It was Christmas and as usual the orphanage was buzzing. Most of us had stopped believing in 'Father Christmas' because we assumed he only visited kids from rich homes and those with parents. No, the reason for the buzz was that lots of people came from the outside world during this period to foster children. We all wanted to belong to a family that would love us, but then no one ever really got their wishes. I for one had even given up hope of ever being adopted.
“Ifeoma.” I cringed at the all too familiar voice of the Matron. I stood up and when she saw me, she beckoned me over and I followed. As we walked past, I saw some of the other kids smile.
“Good luck ify this is your year, chuckled Omolara, but I smiled and refused to meet her eyes. How many times had I heard that particular line?
“Please shut the door”, I want you to meet Mrs Marcus. She has taken a liking to you and wants to adopt you into her family matron said softly. Madam, this is Ifeoma, one of our brightest children. She’s high-spirited but she means no harm.
To my surprise she seemed to colour slightly herself. “I would leave the both of you to get to know each other completely’’. With that she ruffled my hair and closed the door.
The possession in this woman’s eyes should have scared me but I reveled in it because it had been a long time since anyone cared. “Now, I can say with heartfelt sincerity that you would make a good addition to my home. I lost my family years ago in a car crash and you remind me so much of my last daughter Amy”. Our eyes met and she smiled. I found myself smiling back.
“I hope you can call me mother someday” she said and I nodded. My heart was beating very fast. I never though I would see this day. The matron came in sometime later and I was sent back to the dormitory. Later that evening I was told that the adoption process would take a couple of weeks, after which I would be free to leave for my new home.
One Month Later:
A car was sent to pick me up and I found myself in Victoria Island. I know this because we lived in this area before I was sent to the orphanage. As soon as we got into the compound I felt at peace, like I was coming home. A boy of about twenty stood by the garden looking bored as the car pulled up the driveway. I wove to say hello, but all he did was shrug and look away.
“Hello darling how was your trip?” asked my step mom from the doorway. “Welcome to your new home” and then she hugged me which was a bit weird. The last person to hug me was my mom and she was dead. I was introduced to the household staff and everyone seemed happy to see me. The maid took my bags and showed me to my room. My new bed was huge and I fell asleep as soon as I laid down on it. The girls from the home had been sad to see me go but I promised to visit them often.
I was awakened by a knock on the door later that night and my step mom poked her head into my room, satisfied that I was awake she pushed the door wider and stepped into the room. Trailing behind her and carrying a tray laden with food was the rude boy I had seen earlier. He dropped the tray at the foot of the big bed.
“Ifeoma, this is my nephew Andrew. He’s here for the summer”. “Andrew why don’t you welcome ifeoma into the family”.
He looked at me for a long time, as if weighing his options. “Hello, good to meet you” and just like that he politely excused himself and left the room. Mrs Marcus and I talked for a while and I told her about my parents and my life before the orphanage. She listened as I spoke and nodded a few times. When I was done, she held my hand and said a prayer then bid me goodnight.
I didn’t see him the next day, the cook said he had gone back home. I kept wondering if perhaps the thought of having a raggedy orphan under the same room with him ticked him off. I tried to settle into my new home but it was not easy. The change of environment affected me so much that I took ill at one time. My foster mom was an angel and was real patient with me. She enrolled me in high school and I made new friends. Then the night mares began to come. I was having dreams about the night my parent died and every time I woke up there would be a niggling feeling at the back of my head. It would always feel like a part of me knew the killer and I began to feel like I was being watched which was quite absurd.
I didn’t see Andrew again until I turned eighteen. It was at the Certified II party at Glover court and the place was packed. Being in an all girls school always made outings like this a compulsory affair because of the presence of members of the opposite sex. I spotted Abiola-my crush-and was struggling within myself whether to go over and say hello when i saw him walk into the room. He was the most popular boy in his University and everytime my friends spoke about him, I acted like I didn't know who he was. Still, I found that i couldn't take my eyes off him. He saw me and smiled. As he walked over i looked around for escape routes as my heart beats increased ten fold.
“tut tut tut….you aren’t trying to hide from me are you? He asked as he came to stand in front of me. You do know your beauty is one of those rare ones that cannot be hidden”…
“Hello Andrew I replied. Good to see you too” I added with a bit of sarcasm. “It’s been what-two years?’’
He smiled then, in a slow and sexy way. “Yeah, you bewitched me from the moment I first laid my eyes on you and I knew I was lost, so I ran home the very next day”. I laughed at that.
“What’s so funny sweets?” asked a slim girl who suddenly appeared at his side. I thought I saw him frown but it was gone so suddenly that I might have imagined it. “Hello babe, meet ify, ify this is Alicia-my girlfriend”. The last bit was said forcefully. She took one look at me and.. “You’re the orphan girl aren’t you? I’ve heard a lot about you”. Wow, you don’t look like an orphan anymore I must say”. I smiled, and politely replied “These things happen-but look at you. You must be the anorexic girl people laugh about who lives on only alcohol or was that his last girl friend? Gosh, I’m really not sure anymore because Andrew has a reputation for mixing with trash”. Its so nice to see your again Andrew, mom misses you. With that I turned on my heel and walked away, straight to the corner of the room where Abiola was.