BEFORE YOU READ:
Note that most of the conversations between characters in this story are in the Nigerian Pidgin English language.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Diced plantains were hissing in the frying pan, pancakes piled up in a big tray and fried chicken pieces in a small sized pot gave the kitchen a nice aroma which circulated to other parts of the house.
Celine Johnson just clocked eighteen and her siblings planned out a little family breakfast as it was their tradition for birthdays.
“Go wake up your sister” Maria, Celine’s elder sister instructed Quincy, the only boy and youngest child of the family. The three of them would be having breakfast alone as their aunt, Ms. Hannah, didn’t sleep home the previous night.
Their father, Adams Johnson, died fifteen years ago, just two days after Quincy’s birth. His death was due to a fatal accident involving him and an aggressively zooming truck driver that lost control of his breaks. His body was hardly recognizable with pool of blood pumping from inside his damaged Honda Accord. Funny enough, the truck driver survived with little scratches on his legs. He was later imprisoned, sixteen months for vehicular manslaughter, but that wouldn’t bring back the dead or fill the void in the family’s loss, would it?
Paula, their mother, mourned for months and the only form of consolation was the birth of her chubby cheeks baby boy. Two years after the incident, she relocated from Nigeria to the United States to work as a security guard for a water supply company, leaving her two-year-old son and her beautiful daughters in the hands of her sister, Hannah. She had to move in other to get a better life for her kids and herself, as her husband left no valuable possession or money. Her late husband’s family provided for her and her kids for the two years, before she moved to hustle and get her family the life they deserved. She got married to a white man a year after and took in immediately, bearing a beautiful baby girl she named Candace. She constantly sent money to her sister to help take care of her kids and video called as often as possible. The relationship with her kids, however, grew slim as they felt abandoned by their mum. “Y’all won’t understand, but I love and miss you so much, and I wish you were here” she always professed.
Quincy was one who didn’t show any form of love for his mom because he believed she never loved him for leaving him at such a young age. He despised Candace as it seemed she took the mom’s love for him. Quincy is fifteen years old and four years older than Candace. He is an amazing singer and has won a couple of talent hunt competitions. He is currently in SS2 and a very brilliant boy.
Celine is the middle child. she is so pretty, tall and curvy. She finished her secondary school three years ago but hasn’t been lucky with gaining admission into the tertiary institution. She isn’t as brilliant as Quincy, but she scores good grades as well. She is also a content Creator and a lover of the entertainment industry. She sure wants the celebrity life and is working hard to earn it.
Then there is Maria, the first born; introverted and blunt. She isn’t really a definition of ‘pretty’ but has an hour glass shape to compliment. She is twenty-six years old and a graduate from the University of Calabar with a second class upper in Geology. Getting a job hasn’t really been of a bother to her as she prefers having a business and being her own boss. But even that hasn’t been possible as well.
Aunt Hannah, their mother’s elder sister is a singer for a night club and this makes her sleep out most times. She wasn’t privileged to go to school like her younger sister. She chose a wayward path after she got fired from her cleaning job a couple of years ago and decided to use her beautiful voice to earn money for herself. This brought a lot of addictions to herself; she started doing drugs, taking alcoholic drinks uncontrollably and lots more. Paula knew nothing about these, the kids wouldn’t talk about the situation because they didn’t have that connection with their mother.
Aunt Hannah hadn’t returned from her performance of the previous night but the kids had to go on with their family breakfast. “Good morning, sis” Celine greeted Maria as she walked down to the kitchen with Quincy.
“Morning love, happy birthday to you” Maria replied smiling.
They didn’t have a dining room but had three small stools at the corner of the kitchen that formed a semi circle where they usually eat their meals.
“Una go wait small, the dodo never don” Maria said in pidgin.
“Omo, I’ve been receiving birthday text messages from people. I’m tired of replying abeg” Celine complained.
“Na so e dey be” Maria chirped in. “Your birthday, nai you go know say you get people wey love you. Has mummy called you yet?”
“No o, she go still dey sleep sha”
“That her husband sef, only God nai know wetin he dey do her” Maria said as she served the last sets of plaintain from the frying pan.
“Why you talk so?” Celine asked.
“Check am na, everytime wey she call us, the man must dey shout for background. E tire me abeg”.
“I know right? Nai make I no fit marry oyinbo so” Celine concluded.
“Whatever it is, she deserves it” Quincy chirped in. “Thank God I don’t even know her”.
“Would you shut the hell up!” Celine shouted immediately at him.
“You really know how to spill nonsense out of your mouth” Maria added. “She’s not the best mum, we know that, but don’t disrespect her?”
“I’m sorry” He apologized frowning.
Maria served pancakes, fried plantains and chicken pieces accordingly in three round flat plates and passed two plates to her siblings. She then asked Quincy to get the drinks from the refrigerator.
Celine got a lot of messages and calls from her friends that morning but still didn’t get anything from her boyfriend, Jonah, and that worried her deeply. They had a fight some days before her birthday but she didn’t feel it was enough reason for him to be silent on this day. It was her birthday for crying out loud. She was surprised he didn’t wish her well on her special day. Well, it’s still morning, she thought.
Jonah was a banker and an event planner. He is a little shorter than Celine, but he’s quite handsome and living comfortably on his own, even in his late twenties. Their relationship kicked off on Valentine’s day after he sent her gifts and popped the question. It’s four months in the relationship and it’s been toxic. From disagreements to quarrels; and he frequently hits her. He is romantic and loving sometimes though, buys her luxurious things but his anger issues was a big bother to her. Jonah was her first boyfriend and they’d known each other for two years before dating.
She kept starring at their old chats looing to see if a new message will pop up. Jonah was fond of keeping grudges and would never apologize even when he’s at fault.
While they were eating, they heard a knock on the door. Probably, aunt Hannah was back. Quincy hurriedly opened the front door. Uncle Harold, their father’s only brother, was standing with two boxes of wrapped gifts. one of the boxes seemed really small, while the other was as big as a suitcase.
“Uncle Harold!!!” Quincy screamed in excitement as he jumped on his uncle’s chest and gave him a big warm hug.
“How are you my boy?”
“I’m okay, just finished eating”
“Hope you guys kept mine” Uncle Harold said Jokingly.
Uncle Harold was a fashion designer. Even in his early fourties, he was still not married and wasn’t interested in getting a wife anytime soon. He was always pressured by his parents to get married and give them grandchildren. But he’s always had the ideology that there’s more to life than having kids or even getting married. “It’s not an accomplishment” he’d always say. Well anyone would be lucky to have such a man. He was rich, kind, tall, broad chested and so handsome. He certainly didn’t look his age as he was mistaken for Maria’s elder brother most time. He had a great fashion sense and was set to launch his clothing line soon.
“Uncle Harold, migwó” Maria and Celine greeted him in their Urhobo dialect as he walked towards them in the kitchen. Their grandparent’s always ensured they speak their language when they visited. Their maternal grandparents died some years ago and was buried in their village of Awo omàma Umueligbe, in Owerri, Imo state. So the kids were left with just their paternal grandparents.
” How are you?” Uncle Harold asked smiling at the girls.
“We are just here jare” Maria answered.
“Happy birthday Princess Celine” He said as he passed the two boxes to the celebrant, “Unwrap your presents”
“Oh my goodness! Thank you so much Uncle” She unwrapped the big box first and found two boxes of designer shoes; one white sneakers and a pink heeled shoe. “Oh jeez, thanks so much Uncle!!” She shouted amusedly. She unwrapped the smaller box and found a new headphone. She screamed and went in carelessly for an embrace with him. “Thank you so much Uncle”
“You’re welcome sweetie”
“Ehen, thank God o, so you’ll let my headphone rest” Maria said Jokingly.
“Jealousy, Jealousy” Celine sang as she gave Quincy to check out her gifts.
“Where’s your aunty?” Uncle Harold asked referring to Aunt Hannah.
“Oh, she’s not back from work yet” Quincy replied.
“What about your mom, has she called?” He asked.
“I guess she’s still asleep” Celine answered. She wore her shoes to be sure they were her perfect size.
“Maria, abeg cook indomie for me, I’m so hungry” Uncle Harold pleaded “this una side eeh, na so so hold up, shuuu wetin happen?”.
“Wo, the thing tire me sef, road wey dem dey do since last year” Maria responded.
*. *. *.
The clock stroke 11am. Celine hadn’t received any call or text from her mom and her boyfriend. She contemplated calling Jonah and apologizing, like she always did.
Aunt Hannah finally walked into the house with her wig on her hand and her shoes under her armpits strongly supported.
“Ah-ah, my in-law, you dey here” She asked rhetorically to Harold.
“I dey o, I don dey here since morning na because of Celine birthday”
“Eh I even forget, see me, Celine happy birthday my dear” She wished Celine loudly as she walked to the kitchen.
“Thank you, ma”
“Ehen, I don come o, Talk don start, una no go fit stay house make house clean” Aunt Hannah complained “Who put Coke bottle for on top microwave?”
“Oh it’s me, sorry ma” Celine apologised.
“As na your birthday make you try get sense o, cause your own dey your body. Come carry this thing comot here!”.
Celine hurriedly carried the bottle and disposed it.
“Oya, who scatter wrap paper for here? Wetin dey worry una sef” she complained again carrying the gift wraps to dispose.
“I wanted to throw them away before you came in” Celine explained “uncle Harold bought me shoes”
“Forget say na your birthday, you go chop hot slap if you no organize yourself this morning” she warned.
Uncle Harold and Maria burst into laughter in the sitting room. “This your aunty is funny sha” He said mockingly. “No be small, she no even…” She was immediately interrupted by Aunt Hannah yelling her name.
“The plantain wey you peel, na ground e go dey abi?” Maria ran to the kitchen to clean up. Aunty Hannah nagged a lot, and was never satisfied but underneath all that, she was still a very sweet and funny person.
Later that day by past 3 in the afternoon, their mum, Paula, called Celine via WhatsApp.