All the way back to Accra, Araba smiled her heart bursting with joy. Sometimes life turned out in ways you didn’t expect. She had found her lost daughter whom she had ached for all these years. Sometimes losing hope of ever seeing her and other times having faith that she would. All this good fortune happened because of a pan full of iced water. She was going to take offertory to Mass on Sunday to give thanks for this blessing she had received.
Her heart was bursting with joy. Akwesi kept looking at her through the rear view mirror. He was also very happy. He felt like he had also got a sister.
At first he was a bit jealous that an iced water seller was now going to be his junior madam as he put it but then as Madam continued talking and laughing some of her joy rubbed off on him and he also became chatty and happy. “Madam, Madam”, he said, I can fix up the bedroom for her, and we can register her at the school nearby, and we can take her to your seamstress”.
“Akwesi, go slowly” Araba said to him. “There are so many things to discuss and I cannot just go and take her from Auntie Caro”. “But Madam” he said, “She is your daughter”. “Akwesi, we will cross that bridge when we come to it”. “By the way Akwesi, You know, pushing her was a bad thing but today I will say thank God you did” and they both laughed. “So Madam, will I get a bonus for finding your daughter?” “Don’t push your luck” she said with a smile.
They arrived late in the evening and there was not much to do but to go to bed. She had wanted to go straight to the house of Auntie Caro but sanity prevailed. It was just too late to go waking people up. Tomorrow they would leave the house very early in the morning. Araba tossed and turned in bed and could not sleep. By 4 a.m. she was up and Akwesi came into the house, “Madam, so you no fit sleep? Me too, I dey think paaaa so I no sleep well”. They both laughed and she said he should go and get ready, so they could leave the house at six.
By 7a.m. they were pulling up the path of the house of Auntie Caro. They used her other car because the Benz had gone for servicing. She had asked Auntie Mansah not to call Auntie Caro until the afternoon so they had not yet heard the news. Sisi Yaa was sweeping the compound and looked surprised to see the car turn the corner. She dropped her broom and run in to call her Auntie. “Auntie Caro, Auntie Caro, Madam Araba is here”, she said excitedly. She rushed to comb her hair and tidy herself up. Today she was off from school because the teachers had a meeting with the circuit manager.
“Madam good morning, you are welcome”, said Auntie Caro, tying a scarf over her head. She was wearing a bright kaba and slit with a cover cloth around her waist which she was trying to tie at the same time “Good morning Auntie Caro, I hope I didn’t disturb you by coming so early?” “Oh no, not at all”, she said “We were taking things a bit slowly today but we are all up, I was preparing to go to prayer meeting please have a seat”.
“Sisi Yaa, bring some water for Madam”. This time she sat on the bench placed under the tree and waited for the water. “How did the visit to my Sister go? Did you find out what you wanted? Did you get any good news? Will you be going back there again?” Auntie Caro was bursting to know what information she carried back. She took the water from Sisi Yaa and asked both of them to sit down. Akwesi also came closer holding his bag of water. He was also curious to hear the full story. Madam had not told him everything. He pretended he was not paying attention by picking a duster from the car and occasionally wiping away the imaginary dust only he could see but somehow he never went out of hearing range.
Araba started her story from the beginning and every so often Auntie Caro would make a comment like “wicked man”, “God will punish them”, “satan”, “witches”, “onipa nnye”, and so on whenever Araba came to a point where she was maltreated. There were traces of tears in Araba’s eyes but she bravely held them back especially at the part where her daughter was taken away from her.
“Sisi Yaa, please go and check the soup I was heating up on the stove and turn it off if it has boiled”, Auntie Caro said seeing the tears and trying to give her the chance to break from talking.
Sisi Yaa run into the house and Araba said “Auntie Caro, I think she should come back before I continue, because it involves her also.
“Who? She asked, you mean Sisi Yaa? What does she have to do with this?” she asked. “Have patience”, Araba said.
Sis Yaa returned, surprised that they had stopped talking and were waiting for her. Araba had got to the part where she had given birth to her daughter who had been taken away from her and Auntie Caro wanted to know if she had seen her again.
Auntie Caro said “How could they do that to you? Take away your own child and not tell you where she was, it must have been hard, and you were so young, like Sisi Yaa”. Araba sighed sadly as she remembered her past but her mood changed because she wanted to see Sisi Yaa’s face when she told her she was her mother.
“Madam please tell us more” Sisi Yaa said. “Well”, said Araba, “I found out today that my little girl was taken away by my Auntie to Apamso”.
“That’s where I come from” said Sisi Yaa. “Oh be quiet and let’s hear the rest” shouted Auntie Caro.
“Are you my mother?” Sisi Yaa asked suddenly. Araba was stunned that she had asked the question and could not say anything.
“Do you think you could be the daughter of such a fine woman?”, Auntie Caro said sharply, “Tweaaa”, she said kissing her teeth “Madam please continue with your story”.
Araba kept her eyes on Sisi Yaa and she on Araba. It was as though the two were in another world where no one else existed. Akwesi was watching them and could feel something happening between them, only Auntie Caro was oblivious to her surroundings.
“Yes, Sisi Yaa, you are my daughter. The daughter who was taken away from me when I was a teenager, the daughter I cried for night and day, the daughter I never thought I would ever see again”. Tears rolled down her face and Sisi Yaa sat there in silence while tears rolled down her face too.
“Aay”, shouted Auntie Caro removing her cover cloth which she had tied round her waist. “Wonders will never cease, Aye Sisi Yaa, this is your mother! O God, you are so good” she said, waving her cover cloth in the air and pulling off her headscarf, she ran around heading towards the entrance shouting for her friends and neighbours ”Jesu” “Sisi Yaa, Sisi Yaa, Aay, I have found her mother oooh” she said. In fact she yelled so much that people gathered round her while she narrated bits of information to them. Sisi Yaa and Araba sat holding hands not being able to speak but just crying. Akwesi pulled out a handkerchief and was wiping his eyes because he could not hold his tears back. He looked around in case anyone saw him crying, Barima nsu.
Suddenly Sisi Yaa and Araba started hugging and kissing, there were no withheld emotions and finally Araba felt complete and Sisi Yaa felt safe and loved.
Auntie Caro was still enjoying the audience listening to her and they joined her in singing praises and waving their scarves and whatever they had in their hands. They were singing “God you are so good, God you are kind God you are wonderful, my Lord you are excellent” while she danced around with her cover cloth twirling about her.
Araba called out “Auntie Caro, can you please come here”, “Oh my dear Sister”, Auntie Caro shouted loudly for all to hear and slowly dragged herself away from the cheering crowd, “You are now part of my family”. Sisi Yaa watched the two women from under the shade of the tree with a big grin on her face that stretched from cheek to cheek.
“I am taking Sisi Yaa with me for the next few days so we can get to know each other. Auntie Mansah said she will call you this morning and give more details to you. She will not need to take anything with her from here; we will come back in a few days for anything she may want to take with her. I will also come back to settle things with you if you are ok with that”. “Madam”, Auntie Caro said “who will sell my water for me?” Araba looked a bit shocked to hear this. Auntie Caro was not concerned with where Sisi Yaa was going or anything like that but more concerned with the loss of someone who was going to sell her water. “Don’t worry”, Araba said, “I am sure you will not have trouble getting someone else”.
Sisi Yaa’s eyes opened wide, her heart was beating so fast she felt dizzy. She was going to be with her real mother, the smile on her face told how she felt. “Don’t spoil her Madam”, Auntie Caro said “I love her very much and will miss her”. They both knew that it was a lie.
Sisi Yaa jumped up and went to Araba saying “please can I take my books and some clothes?” “Alright, just the books, we will be going shopping for new clothes for you” she said, looking at the faded top and skirt which was burnt on the corner. Change into your Sunday dress for now. Sisi Yaa’s eyes nearly popped out of her head “You are taking me shopping for new clothes? God is good oooo I have never gone shopping for new clothes”, tears came into her eyes and she turned and ran into the house.
In less than five minutes she was out of the house and standing in front of Araba, she said to Auntie Caro “Thank you Auntie, I will see you soon”. Akwesi opened the door for her and she stepped into the car and sunk into the soft cushions. Araba followed and as the car drove away she turned round and saw Auntie Caro and the neighbours waving and gradually getting further away. Araba held on to her hand and smiled “Indeed, God is good” she said and Akwesi, looking through the rear view mirror said a loud “Amen”.