Mirabel looked in the mirror and said to herself, “Today is a normal day, it’s like any other day.” She wasn’t convinced, but she knew that she had to act normal. Act normal. Act normal. If she wanted to have a good school day and keep her friends, she had to act normal. Whatever normal was at the moment.
She stepped out of her room, the staff had left the house, her mother had given them ‘a break.’ Her mother told them it was a paid leave. Mirabel was wondering where the money would come from, but she didn’t ask questions because she wouldn’t get answers.
“Come baby sit down and eat. I made your favourite meal” Mirabel heard her mother’s voice in the distance.
Ogbofurugha “Furu” Ojomo
In the 40 years, that she’d spent on earth, Furu had only been swept off her feet twice, thrice if you add this new incident. Facing the world like you owned it was something her mother taught her, and her grandmother had taught her mother.
That’s what women did, they carried on when everyone around them crashed. They were the backbone of the nation, the people who did the messy jobs, so staying strong was the only option. But Furu had seen her grandmother and mother break once or twice, so she knew it was okay to break from time to time.
The first time Furu broke, her parents had drowned to death. She was 11 when it happened, she could still remember how her fanyogo turned bitter in her mouth. 29 years later and the sight of fanyogo still makes her nauseous.
Furu could still remember how her parent’s siblings pretended to care about her, trying to say all the right words. She remembered that everyone thought she was heartless because she didn’t cry.
Furu still hated them for not allowing her to grieve properly before they started making decisions about her fate. In less than a week she was shipped to a boarding school. And when she graduated, her world was shaken to its foundations again.
She was 19 when it happened, all her “family” members came for her graduation. They all said things about how her parents would have loved it. And then at her “graduation party,” they sat her down and told her to sign over her trust fund.
They cuffed her legs to the seats, put a gun to her face, and told her to sign. And even though she begged for hours, they didn’t budge. She eventually signed, and they kicked her out with only the clothes on her back and her diploma.
But Furu was strong and smart, she couldn’t stay shaken for long. She worked two jobs and whenever money was tight, she went to the streets and hawked water and drinks. She quickly climbed up the corporate ladder, and became a CFO at Merig Holdings, she got married and she had a beautiful daughter named Mirabel.
Everything was perfect, or everything was meant to be perfect, but her husband destroyed those plans. Osahon Ojomo, her till death do us part person, was many things that weren’t perfect – a liar, a cheat, a gambler, a corrupt banker – and he did nothing to change.
Furu had done everything in her power to keep him away from Mirabel, she even contemplated divorce. But the chances of that working in her favour were too slim. So she wouldn’t risk it.
But she could keep him out of the house ninety percent of the time. He took “work related trips,” so he was only home one/two months a year. When he was home the gates only opened if they were asleep. Meals were only prepared for her and Mirabel.
The most important decision for Furu was making sure he funded all their expenses. Because she couldn’t imagine having to deal with him misbehaving while paying for everything. This also ensured that she could set up a cushy trust fund for Mirabel, a pension and a fat bank account for emergencies.
Furu knew that one day her husband’s rope would come to an end. And today was that day. The EFCC and the DSS had arrested him on two separate accounts. Money laundering and sexual harassment in the office.
Furu was surprised about the second charge – the DSS was not known for looking into such cases. But apparently he tried to sleep with his boss’s daughter. And since she was a ‘big woman’, she called the police on him.
Although he had been arrested the day before, the story was set to break today. And Furu knew it would be hard on Mirable, especially in school. She did what she could to reduce the effect. She had sent the gossiping staff away, because most of them were tactless and made the most unusual things small talk.
She woke up early to make Mirabel’s favourite meal, Keke Fieye, a meal native to Ijaw people. She had even packed her lunch box and bag with special delicacies. “No 10 year old should experience this kind of heartbreak,” Furu mused to herself.
She heard Mirabel’s footsteps from afar, and shouted “Come baby sit down and eat. I made your favourite meal”
Mirabel sat across her mother, the food looked and smelled amazing. But the constricted feeling in her chest and gut made her uneasy. How on earth was she going to school today? What would she tell people, because people would know? How was her mother so calm? She couldn’t even swallow her meal
Her mother’s voice suddenly loomed over her head, “Mirabel don’t you want to eat something? Young people like you need all the food you can get.”
She sighed, “I do mummy, I’m just nervous, I think if I eat, I’ll throw up my food.”
Worry crossed her mother’s face for a split second, and then she cleared her throat, smiled and reached for Mirabel’s hand. “Mirabel, I understand your worry and nervousness, but never forget, ‘you are your mother’s daughter’, there is nothing you cannot handle, there is nothing that can break you.”
Mirabel nodded with a sigh and ate her food. In 20 minutes she was in the car, and on her way to school. Dread had filled every part of her body, but the reassuring looks her mum gave her helped relax. As they pulled up to the gate, Mirabel saw a large number of kids waiting and looking at her.
“They have either come to taunt me or ask questions” she mused to herself. As she got down, she felt them approaching her noisily and whispered to herself, “I am my mother’s daughter, nothing can break me.”