A few minutes after ten o’clock the woman tapped her driver’s shoulder.
“Drive up to the front of the restaurant, stop in front of that young man.”
At the front of the restaurant, she peeked out of the window and said to the young man, “Will you please come in?”
“I can’t,” the man said, shaking his head. “I don’t know you ma. Maybe you can come back tomorrow?”
The small woman was frustrated, what if she never saw him again? What could she do?
“All right, can we meet in front of that petrol station? My driver will excuse so that we can talk. Is that okay?”
“What do you want ma’am?” the man asked worriedly.
“I need to talk to you please. I promise I won’t take your time.”
The man hesitated for a while and then nodded. “All right madam. You can wait for me there.”
“Will you really come?”
“Yes ma, I will.”
Ifeanyi walked into the petrol station, glad to see that there were floodlights everywhere. A man got out of the salon car that the woman had been in and beckoned to him.
“Thank you for coming.” The woman said. “Please come in Ifeanyi. Abdul, wait for us outside.”
“Yes ma.” the chauffeur replied, bowing slightly.
Ifeanyi got in bedside the woman, immediately captivated by her fragrance.
“Thank you again.” The small woman said.
“You’re welcome ma. What can I do for you please?”
Ifeanyi noticed the woman staring strangely at him. What was her problem?
The small woman observed the young man’s face. Yes, he had her nose and his father’s mouth. How was she to reveal this secret that she had carried about with her for about twenty-two years?
“My name is Agnes Mba and I am your biological mother.”
She saw his face contort with confusion and then amusement.
“Madam, you’re not my mother.” He said confidently, shaking his head in mockery and holding the door.
“I am! Ask your parents!” She said emphatically.
The young man looked at her in pity.
“Here’s my card, call me when you find out the truth. Ask them about Hope Orphanage in 1993, tell them I know Mrs Kachikwu.”
He shook his head with less confidence and stepped out.
Ifeanyi bowed his head and trembled slightly with a mixture of fury and shock.
“Mummy! Daddy! You adopted me? I can’t believe this!”
“We were going to tell you…” His father said.
“When? After I turn forty?”
“Ifeanyi! Don’t speak to your father that way!” His mother snapped.
“I’m sorry sir,” he replied, bowing his head.
Ifeanyi shook his head, his parents had hidden this secret from him all this time, yet they had the gall to feel offended that he had confronted them about it.
“What does the woman want?” His father asked.
“I don’t know.”
“But you said you talked to her?”
“I told her she was lying and got out of her car, I didn’t know I should have listened to her.”
His mother pursed her lips. “My son…”
Ifeanyi gave her a withering look and inched away from her.
His parents looked at one another, Mama Ifeanyi had tears in her eyes. She had known that the truth would come out one day but she hadn’t expected to be rejected by a child that she had showered with so much love.
“Can I go?” Ifeanyi asked angrily.
Mama Ifeanyi nodded at her husband. “Go.” The elderly man said.
Mrs Agnes Abu sat on a high chair, holding her teacup daintily. Beatrice her friend crossed her legs and looked at her resentfully.
“I don’t know why you did this. You didn’t have to go and meet him, not after all these years.”
Agnes took a sip of her tea, savoring the taste to the annoyance of her friend. “You don’t know what it feels like not to know where your child is. The years don’t take away the longing you feel when it’s that child’s birthday. There’s a vacuum inside.”
“And what if this longing destroys your life? What will your husband say?”
“I don’t know, but he’ll get used to the idea.”
“He has cheated on me with countless women, he’s not the only one with a nasty surprise.” She replied, biting into a sugar-coated cookie.
Beatrice took her own teacup and held it to her lips, shaking her head. “You’re risking everything for someone you don’t know. This isn’t wise Agnes.”
“It isn’t wise for you to sleep with those small boys either.”
Beatrice stilled. “Ruin your life if you want but don’t judge me.”
“You started it Beatrice.” Agnes said, sipping her tea.
She sat by her husband’s side folding her hands later that night.
“So you need this young man?” her husband said.
“Yes I do.”
“You kept this secret all this while Agnes…?”
“You kept that little twat a secret from me too, so stop being pretentious. It’s irritating.”
Her husband shook his head. “I don’t think this would work.”
“That’s because you don’t know me. I will make it work… I have to make it work. You know how important this is.”
Her husband held her hand and slowly drew her into his arms.