“Good afternoon,” she greeted.
“Good afternoon,” he replied, regaining himself.
Then she smiled that deadly smile again. He expected her to let him in but when she just kept on regarding him calmly, he realized she was waiting for an introduction. He reasoned that she had never seen him before anyway, so it was normal. Before he could satisfy her curiosity, she said, “Who do you seek?”
Wincing at her choice of words, he answered with the same tone, “I’ve come to see my mum.”
“Oh.” “Oh,” she said again. “Then you must be …” she left the question hanging.
“I’m Pamilerin, her son.” Then he raised his hands as if in an oath. “I swear I’m not some burglar looking for fast money and hoping to cart some items away.”
She continued looking at him for a few seconds then as if satisfied, she shifted to let him pass. “You’ll find her in the parlour.”
He entered and faced her in the hallway. “Thank you. You must be new, I’m not sure I have seen you before.” Of course he was certain he hadn’t seen her before. There was no way he would have forgotten her face if he had.
“No, you haven’t. I’m Sandra, the new help,” she answered and walked daintily away, leaving him standing.
He stood there watching her till she was out of view, wondering about her rudeness. If his mum was satisfied with her, then it wasn’t his problem and he was probably misjudging her anyways, he thought as he took the opposite direction to the parlour.
He found his mother in her signature position. She was perched on the settee, with her legs on a table, facing the television which she completely ignored and concentrated instead on the newspaper on her laps. She looked so relaxed he was almost reluctant to disturb her.
“My mummy,” he called out. He and his sister only called her that when they wanted something or just been plain naughty.
She raised her head from what she was reading and her face registered delightful surprise, before she opened her hands wide for a hug.
“My baby, how have you been?” she kissed him on both cheeks.
“I’ve been good and I think I’m way past the baby stage,” he protested as he settled down beside her.
“You’ll always be my baby. Even after you give me grandchildren.”
Knowing that she was close to treading into a topic he found dangerous, he quickly changed the subject. “You’re looking lovely as always, mum.” His mother, though the sweetest woman on earth, was still as vain as most women.
Esther Badejo was a petite, fair woman with refined features. That could probably be attributed to wealth but she liked to think it was because she took great care with her looks.
“Yes, really. Your hair looks especially great.”
“I just had it done yesterday, didn’t know it would turn out this well.”
“It did,” he replied, rolling the tips of the hair with his finger.
“Thanks, boy. I would be sure to thank my hairdresser. … So what brings you home?” she asked.
“Do I need a reason to come see my mummy?”
“No but since you and your sister only think to check on us when you want something, you can’t blame me for assuming.”
He winced, thinking it shouldn’t be that bad. “Okay, I just came to see you this time and I’m staying the weekend.”
“The weekend,” Esther snickered. “I think the accurate term should be spending the night. You don’t come on Saturday afternoon and say you are spending the weekend.”
Jeez mum! You still know how to get me. Okay, you are right. How about I come home straight from work next week Friday and leave on Monday?”
She slapped his lap and chortled in delight. “Now, you’re talking boy. And see if you can get your sister here too. Have you eaten,” she finished, changing the subject abruptly.
“Let me get Sandra to get you something then. Sandra! Sandra!” she called out.
Sandra rushed in, making a show of wiping her hands on a napkin. “Ma”
“What do we have at home that my boy can eat?”
Esther looked at Pamilerin questioningly. “That’s okay,” he answered.
“Do you want it with turkey or fish?” Sandra asked.
“Turkey,” his mother replied before he could. “Microwave it and serve him some juice before it’s done,” she continued. Sandra genuflected and left.
When she was out of earshot, Pamilerin faced his mother. “Mum, don’t you find it weird that your house help speaks good English?”
Esther looked at her son, exasperated. “My son, all your education and you’re still stereotypical.”
“Come on mum, we know the reality. Educated people just don’t end up as maids.”
“I think you’ve been too sheltered. In this country, educated people end up as anything to survive. I imagine Sandra must have tried to get a better job but settled for this to survive.”
“And is she good at it? Not too proud or anything to do some things considering her education?”
“Not that I know of. As a matter of fact, I think she is the best I ever had, her education might be a plus,” Esther, almost too patiently.
Pamilerin pursed his lips and mused over it when Sandra came in again with his juice. When she left them, he continued. “So if she gets a better job, would you be willing to let her go?”
His mother stared at him with shock for a second, “Of course!” she exclaimed. “You give me little credit, Pamilerin, really. She is an asset but I don’t think I’m evil as to wish she ends her career in my home.”
“I was just pulling your legs, mum.” He knew he was doing far from that, he had really been curious as to know how she would handle the situation, but she didn’t have to know that. “I know you would, my mum is the best in the world,” he placated, trying to make up for asking.
“Well, that is reassuring,” she answered, touching his cheeks lightly.
Later that night as Pamilerin sought sleep, he thought for the thousandth time why he couldn’t stop thinking about his mother’s help. She wasn’t his type, for God’s sake.
She was short and he preferred his women taller. He didn’t fancy ladies he towered over, it was simple as that but he couldn’t explain what it was about this particular lady that ate at him.
Even if he could overlook the height, he knew there were some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed and he was sure dating his mother’s employee didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t because she was the help; it would have amounted to the same thing if she was his mum’s personal assistant or accountant, he wasn’t a snob.
And to worsen the case, he found himself thinking about getting her a better job. What was wrong with him? he mused. He had just seen her for the first time today, hadn’t even known she existed some hours ago. And people don’t go dopey-eyed over somebody they were seeing for the first time, for crying out loud.
It shouldn’t be his business; her employment status wasn’t his problem, his head said again. Now if only he could get his heart to listen.
To be continued next week Friday.
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