Good evening, everyone…
I’ve totally lost my mind. I don’t think I can heal from this pain. I can’t comprehend why I should be feeling it in the first place. I feel betrayed, broken and lost. I don’t know who I am or where to begin my life from.
The question that keeps hounding me is who is Nididiamaka Onuora? Who am I?
I haven’t eaten since that dumb Oba broke the news to me yesterday. I haven’t come out of my room either. He left the house after I kicked him out of the room the moment he told me he was crazy about me. I was hoping he wouldn’t return but the stupid boy came back and has been bugging me ever since. He thinks he can switch from being my younger brother to my boyfriend. Such an idiot. No wonder his friends call him Nasty. His mind is always foul.
“Didi, Jide is on his way,” he says to me above the sound of music coming from the living room. He is denied access to my bedroom and so he has decided to be a nuisance in the living room, playing loud music just to get on nerves. In-between, he comes to the door to beg for forgiveness or express more of his juvenile love to me, just to worsen my state of mind.
“Since you’ve refused to listen to me, I know you’ll listen to Jide. Popsi has been calling my phone and I’ve refused to answer because I know I’m dead already. But that meeting, I must go for it and defend what I did. Lying to you was fucked up. We shouldn’t have done that.”
I want to tell him that the only reason he told me the truth was because he was selfish but my tongue still feels too heavy to say anything. I am so mad at my mom. I wish she would wake up from her grave and tell me why she lied to me. I want to also know who my real dad is. Where is he? Why did he abandon me?
The tears are tired of flowing. I’m tired too. The bath I just had hasn’t done anything to make me feel better. The last thing on my mind is that family meeting. I don’t want to be lied to some more.
But God! I’m hungry! Food is not something I can do without. Usually, I keep a stash of chocolates and biscuits on my nightstand but it seems either Ehi or my other colleague in the next room finished what was left. Now I have to leave my safe zone to go out to the kitchen and find something to eat. And that silly Nasty is there.
How do I say this? He is the last person I want to see. But hunger drives me to the door. So I walk to it, open it and step out.
But Nasty is in my face, standing too close for comfort. And before I can say anything or move, he wraps his arms around me. I try to push away but he holds me tighter.
“You need this, Di,” he says. “Don’t fight me, baby. You need this. Just let it go.”
I want to slap him. I really, really want to slap him but Oba and his stress have passed my power, so I just let him hug on.
“Damn! You’re so soft, Chubby Di.”
I push him off and begin towards the kitchen. He follows me, dancing to Kiss Daniel’s Raba behind me, trying to force my feet into rhythm. Truth is he and I have mad chemistry on the dance floor. I can’t count the number of parties and clubs he’s taken me to and how, as a duo, we entertained party audiences. Oba totally gets my wild side but beyond that, he’s just a fool. And quite mad to think that I’ll ever date him. I’m two years older than he is. The fact that we’re not blood doesn’t change the way I see him. He’s still my baby brother.
I enter the kitchen and find that there’s food waiting in takeaway packs.
“Who bought all this?” I ask, my first sentence in twenty-four hours. Yes, food can do that to me.
In answer to my question, Oba takes a theatrical bow. “For you, milady. I knew hunger would drive you out soon, so I splurged. I’ve got greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb, rams, hotdogs, chicken, turkeys, rabbit. You name it!”
I don’t know when I let out laughter at his perfect rendition of the Shirley Caesar thanksgiving chant that is taking over the internet. With Oba, there is never a dull moment but my laughter is short-lived as the heaviness returns without consent. I watch as he serves a meal of jollof rice, plantain, chicken and coleslaw on a plate for me. He takes out water from the fridge and tells me to follow him. He leads me outside to his car, ignoring my protest. His reason is that I’ve been indoors for too long. I quite agree with him when we step out. The cool evening air hits my face and I quit protesting.
We sit in the car, he turns on the radio and while I eat, he gives me a foot massage. Soon, my mood begins to lift. I don’t know if it’s the food or the massage or the relaxing evening breeze.
“Feel better?” Oba asks. He looks sincerely concerned.
“I guess so.”
“I’m really sorry for telling you the truth…”
“No, you’re not.”
“Okay, I’m not but I maybe shouldn’t have said it that way.”
“So are you ready for the family meeting? It’s almost time…”
“I’m not going.”
“Okay.” He shrugs. “Me too, I’ll stay here because if I go home without you, popsi will kill me.”
“Do I look like I care?”
He stares at me with this affectionate expression and smiles.
“What?” I ask.
“Even with your swollen eyes and no makeup, you’re beautiful, Di.”
“You know it’s never going to happen, right?”
“What’s never going to happen?”
“Me and you. So you better erase that puppy look from your face right now. It’s like you don’t have respect.”
He throws his head back and laughs loudly like a donkey. It’s his habit to be loud without warning.
“But seriously, you know you love me, Di, and you know that I’ll be your first.”
“Oh my God! What is wrong with you?”
I kick him and make an attempt to pull my legs away but he holds me back.
“I’ll become like a drug to you after that first time. You will be hooked. Watch and see.”
I open my bottle of water and empty what is left of it over his body before leaving the car to the house. I’m almost at the door when I hear a car drive in. I turn and see Jide’s car heading towards the driveway. I wait for him. He steps out and comes towards me.
“Good evening,” I say.
“Hi Didi.” He looks at his brother. “Is there something wrong with your head?” he asks in Igbo. Oba doesn’t reply.
“Your case will be settled later.” Jide turns to me. “Ndidi, wear your slippers or something, let’s go. We’re late for the meeting.”
“But I don’t want to go,” I complain. He moves closer.
“Didi, it’s going to be fine, okay? Whatever the old man tells you or reveals about your history, it’s going to be fine. You’re a strong girl.”
“I don’t think I am.”
He pats my cheek. “Get your slippers, let’s go.”
As I return to the house, I hear him telling Oba that he suspects daddy ran out of quality sperm before he was conceived. Oba let out his loud donkey laughter.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
Daddy has not been this angry in a while. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him this angry. Mex and Oba are the objects of his wrath but since Mex is the only one present, he gets all the heat. I sincerely feel for him. I was mad at him when Yazmin left but right now, he’s all messed up. No one has heard from her and we’re not even sure that she left the country. It’s been more than twenty-four hours; she is yet to get in touch with anyone. Her family in Mexico has confirmed that she is not with them as well. We sincerely hope she is fine wherever she is.
“You will go to the police station and file a missing person’s report,” daddy instructs. There is still anger in his tone but it is now contained. “Are you hearing me, Chukwuemeka?”
Mex’s head is bowed. I’ve never seen him so morose.
“After you have done that, you will hire a private investigator to look for her. While that one is doing his job, you will report yourself to Father Michael for special prayers. Your case has gone out of human power. You need God. He has to step in and fix your marriage situation. You and your wives cannot go on like this. Let God guide you on what to do.”
I look at Nne. She seems little disturbed over what’s happening but I know she is worried. Jiney is good distraction for her. They both seem lost in their world of baby warbles and smiles. Everyone else in the room is helping themselves with the bananas and groundnut Elsie came along with. They are all positive that Yazmin is fine. Jide, Oba and Didi are absent. So is Tola; she is unavoidably at work.
“Erhinyuse,” daddy calls.
“Where is your husband?”
“He’s on his way. He’s with Oba and Didi.”
At the mention of Oba’s name, daddy’s face turns stony. He gets into a bluster in Igbo that seems to go on forever but nobody responds to it. I have been told that this has been his mood since yesterday. Luckily for us, we get a short break from his anger when Jide walks in with Didi. Daddy softens as he spots her. He calls her over to the special space kept for her, in-between him and Nne. Jide lifts Jiney from Nne’s laps. As I had predicted, he falls for her Versace outfit.
“Who did this beautiful thing to you?” he asks, kissing her.
He goes on with his kisses as he takes the space next to me.
“Obasi!” daddy calls, his eyes fixed on the entrance door. “Don’t let me go outside and meet you there!”
“Will you come in?!” Nne shouts. “Why are you hiding like a thief outside the door?!”
Obasi enters the house but remains at the door.
“He’s not even wearing a shirt,” daddy mutters after blessing him with hostile eyes.
“Obasi, is this how you drove around today?” Nne asks.
“Ndidi poured water on me, so I had to take off my t-shirt.”
“My friend, find space and sit down!” Nne orders. “Look at how you’re disfiguring your body with tattoos. Which one is this new one on your chest now?”
Obasi ignores her. He slumps down beside Mex who barely acknowledges his presence. His eyes are glued to the floor. The room goes into silence as we all wait for daddy to get on with what he has to say. He wastes no time in getting into business.
“Ndidiamaka,” he speaks.
“Your phone call yesterday evening was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to listen to. I was broken to hear you cry like that. It was indeed painful. All because of that loose mouth over there.”
No one looks at Oba.
“You didn’t have to find out about your paternity the way you did. If there was anyone who owed you the truth, it was I…”
“You lied to me.”
Didi is not known for her good manners. A few eyebrows are raised at the manner in which she just interrupted the old man.
“I did lie, and I apologize for it. But it was all for your good that the truth was held from you…”
“How? You and my mom sat down together and conspired to lie to me. How was that good?”
“It was for best, Ndidiamaka.”
“I believed you. I trusted you…”
“You can still trust me.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. You lied!”
“Ndidi!” I scold. “Have some respect!”
“Let her be,” daddy replies. “She’s understandably hurt. She needs to express it.”
“She should calm down, abeg.”
“Ndidi,” daddy continues, “your mother, as you know, singlehandedly raised you. Your father disappeared from her life the moment she told him she was pregnant, and she never heard from him again. When she met me, she wanted me to adopt you. Because of the ungodly relationship we had at the time, I told her I didn’t think it was right. I had no idea she had gone and changed your surname to Onuora a year after our affair. I only found out about this when she contacted me earlier this year. My dear, her intention was from a loving heart. She wanted you to bear a good name and have a better life than she or your grandmother had. She loved you wholeheartedly, Ndidiamaka, and that was why she did what she did.”
I look at Didi and see her eyes glistening with moisture.
“And all of you, you knew and held the truth from me?” she questions. “Why?”
“Because we are a family with a big heart,” Nne replies. This is the first time she is speaking on anything related to Didi. “It was difficult to accept that you were my husband’s ex-mistress’ daughter. Difficult for all of us here to take it in. But we did and opened our hearts to you. If anything, Ndidiamaka, you should be grateful. Not anyone can do what we did. You already have a share in this family’s wealth. You have homes you can sleep in and nobody will maltreat you. You have brothers and sisters. You have a father and you have a mother. Why then are you sad? Why are you angry? Why are you not thanking God for this blessing?”
Didi covers her face with her hands and starts sobbing.
“I lost the only daughter I had and God never replaced her. But God brought you my way. I will admit that it has been difficult to let you in but since my husband has said you are his, you are now mine, Ndidi. So, can you stop fighting us for opening our hearts to you?”
“I’m sorry,” Didi cries. “I just didn’t want to accept that you are not my family. I don’t want to be anyone else but an Onuora. This is the best family in the world.”
Awww. I absolutely agree with her. I have no regrets cutting off from my siblings and becoming part of this clan. Didi couldn’t have said it better.
“It’s okay.” Nne lays her hand on Didi’s back. “Stop crying.”
Her touch does quite the opposite of what it is intended to do. Ndidi’s tears go full throttle and Nne finds herself soothing her while we watch. The scene makes me emotional. I have a couple of moments like this with Nne, times when Jide acts like a complete arse and I run to her to seek comfort. Her touch is like a balm that goes in deep to evoke memories of a mother you will never see again but at the same time promises you devotion and warmth. Nne is gold. She is the glue that holds us together.
Didi is calm now, her tears wiped by Nne’s wrapper. They are conversing in Igbo and I pick out a few words. The language is growing on me by the day. I have learned the world’s popular languages quite easily but Igbo is one toughie. I don’t know why.
“Obasi,” daddy calls. He doesn’t sound as angry anymore. I guess it’s because of the way things have turned out. I pray he lets this pass.
“I had a very perfect plan to deal with you. Very perfect one. But God just told me to cancel those plans.”
“We thank God o,” Oba replies.
“However, you will still be punished.”
“Dad, let’s not go against God’s will.”
“Of all your brothers, you are the only one who knows nothing about the family business. I spared you because of your mother. But that’s going to change. Every Saturday, you will go to the shop.”
“Yes. You will learn about what has brought money into this family. I cannot have sons who cannot take over from me when I’m gone. So, you will be there every Saturday. 8am sharp! And not the shop here. The other one at Lekki.”
“Kuku kill me.”
Didi sticks out her tongue at Oba.
“And you’re not going there as a boss. There’s already someone in charge. You will be there as an apprentice. A boy.”
“Haba popsi! I’m your lastborn o.”
“If you like be my only born, I have said what I have said.”
“I’m sorry nau. I only told Didi the truth out of the love I have for her.”
“Your apology is coming too late. Starting this Saturday, you’ll get involved in the family trade.”
Oba is clearly pissed. He stands up, murmuring under his breath. He disappears into the kitchen bringing an end to the meeting. Jide announces that he has to rush off to work. I frown. He’s going to be on the night shift for a while. I hate spending my nights alone.
“Let me take you ladies home,” he tells me.
“Have you spoken to Mex?” I ask.
“He’s not talking to me. He thinks I somehow convinced Yaz to leave.”
“Well, whatever it is he feels about you, please don’t walk away from him now. He needs you.”
“He has Kalu. I have a patient who has been in labor for two days. Can we just go?”
I don’t argue with him. In fact, I have learned not to come between him and Mex. They always sort themselves out. It won’t be unusual to wake up one of these mornings and see two of them playing a computer game in my living room.
I stand up as Jide passes a sleeping Jiney to me.
“You look tired.” He rubs my shoulder. “Please, go to bed the moment you get home.”
I nod. He leans forward and kisses me.
“Ehen! I have an announcement to make!” Oba barges back in. We all face him. “I have feelings for Ndidi.”
“Good Lord!” Elsie exclaims.
“Now that she knows that we’re not related, I am fully into toasting her. Just thought you should all know.”
He barely finishes speaking when Nne rises up, picks one of her slippers and goes after him. This leaves everyone in laughter except Mex. He remains in his comatose state.
Jide stares at his watch and hurries me out of the house. As we leave, I think about Yazmin. I do hope she’s okay.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I am blushing. I can’t believe I am. At my age, a man’s words shouldn’t be getting me like this but Seyi puts the S in suave and I’m falling hard. Okay, maybe not hard but I’m falling still. He’s funny, gentlemanly and refined. We have been chatting since Sunday and it’s been worth my time. He hasn’t asked me out on a date yet but I don’t mind. Somehow, after all my disappointments in life, I’m not in a rush to get swept off my feet by a man. Yet, I’m enjoying the banter Seyi offers. It’s safe for me being behind my phone, I guess.
-For how long are you going to be away?
He has just told me that he’s on his way to the airport. He’s leaving on a business trip to Singapore.
-I don’t know. It depends on how things go. Two weeks, three weeks tops
-Do you always travel?
-Yeah. I don’t have a wife to keep me back home
-Why aren’t you married yet, Seyi? Been meaning to ask you
-Been meaning to ask you the same
-I haven’t met the one yet
-For me, it’s more like a case of priority. Marriage is not a huge thing on my list
That’s a letdown.
-And all my friends are married
-Don’t you get lonely?
-All the time
-So how do you handle it?
-I cope somehow, with distractions
-Before I answer that, I need to ask
-Please don’t get upset by the question but do you have an issue with bras?
I cringe. I had hoped this would never come up in our conversation.
–Lol. Would you believe it if I told you that I actually forgot to wear a bra?
He sends a picture of me which he had obviously taken without my knowledge. And I’m thinking, shame on you, Hauwa. You forgot to wear a bra. Again!
It turned out that Sunday was not the only day we met. I had lost an earring in his car that night and he brought it over the next day, on his way to the office. Honestly, I didn’t know I had been indecent that morning. I had just thrown over a top, slipped into a pair of shorts and ran out. I thought tripping over a stone and almost falling into his arms as I stepped out of my gate was the most embarrassing thing. Now, I have this to worry about too. He’s probably thinking I’m loose.
-You always go without bras?
-I naturally don’t like them
-In all fairness, you have a great pair
I don’t know what to make of the compliment. Is it a sexual come-on?
-And hey, I’m all for you going natural
I smile at his words, positioning myself on my bed to be more comfortable. I had a long night at work and I ought to be sleeping it off but some things are better than sleep.
He goes offline for a while and returns.
-Sorry, I had to take a call
-I’d like to spoil you a little. Have you been to Sing before?
-Would you like to come? Just for three days…or more if you don’t mind
Wow. Just like that? My boobs must have done a number on him.
-How easy is it to obtain a visa?
-Say yes and I’ll send someone your way to facilitate it
-Um…can I think about it? Give me a few minutes
I get off Whatsapp and dial Honey’s number. It rings for a long time and then Jide answers it.
“She’s in the bathroom. You can leave a message.”
He yawns. He sounds sleepy. I remember seeing him doing rounds at the hospital. He probably just got home.
“Jide, I need some advice.”
“This morning? Geez, Hauwa. You’re always doing things at odd hours.”
“Shut up jor and help a friend out.”
“What is it?”
“Seyi just asked if I could join him in Singapore for a few days. You think I should go?”
Jide doesn’t give it a thought. “Yes, go. I’ll cover for you at work.”
“You didn’t even think about it.”
“Seyi is good people. I have had the privilege of being with him on a few occasions. He’s a cool guy and a close friend to the Ditorusins who are godparents to Jiney. I endorse him. Please, go and have fun. You haven’t done that in a long time.”
“What if he asks for sex in return?”
“Grown ass men don’t ask for sex and your body is not something you give a man. If sex happens, it happens. If you don’t want it to, it won’t happen. Stop acting like a teenager.”
“You think it’ll be fun?”
“It will be fun, Huawei.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“Stop asking too many questions and be the spontaneous Hauwa I used to know. Now, get off my wife’s phone.”
I hang up and return to Seyi.
-So your answer is…
-She said yes!
-Expect a call this morning. So, tell me how your night went
I prop my legs on the wall and type away.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
“This was how it happened with me and Gen. I fell hard and fast just like that.”
Seyi is on his way to the airport. Dominic is his driver. Dressed in shorts and a shirt, Dominic left the house quite early to chauffer his friend to the airport. Having been forced to stay away from business trips, he finds ways to remain relevant.
“Nobody’s falling for anybody,” Seyi replies to Dominic’s comment.
“You just asked her over to Sing. You don’t even know this girl.”
“Not girl. Woman. She’s thirty-eight.”
“I like her, okay? But it’s not like how you fell for your wife. Gen used charm on you. There’s no other explanation.”
“She did, actually.” Dominic smiles at the memory of watching Genesis dancing naked in the club at the early hours of a certain morning two over years ago. He remembers not caring for the weirdness of what she was doing but getting carried away by the perfection that was her body. That night, he knew he would have her no matter what it cost him.
“Hauwa doesn’t seem like your type, though,” he tells Seyi.
“And what’s my type?” Seyi asks, eyes on his phone.
“Gen’s type. Cultured, classy, sophisticated…”
“And Hauwa is…?” Seyi asks.
“A little rough on the edges.”
“You’re referring to the boob thing?”
“Ah.” Dominic holds back a chuckle.
“Nick, you were staring.”
“We were all staring. And she was oblivious. She lacks the deportment your women usually have.”
“And that’s a breath of fresh air. I want something different.”
“Well, apart from the fact that she’s good-looking, she’s real and unapologetic. I find that attractive.”
“Don’t let Gen hear that.”
Dominic gives a smirk. Seyi goes on with his chat. It doesn’t take long for them to arrive at the airport. Seyi alights from the car and Dominic steers it away to head back home. On his way down the strip that takes him to Ikeja, he receives a call from Iya Idaya.
“Daddy Tonbra,” her voice shakes. “Is Iya Idaya.”
“I know,” Dominic answers, wondering why she does that every time she calls him.
“Something is wrong with Zach o. I wan carry him to the hospital.”
“Zach? What’s wrong with him?”
“Since yesterday, he is purging. Today he start to vomit. His temperature go up. I give him paracetomol so that it will come down, e no work. I say let me go and pour him cold water on his body, that’s how he start to shake. He enter convulsion.”
Being an experienced father, Dominic knows that convulsions can be a normal part of children’s lives in the early stages. Hence, the news is met with little shock. However, he isn’t so sure about Iya Idaya’s ability to handle the situation, giving her panicky reaction which he senses over the phone.
“Get the driver to take you to the family hospital immediately. Is he still seizing?”
“Is he still convulsing?”
“Lie him on his side and don’t put a spoon in his mouth…”
“Ah! I have put it o.”
“Remove it immediately. Lie him on his side. Put a wet towel at the back of his head to lower his temperature. Do this before you enter the car.”
“Put me on speakerphone.”
Dominic hears the sound of shuffling for a couple of seconds. “I have put it.”
“Oya, attend to Zach.”
There’s long silence and some muffled sounds and then Iya Idaya returns.
“He has stop.”
“Good. Now, take him to the hospital. I’ll call the doctor and tell them to expect you.”
“Where is my wife?”
“She have go to work. I’m calling her, she’s not answering.”
“Be on your way. I’ll be there in a bit.”
Dominic hangs up and tries Genesis’ number. He gets across.
“Iya Idaya has been calling you.”
“Sorry, I was in a meeting with a client who is rushing out of the country. What’s going on?”
“Zach is having a suspected case of food poisoning and Iya Idaya is taking him to the hospital. Since you’re closer, can you hurry there to make sure things are fine?”
“Wow. I’m on the mainland and I’m not sure I can make it there fast but I’m already dashing out now.”
She adds that she noticed Zach had mild diarrhea the day before but concluded it was the milk he was taking. She didn’t know it would get serious. After the phone call, Dominic connects the family doctor and informs him about Iya Idaya’s arrival. Done with that, he connects with her to keep up with Zach’s progress.
“He is sleeping, sir.”
“Where is his sister?”
Dominic gets off the line and dials Lexus.
“Tonbra, are you on the island?”
A sleepy voice mutters in reply.
“Wake up, child.”
“Are you on the island?”
“Good. Hurry to the family hospital. Zach is sick and neither Gen nor I are on the mainland. He’s in the care of Iya Idaya. Go there to make sure everything is good.”
Dominic ends the call and relaxes back in his seat. He gives no attention to the ominous feeling trying to dampen his mood. To drown it out, he turns on the radio. The drive to the island is a long one and more than an hour later with some little traffic, he is at the hospital. Genesis has also just arrived but Lexus has been there for a while. Zach is attended to and then cleared to go back home. The doctor calls Dominic and Genesis aside and explains to them that he suspects Zach ingested a chemical. He claims he speaks from experience.
They thank him, pay the bills and find their way home. In the kitchen, they throw serious questions at Iya Idaya over the possibility that Zach came in contact with a chemical.
“It’s not possible,” the troubled woman shakes her head in innocence. “No detergent, no soap, no cream, no bleach…nothing. I swear.”
“You don’t have to swear.” Genesis places a hand on her. “We just wanted to be sure.”
“I take care of them well-well like my own children. If I do them wickedness, make God punish me.”
“It’s okay,” Dominic says.
“Maybe e fit be that time that we go to mama house on Sunday…”
“What mama?” Dominic frowns.
“Mamisi,” Genesis answers. Dominic’s reaction is a sharp glower at her.
“My children went to Mamisi’s house on Sunday?”
“And nobody told me?”
“I thought you knew…”
“Nick you were home…”
“With my friends! I was entertaining them and you bundled up my kids to that witch’s house!”
Iya Idaya quietly withdraws.
“Nick, why are you talking like this?”
“You took my kids to that woman’s house without my permission, Genesis!”
“Our kids, Dominic. And I didn’t think I needed your permission.”
“She did something to Zach! You know that!”
“No, I don’t know that. God! Nick, Zach is a toddler. He’s at a stage where he sees stuff, picks it and shoves it down his throat–”
“She poisoned him!”
“She would never do such a thing, Nick.”
“She would never do such a thing?! The same woman who arranged five men to rape you?! And did the same to Nancy?! Both of you, her daughters! The same woman who killed your family! Burnt them to death while they slept!”
His words cut Genesis deep, invoking memories she would rather not recall.
“This is the same woman you’re defending, Genesis?! Is it until she kills you before you realize that she is evil?!”
Genesis walks away from him to the fridge.
“I’m going to her house right away…”
“No, Nick… Let me talk to her. Please.”
Dominic stops, considers her words.
“Whatever comes out of that discussion, I want you and her to know that she is no longer welcome here. And my kids are not allowed near her. You too are not allowed to visit her…”
“Dominic, what is wrong with you?”
“You are not allowed near her! Simple! You want me to bring back the security service we used to have around here and get you bodyguards before you know that I mean business?”
“You won’t try that.”
“I’ll do it if you don’t stop seeing her.”
He storms out, leaving Genesis shaken. Iya Ida returns to the kitchen.
Genesis looks at her.
“I want to tell you something.”
“Daddy Tonbra did not allow me finish what I want to say before…”
“Go ahead,” Genesis answers tiredly.
Iya Idaya tearfully recounts what she thinks might have happened to Zach on Sunday. According to her, she was having a case of diarrhea that day and upon getting to Mamisi’s home, she asked to use the toilet. As the story went, Mamisi had been applying hair relaxer to her hair when they arrived. Iya Idaya had expressed her fear over the kids touching the chemical but Mamisi scolded her, telling her she was a mother who had raised kids herself. When Iya Idaya returned from the toilet, she came upon Mamisi rinsing Zach’s mouth with some water. Mamisi claimed Zach had picked something off the floor and shoved it into his mouth. When asked what it was, she said it was a bread crumb from what she had for breakfast. The hair relaxer was nowhere in sight, hence Iya Idaya had no reason to fear. Zach seemed fine and she let the matter slide.
“Now, I dey seriously suspect her,” the elderly woman concludes. “Madam Genesis, no be say I dey look your mama with one kind eye o.”
“I understand, Iya Idaya. Thank you. This helps.”
Genesis leaves the kitchen and goes upstairs to the children’s bedroom. Dominic is there, watching the kids sleep, both of them in the same crib.
“I’m going to see Mamisi,” Genesis speaks softly. “And after that, I’ll see her again. And again – as I wish. Don’t ever speak to me that way in front of anyone.”
Dominic gives her a glance and goes back to watching the kids as she leaves.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
It’s the worst thing to wake up unhappy. And very hungry.
That’s my mood right now. I have heaped a plate with everything my mind desires to eat; and in a bowl, I have cereal, just in case I am not satisfied. There’s also a glass of freezing orange juice to wash it down.
I chow in anger, pushing strips of bread into my mouth like a hog. Dara is standing close by. She’s watching me with those round eyes of hers in a questioning manner. When I hand her some of what I’m eating, she shakes her head. She keeps staring at me. I continue with my food. I don’t have time for anyone this morning.
Soon the object of my anger makes an appearance. He nears the table, stops and looks at me and shakes his head before turning to the kitchen.
“Dara’s diapers have finished o!” I yell. “We’ve also run out of water for the dispenser! And tissue paper too!”
He returns to me. “I’ll buy the water on my way home. You can get the rest.”
“I’m not getting anything. Shebi it’s you that wants to do everything. Go ahead and handle it all. Me, I’m just going to sit here, eat, watch TV all day and not call Joey.”
“Celia, haba! You’re still pissed over last night?”
I push a whole sausage into my mouth, ignoring his question.
Last night, I came home, hot with anger over what had transpired in Naomi’s house. I spilled everything to Shady and told him about my plans to call Joey to deal with Charles. And what did my sweet husband do? He scolded me for going to somebody’s house to look for trouble. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he told me Joey has no business with the case. If there was anybody that was supposed to handle Charles, it was him.
“How?!” I cried. “You don’t have the means to!”
And my husband looked at me as if I had just told him that his dick was small.
“You’re saying I can’t handle him? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Shady, Joey is a soldier. You’re not. You’re not even a policemen or a civil defense officer. You’re a car showroom manager. Are you going to use one of the cars to run Charles down? It would be nice if you did but…”
“You just insulted me.”
“So your brother is better than me? You have an issue and you run to Joey and not to me?”
“But I just came to you and you told me that I went to look for trouble. Joey will never tell me that. He would go there, beat somebody’s father up and come and ask me questions later.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t handle shit like that.”
“Then leave it for those who can.”
Shady, at that point, lost his cool and gave me some nice tongue-lashing. I wasn’t surprised. He had never supported my troublesome side. But if he had stopped at the scolding, it would have been fine. He went a step further and insisted Joey was not to be brought into it.
“Because, Celia, it makes me feel less than the man I am.”
“This is not about your manhood, Shadrach.”
“It is! It has everything to do with my manhood! Some idiot out there manhandled you and you want to call your brother to deal with him?!”
Shady gave up on me. “You know what?! Do it your way! I give up!”
He picked a pillow and left the room. I slept alone after attending to the injury on my forehead. I woke up two hours ago, still nursing the anger which was made worse by hunger. Hunger that has refused to be satisfied. I am now on my cereal bowl but it seems to me that I’m craving for something else. I don’t know what.
“Daddy!” Dara cries, stretching out her arms to Shady. I have ignored his questions and attempts at conversation. I pretend not to see the contrite look on his face. He can be waving ten white flags before me and I will not budge.
“We’re going out to get the things you asked for,” he announces. “You want me to buy anything else? Maybe more food?”
“We’ll be back.”
He leaves the house with Dara and I stop eating for a few minutes. I start to cry. Shady is frustrating. His laidback manner gets on my nerves. I hate the way he handles things. Naomi is in danger. Charles can kill her any minute and all Shady cares about is his pride.
“You’re having an unhealthy attachment to that woman,” Peace tells me when I call her to explain. “Maybe you should chill a little.”
Peace’s words make me weep more. But I do so silently so as not to validate her assertion. I endure the advice she renders, hang up and call Mary.
“Have you ever thought about opening a shelter for abused women, Cee? You’re so passionate about situations like this.”
“Shey me?” I sniff silently, already feeling better talking to Mary.
“Yes. You should give it some thought.”
“Oya, stop crying…”
“How do you know I’m crying?”
“Na wa for you o. What type of question is that? I know you nau.”
“But concerning the Naomi’s husband’s issue, please let Shady handle it.”
I sigh. “Okay.”
“You remember he hit you and he was sorry about it. He might feel this is his chance to redeem himself.”
“Hmmm. I never thought of it that way.”
“Please let your husband protect you. Joey will be someone else’s husband soon and he can go and be doing Kung Fu for anyone that touches his wife.”
“You that boned his side and went for Omo Igbo.”
“Omo Igbo that rocked my world last night.”
“Without a condom,” she adds in a whisper which comes in a giggle.
“Please, gist me.” I temporarily forget my issues and press my phone to my ear.
“Well, I did as Honey advised. I had a bath, changed into a short dress and waited until I heard his car drive in. I then ran to him, got in and well… you know…”
Mary is a prude. She will never give details of her sex life. Unlike Noka who would weave a tale so juicy you’ll be wondering why she isn’t writing erotica.
“You guys did it in the car?”
“No. I…went down on him. And then we went in and did it in the kitchen.”
“Ooooh. I’m happy for you. Don’t stop surprising him like that.”
“I’ll sha come to you for more ideas.”
“Me keh. Go to Honey. I think she’s the sexpert amongst us.”
“Em…I have to go. We’ll talk later?”
She rings off before I can say goodbye. I wipe away dry tears and stare at my half-consumed cereal dish. I’m still hungry for something else. I gulp down the juice, clear the dishes and head to my bedroom. Shady comes in with Dara.
“Everything’s bought and I’m off to the office.”
I consider maintaining my anger but it’s all out of intensity now. “Won’t you have breakfast?”
“No. I’ll eat at work.”
He comes towards me and kisses the scratch on my forehead which is covered with a band aid.
“I’ll be a little late today. Don’t wait up for me.”
I say nothing. He walks out, taking Dara with him. On his own, he had woken her up, bathed her, fed her, dressed her for daycare and packed her a bag. It all started when I was away at Fiji and he hasn’t been able to break the routine. Plus, he says it helps him bond with his daughter.
I stand at the door and wave at her. She doesn’t respond. It makes me a little sad. Maybe I should have another baby.
I turn back in. My phone is ringing. I feel uneasy when I see that it’s Naomi calling. I fear that something has gone wrong.
She doesn’t speak. All I hear is her sobbing voice.
“Cece?” she calls and continues sobbing. This goes on for almost a minute. I try to get her to stay calm but every time she opens her mouth to speak, she breaks down. So, I wait until she is collected enough to say a word.
“Talk to me, Nay.”
“I k-k-killed him, Cece.”
“What?” My voice is scarcely audible.
“I killed Charles, Celia. I killed my husband… I don’t know what to do. I killed him… There’s blood everywhere.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“Nooooo,” she bawls. “Please come, call the police, call a lawyer… I killed my husband.”
I feel a strong shiver spread across my body, bringing with it quick nausea.
“Are you there, Cece?”
“Yes, Nay. I’m here.”
The nausea persists and I feel an urge to throw up. I aim for the toilet.
“Nay, let me call you back.”
“Please, don’t go.”
“I’ll call you back.”
I hang up and retch over the toilet. In a heap, my breakfast finds its way out of my system.
Naomi is calling again. I don’t answer. I’m still throwing up. I stay in that position until I’m done. And then I flush the toilet, let the seat down and sit there for a while, trying to comprehend what she just told me.
“Nay?” I finally answer her call. “I’m coming over with a lawyer. We’ll be on our way soon.”
“Okay. Please hurry.”
I terminate the call and dial Bobby’s number. As it rings, the enormity of what Naomi did hits me. I didn’t see this twist coming. I didn’t see it at all.