08 December 2009

Odete, Jacqueline & a Little Bit of Hope: Chapter 2

Picking up where we left off....

Odete had always liked airports. The energy of the crowds, the hushed anticipation as everyone waited to see who would come next from the security area, the joy and laughter as families and friends were reunited.

She was so happy to be there waiting for her eldest daughter. It had been a year since she’d come home, and then for a very sad occasion – the funeral of Odete’s mother.

“The flight’s on time, so we should see people soon.” Simon smiled and wrapped his arm around the shoulders of his mother-in-law. Even at fifty-five she was still a very beautiful woman. Petite, dark curly shoulder length hair, and full, red lips. Over the years, he’d seen men stare at her, both old and young, but Odete had always seemed oblivious. To her daughters, it had been strange that their mother had not had a boyfriend or even seemed to want any male “companionship” after their father had left.

One day, almost twenty-years ago, the girls had come home from school to find their father there waiting for them. He kissed them both on the head, and told them that he was going on a long business trip. He gave the babysitter a letter for their mother and left. As days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, they tried to get some idea of when exactly they would see Daddy again. But their mother just shrugged her shoulders and smiled – “I don’t know. When he’s ready.” As the years began to pass, the girls just stopped asking and accepted that their father might never be ready.

Simon remembered all the confusion very well. He’d been 11 years old at the time, and had often played Frisbee, and road-hockey with the girls and the other neighborhood kids. After their dad had left, Odete often came over, girls in tow. Simon’s father asked him to be nice and kind and to make an extra effort. Little had Simon known that one and a half decades later, he and Jacq would get married.

“Oh, the door’s opening, they’re starting to come.” Odete jumped a little and lightly clapped her hands together.

A small trickle very quickly turned into a steady stream of weary travelers and it took only a few minutes before Hope appeared.

Hope was a younger version of her mother. Even her mannerisms, right down to the gentle, flowing way in which she waved her hand were identical.

“My baby…” Odete rushed towards her daughter and with watery eyes turning into flowing tears, pulled her into her arms.

Simon stayed back and let the private reunion unfold. There was this connection between mothers and daughters that he could never quite understand – at times it seemed like utter love, and at others, utter hate.

Odete pushed Hope’s hair away from her face. “You look tired, and a bit pale. Are you eating okay? Why did you stay away so long? How’s Tim?”

“Mom? Are you okay?” Hope wasn’t accustomed to this sort of attention from her mother.

Odete responded with a confused stare.

“Never mind. I’m fine. Tim sends his love. He wanted to come but he couldn’t get away from work.”

Hope then quickly turned her attentions away from her mother and gave Simon a warm embrace. “Where’s Jacq? I thought she was coming too?”

Odete jumped in, “Your sister’s not feeling so well.” She took her daughter by the hand. “She’s resting and will see you later. Let’s go home. You must be hungry.”

Continue with chapter 3, scheduled for 22 December....

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