Head pounding harder at the impact of the wood connecting with my brow, I groaned in aggravation mixed with pain and sat up slowly, frowning down at my offender. However, only spotting a pink book with my handwriting that informed me it was a photo album, my brow smoothened and I picked it up, turning it slowly in my hands.

Not sure of what the album might contain, I held it out hesitantly but then my curiosity got the better of me and I slowly opened it, smiling despite the splitting headache and sore eyes.

There, on the front page, was a picture of my family and I swarmed with piles of luggage as we sat in the middle of an airport terminal. People, who looked like they were either boarding their flights or were coming out of the plan to meet their loves at the terminal, swarmed around us and unfortunately for the photographer, some passed in front of the camera which made my dad’s face squeeze in irritation.

I chuckled softly at the slight scowl on his face and shook my head. My father was pretty funny even though he tried to look serious at times. I could still remember the times when my mischievous brother would joke around and if Dad gave him a glare that simply told him to quit being silly, my brother would always give him a cheeky smile and cause even Dad to laugh aloud despite his attempt to discipline him.

Turning the page, I smirked at a picture of my two brothers, the younger one Fubara, scowling as his older brother beat him in a Nintendo game. Ever since he was a child, Tonye, would devote many hours of the day learning the new tricks of his new game that our mother bought for the boys and by the end of that day, would’ve mastered it and could beat anyone that challenged, much to his opponent’s annoyance.

There were many times when we were all in school and four of us; Dabo, my youngest sister Boma and I would be studying for our tests or assignments while the two boys played their video games.

My father, being an accomplished scholar, would harp on how Tonye and Fubara were “wasting their precious time with silly, pointless video games” instead of studying like we girls did.

Being the free spirit that he was, Tonye hated to be tied down to one particular thing, especially if it was associated with school in any form. Of course he loved going to school to hang out with his friends, but studying and finishing assignments simply wasn’t his cup of tea.

As I sat there with my eyes glued to the picture of him, clad in a simple navy-blue sweatshirt as he stared straight into the camera unwaveringly, smiling mischievously back at the camera, a slight knock jolted me and I suddenly shifted my gaze towards the door. With one hand against the knob stood my mother clad in a simple black dress that hung limply about her frame and she stared soberly at me from the door. Without a thought, I quickly snapped the album shut as if caught looking at something scandalous and I cleared my throat uncomfortably as she stood there staring back at me.

It seemed almost a few minutes that she stood there just looking at me with her own reddened eyes and tight lips, and at first I thought I was in trouble and that was the reason for my own sore eyes and downcast appearance. Opening my mouth to admit an apology to erase that look of loss and sorrow in her eyes, she finally spoke softly. “Good morning…”

I frowned slightly but muttered my own hello and she managed a smile, glancing down at the book in my hand.

My face burning under the bold-faced scrutiny, I slowly lowered the book to the floor and her eyes turned back to my face. “How are you?” she asked in a concerned tone and I gulped, wincing at the pain in my throat.

“I’m okay…” I hesitated, not wanting to lie to my mother but not really knowing what else to say to her.

“Hmm,” my mother said with a look that showed she was convinced. Instead of dwelling on my lie, she sighed wearily as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders and I felt like getting up to give her a hug, but my weary body and her guarded yet vulnerable stance prevented me from approaching her. “Well, you need to get dressed and come downstairs. We’ll be…” she paused and turned her face to the window before continuing. “Um…we’ll be leaving soon.”

I frowned at her wistful tone but thought better to ask about it. In fact, I wanted to ask her where were going in such horrible weather but I knew if I asked my questions, Mom might just snap at me. Once she turned back to my face, I nodded and cleared my throat laboriously. “I-I’ll be ready.”

Mom nodded her approval and with another wary look towards the album that now lay face down on the floor, she retreated out of my room and shut the door behind her.

end of Part Two.