It Has Been Five Years Since Everything

Five years since Papa died. Five years since Aunty Ifeoma and my cousin moved to America, and five years since Jaja was sent to prison for confessing to Papas murder. It has been five years and Mama has finally started to talk more. In fact, this is the most I have ever heard Mama speak. What used to seem to be a huge compound now seemed so small and empty. The compound walls, topped with coil electric wires, that use to seem so high, have started to cave in.

I stared at Jaja’s backside while his eyes were fixed looking outside of the window as the rain slid down the window sill. I knew that he was looking at the purple hibiscuses that had just started to sprout. Even though it has been two and a half years since he had got out of prison he still has not been the same. He had gone out into the garden for the first-time last month.

After Jaja had got out of prison we went to Abba and not only did we plant purple hibiscuses and ixoras, but Mama planted purple hyacinths next to the spot that Papa always made us pray at.

We returned to Enugu shortly after. We did not go visit Aunty Ifeoma and my cousins in America because Mama decided that we would move to America in the spring. The stereo that we had never played, that we never thought to play in the past had come in use over the last couple of years.

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I walked over and pulled out the LP drawer, grabbing a Fela tape. Listening to Fela reminded me of the time we spent in Nusukka, mostly Amaka. It made me feel as if she was here with us. I knew that if she was here, she would have smiled at the fact that I was listening to Fela. She would have broken out into a loud, melodious voice singing and moving along to the beat of the song.

Jaja’s head flew back laughing at my imitation of Amaka. “I can’t wait to go to America,” he said through pits of laughter. I nodded agreeing, Mama and I both new that going to America was the only reason Jaja was so happy lately. I don’t show it, but I am even more excited to go to American than Jaja. I can’t wait to see my cousins and hopefully Father Amadi. In the last letter that I received from Father Amadi, I learned that after his missionary work in Germany was finished he moved to America. He also expressed his true feelings for me. He said that he had not express them before because I was too young. I still carried the latest letter that he sent with me. It made me feel closer to him, I wanted to be with him. We only had two more days until we visited America.

Today was the day that we were leaving for America. I looked out the window as we drove, staring up into the sky counting the blue birds fly past, I had lost count after a minute. My gaze left the sky as I heard Mama laughing at something that Celestine had said. Mama had never laughed this much when Papa was alive. In fact, I don’t remember a time that Mama has ever laughed with Papa. I looked over at Jaja, I could see the happiness in his eyes. All I could do was smile, maybe America would be a good thing for all of us. Celestine decided to move to America with us. He said that it was because he didn’t have much family, but I knew that he had other reasons. Mama and Celestine have grown close over the last couple of years. She talked to him more than she had talked to any of us. Celestine looked at Mama the way Amadi used to look at me.

I remember Amaka telling me that Amadi looked at me that way because he liked me, so I couldn’t help but think that Celestine likes Mama. I had never imagined Mama with anyone other than Papa. The green sign reading “Akanu Ibiam International Airport” appeared as the car pulled into the airport. Once the car stopped we got out and grabbed our bags, it wasn’t long until we boarded the plane. WE HAD JUST GOT OFF THE PLANE when I looked over and saw a little boy next to his father on a red bench. A woman that appeared to be the little boy’s mother stood on the right side of the father holding a little girl in her arms. I watched as the woman moved her scarf to the side for a quick second to scratch her neck. I noticed a black-purplish bruises around her neck.

“We are glad that you guys could finally come and visit us,” a loud cheerful voice had said. My gaze had broken from the family when I hear the loud voice. I knew that it was no one other than Auntie Ifeoma. “Kambili and Jaja, Ke kwanu?” Aunty Ifeoma had said while hugging Jaja and I. My cousins looked so different since the last time we saw them. Chima had grown so tall, Amaka’s skin seemed to have grown a shade darker, and Obiora still pushed at his glasses as he spoke. “Kambili you look beautiful,” I heard a familiar melodious voice. I knew that it was Father Amadi, his arms wrapped around me pulling me into a hug. This hug was different from our first hug, it felt like we belonged together. That night we all went to Aunty Ifeoma’s for dinner. Laughter rang out, while stories were told as we all caught up on life. Although things use to seem all bad before, America was a chance at a new beginning. A place for happiness, freedom, and power.

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