Finding Happiness 1 Mrs. Edna Ebiere Silva sat with her daughter in their nicely furnished living room going through some newly purchased jewelry from her recent travel to Dubai. It was quite late in the evening and soon they would be preparing for bed but Tonye had managed to convince the older woman to engage in the jewelry exhibition. Edna who also had secretly wanted someone to show off to, had given in after a little feigned objection. The amazement on Tonye’s young face made Edna smile appreciatively, she knew she’d selected some really quality stuff, that would be how her friends would be staring in wonderment whenever she wore them. Being the widow of a billionaire, she had a status to keep and really did try her best. Women and their tongues could be unforgiving when they sized one up and decided one didn’t know how to dress for one’s status. Edna painstakingly picked her outfits because unlike many of the women in her current circles, she’d not been born with a silver spoon, neither had she been groomed while growing up and everything she had now, she’d stumbled upon. She was a woman, from the lowest of the low class who had set out on her own early in life and had managed to make a quite a lot out of it. Being sharp of mind, brilliant and easily adaptable had helped when at the young age of twenty five she’d had a newborn to take care of and three years later, a baby daughter whose father was nowhere in sight. She was a strong woman, a survivor, not given easily to panic but rather planned ahead. Life had been great to her and she was grateful to God even if most times she felt lonely since her beloved husband had passed on a few years back. “Wow mom, these necklaces are something else, you have got to give me something out of all these; I’ll take one of them oh!” Tonye threatened her mother and grabbed one of the gold necklaces in front of her. Moving backwards out of her mother's reach, she tried hooking its clasp around her neck. Mrs Silva held out her hand, sitting up, she raised her voice a bit, out of annoyance “Tonye will you hand that back right now? You can save up money and go and get yours, these ones are mine! Oya, hand that back right this minute!” but knowing her daughter, it was fruitless being annoyed, she took what she wanted and wouldn’t return it if she didn’t want to. Even if she did give it back now, Mrs Silva was sure it would be missing from her room again by morning. Confirming her thoughts, Tonye shook her head “mom, stop acting up now, you know I’m a student, it would take me a lifetime to save up the money whereas you have the money and many other necklaces better than this one, let me rock this one now.” Tonye said the necklace on her neck now “Mom, don’t you want your daughter to look expensive too?” “That necklace is too expensive for you; I’ll get you a cheaper one.” Edna replied, her tone still crisp “Besides you are careless with these things, you’ll get it missing very soon if they don’t rob it off you. Bring it back….now!” she snapped before adding in her most threatening voice “and don’t let me get off this chair, Tonye!” Mrs Silva hardly took that tone with her kids, but Tonye could be very trying sometimes, she sensed her mother’s growing anger and began to take it off “but mom you don’t try sometimes oh, all this money and you can't get me some nice things?” she whined “ just don’t complain when my boyfriend gets me a nice one like this.” Mrs Silva was forced to smile, so she’d resorted to a little threatening of her own but Mrs Silva brushed it aside, she knew her daughter “ You are expecting me to comment on that but I don’t have your time. Dare can buy you the whole of the UAE if he likes, that’s you and his problem. Just hand that back…. Thank you very much,” She said accepting the necklace, her eyes falling on the grandfather clock that stood not too far away. The time was far gone. “How about your brother? Do you have an idea when he’ll be back? It's already 10.30 pm.” She got up finally from the chair, packing up all the jewellery from the Coffee stool and into the jewelry box. She needed to change into her night wear and get to bed, she hardly ever slept late. She needed a good night's rest before going into work the next morning. Tonye shrugged “I guess he had to work late again, but…” She never got to finish the statement as her elder brother Tekena trudged in looking tired out. Dragging his tall, athletic form to the nearest sofa to him, he dropped into it, letting his laptop backpack fall gently to the rug. “Anything for dinner?” were his first words to no one in particular. “ A good evening to you too.” His sister replied him caustically “Just cause you’re tired doesn’t necessarily mean your manners have to disappear also, does it?” Tekena grunted, choosing to ignore his sister since he knew her tirade, she took pleasure in annoying him or getting him to lose his temper but tonight he didn’t have the energy to oblige her. His mother however was more forthcoming. Stepping closer to him, she placed the back of her hand on his temple “Are you okay, dear?” She asked a worried frown creasing her brow “Did you overwork yourself, again?” Now Tekena who was too old to be fawned over,groaned “I’m fine mom, just really tired and hungry. Can I get anything to eat?” He asked again. “ Okay.” Mrs Silva straightened up, convinced her son was fine. She turned to her daughter “Tonye, please go get your brother’s dinner.” Tonye fixed her mom with a surprised glare “ Me? Why not just call one of the maids to fix it?” Mrs Silva, needing to get her night’s rest, was getting quite impatient with Tonye that evening , so for the second time that night she found herself raising her voice again “Tonye! You’d better get on to the kitchen right this minute, or I promise you, I will put you over my knee and give you the trashing of your adult life! What insolence? I asked you to do something and you question me… in this house?” Tonye turned in the direction of the kitchen, a dissatisfied frown etched across her face, muttering some incoherent words under her breath, while Tekena had a smug look on his face. His mother turned back to him” Did you lock the gates, Tekena? “ Nope, cause I figured Deifa might not be back yet, is she?” Tekena asked. “No,” she stated then added “she shouldn’t be out this late in the first place, please go and lock it,” She said turning to leave but turned back when he began to speak. “ But if I lock the gates now, she wouldn’t be able to come in and Aminu isn’t around to open it if she returns……” Mrs. Silva raised a brow, her irritation returning “Oh, you also, Tekena? I ask you to do something and you think you know better? What are you kids turning into in this house?” she started but Tekena wouldn’t be bullied as easily as his little sister. “Mom, I’m sorry if you feel disrespected but I can’t lock the gate and leave her stranded outside, it's just not right!” he stated. “I know you two don’t get along but she shouldn’t be treated her like that, this is also her own home.” Edna looked at her son, he’d always had a soft spot for his step sister and she didn’t hate the girl but Deifa was so trying and Edna believed she needed to be thought a lesson but here Tekena was, defying her because of that girl who didn’t have any manners to save her life. “ So you are saying you won’t lock the gate?” She asked to be sure. “ Mom please, don’t make this more than it should be, please.” Tekena begged, his hazel eyes pleading with her. Mrs Silva was about to let it go, when the object of their altercation appeared through the French doors, walking into the living room and on toward the staircase at the end of the large room which led to her suite of rooms. She moved on without giving them a hint of a glance, ignoring their presence as if they didn’t exist to her. “Young lady,” his mother called sternly and Tekena groaned aloud while Deifa kept walking on like no one had spoken. “Tramp,” Tonye who had just come in, a tray laden with his meal in her hand, spoke up and finally caught their step sister’s attention. Deifa stopped and turned as Tekena stared at his sister in amazement. What had called for that word? His mother should shun Tonye but he knew that wouldn’t happen. Deifa fixed Tonye with a stiff glare “Your generations to come, all of them will be tramps.” she returned, her usually light voice sharpened in its tone, before she continued on her way. Tekena noted the looks on his mother and Tonye’s faces, it was classic, he struggled with himself not to burst into a laugh. Tonye flared “Coward, bitch, come back here and face me if you can! Mummy did you hear her?” Tekena stole a glance at his mother who was still too shocked beyond words to speak. “ Mummy I’m tired of talking nonsense from her oh! Mummy I’m tired.” Tonye shrieked, flailing her hands up and down in an angry motion “ One of these days ehn?, One of these days, I will show her who I truly am…..” She yelled, pounding her fist against the exquisitely carved pine table in the centre of the room. That would definitely hurt in the morning, Tekena mused silently. “She will mess with me on the wrong day and I will show her!” She concluded, her chest heaving up and down, she was visibly shaken and pissed as hell, if she were lighter in complexion, he was sure she’d be red. Holding back his smile, he delved into his meal, Eba with vegetable soup. He didn’t plan to butt in else that would cause even more trouble but he should have known trouble would have found him anyways. “ Calm down, Tonye,” His mother spoke up finally, having found her voice “ her cup will get full one of these days,” then she turned on him “ Can you see now? Do you see what you caused? If you had simply locked the gates as I had asked, none of this would have happened.” He looked up from his meal to see both his mother and sister’s eyes shooting daggers at him, he was suddenly in the centre of it all “It’s all my fault now, isn’t it?” He asked not exactly expecting a reply, he continued “You’re both looking at me now, right? Well, I didn’t do anything wrong, if Tonye had just kept her annoying mouth shut, she wouldn’t have been insulted, would she?” “ Mummy can u hear your son?” Tonye began yelling again “So I should have kept mute while she ignored mummy abi? Mummy can you hear your son? He’s siding that bitch.” “I’m not siding anyone, just saying what I saw and Tonye you should watch your mouth, she’s your stepsister, not a bitch.” “So you are now saying it's okay for that little nitwit to ignore and disrespect me? Is that what you are saying Tekena?” His mother asked him. He sighed, these women could try an angel’s patience “Mummy, that wasn’t what I implied and you know it…look guys, I don’t want trouble, I’ve had a long day, I just want to enjoy my meal before I go to bed. All I meant was since she ignored you, you should have Ignored her in return, simple.” He tried explaining “Oh? Now you are telling me how to run my own home abi?” “Is this a home?” He snapped back finally losing it, getting to his feet for he’d lost interest in his meal “How do you expect her not to ignore you when you treat her like an animal and not human? You treat her like an outcast and you expect her respect? I’m done for tonight mother, good night!” he said crisply “Oh so you are also walking out on me right?” his mom asked, her eyebrows raised in wonder. “I’ve lost my appetite and I feel a headache coming on, please excuse me.” He sneered as he left wondering if things were ever going to turn around in the house.