“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.
“I don’t sound that way, Do I?” he directed his question to his eldest sister, Deziri. She could hear him but was unconcerned with his bants with Ozaram. 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 in the rear mirror and said nothing. She knew they were teasing him and tried very hard to stifle her laughter. Instead, 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, my dearests.” She told them apologetically.
“How soon will we be there? I am starving.”
“Very soon, my dearest.” She assured and kept her eyes on the road.
Jamal was her spit resemblance, unlike his sisters, who had taken on their father’s slim frame and oval face.
“Smart alec,” Ozaram murmured, catching her mother’s eyes on the rear mirror and mouthed an apology.
After about twenty minutes, she stopped and turned to look at them, her eyes gleaming in excitement. “We’re home, babies.” she smiled at them, but the look of horror she found on their faces sent her heart into her stomach.
“Oh my gosh! Mom! What kind of house is this!?” Deziri exclaimed in horror when she got in. It was a four-bedroom apartment, a far cry from her father’s estate and its many amenities. She began taking mental notes of the differences, which were a lot. 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 great 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. Worse, there were no maids or butlers at her beck and call. She cringed inside. This wasn’t the life she imagined. There was no way she was inviting Caleb, Mayowa, Chile, Steph and Cassie! Absolutely not!
Ozaram rolled her eyes at her sister, “just cut it out, will you? I mean, you sound like a portentous insignificant spoilt brat!”
“Woah! It’s about to go down!” Jamal said excitedly.
“Did you just call me a brat?” Deziri questioned angrily. Ozaram said nothing.
“No, I called you a portentous insignificant spoilt brat!”
Jamal watched his sister argue in mischief, occasionally fuelling the exchange. He wondered where Ozaram had learnt all the big words she used; yawning, he heard his stomach growl, “I am still hungry,” Jamal moaned, lying on the sofa. He watched as his sisters continued arguing behind him.
“You both should stop arguing and get your luggage out of the car.” Harida did not expect the outburst from her children about the house. Though it was far 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.” Then, she paused to stare at them, “Deziri, you and Ozaram will share the room to my right-”
“There is no way I’m sharing a room with Ozaram!” Deziri interjected “I don’t want to share a room with you either!” Ozaram replied. “Look, I know this isn’t something you want, but this is where we are now. The both of you will share a room, and Jamal will stay in the adjacent room to mine.” When they started protesting, Harida continued, “I don’t want you making a fuss about it. I will make us dinner soon. Meanwhile, I already ordered pizza and ice cream, which will be here in about five minutes. So I want you all to carefully unpack your things 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, and 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 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 allow us to get to know each other better.” Zara said sweetly. Deziri narrowed her eyes at Ozaram.
“Mom, please don’t listen to Zara.” Deziri eyed her
“Staying in the same room as your younger sister will help you get closer. Don’t you want that?” Harida asked.
“We can make a connection without staying in the same room. Mom, please!”
“Fine, on one condition, though.”
“You will do your chores, ace your grades and cause no trouble just as you said, and I will let you know the other conditions soon. But, for now, you can choose any of the empty rooms and make it yours.”
Deziri placed her hand on her chest in relief.
“You all should get the remaining things from the car’s trunk. 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. Then, they all rushed toward him in fear. As soon as they began to fuss, Jamal started laughing.
“Gotcha!” he exclaimed.
“What sort of expensive stunt is that? Do you have any idea how worried you got me?” Harida exclaimed. 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?” So she told him when she was sure nothing was wrong with him.
“I am sorry, mom.” He pouted. 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 happy they were finally safe, relieved they were far away from her ex-husband. She was glad she was finally free. She was thankful for Anne Ogunlana- her lawyer, and Marvin Adeniyi- her realtor. Marvin had listened and artfully taken up the responsibility of turning the house into a home.
“Mom, there is nothing left in the car’s trunk, 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.