Papa, your girl's here."
No reply. Age had taken its toll on Papa's hearing. I turned the radio off.
"Papa," I shouted, "your girl is here."
I tiptoed to his bedroom door and opened it. Bang. Darting eyes, frozen open mouth, and a thudding heart, I stood fossilized for an undetermined number of minutes staring at Papa's cadaver hanging from a rope attached to a loop on the ceiling.A note lay on the bed. Oh, my son.
"He died loving Gilford? Couldn't he live for me?"
I blacked out on the floor, learning my lessons the hard way.
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