Part 1: A New Start
Anika Chiasoka Ojukwu was born in Nigeria in 1983. She was so beautiful and strong, the kind of woman who was not afraid of anything. At the age of nineteen, she got pregnant with Gabriel's child who was her boyfriend back then. Their parents decided to marry them to make things right. So Anika became Mrs Owusu.
There was only one problem. Gabriel had to go to the university at the time to become a doctor. He had a scholarship to study medical laws in America. He was always the one with better grades in school. Like the time he got 99% in his Science project. Gabriel always wanted to leave Nigeria but Anika did not want to leave her motherland. With a child, it was quite difficult to go to an unknown country with no job and no certificate.
Though, Anika felt bad for him and decided to take her family’s economy to go with her husband to America. It was not easy because they were strangers and had no money. But they got through it by working hard. They had a little girl named Theresa Anika Owusu. She was born in America! There were hard times because Gabriel had to study and work at the same time to feed his little family but with his wife's help and support, he never found it too difficult.
After three years in America, Anika died due to a rare condition. During her last days, she was constantly vomiting, bleeding and had a fever that never left her. She tried to get better and Gabriel helped her as much as he can, but it was too late for her. Her skin was pale and she became at a point where she could not talk. All she saw during the last hours of her life was a hospital room with plain white walls.
She left her husband with a two years old child while he was still studying. His world was over. He could not return to Nigeria because he was broke. Plus his parents never forgave him for leaving with their daughter in law and their grandchild. He was alone in an unknown country with a child, studies to be completed and was working as a pizza delivery guy at night. He had so much to deal with.
One night, he brought Theresa at work with him because the babysitter was not free. He asked some friends at work to look after her while he goes to deliver pizza. He walked outside, tears in his eyes, tiredness reflecting on his face, black spots under his eyes, a faint smile, looking hopeless and praying for better days. He just could not continue like this anymore, darkness was surrounding him. "Nobody can save me from this awful situation" he said to himself.
Out of nowhere that same night, a woman approached him crying. It might be destiny or a coincidence that these two were at the same place and at the same time. They decided to exchange their concerns. Both of them talked and cried a lot. Gabriel told her about his problems and she did too. She told him how she felt alone and helpless. All she wanted was a family. Gabriel could see the pain that loneliness caused on her face.
After a long talk, Gabriel had to go back to work so he left her outside the pizzeria. When he came back from delivering, he saw the same woman holding Theresa. Theresa was laughing and smiling at her. It was like she felt connect to this woman. The woman explained to Gabriel that the workers were busy working and she was crying a lot for her dad. She managed to calm the little girl. After hearing this, Gabriel had a genius idea at this very moment that would benefit both of them .
Miss Ross, the woman in question accepted to work as a housemaid as well as taking care of Theresa for a low price. She stayed with them so that she had company. She had what she wanted, a family!
Gabriel had also what he needed, a mother! He felt relief to know that his daughter was safe. Miss Ross was here to take the responsibility of the little girl. She was here since Theresa’s first word and first steps. The two girls became so close to each other that Theresa started to consider her as a mother figure. They shared a mother-daughter relationship. She was no more a housemaid or a babysitter for Theresa but she was like an adoptive mom. Theresa did have a picture of her biological mom but she never knew her as much as Miss Ross.
Gabriel finished his studies and he graduated. His dream was accomplished after a lot of difficulty and he was finally a certified doctor. He wished he could have made it with his wife by his side. He missed his wife everyday for years. Theresa never knew Anika so was not as sad as her father.
Years passed and Theresa grew older as well as her dad. They moved away and went to a bigger house as Gabriel started to make more money. They were a happy family even thou Miss Ross was unable to understand their Nigerian's culture because she is american. For example, "Sunday Rice" which is a weekly fixture in most Nigerian's homes.
During the holidays, they always go back to Nigeria so that Theresa knows better about her culture and is familiar with her motherland. Also, it was Anika’s will to teach Theresa about their culture and their traditions. Miss Ross accompanies them all the time and is able to learn about Nigeria and sees its beauty. Not everybody can appreciate the beauty of Nigeria and its people. Some people may see the traditional clothes and ceremonies as weird.
Besides, since their arrival to America, Gabriel and Anika went through many racist people. Their neighbors were racists. They did not even come to Anika’s funeral. But Anika never cared because she knew there was nothing wrong with her and this is what Gabriel wants to teach his daughter. To be strong and accepting, love and care for everybody. He wanted her to be stronger than the racism and the stereotypes that people have about them. Miss Ross also taught her that everybody is the same and that she should never be a shame of who she is. Since a very young age, Theresa was trained to deal with people's cruelty towards her.
Of course Theresa had to go to school. As a little black girl among white teachers and white kids, it was hard. But she was so innocent, unable to see the inequality even though Miss Ross and her dad tried to explain it to her. But she could not understand, for example, looking back now, she can tell that Mrs Cooper, her teacher in primary school judged her because she was different from the others. Theresa was accused of stealing another kid's fruits once. It wasn’t true of course and she did not understood why she was the only one suspected. She does now. She is aware of the word inequality. She was only 7 years old when she was falsely accused. It was not the only time, all her life has been based on inequality. She was bullied primarily because of her skin color.
All her life, her black friends and herself have been oppressed by some students at school. Kids were more innocent and less offensive when little but became more cruel in High School. Adolescents can be very cruel and mean beings. They teased people different from them. But it did not stop Theresa from succeeding at school. She was very intelligent, a true teacher’s pet. All teachers really liked her and her grades were always the best. She is now 17 years old. It's her last year in High School but she is not going to attend the same school as she has recently been accepted to a very prestigious school in Los Angeles California. It was her dream to be accepted there, she finally made it. According to her, her life is complete now.
Her dad decided to buy a house near the school to make it easier for his daughter even though it means it's far from his work. This new house looks like their first house, the one Gabriel and Anika bought together.
“What do you think of the house, honey?”asked her father with his Nigerian accent.
“It’s beautiful and I love the neighborhood, people seems nice here. But our previous house was bigger. It's not that I don't love this house, I love it .”
“ Happy that you like it honey.”
After several minutes of silence, Gabriel sobs.
“Dad, what is wrong? Why are you crying?”
He does not respond.
“It’s about mom, right?”
He stays quiet but it is obvious that it is the reason why.
“You don’t have to worry dad, she is behind us now. You have to move on and be with someone else”, she said trying to comfort him.”
His father tries to fake a smile but it is clear that he worries about his daughter's reaction.
“I’ll go see my room now to see how I can decorate it and arrange my stuff”, said out of nowhere Theresa to escape from this conversation.
She goes upstairs to find an empty room. She closes her eyes to view her room in her previous house. She can already imagine how beautiful this room will look after decorating and placing her stuff. Suddenly she hears voices downstairs, thinking that it might be some neighbors welcoming them in the neighborhood. But she is wrong, it is Miss Ross. A middle-aged woman that has a great affection for Theresa since she was little. She is so happy that Miss Ross finally came and she gives her a big hug. Gabriel likes how close these two are but he cannot stop thinking how Anika would have been such a great mother. Even though Miss Ross has taken the role of Theresa's mother figure, it is obvious that the two are not related. They do not not look like each other. Theresa is Anika's identical twin, something that his father finds hard to live with because she looks so much like his dead wife. Theresa's personality, character, her physical appearance and even the way she talks are exactly like her mother's did.
"Miss Ross, you are finally here!"Said Theresa full of joy.
"Darling I was looking for today so that I can see you again. I've missed you so much for these past two days."
"I've missed you too. Come with me I'll show you my room and we'll talk a little."
Miss Ross and Theresa keep chatting about the neighborhood while Gabriel is doing all the work. They are talking about the new school, Theresa’s feeling and mostly about the meeting she has with the Principal this Saturday. Theresa wants to be the greatest and have the best year ever. She wants this last year to be memorable and she wants be love in this new environment. She wants to make friends and accomplish her dreams.She really wants to go to Harvard and for that she has to work hard. Being in such a prestigious school is a better chance for her to go to Harvard. She has ambition just like her father. She won’t let anything stop her.