During her grandmother’s funeral, Kari learned that her grandmother had left her a box. She went to pick it up but couldn’t bring herself to open it. It stayed hidden in her closet for months. However, after a little encouragement from her colleague, Kari was ready to see what was in the box. Read the first part – Her Grandmother Left Her An Heirloom That Revealed Hidden Secrets Part 1
Like clockwork, Kari came back from work, dropped her handbag by the door, went to the kitchen, poured herself a glass of wine then sat on her favourite chair. She hadn’t been much of a drinker for most of her life but after her grandmother passed away, she found comfort in the bottle. She was also stressed out about the box her grandmother left her.
“What if you wait until it’s too late?” Her colleague’s words echoed in the back of her mind.
Half drunk, she staggered to her bedroom and lay on her bed. She had done this routine for the past few months. However, she couldn’t sleep this time. She kept thinking about the box. After tossing and turning, she got up and retrieved the box from the closet. She then carried it to the living room and stared at it for a while. Her cousin walked in and saw her sitting motionless.
“You will have to open it someday.” She said. She, too, noticed that Kari was acting weird and it was all because of the box.
“Do you want to do it with me?” She asked.
They both squeezed into a single seat then Kari reached for the box. It had a sellotape around it that had seen better days. It was already peeling off which made it easier for her to remove it. The box was now slightly opened and Kari could see some of its content. There was a stack of letters on one side and a stack of photos on the other side. Though she almost knew what was inside, she wasn’t ready for it. her heart raced as she slowly opened each side of the box.
She removed the stack of photos first.
“Who is that?” Her cousin asked.
“That’s my mum,” Kari answered as tears rolled down her face.
“You mean our grandmother?”
“No. This is granny’s daughter. My mother.”
“Oh. She’s beautiful.”
Memories of her mother came flooding in. Some things she thought she couldn’t remember kept replaying in her head. She remembered her mother’s old car – a cream Toyota Corolla – that she loved so much. As she shuffled through the photos, she could see the car, their old apartment, holidays, and birthdays. Then, she spotted an interesting figure. There was a tall, dark man towering over her 5’2, petite mother. However, she didn’t seem to have any memories of the man though he looked somewhat familiar. So far, she was able to identify everybody and everything in the pictures except the man.
She set the picture aside and then continued looking through the pictures. It took her almost three hours to look through the pictures. Her cousin had already fallen asleep and she had to take her to sleep in her bed. When she came back, she checked the time and it was a few minutes past midnight.
“I still have time.” She thought to herself.
She took out the stack of letters and then got down to business. One by one, she read the love letters between her mother and a man she believed to be her father that dated back to high school.
“They were high school sweethearts. How sweet.” She thought as she sipped some wine and then continued reading the letters.
She saw things about her grandmother. According to the letters, she didn’t support the relationship.
“I will come and talk to your mother next week. What should I bring for her?”
One of the letters read.
At the bottom of the box, there was a necklace that had a picture of two little girls. Kari immediately recognized herself but she couldn’t recognise the other girl.
“Maybe it’s my mum when she was a child.” she said brushing it off.
She had been up the whole night without realizing it. It was only until her 7 am alarm went off that she snapped back to reality. She wasn’t sleepy but she didn’t have the energy to go to work. So, she decided to continue reading the letters. She was finally starting to connect the events of her mother’s life and she didn’t want to stop.
“Did my grandmother drive my father away?” She asked herself. The woman she had looked up to and trusted with her life could have been the reason she didn’t grow up with her father.
From the letters, she learned that her father attended a neighbouring boy’s school to her mother’s. They started a relationship when she was in school which continued after she finished school. He wanted to marry her after they learned that she was pregnant. However, her grandmother later found out that her father had impregnated her daughter out of wedlock and she attacked him.
“She says that you’re lying. You’ll never marry me because I come from a poor family and you come from a wealthy family and I should focus on raising my child. Is this true, John?” one of the letters read.
From then, he was no longer welcome at my grandmother’s home. She vowed that he would never meet his daughter and threatened to throw him in jail if he ever came to her home. To avoid going to jail, Kari’s father moved to another place and he never saw his young family ever again.
Kari wondered if he even knew that her mother had passed away many years ago. She wondered if he was still alive himself. She wanted to meet him so badly and ask him a million questions.
The following day, she went to the office feeling more positive than she did the past few months. She had a noticeable glow and the gold necklace she wore breathed new life into her.
“I love your necklace.” her colleague commented as they settled in.
“Thank you. I found it in the box. It must be an heirloom from my mother. She even put her picture as a baby.” Kari said turning the necklace pendant to the other side.
“Wait, that’s me!” her colleague exclaimed.
“It can’t be. That’s my mother and me.”
“That’s my baby picture, Kari. I have hundreds of them.”
They were both silent as they looked at each other trying to understand what was happening.
“Do you think…” Kari started.
“I think we should go see my mother.” her colleague suggested and the pair dashed out of the office without as much as a goodbye.
There was an uncomfortable silence as the pair drove to the countryside. Kari didn’t know what to say and her colleague was in shock about her family history. They finally arrived at the humble iron sheet house where they found a middle-aged woman sitting outside.
“Mary, you didn’t tell me you’re coming to visit. And you brought me a visitor. Oh, how nice.”
“Hello,” Kari said as she walked up to her.
“And who are you?” The woman answered warmly.
Before she could answer, the woman stood up and inspected Kari. “You look familiar.” She said, “Have we met before?”
Kari fell to her knees and broke down in tears. She had so many emotions that had bottled up for years and now she could let them out. She had finally met someone who knew her parents and wasn’t her grandmother.
“Can we come in, mum? We need to ask you some questions.”
“Come, my dear.” She invited her into the house which was filled with pictures of the towering man she had seen in her mother’s pictures.
“What happened to him?” Kari managed to ask.
“He was sick. He suffered from liver issues for many years. I told him to stop drinking that local brew but he wouldn’t listen.”
Kari was quiet as she listened to the lady talk about Mr Baraka who she now knew was her father.
“When I met him, he had a daughter. That’s you, Mary. He wasn’t together with your mother but he managed to take you. She had one other daughter who is you, Kari. You are fraternal twins.”
The girls looked at each other and broke down. It was like fate had driven her to her family since she hardly got along with anyone else except Mary. They listened as the woman explained everything about the two families. Kari was relieved to know that her father didn’t abandon her because he didn’t love her. Then, it then hit her that for the past few years, she was sitting next to her sister and she had no idea about it.
“Your father loved you very much. He talked about you all the time and in his last days, he wanted to meet you. However, your grandmother couldn’t let him. It wasn’t her fault either. They just couldn’t work things out.”
The two talked for hours. Finally, Kari felt like she had found a piece of her that had been missing. She was happy to learn a lot about her father and even happier to know that she had other siblings. They parted with a long tight hug and a promise to keep in touch.
Kari went back to visit her father’s widow regularly together with Mary. She learned something new every time she visited and understood more about herself. She no longer felt so lonely after her grandmother passed away because now, she had another family who loved and accepted her.
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