Thomas Vincent, Kayla’s colleague watched Kayla daily as she faithfully did her job and closed for the finished work early without her usual asking for more shifts. He couldn’t comprehend the depressive looks that became a constant phenomenon on her face. “Is everything okay, Miss Kayla?” he asked her on lunch break as he took a bite of his favourite sandwich (bacon, lettuce and tomato). Kayla just gave a nod, not wishing to share her life with her colleague. “How’s little miss Sheila doing?” the thought of Sheila and how incapable Kayla has been to take care of her only daughter made the tears roll down her eyes. Thomas was taken aback as he pulled his chair aside to comfort Kayla.
Thomas and Kayla became a daily discussion point among the female workers at Park Plaza, unknowing to them the duo weren’t dating. Thomas took Kayla to a couple of parties while he got his sister Victoria to babysit Sheila.
Kayla knew things were not going right when all of a sudden her life was in a rapid motion. Not long after she became really close to Thomas she started seeing Lord Gregory who happened to be an icon in the country at the moment. She’d been with him during his business trips to Dubai, she was with him to sign a contract in Netherlands, and here she found herself with him in the beautiful city of New York at a Doran Karan shop. “This is so not right. So what he pays my bills and takes care of Sheila?” she thought, reminisced, and wondered as they wandered the streets of New York.
Her relationship with her dear old neighbour Mrs Eja, always dropped down the friendship scale each time she returned from a trip with Lord Gregory. Here she was after Lord Gregory went bankrupt and she had lost her job at the hotel, with Mrs Eja begging for food. Her life truly was a mess. She hadn’t only dated a married man but became a call girl all for the sake of money.
Each day she returned in the morning, she had a bath, she’d scrub as much as possible trying to scrub the guilt of her body, unknown to her that you cannot hide from the one who knows all things.
How could I have subtracted you out of my life?
Reminiscing those years I wore a different identity,
‘Hanging out with friends’ as I called it I thought made me feel good,
I was only wearing a mask,
It didn’t eliminate the fact that you were subtracted
The music banging, everyone screaming,
Girls around, drinks never running out
Class a norm but Christianity none
The days seemed cool but depression was the air I breathed,
The night seemed too long and when it was day I prayed for night.
Income was great and I lived like a King
But my heart was worse than a beggar
I walked pass the house of the one whom I rejected,
The one who loved me when I denied him,
The one whom I subtracted out of my life
I felt guilty that I had to crawl through
The door of his house to get to him
I thought it would be fair for him to deny me
For him to subtract me from his life
For him to hit me real hard with a club
He rose from his throne and placed a comforting hand
He said “though you subtracted me from your life, I have added you to my Kingdom”
In him I felt happy, peaceful and loved
I felt comforted in my depression and all my depression gone
I want to introduce you to this person we all subtract from our lives
His name is JESUS
Kayla ran around, knocking on her neighbours’ doors. She looked confused, bereft and hungry. Her hair looked so unkempt and her clothes worn.
Mrs Eja peeped through her window and had compassion. She opened her door, this was not the first time Kayla had banged on her door at midnight.
“What is the matter? You look really depressed.” Mrs Eja said as she patted the sofa for her to take her seat. “My baby is dying, we’ve got nothing left in the house.” She sniffed and cried.
Mrs Eja quickly walked to the kitchen to get a bowl of beef stew she had prepared that Evening. “Here you go and here are some biscuits and potatoes. Call me if you need anything. Hurry now.”
Kayla was more than grateful to Mrs Eja who has always been of help to her although she’d refused to accept Mrs Eja’s religion, she loved her for her kindness and hospitality.
Kayla thought her life was about to ebb when Tolu her fiancé walked out of her life.
She was at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee on that cold winter night when Tolu walked through the door informing her of his secret marriage to her best friend Liz. She thought she was dreaming. She had seen it in movies but didn’t think it happened or will happen to her. “this is another phase of the Diary of a Mad black woman”, she thought.
She pushed herself up and walked out of the Kitchen to her room without a word to Tolu. She went straight to her closet as she started packing up her stuff. Tolu walked into the room and stopped her “You don’t have to leave here. I’m sorry this happened. I should have told you but I thought you were more concerned about your daughter than me. You should have the house.” She felt Tolu had killed her already without a gun. She wanted to fight back; she wanted to punch hard but kept her cool and had to go for a run. By the time she got back, Tolu was ready to go, he’d called a cab and was waiting for her to get back before he left.
“Dad” Sheila called back as she watched her father leave through the door with his belongings. Kayla forced herself to keep a dry eye and Tolu couldn’t have to courtesy to hug his daughter because he claims she isn’t his. All Kayla was thought about was the bills and the rent of their two bedroom apartment in Docklands. Tolu was the one who decided on that flat, he had the city job, earning £40000 per annum, she had the menial job to pay for any extra expenses, she worked at Park Plaza in Victoria as a Manager and her income was a stipend when compared with Tolu’s. She had to cope somehow.
Daily, she settled herself to alcohol after work as she watched six year old Sheila play around in the sitting room.
Her salary, most of it was spent on the rent and the remainder on bills and little shopping for Sheila. They could barely survive.
She struggled daily and worked extra shifts but she had to get home early to take care of Sheila who spent most her time at the Erwin’s.
Few weeks later, the Erwin’s relocated to the States and she had no one to help her out with Sheila.
She cut down on her shifts which made finance worse. Every summer, she had to look for an excuse not to go on holiday and sometimes begging Sheila made her weep.
Kufre, a friend of Kayla advised her to give Sheila up for adoption. Kayla was stunned to hear what her friend said and she was beginning to get careful with friends. “How could you say that?” she got angry, picked up her handbag and went home. She made up her mind to do whatever it will take to care for Sheila.
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Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding
It struck all of a sudden on that fateful day. “This is not happening,” Grace Anya raked her hands through her damp hair. Going down memory lane, she remembered her first date with George. It had been a great day and it all happened at Sizzlers.
“I really love you so much”, George had said staring into Grace’s hazel eyes. She saw how real and willing he was to take the ‘relationship risk’. They met during a business conference. Grace was representing a company she worked for with the intention of starting her own business. George was representing his company where he owned fifty percent of the company.
George could not stop staring at Grace after she made an impressive speech. She wore a tale blue dress with a neck detail. The dress was perfect for such a slender body. She was the right height for him, being 5’11” he wanted a woman about 5’7”. She had a lovely voice and he wished he’d be able to speak with her after the conference. George also made a speech that evening and Grace could barely keep her eyes of him. He had a perfect figure, with all the ‘packs’, she hoped. He was huge and had a beautiful smile. His side burns were perfectly shaven and the beards around his mouth and chin region made him look more handsome. The suit he wore must have cost him a fortune. “He might also be rich. Wow. But I really don’t mind, he is so cute” she thought.
A year later, Grace and George were at Sizzler’s again in same position they’d sat when they had their first date. She couldn’t stop but wonder why George took her there that day. She remembered the words of her mother: “My child. Those who love you dearly never forget the happy moments they shared with you in the past. They will endeavour to keep those moments very special and may take you back to that spot where it all started to remind you of how much they love you.”
“Sweetheart, please place your order will you?” Grace got back to reality and gave George a smile reminding him of her undying love.
“Hello Madam!” A waiter stood over her shoulder with a bouquet of flower and a white envelope. With a stunned look she managed to say “Hi”. The waiter gave a sheepish smile. “A man asked me to give you these items”
“Who, If I may ask?”
“He said you should have a look, the name is written inside.” He handed over the white envelope to her. George just stared at both of them.
With a surprised look and curiosity she opens the envelope to find a note. Please accept the flower there is a gift for you in it and then you’ll know the sender”
She finds an engagement ring and felt embarrassed as she tried to give George an explanation about the unknown sender. Just then George goes down on a knee and pops the question. She felt the heat rising through her face and a cheek turning pink. It wasn’t a dream come true.
Many years later Grace felt she’d had it all in life. Life was just at its peak. She had two beautiful daughters and George loved her so much. He always made her feel special like she was the only woman in the world. George was a gas engineer and Grace an I.T. consultant and programmer.
George got news that his Dad had passed on and he was really depressed. Grace had been so supportive throughout the funeral preparation and afterwards. “If only my family will see and understand this. This woman is just the best wife anyone can think of,” he thought, not noticing he had a tear in his eye.
He returned home from work one night some weeks after his dad’s funeral and thought to get something for his lovely wife. He didn’t know how to express his gratitude. She had proved to him that she was a virtuous woman in many ways although she sometimes took her work more serious than her family. Her hospitality during the funeral was perfect and outstanding. The guests commended her efforts but his family just couldn’t see that good side of her. She took time off work just for the preparation considering she is a workaholic; she put his family first to make him happy. Everything went perfect and no one complained except for his family members.
Few weeks after, he was window-shopping. He had to get something for his wonderful wife. He just couldn’t find something perfect.
“Darling, how are you this evening?”
“I’m fine love. Why did you return home this late?”
“I’m so sorry. I had to pick up ‘this’” holding out a file to her
“What is in here?” George ignores the question and goes into the shower room smiling.
“Thank you so much love. You didn’t have to buy me a house again. I already have one in my name.” Giving him a kiss. “Anything for my Darling isn’t too much” He said with a broad grin as he pulled the quilt over his legs. He kissed her goodnight and tucked her into his side.
Sapphire and Emerald, their daughters, were doing well in school. The family were together but they lacked something. Sapphire was in her final year at secondary school. Her Dad assigned a private driver for her and Emerald. Emerald was just starting her first year in senior high school called SS1 and she was doing really well but was mostly by herself when she returned home each day.
“Emerald, don’t you think we should spend more time together? I’m your sister we should be really close.”
“Who says sisters must be close? I’m sorry Sapphy but you are boring. Always studying, reading novels and going out once a week for volleyball games”
“That hurts you know. Besides, you study like me and going out to the games isn’t boring”
“You should at least hang out with friends”
“You know I’ve got a few friends and sometimes I like discussing some important issues concerning us girls and the first person that comes to my mind is you. I can’t talk to mum you know that. She’s always busy with programming. Although you are younger, it’s just two years. I need to share my feelings with someone who is more than a friend.”
The next few weeks before final exams began for Sapphire, Sapphire and Emerald spent more time together either with friends or alone.
“Don’t you think we should at least tell Dad and Mum to spend more time with us? It’s really becoming grim, especially Mum.”
“Sapphy, seriously speaking, I can’t be bothered.”
“What? They are your parents as well. Doesn’t it bother you that Mum never has time for us except on the few weekends Dad makes her come out with us and you’ll bet she’ll be with her netbook. Don’t you want to feel loved? Aren’t you tired of replacing her love for her money?”
Emerald felt a pang of shame. What her big sister said was really true.
“Well, you have a point. Promise me you won’t speak to them in such a manner that will make Mum or Dad reduce our monthly allowance though” Walking away before she’ll feel a hand on her face.
Sapphire curled her fingers into a fist and could feel the muscles in her face jerk in anger towards her sister’s words.
George arranged to spend more time with his girls. His wife was always busy with client’s systems and always brought home her work.
“Darling, please let’s do this for the girls. They need us. It’s just a two hour movie and an hour more for dinner then we are back home.” Feeling a bit of remorse, she goes to get dressed. On their way to the cinema Grace knew she had offended her family and had to do something.
“I’m really sorry everyone. Mum has been so busy with work. I promise to give Saturdays and Sundays to you all. We could go on a weekend boat cruise next week.” She said smiling.
“Yes!!” The girls said in unison.
“Can I bring a friend Mum?” Emerald asked delightedly.
“It’s a family outing Darling. I’m sorry not this time but you could have a boat cruise for your next birthday. Not to worry about the cost.” She gives Emerald a wink and looks ahead not giving George a glance because she knew she’d have to apologise specially to him when they return home.
Emerald’s sixteenth birthday had gone well. Sapphire was delighted. She had her friends over and they also had a place in the hall where her sister’s birthday took place. The caterers were perfect and they all had a boat cruise afterwards.
“I have an announcement.” George said with great delight and excitement as they walked through the door of their duplex.
“Dad I really need to go to the toilet now if you don’t mind”
“Go on Sapphy. I’ll wait”
“Oh! Sapphy, why do you always do this? Just five minutes and dad will let us know what’s up before you go.”
“Emi. Please, I’ll be back soon,” with a grimace she heads for the toilet.
Grace watched the looks on her daughters’ faces when her husband told them they’d gained admission in the UK. Emerald was going to attend Croydon College and Sapphire Imperial College London to study Computing Science.
Their flight to the United Kingdom had been booked. It took a few hours for George’s travel agent to confirm the flight. Everything went well and the girls were delighted to leave for the United Kingdom.
“Hello mum, we arrived safely. How is Dad?”
“Hey. Darling, thank God you arrived safely. How’s Emi?”
“She’s fine, she’s here with me.”
“Mum, are you okay?” Emerald was curious. She remembered her mum was only this sweet and nice over the phone when she feels sick. I hope she’s fine? She thought.
“I’m alright sweetheart. You girls should ensure you call me regularly or send me an email and Mum will always be there for you both okay?”
“Hey babes. How are you doing?” George sounded as usual. His lively personality remained the same no matter the situation.
“Dad, is Mum okay? She sounded so sweet and nice.” Sapphire gave Emerald a glance that reminded Emerald she was beginning to sound rude.
“Your Mum is fine. She’s beginning to spend more time at home and with me than usual. I was surprised myself but she’s made a change.”
“I told Sapphire Mum was different now after Mum insisted on seeing us off to the airport.” The girls’ faces lit up. They knew something good had happened.
“We love you Dad.”
Sapphire arranged for a taxi to take Emerald to the college from their studio apartment in South Kensington. “I’ll need to get Emi a place in Croydon” she soliloquised.
Grace overheard the conversation the girls had with their Dad. At that point she remembered the little argument that had occurred between her and George that resulted in this change. George had screamed like he’d never done before and was really angry at her carefree attitude towards her family. “If you think you are right about ignoring your responsibilities as a wife and mother just to do your job. Then, I’ll stop discussing this issue with you.” She sat still not knowing what to say. That night George went to bed without giving her a goodnight kiss. For the first time in their twenty three years of blissful marriage George didn’t want to listen to her. She held back the tears in her eyes because it will only make things worse. She swallowed hard and tried to say sorry but the words couldn’t come out. She lay in bed for three hours thinking. She had to make a change and then that determination came.