Trisha looked at herself in the mirror for the third time. She was wearing a black trousers and a red flower printed blouse. The weave-on on her head was brushed back and with her light makeup, she looked beautiful.
But she was nervous. Every time she had to go out with Ryan, she felt nervous. He came now every two weeks to see her. This was the third time after their first date. She knew he liked her and she liked him too. Maybe this evening, she would tell him the truth. He deserved to know and especially now that they were getting closer.
The car horn sounded and she picked her handbag and phone, and then walked out of her flat.
“Good evening.” She greeted him with a smile as she entered the car.
“Good evening, Vivian.” Ryan said, returning her smile. “You look beautiful.”
“You’re welcome. So, guess where we are going this evening?”
“I can’t guess. I asked you on the phone and you said it was a surprise.”
“So it is. But I’m asking you to guess all the same. After all, there are not many places to visit in this town.”
Rolling her eyes, Trisha thought about it and said. “The new Sweet Taste Restaurant?”
“Right at first guess.” Ryan said with a grin. “I heard about it opening last week and thought we should check it out. You have not been there yet, have you?”
“No, not yet. And I will like to check it out.”
“How are your mum and sister?” Trisha asked after a minute of silence.
“They are both fine.” Ryan cast her a glance and added. “They want to meet the woman I keep travelling to visit.”
“Oh, that is nice of them. I will like to meet them too.”
Trisha nodded. “Yes, very much.”
“That’s good then, because I want you to meet them. And everyone else.” Ryan said.
He had made up his mind to confront her. If she was Trisha Ogbonna, he wanted to know. And he wanted to convince her to go back home.
But he waited until they had finished their meal and was enjoying their cups of ice cream before he ventured into the matter.
“You know, the first time I met you I thought you looked vaguely familiar.”
Trisha lifted her head to look at him. “Oh really? Who did I remind you of?”
“An old friend of my sister’s.” Ryan said, watching her carefully to see her reactions. “Her name was Trisha Ogbonna.”
Trisha dropped her spoon, took the napkin and wiped her mouth.
“My sister told me that Trisha wanted to be a painter. She ran away from home after their SSCE and no one has seen or heard of her since.” Ryan paused, breathed in and asked gently. “Are you Trisha Ogbonna, Vivian?”
“Yes, I am.” Trisha said. “I am Trisha Vivian Ogbonna. I’m sorry I kept my true identity from you all this time.”
“Oh my God, you are truly Trisha Ogbonna.” Even though he had suspected it, the admission that she was the one shocked Ryan. “It’s almost unbelievable. You left home when you were about seventeen and look at you now ten years later, looking good and doing very well for yourself.”
“I had to work hard, so I can make my dreams come true and prove to my… to those who didn’t believe in me that painting is not a bad career choice.”
“You mean prove to your parents, don’t you?”
Trisha smiled and nodded. “Yes, I meant them. They wanted us to take interest in politics, especially my mother. I had no interest in politics, or in anything else but painting.”
“Was that why you ran away from home, because she objected to your career choice?”
“Yes, and also for another personal reason.” Trisha replied. For some reason, she didn’t want to share her main reason for leaving her home and family. “But I sincerely apologise to you, Ryan, for keeping the truth from you. I should have told you when we started getting closer. I was thinking of telling you this evening actually.”
“It’s all right. I think I understand. You were not sure if I won’t expose you to your family. Is that not so?”
“Yes, that is what I was afraid of. But I’m no longer afraid. I think I am prepared to face everyone again.”
“That is good because everyone is waiting to see you again.” Ryan said. “Your mother has changed, Vivian. Or should I call you Trisha now?”
Trisha smiled. “Please, I will like it very much if you do.”
“Trisha it is then. But as I was saying, your mother has changed. I don’t know about your father. Maybe like my own father, he will never change. But your mum is a different person now. I know because Laura and your sister, Brenda, keep in touch and Brenda told her this.”
“Is that the truth, my mum is changed?” Surprised, Trisha frowned. “But my father is still involved in politics. I hear about him every day.”
“Yes, he is. I don’t think that part will ever change. But your mum is not so involved now. She is more into church and charity works, Laura told me.”
“My mum doing church and charity works?” Trisha could not believe it.
“Come back home and see for yourself, Trisha. Everyone misses you. I know you have built your studio and business here, but you can start afresh and still be a success back home.”
“Yes. Yes, I think it’s time I go back home. I have missed my sister and brother, even my parents. And Laura too.”
“She has missed you too and would be overjoyed to see you.”
Ryan took her hand in his. “I’m glad it’s you, Trisha. And I know everyone will be happy to see you.”
Trisha smiled at him. “I will be happy to see them too.”
The first person Trisha wanted to see was her sister and Ryan took her to one of her restaurants and left her there.
She asked for Brenda and was shown to her office.
Trisha breathed in deeply to calm herself and then knocked on the door.
She opened the door and walked in. “Hello, Brenda.” She said.
Brenda’s eyes widened as she stared at her long lost sister. “Trisha? Trisha, is that you?”
“Yes, it is me. I am so sorry, Brenda.” Tears filled Trisha’s eyes and fell down her cheeks. “I am so sorry for keeping silent all these years. Please, forgive me.”
“Oh my God, it’s Trisha!” Brenda stood up and ran over to her side. She embraced her. “My little sister is back home again. Thank you, Jesus!”
The show of love overwhelmed Trisha and she cried even more. “I saw your posts on Facebook. I wanted to reply every time I read a post concerning me, but I was afraid to come back and nothing will have changed.”
“Everything has changed. Mum has changed.” Brenda took her to the couch and they both sat down. “She is different now. She misses you a lot. She wants to see you and explain.”
“So Ryan said.”
“Ryan? You mean Laura’s brother?”
“Yes, we’ve been seeing each other.”
Brenda was shocked to hear this. “And he didn’t tell us anything?”
“He only knew three days ago that I am Trisha Ogbonna. He suspected, but wasn’t sure. Anyway, I will tell you all about it later.”
“You will definitely tell me because I want to hear about you and Ryan and how come he’s been seeing my baby sister.” Brenda said with a fake frown.
Trisha laughed and embraced her again. “Oh, how I have missed you, Brenda.”
“I missed you too. We all did.”
“I can’t wait to see Bryan. I saw the pictures of his wife and daughter on Facebook. Such a beautiful girl, his daughter I mean.”
“Yes, she is very beautiful. But the first person to see is Mum. You have to hear her out and then we will all go together to see Bryan and his family.”
She was nervous to see her mother, but Trisha nodded. “Okay, I will see Mum first. I think I owe her an apology anyway. I owe everyone an apology. I shouldn’t have left home the way I did.”
“No, you shouldn’t have. But that is in the past now, so let’s forget it.” Brenda stood up. “Come on, let me take my handbag and we will be on our way.”
“All right.” Trisha said, happy to be back home and grateful that her sister didn’t turn her away.