The room seemed tensed. I felt the earth stoped revolving in its orbit, the gravitational pull slacking its grip on me. I tried not to move, cos I feared I might float.
She too returned my gaze, she tried to shape out words but there was no sound. She gave up trying to speak, she let her tears flow freely instead.
"Maami..."I found my voice after much struggle.
As if suddenly drawn by a cord, Maria rushed at me, locking me in a tight motherly embrace.
"I'm sorry..."was all she could mutter as she wept.
I swallowed hard. I saw the softness in her eyes, the motherly love printed all over her face. I wondered if she actually was my step-mother.
"I never knew I would ever see you again."she whispered looking me all over admiringly.
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I tried to speak, but my tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth. I was so overwhelmed by the love she was bestowing on me. So I really mean something to her? Maybe she never hated me, I was just been naughty while I was younger.
"Thank God you're alive."she said softly, hugging me.
"I'm sorry for what we did to you, please..."
"No..don't"I stopped her
"Please forgive us."she persisted.
"I didn't hold any grudges against you, you didn't wrong me."I wiped her tears.
"I love you my daughter, I really do."she hugged me for the tenth time.
"me too."I forced a wry smile.
"what about Baami? Where's he?"I asked looking around.
Maria's face dropped, she looked away.
"Maami?"I peered at her
she didn't reply, she just shook her head painfully.
I turned to look at David who was watching us all this while, he looked sad.
"What's happening?"I whispered to myself.
Why were they all looking sad? I racked my brain.
David took my hands gently squeezing them.
"You have to take heart."his voice was low
"What heart should I take?"I was trying my best to believe all was well.
"Your...I'm..sorry Teju, he...he..passedaway...few months after you disappeared."He stammered.
"Just like that?"I heard myself say
"He suffered a stroke the day you left, and was bedridden till he passed on two month's after."David explained slowly, tightening his grip.
I sighed slowly, I wanted to scream, but couldn't. How could he die just like that? Without a word?
"So I'm responsible for his death!"Tears blurred my vision.
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"Teju, don't talk like that."Maria said soothingly.
"He left without a word. Maybe he never forgave me. Maybe he left full of pains and hatred for me."I reeled towards Maria.
She held me tight. I felt sweat trickling down my face. I felt a pang of pain in my head, I knew it came from my brain. My eyes shut gently despite my efforts to keep them open.
Everything was wrong with my body. I screamed, my body shook convulsively. I heard Eniola's cry, David said something, but their voices was distant, I was far-gone
WOULD YOU BLAME TEJU FOR HER FATHER'S DEATH?
WATCH OUT FOR PART 21