Remember me (VIII)- Short story

The story of fate and destiny

Chapter 8

The Mother

It started to rain. Tara was grateful for the rain, earlier in the haze of the afternoon heat, she could feel her dress starting to cling to her back in places while she sat in her car.

Tara used to find sweating so gross, especially the wet patches under the pits while ladies toiled in the burning sun. But she did not care for the sweat dripping down her face let alone her obviously soaked arm pit. She had a God given mission to complete, and her beauty routines could wait even if she stank to high heavens.

In the heat she could barely formulate a thought, there was no cooling breeze or cloud to block the high August sun, but the rains started without notice but with a welcome heave.

Tara left her drivers’ window down so she could feel the rain drops on her skin. She imagined that every drop squelched across her skin evaporated the heat.

She kept her eyes on the red SUV just as her windscreen wipers choreographed a perfect synchrony splattering rainwater out of her view. She let her head bob to the sound of the wipers.

Wishy, washy, wishy washy.

“Eyes on the road.” She reminded herself.

They drove through one of the busiest arterial roads in Lagos, splitting lanes in quick succession even at slow speed, only stopping for pedestrian crossing right under the concrete pedestrian bridge intermittently.

“No one uses the bridges anymore.”

They soon arrived at a government reserved area in Ikeja, where mansions were neatly arranged like Legos on a map. Yet each stood in its majestic splendor laying claim to its unique design showcasing its grand architectural masterpiece even in the pouring rain.

Nestled in this uber rich neighborhood, was the mansion that the red SUV stopped briefly at, as it honked once shortly before the huge metal gate slid open allowing Tara a glimpse of the beauty that lay within.

Tara had never seen such a magnificent building except in the local Nollywood movies. The mansion came with all the trappings and full complements of opulence. Its windows were like shy eyes, large to welcome any ray of sun, dark enough to hide secrets, and there were many of them dotted across the white palatial building.

The last thing she saw before the gates mimicked a stage curtain as it changes scenes in a theatrical display, was the tail of a vivaciously ecstatic dog as it welcomed Ann despite the pouring rain.

Tara did not like dogs. How could anyone like those creatures, let alone declare them man’s best friend? Man’s best friend indeed!

“There is no way I can get into that house with that stupid dog in there. Coming here is probably a bad idea” she admitted.

She opted to wait in her car, parked on the other side of the street but with a view of the massive gate. Unsure what to expect she starts to hum to calm her nerves.

Dogs, rain, gate, mansion, impossible. Those words brought her back to life, reminding her of the futility of her mission. She fetched the passport photo of the woman she owed nothing but a moral obligation. As the rain pelted her car with crippling intensity that made her cringe, she hummed louder flipping the photograph between her fingers.

She left the car wipers on so she could see when the gates opened again for “act 1 scene 2.

Her thoughts were like ballet steps, ever ready to leap and twirl as she considered her options.

It was surprisingly easy to get into her office the other day despite her initial fears, but this mansion, with the high fence and curly rolls of barb wire featuring  an electrocution sign dancing in the rain, was as impregnable as it gets. There was surely no way in.

Tara starts to put theories together.

What if the woman Ann calls her mother isn’t her real mum but an impostor who may have murdered her. That could make some sense, she nodded in agreement.

“But for what purpose?” her voice sounded weak in conviction.

Perhaps there was a valuable heirloom or wealth that she inherited by taking up her place.

“What if she is still alive? And…and the message from the…ghost….dead husband was to seek help to rescue her from captivity.”

Tara laughed out loud. The very definition of LOL, voices in her head were competing to reel out conspiracy theories and possibilities, like primary school students in a classroom with hands raised beckoning their teacher for a chance to answer his question in class.

“That is ridiculous.” one voice scolded.

“But Ann would know who her real mother is. She cannot be so naïve.” A softer voice chimed in.

“Ann is lying. You know that don’t you?” This time the voice sounded sterner, as though chiding her.

“There was indeed something about Ann’s calmness that felt too intentional and unsettling” This was her own contribution to the discourse, this time she could hear her own voice.

“She is a psychiatrist anyway, what did you expect. Perhaps it comes with the training.” says another.

“Ann is hiding something, and it may be in that house.”

Then a loud rapping sound at her window jerked her back into the reality of the moment. With her heartbeat pounding fast and furious, she turned to look. It was the bare knuckles of a man dressed in security uniform knocking on her side window.

Relieved, she let the glass window half-way down, only then did she notice that the rain had stopped, and her wipers were struggling to complete their choreographed dance in a noisy and irritating protest.

“Are you waiting for someone please?” The man sounded as polite as his English would allow him.

“You can not park here please. Move along.” It was an instruction that didn’t invite an objection.

He continued to speak but Tara looked him up with scorn and chuckled at the man dressed up like a second rated policeman wielding fake authority. “He didn’t even carry arms, how did he think his words were worth listening to.”

Just then she heard the bark of the dog and watched with wide excitement as the gate to the mansion suddenly whirred open. An older greying woman was behind the wheel of a white and exquisite Mercedes SUV.

She was driving alone.

“Great. Talk of the devil.”

She killed her wipers and nodded to the uniformed man, before picking up the passport photograph after taking a good look at the woman behind the wheel. It had to be Ann’s mother, she mentioned she was staying at her place during their conversation earlier.

Tara eased her car back into the street with a maddening focus to follow the car wherever it led.

“The impostor.” She sneered.

The Mercedes Benz moved much faster than Tara had anticipated. It turned in streets corners that left Tara confused. At first, she guessed the right turn, with the SUV way in front, but soon all the well-laid-out streets looked all too similar, and the white SUV was nowhere to be found when she took the next turn.

A roundabout with multiple turns ended her chase. There was no way she could tell which turn the Mercedes Benz took. She had lost her mark.

She hit her steering wheel angrily with a clenched fist several times until she could hear her stomach growl loudly. She hadn’t eaten all day and she had nothing to show for her self-imposed fast.

The day was far spent and there was nothing left to chase. Tara gave up, deciding to go back to her apartment to look through the clues she got from the beach bottle. She decided she may have to continue the stakeout some other way. At least now she knows the impostor drives a white SUV.

There was one clue she hadn’t paid much attention- the pieces of paper she had removed from the bottle into a plastic nylon bag. She made a mental note to give it a look-in, perhaps there was something she may have missed.

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6 thoughts on “Remember me (VIII)- Short story”

  1. Adedamola ilori

    Now, I had to pause and really digest this description “just as her windscreen wipers choreographed a perfect synchrony splattering rainwater”… Akin, you’re amazing with unexpected descriptions. Now, how am I to forget this whenever it rains while in my car. Big ups brother!

    1. I have always been fascinated by the wipers to be honest. Their impassionate dance is just one part of it.

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