“Are we there yet?” Jamalumchi, Kamharida’s nine-year-old son fussing in his seat asked her.
“Are we there yet?” Ozaram, his immediate elder sister imitated, sticking out her tongue at him when he stared at her.
“Deziri, I don’t sound that that way, Do I?” He turned to his eldest sister who was oblivious of her environment, for support. When he got no response, he yelled her name.
Her eyes still on her phone, she replied coolly, “I can hear you.”
“Do I sound like a whining horse?”
“What did Ozaram say?”
“She said I sound like a whining horse.” He pouted.“In that case, you do,” Deziri said as a matter of fact. “You have been whining since mom started driving.”
Kamharida looked at her kids on the rear mirror and said nothing. She knew they were teasing him and tried very hard to stifle her laughter.She watched as Jamal turned to look at Ozaram who was now making funny faces.
“Mom, tell Ozaram to stop making funny faces at me!”
“You are so rude. What happened to manners and why is your voice so loud?” Ozaram asked.
“Alright Ozaram, stop bothering your brother, will you?”
“I am just teasing him. Besides I am bored.”
“We’ll soon be home to my dearests.” She told them apologetically.
“How soon will we be there? I am very hungry.”
“Very soon my dearest.” She assured and kept her eyes on the road.
Jamal was her split resemblance, unlike his sisters who had taken on their father’s slim frame and oval face.
“Smart alec.” Ozaram murmured and caught her mother’s eyes on the rear mirror and mouthed an apology.
After about twenty minutes, she came to a stop and turned to look at them, her eyes gleaming in excitement “We’re home babies.”
“Oh my gosh! mom! What kind of house is this!?” Deziri exclaimed in horror when she got in. It was a four bedroom apartment as opposed to the mansion she used to live in. The sitting room was one-quarter of the sitting room she was used to. The dining had just six seats as opposed to the fourteen grand dining seats she was used to. Instead of wallpapers, she saw painted walls. She didn’t want to get started on the rooms. Her former home was much fancier and prettier than the one she was standing in. What was worse, there were no maids and no butlers at her beck and call.
Ozaram rolled her eyes at her sister, “just cut it off, will you? I mean, you sound like a portentous insignificant spoilt brat!”
“Did you just call me a brat?” Deziri questioned angrily. Ozaram said nothing.
“I am still hungry,” Jamal yelled as he layed on the sofa while Ozaram and Deziri started argued behind him.
Harida did not expect the outburst from her children about the house. Though it was a far cry from what they were used to, it was better.
“I want you all to listen to me,” Harida said, restoring order. “I know this is new to you all and I hope that with time you will learn to accept and deal with the change.” She paused to stare at them, “Deziri, you and Ozaram will share the room to my right while Jamal will stay in the room adjacent mine. I don’t want you making a fuss about it. I will make us dinner soon. Meanwhile, I already ordered pizza and ice cream and it will be here in about five minutes. I want you all to unpack your things gently and carefully and join me in thirty minutes at the dining.”
“I am not sharing a room with Zara.” Deziri stated.
“You can share mine,” Jamal said.
“That is even worse. Mom, I want my own room. I promise to ace all my grades, I promise to do my house chores on time. Please don’t let me share a room with Zara.” She pleaded desperately.
“I promise to ace all my grades too and cause no trouble. I promise to be very polite and be kind. Mom, please let Deziri and I share a room. I will also do my chores and not act like a spoilt snob. It will give us an opportunity to get to know each other better.” Zara said sweetly.
“Mom please don’t listen to Zara.” Deziri eyed her
“Staying in the same room as your younger sister will aid bonding between both of you. Don’t you want that?”
“We can make a connection without staying in the same room. Mom please!”
“Fine, on one condition though.”
“I will let you know of it soon. For now, you can choose any of the empty rooms and make it yours.”
Deziri placed her hand on her chest in relieve.
“You all should get the remaining things from the trunk of the car. Please remember to put your clothes in the wardrobe. I will be in the kitchen if you need anything.”
As they started for the door, Jamal slumped on the ground, alarmed, they all rushed towards him with their hearts in their mouth. As soon as they started fussing, Jamal started laughing.
“Gotcha!” he exclaimed.
“What sort of expensive stunt is that? Do you have any idea how worried you got me?” Harida couldn’t hide her fear. She still checked him out to be double sure he was good.
“I didn’t mean to get you all worked up, I just wanted to-”
“Please don’t ever pull this kind of stunt again, ever! Do you understand what I am saying?” She told him when she was sure nothing was wrong with him.
“I am sorry mom.” Harida pulled all of them for a hug and whispered to them, “I love you.” She planted soft kisses on their forehead before letting them go. “Don’t ever pull that kind of stunt on me again. None of you should.” She told them and they nodded.
As she released them, Ozaram and Deziri tapped the back of his head. “At least, I got to scare the life out of you.” They chased after him.
Smiling, Harida shook her head. She was glad they were finally safe, glad they were far away from her ex-husband. She was glad she was finally free. She was glad for Anne Ogunlana- her lawyer and Felix Adeniyi- her realtor. Felix had artfully taken up the responsibility of turning the house into a home per her inputs.
“Mom, there is nothing left in the trunk of the car and the pizza delivery guy is here,” Deziri said bringing her back to the present. Jamal dashed into the house with Ozaram on his tail.