Mimi shifted to the edge of her seat in her long-time friend, Tari’s cozy parlour, and poured the complaints like a flood. It was Saturday afternoon, in the middle of the raining season.
She had married her husband, Steve, knowing he had a four-year old son, Timi, from a previous relationship that broke up eventually. Steve was a loving husband, but he doted on Timi as well. He’d told her Timi’s mother had dumped him when the boy was just a year old. They were as thick as thieves; father and son.
At the time, she had sought Tari’s opinion, knowing Tari had two kids, Nengi six, and Boma two. And Tari had urged her to follow her heart, especially if she loved Steve, and he loved her in return.
Her marriage was barely six months old but as she talked to Tari, who had been married for almost eight years, it was obvious she was not prepared her for life with Steve and Timi. She sounded frustrated.
She told Tari she had loved the adorable Timi at first sight. The boy was funny, cute, a miniature of his father, and he seemed to adore Mimi in return. The one-year relationship she had with Steve had been awesome. She was sure she had her perfect life aid out before her.
But all that changed after marriage. Timi was so naughty; she had never imagined he could be up to all the mischief he exhibited as soon as she moved into the house as ‘mummy.’ He was rude, disobedient, stubborn, and threw tantrums where anything that came into sight could be used as his weapon.
To cap it all up, Steve believed, and had told her she needed to be patient with Timi. “He’s just a little boy!” He had said. He just could not see anything wrong with the boy. She had recently taken to spanking him, and that upset Steve.
As she narrated her tale, Tari stared at her blankly, lost in her personal thoughts. Till Mimi leaned forward and pushed her at the knee, where she sat on the sofa across from her, and snapped, “Aren't you listening to me?”
Tari startled. “I’m sorry.” She blinked rapidly and took in a deep breath. “Look, maybe you should just be more prayerful.” She knew it wasn’t what her friend was looking for. Mimi needed advice on what to do. She knew what she should tell Mimi but she felt worried the latter would not be able to take the advice.
Mimi stood up, jerkily. “You seem so distracted. I will come back…”
Tari reached out and took her hand. “No, sorry. It’s just that I feel, well… Sit down…”
Reluctantly, Mimi sat down, leaving her former space to share the sofa with Tari. She pouted her lips and shrugged. She was a beautiful, self-confident, career lady, who had a life many women would envy.
Tari smiled tentatively and patted Mimi’s knee. “As I was saying, I know how this can be for you. I mean, you were so sure the boy was…”
Nengi rushed in and tripping over Mimi’s outstretched legs, fell over his mother’s laps with a palette of water colour in his hand, and on to the floor, hitting his face on the edge of the centre table before hitting the floor.
An involuntary ‘ouch’ escaped from Mimi’s lips. Tari had cursed before realizing what she said. Her new pink chiffon lace was splattered with a combination of colours.
She felt like crying as she stared at her soiled gown. “Oh Nengi!”
The boy picked himself off the floor as though he’d perfected the art, and turned to her. “Mummy, I’m sorry!”
“How many times,” Tari swallowed, trying to control her rage, “have I told you not to interrupt me when I have a guest?” She stared at her once-lovely dress.
Her face shot up to look at him, and she noticed he had cut his lip from the fall, and blood trickled down. Jerkily she pulled him to her, and she examined the cut.
Tears suddenly sprang to her eyes. For how long would she cope with his restlessness? Nengi, at six years old was notorious and restless. She feared he would hurt so badly one day, he would be irreparable. She shuddered at the thought of her neighbour’s son who had jumped from a first floor building and broken his leg...
“Now see what you have done!”
Nengi blinked back his tears. “I wanted to show you my…”
“How many times Nengi?”
Mimi’s eyes and voice softened. “He’s only a child, Tari.” She looked at the lovely dress that would probably be ruined forever and smiled gently. “I’m sure the colour will wash off. And the lip will heal in no time.”
The softly spoken plea struck an odd note in Tari’s brain.
If only Mimi would give her step-son so much consideration. Tari knew Mimi’s step-son was not even half as wayward as her Nengi!