It was in the middle of the night when Papa knocked on the door. Loud knocks that could wake everyone up, he knocked on the door continuously, "Open the door!", his knocks were very heavy on the door, the whole neighbourhood must have surely heard the the knocks.
"He is back", Sandra said as the loud knocks echoed, she sat up on the bed she shared with her sister, Kiki, Kiki eyes were already opened. "Who is going to open the door?" fourteen year old Kiki asked, Sandra stood up from the bed, "I will", Sandra went out of the room.
The small living room smelt of cigarettes, mother must have been smoking again, Sandra said to herself as she walked towards the door, "Go back to your room", Mama said, Sandra looked at the dark room and tried to figure out her mother, she switched on the light.
Mama was sitting on the couch, tears rolled down her eyes as she continued smoking the cigar, "Go to your room...", Papa continued to knock on the door cursing,
"Mama, what are you doing to yourself?"
"I said go to your room!", Mama shouted loudly, Sandra switched off the light and went to the room.
"Come back here! Open this door!", Papa continued shooting, Sandra laid down on the bed.
"He is sleeping outside today"
"He is, close your eyes and sleep Kiki, you know you're going to school tomorrow...", Sandra kissed Kiki, held her close to herself, they both closed their eyes, as they thought of Papa outside.
The next morning, Sandra and Kiki both dressed for school, while mother prepared breakfast for them, Kiki looked at herself in the mirror and smiled at her beautiful self, "come and eat your breakfast! The time is far spent", mama shouted, they walked to the dining, mama prepared yam and egg, Kiki happily munched up her food with sister while mama went to the bathroom.
"Don't you think Father is outside?"
"I don't know", Sandra answered, "but I hope he's not outside" Sandra looked at her sister, Kiki kept quiet and ate her food.
Kiki picked up her plate to the kitchen to wash, "aren't you done?", she heard mama ask Sandra, suddenly she heard the knock on the door. Kiki washed up her plate quickly.
"Go and open the door", Mother said as she packed her hair, Sandra went to the door, Papa entered inside the house, looking all rough, dirt were on the side of his cloth. He looked at Sandra, "why didn't you open the door yesterday?"
Sandra in her school uniform looked at the floor, Papa drew her ears, "next time I knock, open the door! I'm I clear?", Sandra looked at him and nodded her head.
"Pick up your bags", Mama said to the girls and entered her room. Papa sat down on the dining and served himself food from the cooler, Sandra rushed to wash her plate.
"Mama ain't you going with us?", Kiki asked as mother gave them money to buy lunch, Mama shook her head, they left mother's room and walked out of the house, to school.
"why would mother stay behind?"
"To talk to father, why else?"
"Talk to father? what's there to talk about? Papa just goes around drinking all day long, he doesn't support mama in any way and she wants to talk to him?", Kiki shook her head, "I wish he'll just go away at times"
"Kiki! What are you saying?" Sandra stopped walking and looked at Kiki who walked up ahead. Kiki turned to see her sister behind, "Sandy! Are you coming?"
"Yes! I thought you won't look back", Sandra said as she walked up to her sister.
Mama worked as a nanny in Madame Rita's house, she cleaned up the house, cooked the food and made sure everywhere was just perfect, Mama hurried to prepare breakfast, she had come late due to Papa's many problems, Mama thought of the sweet days they've had together, when Papa was a banker, then he always came back home with gifts for the children, everyone was always happy to see him, but since he lost his job he became so different, acting weird, getting drunk, beating his mama, shouting on everyone.
"Rose? Rose", Madame Rita called out, she had been standing at the kitchen door for awhile, "Rose?"
Rose turned back, "I'm sorry ma"
"Serve me breakfast", Madame Rita said and left the kitchen. Mama let out a sigh and quickly set the tray to take to her boss.
Mama served Madame Rita and was about to walk into the kitchen.
"Don't leave yet, sit", she pointed at the other chair on the dining. Mama sat down and looked at Madame in her beautiful gown, she looked younger although she was in her early sixties, Madame sipped her tea.
"Rose, what's wrong?", Madame looked at her, "do you need some money?"
"No ma.", Mama said as the tears came down her eyes, "nothing is wrong"
"I know, is it your husband? What did he do this time? Did he hit you again?"
"No", Rose cleaned her eyes with her handkerchief, "he left....", she said as she cried the more, Madame looked at poor Rose and hugged her, "don't cry, don't cry dear", Rose got herself together and moved back, "thank you ma"
"Rose, it is going to be alright, I promise you", Madame held her hands and smiled.
Sandra and Kiki came home at noon, Kiki threw her bag on the bed and undressed, "I'm going to Anita's place..."
"Did you tell Mama?", Sandra looked at her, Kiki shrugged her shoulders, "I'll be back before she returns home"
"You're not going anywhere"
Kiki ignored her sister and went to the bathroom, Sandra looked at herself in the mirror, smiling at the beautiful body she had gotten from her mother, Sandra thought of Kiki, she was very sure she wasn't going to Anita's place. Sandra remembered seeing Kiki hanging out with some older boys in her class, she had seen Kiki leaning close to Jason, the head boy of the school, few days ago and had warned her sister to stay off Jason as she knew he was a flirt.
Kiki dressed up in jeans and a top, Sandra was in the kitchen preparing lunch, Kiki came to the kitchen, "I'm leaving", Sandra looked at her sister, "tell me something, are you really going to Anita's?"
Kiki opened her big black eyes, "yes, I am", Sandra looked at Kiki, "I don't believe!"
"It's the truth, you can come with me..."
"Don't stay long Kiki", Sandra turned to the vegetables and kept on chopping, she was making salad for the rice, Sandra heard the door close behind her, "Kiki", Sandra said out gently and sighed.
Kiki walked up towards her friends house, it was few blocks away. Kiki got to Anita's house and knocked at the door. Anita, black pretty girl of average height, opened the door for her friend, they hugged themselves and went into the house.
Mama came home around seven thirty, Sandra took her bag, and the groceries she had brought home.
"How was school?"
"Fine ma.", Sandra said, Mama sat down on the chair, "Kiki is out?"
"Yes. She went to Anita's", Sandra said and went to sit next to Mama, "did anything happen in the morning?"
"what do you think?", Mama looked at her beautiful young daughter, Sandra looked at her mother, tears came down Mama's eyes, "Your father left...", Sandra opened her mouth to speak but couldn't, "he left, he left us...", Sandra hugged her mother and thought about what Kiki had said in the morning, Sandra kissed her mum's hair.
"It is gonna be okay, mum"
"Yes, it is", Mama kissed Sandra's neck.
Kiki entered inside the house and saw Sandra and Mama in each other arms, Kiki walked to them, "is everything okay? Mum?"
"Come here", Mama said as she embraced her daughters and looked at the portrait of her husband.
"My dad left", Kiki told Anita the next day at school, "I'm just super happy, he finally left us, he has caused Mama more pain..."
"Ain't she in more pain?", Anita asked Kiki as they sat down to eat in the cafeteria.
"She isn't, she's happy without him, I am actually happy without him", Kiki said, as she looked over at her sister, eating with her friends.
"Are you gonna come to Nathan's party?", Anita asked Kiki
"I don't know but if Sandy is coming, I'm coming, you know she saw me with Jason..'.
"Yeah you told me, but she'd still find out bout you and Jason"
Kiki smiled, "Yes, I know but not now, for now it's a secret"
"secret? with the most popular guy in school? you got to be kidding me", Anita said as she sighted Jason walk into the cafeteria with his friends, "look at him", Kiki turned back and saw them, "is he coming towards here?"
"Yes", Anita said as Jason and his friend's walked towards their table.
"You are dating him!"
"So you are?", Sandra looked at Kiki, "he's a flirt! do you know how many girls he has ditched?"
"I know and I'm not gonna be one of them, I love him and I'm not breaking up with him!", Kiki walked out of her sister, slamming the door behind, Sandra sat down on the chair, why was she even bothered she asked herself, let Kiki make her own choice.
"No!" Sandra said out loud, what if Jason was a replica of her father, Sandra sighed out loudly and walked towards the picture of father in the living room.
"I wish you'd return"
The exams were fast approaching, everyone was busy in school reading, studying, Sandra was studying very hard as she was planing to apply to Titus University to study nursing, she needed to pass with very good grades to get the admission.
It was past eight, mother hadn't return yet. Sandra had wanted to call but changed her mind on it, Kiki came to the living room, she has been reading in the room.
"Won't you call....", Kiki started to say as the phone rang. Sandra ran to the phone.
"Sandra, yes, I'm sorry I'm not yet home. Madame fell sick, we had to rush her to the hospital, I hope you girls are fine?", Mama asked,
"Yes, we're fine. How's Madame Rita's body now?"
"She's getting better dear, give the phone to Kiki"
Kiki took the phone from her sister, "Mum what's wrong with her?"
Sandra watched her sister enter the room, she had been watching a movie, Sandra had gotten tired and went to the room
"What if Papa comes today?", Kiki as she joined her sister on the bed.
"Why think such things?"
"I want to know if you'd go to open the door?"
Sandra looked at Kiki, "I'd open the door for him if he comes..."
"You won't", Kiki said, "what if Madame Rita dies?"
Sandra sat up on the bed, "are you saying she'll die?"
"I won't want that to happen cause that means we'll be more poorer and you won't be able to go to the university", Kiki looked at Sandra, she knew how much her sister dreamt of going to the university.
"If Madame Rita dies we'll all have to DL part time jobs, well she isn't gonna die", Sandra said, "let's pray for her"
Kiki looked at her sister as she rendered a prayer.
Mama came home after six days, the girls hugged her happily, they sat down together to eat the snacks Mama had brought for them, they told Mama about their exams which they started, Mama listened to her daughters happily, they slept in the same room that night.
The exams came to an end, the girls were super happy, they came back home and met Mama, she was with aunt Tamar, they were both talking together, Kiki and Sandra greeted them and entered the room, "you don't have to worry Rose, I'll take care of them..."
"Mama", Kiki said as she watched her mother iron their clothes, "what did Aunt Tamar want?", Kiki asked as she to collected the iron, Mama looked at her beautiful grown up, strong willed daughter, she reminded her of her youthful days.
"We need to talk, Sandra!", Mama said as she went to the dining to sit, the girls followed her, they both stared at their mother.
"You both know, the past days hasn't been easy, ever since Madame Rita fell sick", Mama looked at them, "Madame Rita has to move to the States...."
"And you're going with her?", Sandra asked
"Yes. I am, for few weeks..."
"We are not going to stay with Aunt Tamar...", Kiki said out, "I am not going, if that's the plan! I dislike her! And her stupid children..."
"I am talking Kiki!" Mama shouted out, "I know you don't like her, but you girls are going there for few weeks"
"I'm not going! why can't we stay here in this house?"
Mama looked at Kiki, "to your room! Now!"
Kiki looked at Mama and Sandra, "I....", Kiki went to the room, slamming the doors loudly.
Mama sighed loudly. "Sandra, I promise you girls, I will return in few weeks time, but for now please you stay with your aunt, you know Madame Rita has done so many things for us"
"Mama, I understand you, Kiki does too but please don't stay away for long"
Kiki and Sandra moved to Aunt Tamar's house, Kiki looked at the three bedroom flat, she remembered aunt Tamar always smacking her for unnecessarily, Kiki and Sandra joined Fiona in her room, a beautiful well decorated room. Fiona and Kiki were same age, but unlike Kiki, Fiona was fair skinned and thin.
"I hate here already", Kiki said on seeing, Dave, her nephew, Dave looked at them surprised, "Is this Kiki?", he stared at her, she had changed totally, more beautiful and all way rounded like her sister.
"That was the same question I had asked mum", Fiona said as she sat on her bed pressing her phone.
Sandra and Kiki ate dinner with them, it was nothing like home, everyone was quiet while they had ate, Sandra helped clear the plate and washed them,Kiki was next to her talking, "I haven't seen Uncle Brad"
"He may be at work", Sandra said as she continued washing the dishes.
The days went by, Sandra and Kiki opt in for jobs in aunt Tamar's restaurant, they helped to serve and clean. Fiona came by with her friends at times to eat, she spent most of her time practising ballet. Dave also helped out in the restaurant at times.
"You know I have a party tonight, if you'd come", Dave told Kiki as he helped rinse the plate. Kiki shook her head as a no, "I'm not interested"
"You should be, some boys will be coming from your town", Dave said to her, as he left the plates he was rinsing. Kiki thought of Jason as she washed the plates, it has been eight days since she heard from him, he must have been worried, she missed him and missed Anita.
"What was Dave doing? rinsing plates?", the waitress asked Kiki, Kiki nodded her head.
"he likes you, you'd better be careful of him", the waitress said and left the kitchen to the restaurant.
"I know he likes me, so what? I'm not interested in him or anything here" Kiki looked at her sister, "I'm tired of staying here, washing plates and serving customers daily, I'm tired.."
"Mama should be back before the Easter celebration", Sandra said as she held her sister's hand on the bed. Fiona was not around as she had slept out with her friends.
Sandra spoke to Mama on the phone in the restaurant. Kiki was busy serving the food to the customers.
"Mama but you said during the Easter...", Sandra said as she looked at the floor.
"Yes, and I'll try to be back towards then, I promise you"
"Sandra! What are you doing there? on the phone?", aunt Tamar asked, she had been busy with some customers and didn't notice Sandra. Sandra kept the phone and returned to the kitchen to help make some food. Aunt Tamar followed her, "who were you talking with? your boyfriend?"
Sandra looked at her aunt, aunt Tamar held her ear, "whom? were you.."
"my mum!", Sandra said as she removed aunt Tamar hand from her ear, "you didn't have to hold my ear"
Aunt Tamar slapped Sandra suddenly, "you don't talk back to me! From now hence, I don't want to see you near the phone...."
Sandra walked out of the kitchen, slamming the back yard door loudly.
Sandra walked away in tears. Why won't Mama come back? why did Madame Rita have to fall sick? why did they have to come here? why was aunt Tamar mad with her often? Sandra remembered the way she had shouted on her for forgetting to buy the groceries and had sent her to go and get it, Sandra thought of school, school was resuming soon and she hadn't been able to read for the final exams.
Dinner was served, Kiki barely ate the food, she had heard what happened, Kiki watched aunt Tamar eat and her children, they didn't seem to worry about her sister. Kiki picked her plate to the kitchen, "she didn't eat the food", Fiona said, aunt Tamar didn't say anything. Kiki walked to the room and looked out of the window, hoping to see Sandra enter inside.
"she didn't return home", Kiki heard her aunt say, Kiki sat up on the bed and wondered where her sister had gone. Kiki walked to the living room and saw her aunt on the phone.
"where do you think your sister would have gone?" aunt Tamar asked as she kept the phone.
"I don't know", Kiki said looking at her aunt, "did you tell Mama already?"
"Yes, I did.."
"Did you also add that you had pulled her ear and slapped her for calling her mother?", Kiki asked her aunt, aunt Tamar looked at Kiki, "go to your room!"
"I ain't going anywhere! You drove my sister away! You shout on her! Complain about everything she did!", Kiki shouted, "I just hate you!", Kiki cried bitterly.
"where are you going?", Dave asked as he watched her walk out of the house.
"Mum you just watched her leave...."
"She'll come back as well as her sister", aunt Tamar said
Sandra was in the restaurant arranging the chairs with other staffs when she saw her sister walking across the street. Sandra ran outside, "Kiki!", Kiki turned to see her sister, "Sandra!", she said happily as she ran into the road, not watching.
"No!No!", Sandra shouted as the car hit Kiki, Sandra ran to the road as well, the car had stopped, people gathered around. "No!", Sandra cried as she held her sister, she HQ fainted.
"It is going to be alright, she'll be fine", the doctor said to Sandra, Sandra in tears went to the phone in the hospital, paid some money and called Mama, "she had an accident........"
Sandra sat in the hallway, she thought of the days they had together, happy days with Papa, when they'd go out together and eat out.
"Sandra?", Mama called out as she sighted Sandra, she was sleeping off on the chair, Mama went to her daughter, sat down next to her and held her crying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry", Sandra opened her eyes to see her mother, she hugged her happily, they both cried in each other arms, "Mama don't leave us again, please..."
"I won't, I promise you"
Kiki was on the bed, her leg was bandaged, she remembered not looking at the road as she had being happy to see Sandra.
Sandra and Mama sat next to her, Kiki smiled happily, "I'm actually happy I had this accident..."
"Kiki?", Mama said as she smiled, "I'll never leave you girls alone, we are all going to the States..."
"Oh...my...mum are you serious", Kiki asked happily, she had always dreamt of visiting the United States of America.
Sandra and Mama went to aunt Tamar's house to pick up their bags. Dave was the only one at home, he was surprised to see aunt Rose, he hugged her happily, "aunt Rose"
"Dave", she smiled at him, "look at how big you've grown, what of Fiona?"
"she's out with friends, did you call mum already?"
Mama shook her head. "No but I'll check her in the restaurant"
Sandra came out with their boxes, "Mum I'm done", Sandra took the boxes to the cab.
They took a flight to the United States, Kiki was happy, she used a walking stick to come down the plane. Sandra looked around happily, Mama smiled at her girls, she was never going to be separated from them again, she promised herself as they walked out of the airport.