The vase at the centre of my parent's living room is not the same as I remember. It lacks the crack that was there, that I put there. I stare at it, the red vase holding fake flowers that don't need water.
The house is quiet,but I can still hear screams, and the vase at the centre of the table makes it worse, bringing back memories.
"Mommy!" I push past the toys on the floor, swinging my hands and knocking off the vase at the centre of the table as I run towards my mother in excitement.
Before I can get any closer she shrieks, pushing me to the side while she hurries to her vase. I don't see the vase pieces on the floor as I chase after her, apologizing profusely.
Later, after a slap and a scolding for breaking her ₦15 000 vase, she holds my leg in her laps, tears running down my cheeks and my ears pounding.
"Mommy! Mommy! " I scream, thrashing my feet in an attempt to to get them free as she adds more of the burning liquid to my foot. She drags my leg closer, pouring all the liquid on my foot and I sob uncontrollably.
"Mommy I'm sorry! Mommy oh ! "
"Next time,break my things, you hear! You will get more than this! "
I look away from the vase and stand. My mother descends from the stairs, dressed in a black kimono with large sleeves, her hands stretched wide. I move back a little as she comes closer, surprised at her approach. Then I see the men behind her, in suits and carrying office bags, and I understand.
I hug her back and she leans into me, her perfume clogging my throat and permeating my senses. I hold in the urge to sneeze and push her away as she whispers, "Behave. "
''Gentlemen, "she says, moving to my side and placing her hands on my shoulder, "meet my son, David Oludayo Adeniniyi. "
They all nod and one steps forward, in round glasses and sporting an awful, brown tie.
"Ade Jackson. Pleased to meet you, young boy. " He says, putting out his hand.
The word boy leaves something bitter in my saliva and I taste it at the back of my throat as I swallow. I don't have the luxury of thinking about a proper comeback, because my mother's hands dig into my shoulder.
I take his hand in mine, gripping it firmly so he grunts, removing his hand with a laugh.
"You shake hands like your father Laibęru. " Without fear.
There's something unsaid in his words, something I don't wish to unpack. I put my hands in my pockets, effectively pushing my mother's hands away from my shoulder.
"It's nice to finally meet Adeniyi's heir. We'll take our leave, Sharon. "
My mother pushes forward. " Let me walk you to the door, gentlemen. "
I wait till they walk out the parlour, before I sit. My phone beeps and I take it out, reading the text from my roommate with a smile on my face. I type a response, ready to hit send when my mother walks in .
"Dayo. Those were the executive members from The People's Bank. What was that? You could have cost us an agreement. "
I look away from my phone and sigh, saying nothing.
She walks to the sofa beside the one I'm in, still speaking.
"I sent for you last Christmas. And it takes a year and your sister's pleas to bring you here ? What did she tell you that made you come running?. "
She sits in her chair, crossing her legs and leaning backwards.
"That my father was sick and dying."
I had never considered the thought that she may have lied, Lily, the sweet daughter who always did my mother's bidding. Her tears sounded genuine, and I had not been able to reach him for a week now.
I had never thought to call my father to check in again, either, a sick man, I presumed would be in the hospital covered with tubes and away from his phone. Until he called while I had already take the trip, forcing me to meet up with him a day before,convincing me to talk to my mother.
"Maybe she'll understand you. " He had said.
She chuckles, shaking her head. Her earrings jingle as she does so.
'' Your father is sick either way. Deciding one day to leave his businesses behind after all the blood and sweat that went into building it? He's lost his mind. "
"You and I know that you don't give a damn about his efforts. "
"Dayo!" Her eyes go wide and she uncrosses her legs, leaning forward. "You will speak to me with respect, young man! "
"This is why I don't come here," I want to say, "because nobody can handle the truth." I say nothing instead.
"I do not expect an apology. You are your father's son anyway." She says, leaning back in her seat again, her voice more composed.
"But in my house," she continues, "you will address me with respect. I'm I understood Dayo? "
I lean forward, my elbows on my knees as I match her stare. "Crystal, ma. "
She nods, flexing her fingers. There's a brief silence before she asks; "How was your trip back? "
"Fine." I say, trying not to let my surprise that she asked show.
"Okay. I have a conference meeting set to hold in three weeks . You will need to be in town before that, so you can look at the files and company's documents , attend some important meetings . Your father is with most of them, but that should be no problem for you, since I believe you are still in communication with him."
I'm surprised I let myself believe she would pry more, ask about how my life had been. It's been two years since we saw each other, after all.
"Why would I do that? Come back to the company to attend a conference meeting? "
"You are not just attending a conference meeting. You will declare yourself CEO over all affairs of Niyi's Empire. " She says it like it's a matter-of-fact, sure and not to be questioned.
"How would I do that?"
"Nsütó mbád question adó? "(What kind of dirty question is that?)
Her steady rap of Ibíbío causes the wrinkles on her forehead to line up.
"I have a job,mom. A life. "
It's the first time I call her that in years and her eyes don't water or flicker up in acknowledgment.
"Quit your job. Move here. Your father just left ten branches without a head and unsigned legal documents, without so much as a word, for God's sake! And here you are, taking about your life. Our legacy is at stake, do you understand? . "
"He said he talked to you about that. "
Her mouth purses before she says, "No rival of ours will run my company. "
"Your rival, ma. And Niyi's empire is ours, not just yours."
I see her eyes light up and I instantly regret my word choice.
"At least you admit that you are a part of Niyi's Empire."
I press my nails into the flesh of my palms as I force myself to say, "I will ask dad to reconsider coming back. It's the most I can do. "
"You will do no such thing. You will step up as CEO and that is final. "
"For you," I say, standing, " or for me?"
"Sit down, Dayo".
"Find another scapegoat. You and dad."
I walk away as she screams.
"Do not walk out on me, Dayo. You will respect me! You will do what I say young man. Dayo! "
I hear glass shatter as my hand rests on the door knob and I pause, thinking about another vase broken because of me.
I don't walk back to confirm my suspicion, pulling open the door and walking away from the house instead.