Eric Sheppard was the younger brother of Edward Sheppard and worked alongside his brother as a partner of EESB, “Edward and Eric Sheppard Brothers Corporations”; a company which dealt in oil production, automobile manufacturing, engineering and a few other things.
He’d once been asked by Edward “Were there no other kids in that orphanage? Is she the only thing you could find in that place?
Wow! You’re my big brother but sometimes I wonder if we are related. That thing you refer to is I and Linda’s daughter. You may not like it but that’s my family Eric said, anger now radiating through his body. You need to show some respect there. Why are you so much against her type? You know what, I don’t even want to know the answer to that. Whatever it is, she didn’t cause it. She’s a sweet little girl who wound up on the wrong side of life. Give her a chance before you write her off.
Are you and Melina still coming for dinner this week? Yes!
Eric and his wife Linda had adopted Annalise a few months after the death of her mother. The little girl had seemed so scared and lost, frail and vulnerable but the reassurance of Eric and Linda had calmed her soul. Eric and his wife Linda had had a daughter prior to Annalise coming into their home but due to bad health, the child had died in its sixth month.
Sadly, Linda was not able to reconceive, which lead to the adoption of Annalise. Having Annalise in their lives had been a blessing to them. Her presence filled a void that had hunted them for months. With Annalise in their lives, it was the start of new beginnings. They cherished her dearly and thanked God each day for bringing her into their lives. Her laughter and pure aura was enough to cure a bleeding soul.
Six months after the adoption, Edward walked into his office with the news—I need you to go down to Ghana and oversee the project down there. That won’t be possible, Eric said. Anna is about to start school plus Linda is five months pregnant. Travelling is not an option for us at the moment. Why not get one of the guys down there to oversee to it?
Lucky I’m your big brother and I love you but this is not open for debate. Everything has been planned and scheduled. You leave in three weeks. Besides, would be good for the kid to know where she is from. With nothing else to say, Eric moved his family down to Ghana to oversee the project for the company. Sadly, their happiness was short lived three years later— that was the last time they would see their beautiful daughter.
Their first step onto the shores of Ghana was welcomed with the tropical heat bathing their bodies and drenching them in enough sweat to fill a cup. Its friendliness and sandy beaches had been a great change for the family—from the Kakum national park to the Cape Coast and Elmina castles, from Makola to Cantamanto, it was a lifestyle far from what they knew but it was an experience they came to love—a nice way of experiencing the scorching sun and its street peddlers.
Every day had been Christmas in the Sheppard home. Eric was the father she had always longed to have and Linda gave her the mother’s love she had been craving for. They had been in the country for a year and the Sheppard’s home was always filled with liveliness—there was always some sort of gathering in their home exposing Annalise to a culture that was gradually becoming hers.
It was 6th march, the 42 year since Ghana gained its independence. Mr. Ato Banful, accompanied by his wife Mrs. Gloria Ato Banful and their son Daniel Ato Banful Jr. walked into the house, piled with guests who in one way or the other were either business associates of Mr. Sheppard or invited by another invitee. Daniel shyly tucked behind his mother as she approached Linda to say hi.
Ah, Gloria, you’re looking great. You have to tell me your secret Linda said as the two women burst into laughter and shared a hug. You are not looking bad at all m’enua baa mrs Banful laughed out. How is the baby doing? It’s growing each and every day. I can’t wait to see him or her though. So who is this lovely one hiding behind you? Linda, this is my son, Daniel, she said, making way for Linda to see the little boy.
Well how are you Daniel?
You look the same age as my daughter—you would probably enjoy hanging out with her than listening to all this grown up talk of politics and business. Let me go get her. As the adults settled talking politics, Linda went out back to call Annalise.
Yes mum! she responded running into the house. Please take Daniel to the back and show him round whiles your dad and I talk and see to the guests inside. Let me know if you guys need anything.
As Linda made her way back inside, Daniel turned to her and asked, so where exactly are you from? How come you don’t look like your parents?
Wow, for a shy boy you sure ask a lot of questions and to answer your question, it’s none of your business Annalise said, walking away and heading towards the swings. Daniel, although shy on the outside, was also a chatter box when the chance arose but very sensitive to ones emotions when he had over stepped his boundaries. His mum was always telling him to watch his manners.
Walking up to her, he apologized—I’m sorry, sometimes I speak without realising that what I’m about to ask or say isn’t appropriate. Sitting on the swing next to her, he said—I wonder which one of us can swing the highest?
Oh, that’s easy…, I can. Girls rule at everything. Daniel laughed; I would like to see that. And so began a challenge between them starting from the Sheppard backyard to the day they departed company from Ghana.
Three years had passed since the Sheppard family moved to Ghana. Business was thriving and Eric had to travel to the Central region to see to a few projects. The rains had come and fell heavily eroding at the roads and leaving behind narrow lanes that hardly looked like roads. With a few pot holes found here and there. They never saw the oncoming car. Trying to dodge and swerve at pot holes like a slithering snake, he had run into their car, all passengers dying instantly at the spot.
Mr. Ato Banful, having travelled outside the country several times praised the west for their efficiency in handling the upkeep of their roads and making sure the ambulance was always on time when needed. He said with austerity that Africa lacked refinement hence lagging behind in road maintenance and not properly securing road accidents.
If only our politicians and contractors would stop…, honey, not now, Mrs. Banful said. This is neither the place nor time for this talk.
Anna! Anna…, she turned numbly looking at her guests. At least she now knew where Daniel got his spank from but that wasn’t the issue at hand.
Gone! How could they be gone? They had promised to return back so how could they be gone; she asked herself, the word “gone” rolling over in her mind.
Annalise had cried her eyes out when she learnt of their demise—She had been in the kitchen learning how to make jolloff rice with auntie Mercy the house keeper when the news came in. She’d felt a numbness taking over–a numbness felt when the existing walls of reality suddenly come crumbling down. She had to be strong…, yes that was what she would do—be strong for herself. “I have to call uncle Edward and aunt Melina “she told the Banfuls.
From that day onward, she swore not to love again for fear of losing whoever came into her life. She never wanted to experience that pain of cherishing and having to let go in an instant. A few weeks later, she found herself in the residence of Uncle Edward and Aunt Melina Sheppard. As much as it felt great to have a new family, she wondered if this would last and how long before she lost them too.
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