‘’Pam I didn’t feel you emotionally in the songs.’’ The band director said to me after the first half of the set. ‘’You are getting away with it because your technique is on point, get yourself together for the rest of the set.’’
I nodded and sighed. I knew myself, to sing these songs with emotion I needed to think of Sam. This show was too important to me, I couldn’t afford to blow it.
I walked to the bar and sat on one of the stools and looked out at the crowd, I saw Bola in the crowd. She was smiling away at her date, a guy she was yet to tell me about. That was Bola, she wasn’t one to waste time moping over a guy.
‘’Is this seat taken?’’
I turned to look at the person who asked.
‘’Sam, what are you doing here?’’
‘’I couldn’t miss your first solo show, you should know that.” He said. “Do you want me to leave?’’
‘’No, Please stay.’’ I said.
We sat in silence for a few minutes and I fiddled with the cup in front of me while he stared into space.
‘’Sorry about what I said about your parents.’’ I said without looking him in the face.
‘’I deserved it.’’ He said.
I shook my head. ‘’No you didn’t, no one deserves that, ever.’’
‘’Are you still open to working on this?” he asked.
‘’Pam we need you.’’ The band director called out to me.
Sam held my hand and squeezed it. ‘’All the best.’’ He said and let go.
I felt ready for the second half of the set and I was. I looked at Sam’s smiling face from the first song, through all of the songs and until the very last one.
The band director walked up to me when we were done.
‘’That was beautiful Pam. You practically saved yourself from having a stillborn solo career.’’
I smiled and walked to where Sam sat on the bar stool, the stool next to him was taken, so I leaned into him and he wrapped his hand around me. We still had a lot to talk about, but it was crazy if I thought I was ready to let this guy go.
“Sam?” Grandma’s raspy voice came from behind my door.
I opened my eyes and rolled off the bed. I would have pretended to still be asleep but I knew she was sleeping too so if she was awake and waking me up, it was important. I walked to the door and opened it.
“You have a visitor.” She said.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Come out and find out.” She said and walked away from me. “Please put on a shirt. Nobody wants to see your hairy chest.”
I closed the door and fished out a t-shirt from my wardrobe. Who was visiting me at this time? I had a date planned with Pam in two hours, I didn’t want anyone or anything messing with my plans. I walked out of my room and towards the living room.
Her perfume announced her presence before I laid eyes on her.
“Pam.” I called out as I entered the living room.
She stood and met me halfway into the living room. I stretched my hands and hugged her. Her hands went around me but didn’t go around my waist, they went up to my neck. I felt something drop on my neck and she stepped back.
I looked down at my neck and saw a chain with a somewhat large and strange pendant resting on my chest.
“What is this?” I asked.
“My way of saying, ‘I am sorry’.” She said.
I removed the chain. “Sorry for what?”
I looked at the pendant closely, it was heart-shaped and thick. It was beautiful but I felt like there was something I was missing.
“I like it.” I said, still a little unsure of what I was looking at.
“Give it to me.” She stretched her hand and I dropped it in her palm.
She pushed or maybe pulled something on the pendant and it opened. She handed it back to me.
I looked inside the pendant and I stood still. I opened my mouth then closed it. I looked up at her and my eyes teared up. I looked down at the open pendant again. On each side of the pendant were pictures of my parents in their army uniforms.
“How did you…?”
“Your grandma helped.”
“And you thought of all of this between yesterday and…?”
“And today, yes. Where there is a will…”
I chuckled and sniffled, all at the same time. I reached for a chair and sat.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“You can say you love it.” She said and sat on the arm of my chair.
I looked up at her. “I love you.”
“And you said you don’t know what to say?” Her smile was so bright. “I love you too Sam.”
I felt my heart would burst from the emotion I felt in that one moment. I looked at the pendant again, I wasn’t worthy of this.
I stood and pulled Pam to her feet. I put the necklace around her neck, it looked better on her.
“What are you doing Sam?” She asked and made to remove the necklace.
“Don’t remove it. You should wear it, I’m sure my parents would want you to.”
She smiled. “They won’t, they don’t even know me. You are their son, surely they…”
“I’m their son who hated them for years. All these years, I never thought to do what you thought about in a few hours.”
“You didn’t hate them, you were just hurt.”
“Same difference.” I said. “It’s good if you wear it. At least now they will always be close to love.”
“And love is me?” She laughed.
“You know this is a great setup for something I had planned for today.”
“Really? You planned to give me a necklace with my parents’ faces on it?”
She laughed. “I’m kidding.”
I shook my head. “Let me get dressed and we’ll go out.”
I headed for my room, stopped and looked back at the necklace, it was the best gift I had ever received. No, she was the best gift I ever received.
“This is supposed to be a date Grandma.” I said, sliding the gear into park.
“Who said I can’t go on a date with my favourite grandson and his lovely girlfriend?”
“Nobody said so ma.” Pam said. She punched me on the shoulder. “Stop disturbing your grandma.”
I opened the door, stepped out of the car and looked at the gate I was about to enter. The faded sign read ‘Hope Cemetery’. I was actually grateful my grandma decided to come. I had not been here since the day my parents were buried and I had no idea how to find their graves. It was already emotionally stressful, adding the confusion of finding their grave would have made this worse.
“And don’t deceive yourself, this isn’t a date.” Grandma called from the other side of the car. “You’re simply doing what you should have done years ago.”
I smiled and watched her shuffle toward the gate. Pam came over to my side of the car and looked up at me.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“And you don’t think you should do it alone? This is personal.”
“You’re the one carrying them on your chest, they’ll be more pleased to see you.”
She smiled. “Are you sure?”
I closed the door and we followed my grandmother.
“Do you even know where their graves are?” Pam asked.
“No. I’m so lucky grandma decided to come.”
“It’s not luck Sam. Your grandmother is a lot wiser than you are.”
She was right, Grandma probably anticipated my challenge. We walked without saying anything. Walking through a place filled with dead bodies seemed to take away any words I could have, I would save them for the car ride back home.
Grandma kept walking and I kept reading the headstones as we walked. My parents were young when they died but I saw people who died younger than they did. Some even younger than I was at the moment.
“Makes you think about how you live your life, doesn’t it?” Pam asked.
“What? The graves? Oh yeah, it does.”
Grandma stopped ahead of us and my eyes went to the headstones in front of her. I swallowed as memories came rushing back. They were not many but they were strong. People walking past me without as much as glance, all of them giving their condolences to my grandmother. The few that looked at me, shook their head in pity.
“Are you okay?” Pam asked.
“Yeah.” I said.
She ran from my side to my grandmother’s, she wasn’t talking to me. I ran after her. My grandmother was crying, her small body vibrating with each sob. Pam already had an arm around her so I just stood beside them trying my best not to join my grandmother in tears. She did not cry when they died, I wondered why she cried now.
“Should we go back to the car?” Pam asked, she looked at me with worry in her eyes. She was surprised to see Grandma cry too.
“No, no please.” Grandma said.
She wiped her eyes with the sleeves of her sweater. She stopped sobbing but the tears still flowed down her cheeks. She smiled and looked at Pam, then at me.
“Pam dear, could you please give me a moment with Samuel?” Grandma said.
“Of course.” Pam said and she walked away from us.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Why? Because I cried?”
“Yes, you never cry.”
She smiled. “My dear, I cry all the time. I’m just smart enough not to let you see me cry.”
“All this time I thought you were Wonder Woman, I didn’t know you were just …Woman.”
She slapped my wrist. “This is no time for jokes.”
We stood and stared at the headstones for a minute.
“When your parents died in that accident, they left everything they had to you.” She said.
“I know and I gave it all away.” I said. “Foolishly, I should add. I know that now.”
“You gave it all away because you were angry at your parents, so yeah, foolishly.”
“There’s no need to emphasize the foolishness, not-Wonder Woman.”
She sighed and looked at me. “I didn’t give you everything they left for you at the time.”
“I kept something back, it was the right thing to do.”
“Are you saying I might be the owner of a property in say, Asokoro? London? It’s Dubai, isn’t it?”
“Again, you’re making jokes.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just super excited.”
“I have it here with me and I think it’s time I gave it to you.” She said.
“You have a house inside your bag? Or wait, you have the papers?”
“Stop playing around Samuel or you won’t get anything from me.”
I smiled and put my arm around her shoulder.
“Okay, I’m serious now. What is this one thing you kept?”
She dipped a hand in her bag, brought out an ivory box and handed it to me. It was small, kind of like the case of the cufflinks she got me for my birthday.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Open it.” She said.
I opened it; inside the box was a ring. I removed the ring and held it closer to my eyes.
“That ring belonged to your mother and it belonged to me once.”
My eyes watered again and this time I was not fighting the tears.
“Grandma, are you sure you want me to have this?”
“Yes, the time is right.” She said. “I promised myself not to give it to you until you were ready and believe me I would have taken it to my grave if you were never ready for it.”
“And you think I am?”
“Don’t you think you are?” She asked.
I looked beyond my grandmother to where Pam stood, looking at her phone. She looked up and saw me looking at her, she smiled and waved. I smiled and returned my gaze to Grandma.
“I am, I think I’m ready.”