Life

O Be Careful What You Wish For…..

Thank God for phones because nothing freaks me out like a guy openly telling me to my face that he likes me. This one time in my senior six vacation, I went for one of those US-funded workshops for youths. I was speaking very boldly and confidently all day. At the end, this guy walked up to me and asked for my number. I kid you not, I nearly passed out. I froze and got close to getting a panic attack. The guy noticed and motioned about thrice for me to breathe. He looked me in the eyes and gestured with his hands for me to calm down.

Lucky for me, Bella came and grabbed my hand. She pulled me in a circle where they had gathered for a closing prayer. I followed her gratefully. Once again, my life had been saved by prayer. Though the guy hang around and later followed up with the number, at least I was now a lot more composed. However, my troubles with guys started from way back.

This one time, our home was hosting a team from abroad. This was not news; over the years, we had hosted and dined with teams from allover the world: Russia, France, America, Canada, Britain, Scotland, Hong Kong, Isreal – you name it.

As was the norm, we cleaned, mopped and scrubbed everything and everywhere, days in advance. Truth be told, the cleaning we did was next level. If we could mop the sky and iron the grass, I’m certain mom would have made us do it. Mom was very excessive with hygiene and sanitation.

With time, we got used to hosting certain age groups. We mostly hosted people between the ages of thirty and sixty. I had no fault with them, honestly. They were all always humble, nice, kind, funny and generous. However, deep down, I always wished to host people within my age-range. I was twelve years old at the time. O be careful what you wish for, cause you just might get it.

Cooking is mom’s area of expertise. She had special recipes for preparing all the foods. To this day, I know very few people that can contend with her. She was simply the best. Often times, by 11:00am or earlier, all the delicacies were ready. Everything inside and outside the house was spotless.

Usually, their arrival time was half past midday. However, this particular time, the team delayed and showed up at 2:00pm. We were exhausted and ravenous. On their arrival, my elder sister Jasmine went to bring the guests home.

At this point, mom was rushing. She asked me to help. She placed the food in the serving dishes as I held the covers. Just then, one of our brothers outside rushed back inside announcing, “They have arrived, they have arrived!”

All was well until I looked at the door and saw for the first time who our guests were.

One container cover slipped so I tried to grab it before it fell, but I wasn’t swift enough. As I picked it up, another fell. The moment I had retrieved them, three others fell. It was just so mortifying. To save me the embarrassment, Sheila reached out and took the covers from me. “Put the rest on the cupboard,” she said. I did.

Because they showed up a bit late, we did not have the time to take the guests through our albums or give them a tour of the house; instead that was scheduled for later after lunch. We just introduced ourselves with warm smiles and then showed them to the kitchen to wash their hands.

From the time I noticed our guests at the door, I made it my duty to avoid them. One of them, Lucas, was slightly older than me. Matter of fact, I avoided Lucas like he had a plague. He was the reason I had dropped the container covers. Making eye contact was traumatizing enough.

Food was for self-service. I went to the sitting room and got busy doing nothing. Eventually, after everyone else, I went and served myself food.

My sister Jasmine and brother Arnold sat at the table with mom and the guests. We trusted their table manners and social skills. The other six of us sat in the sitting room. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s where all the fun, gossiping and whispering was. Plus we didn’t have to speak English. We were just in our own world.

After the meal, the guests took a tour of our home and viewed our albums.

They were laughing, asking questions and telling stories. At some point, I disappeared to the kitchen and washed utensils. Once in awhile, mom came to the kitchen to check on me. She was pleased that I had volunteered to help. We were supposed to be engaging the guests, yet there I was, hiding. First, I was not the one supposed to wash the utensils. Two, we always washed the utensils after the guests had left. Yet I would have mopped the ceiling if I had to. Why was I running?

Lucas had come with his dad and younger brother. Their dad was a pastor. From the kitchen window, I noticed Lucas, his brother and my brothers playing soccer. From the shouts and laughter, it’s obvious they were having such a wonderful time.

Later, when I had run out of excuses to stay in the kitchen, I had no choice but to join everyone else. Somehow, Jasmine had told the guests that she’s a dancer. Lucas’ dad asked her to dance for them. She said she couldn’t dance alone, so that’s how all the girls ended up dancing that day, on camera- I hope that video footage gets destroyed someday ’cause that was social suicide for me.

Before their departure, the guests opened their bags and handed over presents for all of us. We then took several pictures with them.

Next, we took them for a tour around the community. Before they bid us farewell, we took more pictures. I still have those pictures to this day….of me standing awkwardly next to Lucas. But that white teenage boy, I will never forget.

The other teams that had dined in other homes later showed up at the buses as well. We later waved them off as they were driven away.

When Thelma and I got home, we nearly found the house empty. Everyone had gone away, except for mom and Sheila. Sheila was at university at the time. I too later left to hang out with my friends.

On my return, I only found mom in the house. She leaned on a chair at the dinning table and asked if I was okay. I told her that I was. She also commented on the very little food I had eaten at lunch time. Wait, what? I ate little? Damn, I had not noticed. Then ensued a very uncomfortable topic were she told me it was okay to like boys -as long as I didn’t do anything about it.

If my memory served me right, two boys from class had passed by the week before when I was washing on a Wednesday evening. We were just having a normal conversation. My blouse was open at the front so it was revealing when I bent down. It was sort of illegal to speak to boys at that age, so I continued washing. It would have been odd for me to pause and completely give them my attention.

I was however very uncomfortable and had to continually adjust my shirt. Mom, whom I thought was sleeping, spotted them from her bedroom window and angrily chased them away with murder threats. She told them never to return to her compound. Yet here she was, telling me it was okay to like boys? Unbelievable.

The End.

Disclaimer: The names that feature in this story are fictitious. They were made up to protect the identity and privacy of those involved.

We would love to hear from you. Write to us: echoesovercoffee@gmail.com

Leave a Reply