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Key To My Heart

EPISODES: 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

ONE

♣ ♥ ♣

THE sun was still up in the sky but shadowed by the hazy clouds now.

It would rain soon. Patti knew this and looked forward to it. She loved the rain, when it came at the right time, and when it came in the right torrents. The one building up behind the murky clouds looked like it would be just right.

It should wait though until she was done with her delivery. One more stop—the most important. Patti allowed the shadow of a smile to etch her face. She enjoyed doing the deliveries, one of the farm hands could do it, but it was a pleasure for her and so she took charge of it.

She enjoyed the handling the packaging of clients’ requests, seeing the pleasure on their faces when they get their deliveries and right at same level, she enjoyed the long rides in her Toyota Tacoma. Trundling along their little town’s broken-tarred roads in the truck always gave her a sort of power surge. A soothing feeling of being in charge and having a balance despite the brokenness of the path life has presented.

The smile around her mouth tugged harder at the thoughts in her head. She was a woman who liked to feel control, a good measure of it, over everything in her life. Where there was no balance, there was bound to be chaos—that was her private motto.

She changed down her gear and slapped on her turn signal as she prepared to cut into the dirt road that led right down to Mama-Onye’s house. Patti imagined the pleasure that will light up her old eyes when she saw the dried fishes she’s got wrapped for her. They were a great favourite of hers, the well-dried cat-fish and the various vegetables that accompanied her every delivery day.

The old woman herself was a great favourite of everyone in the small town, of hers in particular. Patti loved her, like she would her own grandma. She was quick-minded, unapologetically outspoken—says it like it is. And she was generous. That was her most loved virtue, her compassionate, generous heart. She would think of everyone else before she thought of herself.

It sometimes made Patti ashamed that she wasn’t that altruistic. But one can only be faithful to one’s true nature—that was the consolation she always gave herself. One Mama-Onye never failed to tease her with.

Onyemaonyenweuwa.

That long mouthful was her real name. Who knows the true owner of the world? Patti always wondered, when she thought of her name, if their forefathers were questioning if the world belonged to God… or to Satan.

Maybe.

But it was having Onye appear twice in her name that earned the dear old lady that pet-name. And they of the younger generation added ‘Mama’ to it as a dual form of respect and endearment.

“Mama-Onye!” Patti called out even as she slowed down and pulled up beside the old brick bungalow house. “Mama-Onye, I’m here… and here with fish.” She gave a chuckle and jumped down the truck, marching around the back to begin unloading.

She started with the crate of eggs. They were the most delicate and should be catered inside first. A shadow of a frown came upon her face that the old woman had not responded to her call and hadn’t come out of the house. Patti figured though that she might be at the backyard and might not have heard her. Not her usual routine with her liking to sit out front on the veranda when the evening sky was golden with the setting sun and the air was cool.

But maybe the prepping rain had sent her inside.

She angled her elbow to nudge open the door and then took a quick step back when it opened and a man’s bigger and fuller frame filled the doorway not Mama-Onye’s.

“Well, hello.” The man’s face, dark, angular and shadow-bearded brightened into a smile. “Who do we have here?”

Patti saved her snort. She knew a city line when she heard it—and she has heard it way too many times to care to hear it again. “Evening. Mama-Onye not home?”

“Fortunately not. Fortunately for me, that is.” The smile upped to a grin. “She had some errands to run. That for her? Let me help you with it. I’m her nephew—if you are wondering.”

She was. But Patti didn’t bother with a response. She just handed over the crate of eggs and turned to get the other things from the truck. With them being well-bagged vegetables and the dried fish, she catered them in both hands and was saved mounting up the front stairs of the house as the man was out and coming down them.

“Let Mama-Onye know the fish is specially from Nnadim and that I’ll be back next week with fresh supplies.” She instructed, handing over the bagco bag.

“Right. And thank you. Do we owe anything for all of these?”

“Nothing. Mama-Onye handles her bills in advance.” Something you would know if you were ever around. Patti added the reproving thought only to herself. She shut the back seat door of the truck and marched towards the front.

“Hey, I didn’t get your name?”

Patti spared him a glance. “That’s because I didn’t give it.”

She got in behind the wheel, started the truck and pulled out of the compound.

She didn’t think about the nephew again—except to briefly wonder where he’d appeared from. No doubt on a quick visit to the old lady in the village. He was surely city type—was definitely city mannered.

Her phone rang and Patti slipped the earpiece right into one ear. “What’s up, Nnadim?” Slang-like greetings have always been their thing.

“Clouds of rain impatient to come down.” Her grandfather wittily retorted. “Hope you’re heading home. It looks like it’s going to be a big one tonight.”

“That is good, we need it.” Patti expertly swung into their one-major highway. “But I’m already heading back, so I think I will beat it.”

“Good. Grab some Yoghurt from Obi, will you?”

“Will do that. See you soon.” She ended the call and tossed off the earpiece.

From her windshield, she eyed the darkening sky. Yes, it was going to be a big one all right and she would beat it. Prepped for the challenge, Patti tapped on her left-side indicator and cut off to the other side of the road to park in front of the town’s biggest supermarket.

Only supermarket if you considered that the other provision stores were just mini shops.

“Obi, evening. How’s market today?” She greeted the late-thirties shopkeeper.

“Business is always good.” Obi smiled his welcome. “Yoghurt for Nnadim, right?”

Patti smiled. “You know him well. And add those cookies Nneka love so much. Why she can’t let go of sweet things, I can’t fathom.”

Obi chuckled and got busy with her orders. “Just because you evaded the grasp of the sweet-tooth doesn’t mean everyone succeeded on that. And thank God for that, for where will I be if the entire world was inclined towards the sour like you are, eh?”

“Which is why the world is rightly balanced—some like it sweet, some like it sour.” Smiling, Patti took the packaged goods and slipped out money to pay for them. Then slipped back the change he passed her into her jeans. “Let me run, Obi. I’m aiming to beat the rain.”

“You will only if you hit hard on your accelerator.” Obi called after her.

“If only the roads permitted it.” Patti called back, getting back into her truck and back on the road.

The rain was coming in drizzles by the time she walked through their front double door.

“You are lucky.” Nnadim greeted her. “This is just preliminary drops. It will get heavier, louder and more menacing in a matter of minutes.”

“But I beat it.” Patti declared with a puff of pride at her self-challenge

She hung her key back on its clip and walked towards their mini dining area where her grandfather was setting out the dishes. He was tall, a little curved from old age and bone aches. But he was not as grey-haired as most old people in his age grade were.

“I see it’s fried yam and tomato sauce for tonight. Where’s Nneka?”

“Huddled up in her place and claiming she won’t surface until morning.”

Patti laughed. Rain always chased the farm’s cook under her blankets. “I’ll have to save her cookies for tomorrow then. Got your Yoghurt here.” She pulled it out and then sat down beside her grandfather. “Want to lead the grace?”

“You go ahead.” Nnadim invited.

And Patti dropped her head, linked hands with her grandfather and then said the grace.

“So how’s Onye? Did she like the fish?” Nnadim asked as they started eating.

“She would.” Patti helped herself generously to the tomato-fish sauce. “Didn’t meet her though. Had some errands to run… so I was told by her nephew.”

“Nephew?” Nnadim raised his head. “She has someone visiting? Didn’t hear anything.”

“Maybe he’s just arriving.” News, or gossip, travelled fast in their small town. “Anyway, he was there and he received the goods on her behalf. Wanted to know if he would be paying me. He would know how she plans out her affairs if he cared enough about her to visit often.”

“Hmm.” Nnadim said nothing else to the criticism. Old age thought you to judge less and be more tolerant. “So what does he look like, this nephew?”

The over-casual tone did not deceive Patti. And it did not change what her answer would be anyhow. “Like a man. Tall like one, muscle-built like one and sure talked like one.”

A disinterested observation. Nnadim swallowed his sigh, but not his worry. “Must be good looking then.” He pressed.

“He had two legs, two hands and a face. So I guess that works for good looking.”

Again he swallowed his sigh. And again, he couldn’t swallow the worry that etched his heart. But he said nothing and went on eating.

Patti looked at him though. Noted the worry lines. “Stop worrying.” She chided.

“I am not.” And because his denial was quick and false, Nnadim smiled. “It’s a grandfather’s job to worry about his granddaughter.”

“Your granddaughter is just fine… and would always be. So stop worrying.” And because she loved him and understood him, Patti gave his hand in an affectionate rub. “I am always fine, Nnadim. Fine and content.”

“But happy?”

“Happy too.”

Nnadim stared momentarily at her before he lowered his head. “One can never be completely happy with being alone.”

“And mercifully, I am not. Happiness is not man-dependent, Nnadim.”

She meant it—and she believed it. She surely planned on living and proving it.

Patti dipped a piece of yam into her sauce, chucked it into her mouth and sent her grandfather a reassuring smile.

 

Dedication: For all June & July Celebrants, may your lives be blessed.

**We came a day late… or was it a few hours late? Lol. Lots of good folks counselled me to rest and so I did. Thanks everyone for your support and prayers.**

*eBook Purchase made easier! Via: *RECHARGE CARD PINS!*

31 Responses to Key To My Heart

  1. Ella mum says:

    Quite sensational. Thnx TM

  2. Pacesetter says:

    Rolling along

  3. favour says:

    Wow,KTMH promises to be an interesting read.

    Good job TM,i am glad uv gotten some rest.

  4. Roselyn says:

    Wow! Great one!

  5. Unique Ell' says:

    I can see something coming for about so called Nephew!Weldone TM!

  6. Patience Bassey says:

    Something interesting coming up. Thanks TM

  7. iyke david says:

    I love this!

  8. Jeffrey Jamez says:

    Sounds foreign just with Nigerian names lol….still a good read tho.

  9. Ego says:

    Lovely. Kudos TM

  10. toykathy says:

    Grabs popcorn. Quietly following

  11. Datoks says:

    Sure loving dis

  12. Gloria says:

    Lovely beginin, tnx TM 4 shearin wit us

  13. Lade says:

    Itaf start o…….oya now

  14. I like she is a principled woman and I love the homely feel of this story.

  15. bola says:

    My seat belt fasten. Keep it roooooling. Once again Happy born day TM

  16. Fsf says:

    Oya naa,Leggo TM

  17. Temitope Shobayo says:

    I am already loving this piece. Thanks for sharing. Glad that you rest well enough because health, they say, is wealth.

  18. mystiq18 says:

    Great to be here NYSC ppl will not allow somebody to have time

  19. Toyenlon says:

    Nice one, trying to catch up.

  20. kenny says:

    Wc back TM,d lord is ur strength

  21. Joan says:

    Nice story

  22. Cheriepet says:

    Registering my presence and as always exceptional…. Keep rocking TM

  23. raychell says:

    I probably should get an award for late coming o but I will just have to catch up…. I’m loving Patti already, seems like a very principled & blunt lady

  24. Ziza says:

    TM, I have not been around for a while but a certain cassie magazine is posting TMU on Facebook. Are you aware?

  25. mady says:

    am licking ma hands wid her..gud1 TM

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