Till Evening

Two days ago, I arrived at Pulkovo II International Airport at night and slept in Pulkovskaya Hotel near the Moskovskaya Metro Station and, in the morning, moved to Peterhof where my mum lived.

I phoned mum before booking the hotel room and after leaving the hotel room. In Peterhof I waited at the door after pressing an alarm. Mum opened the door and received my bag. I followed her inside. She kept the bag on the table and sat on a sofa. A fire place was there. I felt warm.

She asked about the journey. I said I was only black in the midst of thousands whites. She laughed. My eyes turned over a wooden statue of king Jaja of Opobo and a blue English-Russian and Russian-English dictionary on the table. An enlarged picture of Nelson Mandela over the wall.

In my uncle’s sitting room in Rio de Janeiro a wooden statue of Nnamdi Azikiwe took the stool top besides the TV, the enlarged pictures of the Nigerian president and his vice were on the wall, and Chimamanda Ngozi’s Half of the Yellow Sun clouded a portion of the center table top.

Mum phoned her bro. she phone her friend.

I said I needed to see her bro. she said he was a plumber, he was a contractor for that matter. He made contracts all his life and hardly stayed close by here—sometimes in Kolpino, Zolenogorsk, Lomonosov and Pavlovsk: sometimes in Kronshtadt, Sestroretsk, Pushkin or even Moscow. He owned big properties in Lagos, Abuja and Johannesburg.

She took me to a white corridor and showed me a room. She opened the door, turned on the light and said, “you can keep your bag here, and you can rest and sleep if you like.” There was a heavy looking blanket on the bed. There was a reading and writing stool with a lamp. She dressed a window curtain. She carried a TV remote from the floor and kept on the pillow.

When we returned to the parlor, there was that atmosphere of a foreign woman with her son in Peterhof. The bag was still on the table and I didn’t think of evacuating it. She sat on a sofa she sat before and appeared relaxed but not too freely as before. As I sat looking at the dictionary cover I guessed she would ask me about dad with whom I sat at the Eco Hotel and the weather was good and promising, just five days ago.

She said she guessed my father sent me.

I said no, but we wished she return.

I looked through the window and saw two white boys playing with toy guns.

“You need to go back”, she said. “Your father sent you but you don’t want to tell me.”

I told her the truth: “Dad told me to beg you to return.”

She smiled, nodded and smiled as if it was all what she was waiting for. “My sister’s wedding, he said till evening. My mother’s birthday, he said till evening. I asked for money to repair my car, he said till evening. This till, till I don’t understand. I can’t spend my old age this way.”

Her reason was funny. Time was going.

Over lunch, I picked my phone and visited Visitex, Meet Six Skyline, We Together and Side Box where I ever ordered laundry facilities. I loved speaking with customer care and you couldn’t tell which voice was female and which voice was not. An advocate for clean streets, tall buildings and tourists’ influx, I ever talked with the facility manager over the counter. You guys, he said, advocates for tourists’ influx, he said, expect more reasons for Brexit, it cut. How would reasons for Brexit affect my transaction? This is what I called, a vague hope.

Mum watched the window and the wall clock clocked round the circle. Just like the sun. I watched a dictionary cosmic cover and my stomach told me something I couldn’t just understand.

Later she dozed on a couch for some minutes, picked her purse under a couch, looked through the window and stalked out. When she returned she ate cheese. She lied on a couch again. She sang A Girl At The Door, the words coming one after the other, clearly, slowly, till evening. She read her diary and listened to herself. She left the couch, danced, her mouth open, kept her hanky in the handbag, spelled a word equanimity, “e-q-u-a-n-i-m-i-t-y”, pushed a cot aside and stalked to her laptop. When I asked her about the cot, why was it there, she said her brother rented the house with it.

I stood on the street, one white boy watching me from a distance. They became two. They became three. They wore ash coats on top of sweater. They wore hoods. I wore the same things. But my face was black.