The Cradle 3
Awe by Asa
Think of the flow of traffic right before or after the rush hour craziness.
Cars speeding up and down the freeways.
My emotions were as such.
Racing through my veins. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
I looked over to David, my eyes full and wide.
I could somehow see clearer now. If I could reach up and slap him from my bed, I would have.
Betrayal and anger were the two dominant emotions I was feeling at the time.
My own son had brought the source of my pain right to my bedside but I was also angry because I had never told him the truth.
So how was he supposed to know?
Know all that this man, his father, had put me through.
This man was the reason for our struggle. When I married him, I didn’t sign up for this.
I didn’t sign up to be a single mother or to barely make it from paycheck to paycheck.
I did not sign up for lying in a hospital bed trying to recover while wondering where our next gallon of milk was going to come from.
Now here he was.
The one thing that embodied the past I so desperately wanted to get away from.
Seven years of running and it still caught up to me.
Angela and Amanda stood shocked for a few minutes before snapping back into reality and approaching their father to give him a hug.
He smiled as he greeted them.
They all broke out of the hug and looked at me.
Everyone waiting for my reaction and I kid you not, my heart was in overdrive trying to catch up with my brain.
My brain was calculating all sorts of potential outcomes. I even considered running out of the room.
I was scared that after all these years, if I opened my mouth to speak, I would choke and it would sound horrible.
So I paused and I closed my eyes.
I took in a deep breath and said a quick prayer.
I slowly opened my eyes and said
“Can you guys give us some privacy, please?”
Awkwardly they all filed out of the room. Rotimi began to do this thing that he did when we were married, he slowly paced.
Angela was the last to leave the room, she flashed a smile my way before closing the door.
Rotimi walked to the window and pulled down the string. The blinds closed and he turned around and said
“Well this is certainly not under the circumstances I imagined us seeing. How are you feeling?”
I took that deep breath. You know the kind you take when someone asks you a stupid question and you are trying to compose a non-disrespectful answer.
“I’m feeling much better. Thank you.
Rotimi, what are you doing here?”
He smiled. That sly annoying smile he always had when he felt in charge
“Well, I heard you were sick and needed some help with taking care of the bill after you get discharged. So I decided to come down and help”
“I don’t need your help.”
I immediately clapped back at him.
He paused with that same expression on his face and said
“After all these years, you’re still angry at me. I’m just trying to work things out and see if we can move forward from everything that happened and you’re still holding on to the past”
I sat up straight. Blood boiling, I launched into attack
“Now you want to fix things. You hear I’m sick and now you want to fix things.
After spending years, harassing and threatening me with lawsuits and taking my kids from me, now you want to fix things?
Go and fix things with the woman living with you….. Oh, you thought I didn’t know??
People are watching you.
I don’t even care. I just want to be left alone.
As you can see, I didn’t turn your children into hoodlums or prostitutes and your name has been protected. So please leave me alone…..”
I stopped and went right back into it
“And how dare you tell me to forget the past?
After all you put me through???
Everything you did to me Rotimi?
You almost broke me.
The past that you want me to forget so much is what informed what is now the reality for my children and I. So please do away with your memory loss and leave me alone.
I don’t hate you but I sure do not want to have anything to do with you again.
You have your relationship with all your children and that’s enough. So just leave me alone”
The smile on his face was gone.
He had a look of surprise written across his face. He didn’t think I knew about his new piece.
My friend Lekan had told me that she moved into the home a few months back. I could care less really but him coming here and pretending to care was driving me insane.
“Linda, I’m not here to fight.
I thought I was helping by paying for your bill and coming here”
“Rotimi, please stop right there.
You see these children; I have raised them all by myself for the past 7years and I haven’t taken a dime from you or anyone in your family.
There will be a bill and I would work my ass off to pay for it.
Keep your money.
I don’t need it and your children sure don’t. They have never had any reason to lack.”
He smiled and said
“That’s not what I have heard for the past few years”
“Get out Rotimi!
I yelled out at him.
He was taken aback.
He slowly got up as I continued to yell. He had both of his hands up motioning that I calm down but I wasn’t having it.
The door burst open and there was Angela with Amanda following in closely behind her.
“Get out of here you selfish bastard!”
I didn’t even caution myself in front of my children as David made it into the room last.
Rotimi was still in shock but Angela came close to him and said
“Dad, please leave”
He looked at me with confusion.
I was already crying as he walked out.
David stood there in confusion as to what had just happened.
He looked at me, and then back at the door his father had just walked out of and suddenly darted out of the room following his father.
I slumped into the bed with tears streaming down my cheeks.
Amanda and Angela looked at each, a look of deep confusion boldly displayed on their faces.
If I were a betting man, I would say their expressions read “WhatTheHeckMan”
Both my girls didn’t say anything and even David did not speak when he returned.
The room was dead silent all night and I just processed.
The next morning, the doctors came in and prepared me for the OR.
A few hours later, I was wheeled back out.
I was told that I had been under for most of the day. It was night time when I woke up.
I opened my eyes and I could feel the pain.
Parts of my abdomen felt really sore.
But as I comprehended the pain, the drip released more of the medication into my system.
My body almost felt a jolt. The pain eased but the most important one was still very present; in my heart.
I just started to cry.
I hated how much I loved him.
After everything, I still loved him.
Why is it those that are the most undeserving that we love the most?
After all these years, even as I yelled at him a few days before, a part of me just wanted him to hold me and everything go back to the way it once was.
But I knew what the reality was and I think that was part of why I began to cry.
Loving and holding on to him was part of the reason why I couldn’t move on.
It was the reason why I shied away from love of any man that wanted to show me love.
I depended so much on the memories of what we had.
His appearance and attempt at reconciliation was going to change the narrative.
I couldn’t risk the narrative being changed.
He wrong me, I hated him. That was how it worked.
And then I started to question myself, was I truly being a good Christian if I still hadn’t forgiven this man.
If I hadn’t let it all go. What was that saying to my children?
Even though I had shielded them away from all that happened, holding the hurt was hindering me.
I knew I needed to forgive but whenever I was about to, I remembered an incident that had refueled my anger.
It was Amanda’s sophomore year in school.
I had returned home from my first job and was resting on the couch as I readied myself to head out again. My shift at my other job started in a couple of hours.
My kids knew the drill.
Do not disturb mummy while she rested. That meant that anything that wasn’t health, church or school related could wait till I was actually free.
Amanda burst through the door and she courtesy as she greeted me.
“Good afternoon mummy.”
“Good afternoon baby. How was school?”
She immediately went into the refrigerator where she responded
“It was okay. Same ol.
How was work?”
I smiled and said
“It was okay my dear. Thanks for asking”
She continued to ruffle through the kitchen as I figured she was making her regular snack.
As she was done and heading towards her room, I said
“Did you turn the light off?….. because when they bring that bill now, all of you will be moping”
She doubled back and turned it off.
My eyes were closed as I smiled. I knew my children, and I knew my resources.
We parents had to look out for things like that before a huge bill showed up and we couldn’t pay.
I was about to catch the last hour and a half before Amanda had to take me to work.
My breathing slowed and I was cruising down France in my dreams when I heard that very expected but still equally annoying sound; my alarm.
I sluggishly got up and headed into my room to get ready.
I called out to her. She was probably in there watching the Real Housewives of some failed county.
She emerged a few minutes later and we were on our way.
On the ride, it was the usual.
Amanda listened to her hip hop on the radio at the least obnoxious volume. I used that time to “functionally nap”.
Never full sleep but enough to convince my mind that it was helpful.
We were about ten minutes away from my job when Amanda turned down the volume on the radio and said
“Mom… you know the class camping trip and all. It’s next weekend and the deadline to pay is in two days; Friday”
She had been telling me about this trip for weeks and her entire class was looking to go.
She deserved to go too but I couldn’t afford it.
I had tried to chop and cut things for weeks with no success.
I couldn’t let her down though, so I said
Okay, I will have the money for you Friday morning before you go to school.
She nodded as she kept on driving.
I think there was a part of her that wanted to believe me but the reality was also clear for her to see. I didn’t have that money.
As little as $320 may seem to the next person, for me, it felt like a fortune.
“Pull into the Chevron gas station on the right there baby”
I told her.
I got out and went into the store. I purchased an international calling card.
Stuffed it in my wallet and returned to the car.
I said to her as I exited the car.
The entire shift, I battled with the place I was in.
I had promised this girl the trip but I was completely broke.
I was already owing certain people a lot of money and I had challenged God with my tithing that I would not be borrowing again.
What to do?
On my lunch break, I came outside and prayed.
I was about to try their father. I convinced myself that my pride was still intact if the money was not for me.
After all, my kids were eating well and being clothed all these years.
This was an unexpected expense.
“Please hold while we connect your call….”
The automated lady said to me as I waited.
I considered hanging up the call before he even picked up.
The last time we had spoken, was me telling him to stop calling and harassing me and here I was about to ask him for money.
“….. well how does it feel to need me now?
I knew you would come back begging. You think you can raise three kids on your own”
I hated the sound of his voice.
It was so annoying and condescending.
“They have been doing fine so far.
I wasn’t calling you to be insulted. I just want to know if you can send the money for her trip or not”
And he said
“If you can talk to me properly, then it is something I would….”
I hung up the phone and I was now fuming!
I hated this. I turned that anger to prayer.
Oh how I hated being this vulnerable place where people could now take advantage of you as they please.
It was so demoralizing.
Swallowing your pride and then having it thrown in your face.
My soul was heavy that entire day because I still did not have the money but also because I was being disrespected.
But this was the reality for me and a lot of other people in a place of need.
I was able to borrow the money from my Pastor’s wife.
It was initially meant to be a loan as I requested but she was generous enough to pay for it herself.
I was so grateful.
But it was incidents like that, that set me back.
I was lonely.
My children were growing and I had a few interested men but I was so afraid.
Afraid of being vulnerable or letting someone in to the point where they took advantage of me.
It annoyed me that I knew that not all men were like Rotimi but I wasn’t willing to take the gamble.
And I always wondered what these men wanted from me really. Like I’m a separated and technically divorced mother of three pushing her fifties.
I couldn’t understand it.
I had no belief in myself. I had placed all my belief and worth in what I had built with him and once that came crashing down, there was no piece of me left.
“Mummy, why won’t you tell us what happened?”
Angela asked me.
I was on my way to full recovery. A few more days and I would have been on my way back to understanding what life I had on the outside.
It had now been a few weeks of hospital food and beeping machines.
Honestly, I just wanted 2% milk and to be lying down on my couch.
I reached for Angela’s hand, glanced at Amanda and said
“One lesson, you will learn from me is that you don’t speak ill of people.
There are things that happened between your father and I. Some you may understand and others you may not but the reality is, all that has been done in life is planned for all to see in front of us.
Your marriage is sacred and there is a lot that will happen in it that only you and your partner will understand or discuss.
In that union, it will be you, your husband and God.
Once it starts to involve more parties than that, problems arise.
If I sat here and said bad things about your father, you will begin to question your relationship with him and I never want that. The issues we had are between us two”
Angela rolled her eyes and cheekily said
“But you know we are adults now right?”
I smiled and said
“No matter how old you are, you are still my babies.
And I love you very much and want the best for you
And I will always be here to make sure the best is all you have”
Amanda looked away as she said
“This is why I’m not getting married”
I looked at her and slapped her hand. I said
“Don’t say that into your life. You will get married in Jesus name.”
She continued with a jokingly defiant tone
“Me I don’t want all the drama that comes with it and then kids!
Angela and I both laughed as I said
“You all better give me agile grandchildren. So I can come and live at all your houses.
Once this once gets married (I pointed to Angela), I will retire and start staying at all your houses 3 months a year.
9 months of traveling and 3 months with my own boo”
Angela caught that last part and said
“Soooooo… you’re seeing someone mother and you didn’t tell us?
“I was just kidding o.
There is no one. Well no one serious yet or one that I have his time yet.
Let me recover first”
Amanda blurted out to Angela
“That’s where the flowers came from”
Pointing to the bouquet of two dozen white roses sitting on the table.
I couldn’t contain my smile but I quickly said
“So… my birthday is in a few days. What do my lovely children have planned for me?”
They both looked at each other. Nothing had been planned.
I was sure of it.
Angela spoke and said
“Well, we didn’t think you would want to do anything after the surgery. So we didn’t plan anything.
But we can definitely do something at the house.”
The look of disappointment on my face was impossible to miss.
I just wanted to feel celebrated. With all I had going on, I just wanted a getaway.
To feel important.
I was starting to get accustomed to that defeating feeling and it was worrying me.
All my things were being packed up and we were walking out.
Two days to my birthday.
I stopped at the nurse’s desk to gather the rest of my stuff.
All my children were with me and Michael from my church was with me.
It was somewhat uncomfortable because I could see how he looked at me and I was hoping that my children did not notice it too.
I signed some papers and grabbed my medication.
As we headed out of the lobby. I was moving rather slowly.
I had regained a lot of my energy but my legs were still weak.
All those days of laying down in the bed and minimal movement.
“You’re just going to leave without saying thank you or a goodbye now”
Michael who was standing next to me said
“Let’s just go”
I turned around and there was Rotimi.
I sluggishly moved towards him and said
I turned to walk away.
“So that it’s. You’re just going to walk away again?”
“Rotimi, what do you want?
For Christs sake, what do you want?
To break me again?
To have me wondering if you ever loved me?
To spend 7years slaving to give your children everything while your shadow loomed large over me?
To feel like I could never love anyone like I loved you?”
“Rotimi, we are not doing this in front of people, in front of our children.
I have protected you and your image in front of these children. So you can have a good relationship with them but Rotimi, I owe you nothing.
I have given all my love and all my prayers. I even gave my dignity for you.
I have nothing left to give you.
I turned around to walk away and he said
“You didn’t have to leave.
We could have worked it out. We could have saved what we had”
I turned and came close to him.
My eyes were swelling with tears now.
I came close to him and said
“Rotimi, even after the thing with Chief and you putting me up to that, we weren’t broken.
I don’t think you understand how much I loved you. I would have killed for you and my children.
Whatever it took to keep you happy.
Like many women today and in days past, I would lower everything I had to make you safe within your manhood.
I was willing to give up my body for you….
You just hated yourself because you even agreed to put me up to it.
You punished me for the anger you felt towards yourself.
Unfairly, you treated me.
Undignified me amongst friends and family
I took it all until I couldn’t anymore.
And I left.
You have obviously moved on with your life and so please let me with mine”
He looked at me and you could tell his ego was bruised.
I was in tears and feeling very vulnerable but true to myself at the same time.
“You could have said no when I told you about the chief thing back then”
Startled, I snarled back and said
“Oh said no, like you did to Chief?”
His face went pale
“Oh you didn’t know that all these years, I knew?
Well… I kept wondering why Chief gave us that huge amount of money, even when I was sure I
didn’t do anything with him that night.
So I went one day to his office to find out. The story of him sleeping with me, never came from him.
You were the one who started it because you wanted to protect yourself.
It turns out that he didn’t give the money to us because he slept with me.
It was because he slept with you.”
There was a collective gasp in surprise and shock in that lobby.
Put a phrase to it you say?
I would say…. What The Heck… Watch out for Part 4 on Saturday. We conclude this rollercoaster! How does it end?
The Wordsmith on deck? YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW!
We here! #SanmiSaturdays #WhatTheHeckMan
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Thank you for reading and commenting. You are highly appreciated.
Lookout for The Cradle 4 starting next week.
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