Sept. 1998

Young and belligerent seventeen years old Jordan stood with his arms crossed around his body as he face off with his father at the Baleria International Airport.

”I just said that I do not want to go. I will not go. You can make me ” he repeated as he had been doing in the past five days since his father had informed him that he was leaving the country for his maternal uncles place in Rova.

Stupid Rova that he heard they don speak English. How was he supposed to survive there? How would he cope? How would he make friends? Was he supposed to leave his friends here to go make friends with sheep on his uncles ranch? Who still does ranching as a full-time occupation again anyway? Stupid ranch! Stupid cows! Stupid Unc… No, he couldn really call his uncle stupid, even though he did not know the man well enough he had been nice enough to him the last time he and his family came to Baleria.

When his Maman died. Jordan had been nine years old then and Maman was sick for a long while before his father told him one day when he came back from school that his mother was now resting with God.

”I do not want her to rest with God, I want her here ” was the first thing he shouted before he ran upstairs to check on the bed that his mother had laid on for months without going out while her body was racked with cough and the doctor was always coming and going till people could almost believe that the man lived in their house. Maman was nowhere to be found. Jordan still relived the way he had run down the stairs back, hitting his legs against the door of his fathers study as he shouted ”Where is Maman? ”

”The undertaker already took her away. They would take care of her body then we can go see her later before the burial ” his Parpa had replied in his deep voice as he raised his head from the correspondence he was penning.

”How could he even think of work at the moment? ” was the paramount thought on Jordans mind as he stalked out of his fathers study and slammed the door with all the fury of a nine-year-old. That was when he realised that his toe was bleeding but he did not care as he trailed his bloody footstep back to his mothers room. Not even when Molly, their resident house help, cook and caregiver called him did he answer. He slammed the door of his mothers room and went back t lock it from the inside before curling on the spot where his mother had lain for months. He folded his body tightly as he curled up on the bed. He hated his father at that moment for the fact that he couldn even feel the heat of his mother on the bed again. He hated Molly for the stale scent that he had come to attach to his mother couldn even be detected on the sheet no matter how much he inhaled deeply. All he could breathe in was the scent of lavender and soap. He had curled up there and refused to stand up when he heard Mollys voice calling him to come and eat something first.

”How dare her? ”

He curled up without answering as he heard the door knock even after hearing his fathers heavy steps on the staircase.

Not until his father said ”Jordan, get up and open the door. The undertaker just called now. We.. we can go see her now ” did he stand up.

He ran to the door and flung it open and with a sulky look, he demanded ”Where is she? ”

He did not stop hating his father till they got to the nondescript-looking establishment of the undertaker. Nor did he let go of his anger till they were shown to the no-frill room where his mothers body was placed in the coffin on a slab.

As he was about to rush in, his father laid a hand on his shoulder. Jordan looked at the man in annoyance.

”Are you sure? ” Parpa asked and that was when Jordan saw what he had been too angry before to see on his fathers face. His eyes were red-rimmed like he had been crying and grief weighed down the corners of his mouth making his moustache look droopy.

Jordan nodded and his father patted his shoulder before telling him to go ahead as she followed slowly behind.

Maman looked like she was sleeping. She seemed more at peace than she had been in the past few months that he had watched her deteriorate from the beautiful woman that everybody praised to the shell of her former self.

”Maman ” Jordan whispered as if she could answer him. ”Maman are you okay now? Maman, are your lungs no longer bad? ” Jordan felt his fathers presence behind him even before he felt his hands on his shoulder.

”Jordan ” his father called and his voice caught.

”Parpa, is she fine now? ” Jordan asked while looking at his mothers hand that was always clutched around one handkerchief or the other as she placed the material against her mouth whenever she was coughing. The hand lay passively against her waist now and they seemed to be resting from all those works too just as his mother was.

He heard his father sigh before he said ”Yes, Jordan. She is fine now. She is at peace with God, where she would no longer feel all those pain anymore. Where she would.. ” he cleared his throat. ”Where she could smile again and look down at you in happiness as she watch you grow happily. She will want you to be happy. That was what she said. For all of us to be happy ”

Jordan turned back sharply to look up at his father and caught the tears that fell from his fathers eyes before the man swiped them off with the back of his palm when he saw his son looking.

”Is that what she wanted, Parpa? For me to be happy? For us to be happy? ” he asked and his father nodded.

”Then, Parpa, don cry, ” he said as he hugged his fathers waist.

Jordan had started crying in earnest on their way back to the house. He cried while he finally accepted to eat the toast Molly made for him. He cried when his father finally realised that he had hurt his toes when Molly said she found trails of blood when she came upstairs to call him. He cried as his father disinfected the cut for him and bandaged it. He cried himself to sleep.

He was still sleeping when he felt his bed depressed and he woke up to see the stocky man that came for him, seated at the foot of his bed.

”Who are you? ” Jordan had said as he sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

”That breaks my heart, ” the man said to him with a small smile as his scraggly beard seemed to be dancing as he spoke ”To think my nephew does not know me, ” he said as he stood up, his frame blocking the ray of light that shone into the room through the window. ”I am your Uncle Law. the last time I saw you, you were so small, so you might not remember me ”

Jordan had a vague memory of the face. Not much but he knew that the face was devoid of the beard then.

Uncle Law and his wife which Jordan had learnt he was to call Aunt Nubia spent some days with them with their squalling bald baby, Chione. They were nice to Jordan and Uncle Law told him a lot of things that he had not known about his mother. Aunt Nubia even let him hold the baby.

That was a million years ago. Jordan thought as he stood his ground in the airport. How was he supposed to leave everything here and go and live with them? How could he leave his soccer team, his almost girlfriend Peina and his father who want nothing to do with him anymore and go to a county that was about 5501 miles away from Baleria?

He had calculated it for Gods sake. He might even spend the whole day in the damn plane.

”I won go ” he repeated.

Bassie Alarick looked at his son and he knew that his belligerence stemmed more from fear of the unknown than anything else.

Bassie would not want to send his son to anyone if he had another choice as the boy was all he had left of Edrice, his love but the country was becoming more and more dangerous by the day. He had to send the boy out before growing up around the influences already penetrating everywhere in the state. Just yesterday, his friends lastborn had left home to join one of them after he had been scolded for being spotted among them. No, he couldn watch his beloved son get embroiled in things like that, even if he would miss him. The boy have to go away while they tried to find solutions to the vermin that seemed to have infested their country,

He firmed his voice and raised Jordans passport ”You are going and that is that. I would not repeat myself nor try to explain why you have to leave for you ”

Jordan snorted ”I know you are sending me away because you are scared. I am not a scaredy cat and I am not… ”

The announcer announced the onboarding.

Jordan looked at his fathers face and he knew that he was totally serious. There was no way he would allow him to go back home today.

He shored the pain in his heart and put on his tough boy exterior as he snatched the passport from his fathers hand ”I don need you to go with me. I know the way. I don need you at all. Mother would have never sent me away if she was still alive ”

His fathers tired-looking face filled with pain as it always did whenever anyone mentioned Edrice ”Jordan ” his father whispered.

Jordan looked away from the mans face. Now was not the time to feel sorry for his father. The man was not feeling sorry for him. Yet he couldn help but note how older his father had gotten. It was as if he grew double time since his mother died eight years ago. People mistook Bassie for Jordans grandfather.

Jordan sighed as he turned back to his father ”Just so you know, I hate this and I do not like you right now ” he said.

Bassie smiled as he opened his arms to his son ”I know, my son. I know ”

Jordan reluctantly went to his father and the man enveloped him in a tight hug before he released him and turned him towards the gate ”Go now, my son. You don want to miss your flight ”

”I would rather do that, ” he said as he looked back at his dad and saw the telltale wetness in his eyes. He forgot all his anger and frustrations for the moment as he said ”I love you, Parpa ”

Bassie couldn hold back his tears as he replied ”I love you too, son. We will see each other again soon ”

Bassie Alarick had no idea of how soon their soon will be as he watched the security officers check his son and passed him on. He waved till the boy disappeared through the gate.

He sighed in relief despite the void in his heart.

Now that the boy was gone. There are things to do.

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