…the prodigal daughter…

‘Madam we go soon reach o’, the taxi driver says as he turns back to meet my eyes and gives a smile that proudly shows of his gap tooth.

I smile back at him; not just for courtesy’s sake, but also for the fact that I like him a lot. His wide gap tooth reminds me of Idris, and so does his never ending questioning.

I remember what his voice is like as I look out the window, ‘why is your hair so long? Why don’t you talk to anyone? Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Would you ever leave mum and dad? Why does Obi always hit you? Why does mum hate you? When will you come back? Would you come back for me?’ he never seemed to stop asking.

‘Madam we don reach o’, he says pulling me out of memory lane and saving me from my own tears.

‘Danjuma’, don’t leave this place till I tell you to do so’.

I walk into the huge compound trying to convince myself not to turn back and leave before anyone will notice my presence.

‘My prodigal daughter has returned!’, I can hear my mother say as she dances into the veranda. She’s grown older in the past few years, much older than I expected.

Idris runs out of the light green bungalow. He too has grown older, his chest is broader, his legs are longer and those eyes that once held excitement and innocence in them now seem to show a hidden anger…a hidden sadness.

I can’t help but cry as he begins to walk to me with tears rolling down his chiselled face.

‘Where have you been?’, he struggles to say, pulling me closer to him and holding on to me as though he wasn’t going to let me leave again.

I’ve missed you’, I respond as I place a kiss on his forehead.

‘We’ve missed you too’, another voice from behind says and my heart skips three beats as I recognise who it is.

I turn to look at him. There he is, standing with all pride, holding his head up high as though he has every authority to. Mother beckons on us to all come into the house and I can tell that she senses trouble already.

‘You look beautiful’, Obi says as we sit, waiting for father to come out.

‘Won’t you tell your brother thank you’, my mother doesn’t fail to show her irritation of my silence.

‘I’m not here to receive compliments, I came because Nwadi said Idris was in trouble’.

‘So if I or your father was dying, you wouldn’t come if we requested for you to come?’

‘Mum please’, Idris whispers, ‘she’s here now and that’s all that matters’.

‘His right woman’, my father says as he enters into the living room in the wheel chair Nwadi got him a few months ago. She had shown it to me, expressing how disappointed she was concerning my lack of communication with my family, even after my father had a stroke.

‘How have you been Ijeoma?’ he says, trying to avoid any form of eye contact.

‘I’ve been well sir’.

‘So now she doesn’t know how to greet? All respect has been thrown to the wind just because you left this house 12 years ago!’

’15 years ago actually’, I can’t help but enjoy the irritation in my mother’s voice. ‘I have a taxi waiting for me outside, I just want to know what trouble Idris is in?’

‘I’m not the one in trouble’ Idris says with his head bent towards the brown tiles, ‘he is. He’s raped another girl and got her pregnant. The family of the girl says if we give them money they’ll let the whole thing go, otherwise he’ll be locked up for good’.

‘We were hoping you could give us the money’, Obi stammers, with tears in his eyes.

I begin to stand from the brown leather settee and walk to the door. How dare they expect me to be his messiah!

‘Where are you going?’ my mother asks in shock and anger.

‘Back to where I came from’.

‘Look at this stupid child o’, she says and I’m not surprised out how she switches from a mother happy to see her child in so long, to the one who hates her only daughter. ‘Are you mad?! If you walk out of this house without getting your brother out of this mess, never come back here again. I am your mother! I breastfeed you with these two breasts don’t forget that and I can curse you!’

I look at her and start to laugh at the average heighted woman who stands holding her sagging breasts before me. ‘This is how we are going to solve this mess, call the girl that was raped and tell her how God demands that we forgive no matter what, tell her if she doesn’t forgive your precious son she will be condemned to hell’.

My father begins to cry as I say those words, the words he’s heard my mother say to me before. ‘I’m sorry’, he sobs, ‘I’m so sorry’.

‘Curse me’, I say moving closer to my mother, ‘curse me! You already cursed me the day you let him get away with everything, so go ahead curse me!’

My mother stands bewildered. I run out of the house without looking back, without answering to Idris plea to wait for him. My legs seem to be controlling my entire body. I get to the rickety blue and white taxi parked outside the gate, Danjuma isn’t there; what a stupid boy, I think to myself.

Idris finally catches up with me and gently pulls me closer to him as I cry out louder than I ever have.

‘Can I come with you, he asks as I begin to calm down, ‘I’ll be your protector this time…your messiah’, he smiles and I look at his gap tooth. I manage to giggle and nod.

As we walks through the rusting gate to get his things, I let my fingers trace the patch of wrinkled skin on my right arm. I shut my eyes as the wind carries memories of Obi’s voice threatening to kill me if I don’t spread my legs, telling me how beautiful I was as his cane flogged my thighs and I wept in pain, repeating how I was his and his alone as he took the hot iron scarring my right arm and the voice of my mother preaching to me about forgiveness so that the sins of her precious son would be covered…his sin covered but my wounds left opened.

…where the problem lies (1)…

He didn’t have the bulky arms embraced by muscles, neither did his smile stir up any kind of emotions in me, in fact I’m not sure it did to anyone. His two front teeth were aligned diagonally and I could only imagine how he had managed to chip them in such a pattern. His body seemed to be a hair magnet and every time his skin brushed mine I wondered if this is what Esau in the bible looked like. He was tall, dark and lanky and his glasses didn’t give him a flattering look.

‘I’m so sorry, would you mind telling me your name again’, he said 10 minutes into our very first discussion.

‘The name’s Ndidi’, I responded with a smile.

I noticed that too often he requested that I repeat myself.

‘What a mess’, Kelechi said as the lecture ended and Temi vanished into the crowd of students trying to hurry out of the lecture hall.

‘Don’t say that Kelechi! I think he’s really nice’.

I could sense her rolling her eyes as we stood to leave.


‘Recall the events to me again’ the sturdy inspector says jolting me back to the present.

‘I’ve already told you sir I walked into our room at 2.37pm, Kelechi was sitting with my boyfriend Nengi, who told me he was out of town but I’m guessing he wanted to surprise me. I got excited, jumped on him and as we were in tight embrace Temi came in. I never knew he had feelings for me, how was I to know that. I mean he could have said it, we see each other so often. Not that I would have broken up with Nengi but I would have explained things to him. Nengi and I have been through so much together so it would have been impossible that I would leave him for Temi. Like one time…’

‘Shut up!’ he screams, ‘young lady you are saying a whole lot of rubbish I do not need to know. Just answer the damn question!’

‘I’m sorry I’ve made you angry, please don’t be angry at me’, I suddenly begin to cry as I can sense he’s losing his patience.

Mr Inspector stands like he is a statue and looks at me as though I’m a mad person sitting before him. He pulls out his phone from his pocket.

‘Get me the girl’s family’, he says, his voice no longer expressing anger but worry, and I begin to wonder why he suddenly sounds exactly like everyone else…

…things we cannot see…

I open my eyes to the image of her well-rounded bum swaying as she sashays seductively towards the bathroom.

Femi you have no shame, I can hear the voice again in my head. It’s a voice I’ve become too familiar with in the past few months; a voice I have come to hate and hates me even more.

She returns with a wrapper tied around her waist. The light from the bathroom makes it possible to see it’s the red one with the motif of black curled branches; the one she wears almost every morning to clean.

‘Tell me something I don’t know’ she whispers as my lips leave hers, and moves to her neck, leaving a hickey to show it’s been there.

‘I love you’, I whisper back and we both seem to suck in those words as though they have been forbidden for so long. It’s the first time I’ve told her that.

‘Were you waiting for her to leave before you could tell me that?’ her voice presents some form of sadness or anger… I’m not sure and I don’t know what to say. ‘I should go clean up it’s already 4am, besides today is a busy day’, she breaks free from my arms wrapped around her, pulls her mint green tank top over her head and walks out of the cold room avoiding any eye contact.

Today of all days, can’t you control yourself? Today is no different from other days, I whisper to myself…to the voice. Son of a bitch, you ungrateful church rat! Who sleeps with a whore the night before his wife’s burial, the wife that made you who you are?! She is not a whore!

I rush out from the room as though I can escape from this nuisance. Sopuruchi’s eyes are fixed on the cream tiles enjoying the swishing movement of the mop. She’s beautiful in the dark, but even better in the light. Her baby-face holds almond eyes that always seem to twinkle and a well formed pointed nose. Her cupid bow shaped lips are perfect and so is her skin, the colour of roasted cashews.

I can read the emotion on her face and this time I’m pretty sure it’s sadness. She moves towards a vintage framed picture of Feyi hanging on the sky blue wall, and as though she is being haunted by the deep set eyes featured by russet iris, she turns her head away towards the ground.

Feyi loved that picture. She would say in her mixed Nigerian-British accent as she smiled proudly showing off a gap tooth, ‘just look at how that picture shows off the beauty of my eyes. I love it even more because they show off my love for you’, then turning to look at me as though to assure herself that my eyes also told of the love I had for her, she would conclude, ‘and if you ever stop loving me I will kill myself’.

In all honesty her eyes showed her love for me… at the time the picture was taken… and two years after that. But the emotion in them slowly turned into something less of love and the woman standing before that picture became the one with eyes that showed love for me.

Things began to change when Feyi started to come home late. Night after night I sat outside looking at the sky and wondering how many stars I could count. Sopuruchi often joined me; not to count stars, but to talk about the first lady’s shameful yet comical campaign speech on the awaiting downfall of the opposition party, or the views of Chimamanda Adichie conveyed in well-structured stories or speeches. She spoke of the country’s disgraceful political system and provided remedies. She knew a lot about the international community and showed her interest in the strength of America perceived by others yet its weakness in protecting its own people; ‘the black mass’, she would say.

I loved the outspoken part of her, it surprised me that someone with a little level of education enjoyed the feel of a newspaper and the company of articles and book. The other side of her was silent and timid. Like a coat, she put it on whenever Feyi was home and I could understand why.

‘I’m too tired Femi’, Feyi usually whined as I questioned her about coming home late.

‘Don’t you want to have babies?’ I knew her reason for her actions.

‘Babies can wait my love, besides we shouldn’t be making love just to have babies Femi’.

‘Five years Feyi! Five years of marriage and we’re still putting having children on hold’.

‘This is the reason I stay away from this damn house. You are getting on my nerves!’ her accent would switch from the normal Nigerian-British mix to a pure British one as her anger escalated.

She used to take out her anger on Sopuruchi, either lavishly serving the hot food given to her on Sopuruchi’s body or presenting her with a slap as she cussed.

‘Don’t worry about it’, Sopuruchi said on one of such nights. Her ‘madam’ had slapped her, this time targeting her eyes, ‘madam is just really angry’, she said displaying her loyalty as I touched the reddened area, looking into her eyes. She looked to the ground and I couldn’t help but gently lift her face and kiss her cheeks as though my lips would soothe her pain.

So you let the handshake go beyond the elbow and made love to your maid?! There it is again, needing no answer. You killed her you know…you killed her. I didn’t! I can swear on my life I didn’t!

You see, people don’t stop loving each other over one thing, in our case it wasn’t just the babies, it was nothing to talk about when it was just the two of us, it was her disappointment in me for leaving her father’s company and turning to photography instead, it was the realisation that the love in her eyes dimmed every day.

That’s you’re excuse to sleep with your maid, to get her pregnant and be proud of it? The pregnancy. There was no plan to get her pregnant but I loved her the more as she announced to me with fear in her eyes, that she was carrying my child.

I open the door to our bedroom, refusing to fall into guilt. Like a painting, traces of her blood still embrace the cream tiles, even though Sopuruchi scrubs them every morning, or maybe it’s just our imagination. I walk to the king sized bed and sit in the exact spot we had our last conversation.

‘You don’t love me anymore?’ Feyi asked with her teary eyes focused on the wall.

‘We both know we’ve fallen out of love’.

‘You love her instead?’ she voiced her suspicion.

‘No Feyi, Sopuruchi and I have nothing’, I lied, ‘we just need to end this marriage’.

I remember walking out of the room after a long silence and as I shut the door I heard a gun jar. I opened the door with caution. With a gun beside her and blood spilling from her head, Feyi was gone.

You killed her you know. As I look at the black caftan, spread out on the bed, I can’t help but agree with the voice, finally letting it push me into the arms of guilt… in some way I killed my wife.


Chinwe had no control of her body. ‘Leave me! Leave me!’ she screamed, as her baby pink chiffon dress was ruined by the dirty tiles she was rolling on.

Her voice was unrecognisable. On a normal day her voice was silvery, but this wasn’t a normal day.

‘That’s the demon speaking!’ the apostle screamed into the microphone, and I wondered if he knew the function of the equipment in his plump hand that lacked the touch of lotion.

‘Come out, come out!’ he spoke to her but commanded the ‘evil spirit’ in her and her rolling became more intense.

I worried that, with her eyes closed and her uncontrollable movement, she would hit the standing fan and get hurt. I worried more that the congregation believed that there was an evil spirit in her.

My eyes only went shut when my head felt an unexpected pain inflicted by my mother. ‘Do you want demons to enter you?’ she said through clenched teeth and let her knuckles drum hard on my head again.

I only started to come to church with my mother three Sundays ago, because she was tired of having to live with an ‘ungodly child’ who would rather sit at home with her ‘ungodly father’ on a Sunday.

For three consecutive Sundays, I remember the church secretary announce the coming of ‘the apostle’ as though he was the Messiah himself. ‘Praiiiseeeeee da Lord somebody’, his lips grew longer than they already were, ‘I said praise, praise, praise da Lord brodas and sistas’, he called again as though the first ‘hallelujah’ response was not loud enough. ‘I know we are all preparing for an encounter with Master Jesus! Don’t miss that encounter, tell your neighbour don’t miss that encounter’, and the congregation did as he said. ‘The Apostle will be in this auditorium with us, come with your handkerchiefs, your pens, your cv’s. All your problems will be gone in Jesus name!’ the congregation screamed back ‘amen’ in excitement. All I could think was how long his dark lips were, and how the letter ‘r’ turned to ‘l’ when he spoke.

I didn’t like the apostle much, I don’t think I liked him at all. He always wore a different shade of brown short-sleeved suits like that was the only outfit he allowed into his wardrobe. His expensive gold watch and rings made me wonder how much of the people’s offerings he shared with God. For someone with two decaying premolars, he smiled with so much pride.

‘Three years ago, this woman came crying before the Lord in search of a child!’ he pulled a sweat stained handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his furrowed forehead. ‘After we prayed for her God gave her a child. Now three years after and the devil is fighting again! Devil today this war is over I command you to leave this woman’s womb in Jesus name!’ His screaming became louder and Chinwe’s turning became furious again.

I remembered Afam’s dedication ceremony…. Chinwe was the happiest I had ever seen her on that day. Uncle Fred’s family had made life miserable for her during her ‘barren years’, sometimes locking her out of the house when they came to visit and he wasn’t home. Our home became a second home for her…who else would have understood the dilemma of a barren woman than the neighbour who had experienced the same?. So when Afam was born it was a break from the wahala. Recently though, the in-laws started to wag their tongues again on her inability to give their son another child.

All too suddenly, the apostle’s binding and casting was brought to an end by the sound of a gunshot at the back of the church. No longer were the church members focused on Chinwe, rather everyone begun to pray for their own lives as confusion arose. Even Chinwe had stopped rolling and her eyes were wide opened filled with fear as she saw her husband walking down the aisle with the gun in his hand.

‘Get up!’ he commanded her with bloodshot eyes, ‘get the hell up you stupid woman!’ he expressed his irritation in her reluctance to stand.

She stood with her head facing the ground like a child being reprimanded.

‘Everyone sit down, nobody leaves this building!’ Uncle Fred now turned to the congregation. In a few minutes everyone had sat without thinking twice.

I turned to my mother and I could see her confusion. I could tell she wanted to walk up to him and slap him as though he were her own child. He was, in a way, her child. She had known him since he was 13 and often people referred to him as her son. History has it that my mother and his family had always been neighbours and in her free time she was always at their house, helping out with the chores and being a nanny to Fred and his three younger sisters.

Uncle Fred avoided my mother’s deep eyes by all means. ‘Chinwe tell the church who the father of your child is!’ Chinwe looked at him in shock. ‘Are you looking at me?’ He asked calmly and then asked again when she refused to speak.

‘You are’ she stammered.

‘I am’, he said as though he was in agreement with her.

The congregation gasped as Uncle Fred unexpectedly slapped his wife sending her back to the ground.

‘Get up!’ he commanded and she obeyed in a hurry, ‘Chinwe tell the church who the father of your child is!’ He said again as he was losing patience.

‘My child’, the apostle begun to interrupt, ‘please don’t let the devil use you this way’, his voice could hardly be heard and I wondered why he couldn’t cast the evil spirit from the man with a gun.

‘Mr Man, if you talk again I will send you to meet with this Jesus you say you serve’, Uncle Fred threatened.

‘Chinwe who the hell is the father of your child! Because it can’t be me! I was told today that my sperm count is too low for me to father a child! So who the hell is the father of your child?’

‘Brother, can’t you see that God did a miracle for you? Or are you trying to say that God is not above a low sperm count?’ The apostle pushed his round rimmed glasses up as he spoke in fear.

At this point, people no longer sat in fear but with anxiety and intense interest, waiting to hear Chinwe unravel the mystery behind the father of Afam.

Uncle Fred roughly pulled Chinwe closer to himself and pointed the gun to her head.

‘He is!’ Chinwe screamed as every head turned to the direction to which she pointed.

‘Ahn! I Bind you in the name of Jesus!’ the apostle said as all eyes focused on him,’ this is a lie from the pit of hell. Your wife is possessed’, his sweating became profuse.

Slowly Uncle Fred moved closer to him, this time letting his eyes meet my mother’s.

‘Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm’, the apostle managed to say as he feared for his life and the congregation burst into laughter.

‘Tell the church how you got my wife pregnant’, Uncle Fred ignored the laughter as he forced the heavy man to his feet.


‘Will you shut up?! Do I look like your brother?! Tell the church how you got my wife pregnant!’ this time he put the gun to the apostle’s head.

‘She needed a child!’ he begun to speak as his fear caused him to wet himself, ‘am I God that gives children? I’m not. I only tried to help her out in the way I could. I’m not God that gives children na!

‘So you performed your own miracle on my wife and slept with her’, Uncle Fred said laughing.

My brother wetin I go do, the people want miracles. Please no kill me I dey beg’. Uncle Fred looked at him with disgust.

‘Behold your apostle!’ he turned to the congregation and said mockingly as he pushed the man to the ground. ‘When you get to the gate, you’ll see your bags there. By Monday you’ll get your divorce papers’, he said as he turned to Chinwe.

Uncle Fred begun to walk out of the church and my mother didn’t hesitate to pull me out of my chair and drag me along as we walked out too. One thing I was sure of was that, we were never coming back to this church. I wasn’t sure however, if our home would be opened to Chinwe ever again.

…across the room…

She looks across the room again. Her heart hungers to wrap her hands around the thin, fragile neck and squeeze the life out of the grey haired woman. It wasn’t a thought of wishing she could just release her of the pain, it was a thought of erasing her from the surface of the earth as soon as possible. This thought had, for more than half of her life, been her best dreams in the midst of her cruel reality.
‘Adunni!’ her voice betrayed shadows of anger and aggression yet she remained poised, ‘you will do as I say! I did not give you any options my dear child, I have told you what you will do. Go and get dressed you are going for dinner’.
Her eyes welled with tears, tears that her mother never acknowledged. She fixed her eyes on the large portrait of her father, a gap tooth was displayed as he grinned. She remembered him hanging that picture on the cream wall a week before he died. She had told him she hated her dentition and wanted braces as she watched him try to perfect the position of the frame.
‘Get braces and close that gap tooth? Hell no! Don’t you know you are the image of your father and I don’t want that to change? If no one loves you that way I do baby’, he said jokingly as he stretched to place a kiss on her cheek.
‘Adunni I said go and get dressed!’ her mother screamed pulling her out of memory lane.
Now in the room brightly lit by the proud sun, she looks as the pastor holds her mother’s hand with finger nails the colour of red roses and fails to respond to every ‘in Jesus name’. The last ‘amen’ is said and her eyes meet the apologetic eyes of the woman who birthed her, the same eyes that silenced her.
Morolayo looked at her daughter with all diligence, making sure the dress was tight enough to reveal her curves. She wanted the best for her daughter, every mother wanted that. And so the best for Adunni was to get her married to Abioye, a young man of social status and wealth. For four months she had planned dinner for the three of them and sometimes his family had been invited. Dinner, however, was meant for just the potential couple that night.
‘Stay there till she’s ready to leave’, her instructions were clear to the driver dressed in a red and orange African print shirt and jeans which longed to retire.
‘Yes ma! But madam you no dey go? Dat boy no look like good pesin o’, his eyes widened as he spoke.
‘Shut up and do as I have told you!’
‘Yes ma!’ he stumped a foot on the fancy light blue tiles and stood erect, raising one hand to the top of his forehead as he threw a salute.
Silence. That was all she was expecting for the night as the vehicle left the gate. Morolayo welcomed the thought of a fancy wedding for her daughter. She envisioned her smiling and mouthing a ‘thank you mum’ as she took her first dance with Abioye and yet she felt the very presence of fear and disapproval. Managing to dispose of the guilt of what she had planned for the night, she closed her eyes inviting the peace sleep brought with it.
‘Mummy!’ her wailing became louder as mother ran to child just past midnight. Her eyes fell on the torn dress and the laps of her child generously greased with blood. ‘Mummy he raped me!’ Adunni waited for the warmth of her mother’s hug.
Morolayo stood across the room, her eyes full of emotions Adunni could not explain as she looked up and let out quieter sobs.
‘Mummy I’ve been raped’, a puzzled look fell across her face. She wondered if her mother stood in shock, she wondered what action she would take next.
‘Shut up Adunni!’ Morolayo’s eyes portrayed anger, ‘you were not raped. Abioye is your husband and has every right to make love to you. Did you hear me?! He did not rape you he made love to you!’
With blood shot eyes and the throbbing pain in between her legs, she walked upstairs to get clean as her mother had commanded and as she settled in her bath tub, steam rising from the foamy hot water, she wished her mother nothing more than what she deserved, she wished her…
‘Adunni’, Aunty Lara’s high pitched voice comes bursting through her memory bringing her back to the moment, ‘you’ve stood across this room all this time. Won’t you at least come and greet your mother?’
Her aunty moves towards her reaching for her hand and trying to pull her out of the corner where she’s stood all morning.
‘I’ll rather stay here aunty…let me know when you’re ready to leave and I’ll drive you home’, her words are enough to let her know she’s fine with where she’s been.
‘Adunni’, the voice of a frail, sickly woman calls…
‘Adunni go to your home’, she remembered her say to her with those eyes that never showed any emotions.
‘You’re not listening to me!’ her throat seemed to crack betraying her emotions of fear and sorrow, ‘he beats me till I pass out, he dictates what I wear, where I go and who I talk to, I’ve become his whore and not his wife!’
‘Your marriage is what you make it!’
‘Your husband should treat you right! The bible says husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church!’ boldness began to slip through Adunni’s tone.
‘The bible also says wives be submissive to your husbands. Now go to your home and do just that’.
‘I’ve lost three babies because of him…I’ve lost two babies because of you! I want out of this marriage… daddy never treated you this way, I won’t be treated this way too…at least not anymore!’
‘You take your boxes my dear child and go back to Abioye and if you do not go to your home don’t you ever come here again’, Morolayo said calmly yet firmly.
‘This is my home mummy, please, you can’t let him keep hurting me’, tear drops formed patterns on her cheeks down to her aching chest.
Morolayo stood and walked to the door without sympathy for the one she called child, the one she had forced into a marriage of slavery. Opening the door she said, ‘Abioye is a good man, he doesn’t cheat and he provides everything a woman could ever need and want. You are the one who gets him all worked up and angry, do as he says and you’ll be a happier woman. You either go to your home or you chose to live this life on your own’.
‘Adunni’, she calls again unintentionally drawing her from the past, ‘my dear child…’
‘I am not your child!’ Adunni shoots back in anger.
‘Don’t talk like that Adunni’, Aunty Lara says as she tries to convince herself that Morolayo deserves some form of respect but fails to.
‘Aunty meet me in the car when you’re ready’, her heels begin to click as she walks towards the door, calmness ensuing her at the voice of the only woman who had ever truly cared.
‘Adunni, I thought I was doing what’s best for you’, Morolayo begins to cry, ‘please you can’t leave me like this at least let me spend my last days knowing you were here, please don’t…’
‘Did I tell you how Abioye would wrap his hand around the thick mass of my ponytail and drag me into the bathroom? He would command me to get into the bathtub and I would because, as you said, I had to do as he said. Maliciously, he would stick a hanger inside of me, twisting and turning till my growing baby would come into this world as nothing but blood. And then he would bathe me, giving me all the reasons why we weren’t ready to have a baby, telling me he knew what was best for me. You two seemed to share a lot in common. You will die a lonely woman, you will spend these last days knowing I’m not here with you and thinking about how I just stood across the room. See, you’ve always left me in that position, standing far from me and never caring, now I’m leaving you in that position. You’re the one across the room with no child to care’, her voice clearly shows hatred yet is camouflaged with perfect calm, ‘Aunty, meet me in the car when you’re ready’.


‘Argh!’ the shovel gets lost in the earth again. Deeper and deeper, faster and faster, your heart beat follows the movement of the metallic tool.

She walks out of the light green painted bungalow on to the patio, tears in her eyes and beads of sweat lavishly embracing her face. Her sweat and tears are replaced by the heavy drops of rain as her feet touch the interlocking bricks. Closer and closer, louder and louder, your heart screams as she draws near.

‘Lola, you can’t keep treating me like this’, you said to her just an hour ago.

‘Treating you like what? Oh please shut up!’ she screamed back.

‘You’re my wife Lola, I deserve to be re…’

‘Don’t even say it. Respect who? Would you have respected me if I was the one sitting at home taking care of the baby? Would you even treat me like a wife? I would have been your maid Muyiwa!’

‘I have never turned you into a maid, I have been nothing but supportive. What’s got into you? Why are you so defensive these days? All I wanted was for you to ask for a leave at work. I need to be in Abuja next week… I told you Emeka’s finally got me a contract, a contract that could finally take the financial weight off you, so you could spend more time with our son, spend more time with me…’

‘And then spend more time in the kitchen isn’t it?’ she laughs scornfully, ‘Muyiwa I have taken care of our financial needs in the past few years, you’ve never heard me complain. You want to go to Abuja? Fine, I’ll sort out who will look after the baby. I doubt you’ll come back successful, you’ve never really had the brains for business’.

You grabbed her arm as she started to walk off.

‘I cook, I clean, I take care of our 11months old son. I do the laundry… I do your laundry!’ you held on to her arm tighter.

‘Muyiwa fi mi sil’, her eyes showed the pain as she tried to break free from your grip.

‘I’m a man who has a building material shop that isn’t progressing, with a wife who works for an oil company and makes a lot of money! And so what?! I didn’t ask for this Lola. You are my wife! You are supposed to be responsible for the things I’ve taken responsibility for…my responsibility is to love you and care for you…to help you out with those responsibilities. You’ve become the man Lola!

‘You’re hurting me Muyiwa’, she whispered in more pain as your nails dug deep into her skin.

‘Shut up!’ you yelled, pushing her to the black leather settee, ‘this isn’t marriage Lola…this isn’t marriage’.

She scurried to her feet, her eyes fixed on the blue vintage ceramic plate on the side table. She picked up the plate, letting the knife which was on it slip to the floor.

‘I’ve taken the responsibility of providing for you and this baby’, you kept moving towards the kitchen, ‘I’m talking to you Muyiwa, Look at me when I’m talking to you!’

‘I try to provide for you Lola, I try to get us the basics’, you turned, deep sadness in your voice.

‘And yet the basics aren’t sufficient enough!’ just like a puzzle, pieces of the plate were created as she threw the plate at you. Deji started to cry at the sound of the plate hitting the well-polished cream tiles.

You stared at her in shock for a few seconds and choosing to pretend she hadn’t done anything, you moved to the baby, taking him up in your arms as you tried to calm him and moving towards the kitchen again.

‘Coward!’ she said, pushing you forcefully to the ground and bringing an end to the cry of Deji as his head hit the ground and embraced the blood drawn by the broken pieces of the vintage ceramic plate becoming part of his skin.

Now she holds the lifeless body in her arms and you wish it was her you were digging this grave for, not your son. You snatch Deji from her, without thinking again you drop him in the earth and your shovel starts to work again. Murderer, murderer, your heart cries as the heavens cry louder and greater at the death of your son.

‘Write your resignation letter tonight’, you say to her as you move towards the bedroom after all the digging is done, ‘and clean up this mess you’ve made in my living room!’

…windows and rings…

I looked through the glass window of the fancy restaurant and started to wish I never agreed to come along with Yetunde. In fact, I wished I planned my trip for a later date if only I had known…

‘Ola, you need to stop dragging your feet yeah and walk with me, we’re already late! I don’t want anyone looking at us saying “Africans and their African time”’, she said pulling my arm and forcing me into the restaurant.

‘Well not only are they going to be saying that, but they’ll also be saying how it’s so African of you to bring along an uninvited guest’, I rolled my eyes.

‘You’re not an uninvited guest. He told me to bring my friend along and that’s what I’m doing, bringing you along’, she walked up the stairs laughing.

We both knew he meant Uzoma who was meant to be with us but ended up in Paris for the week, looking for a house to buy.

Three years after graduation and a lot had changed as was expected. Yetunde had stayed back in England with her fiancé and Uzoma got a job in America and was being sent to Paris for a cross posting. I, on the other hand, went back to the fatherland, Nigeria, even though I barely got any support going back. I needed to start a new chapter, I needed to forget about…

‘Look who we have here! I can’t believe it’s you’, I heard a familiar voice say as I turned to see who was speaking.

‘Hi Jackie’, I said as I leaned in to give her a hug.

‘I’m so happy to see you! It’s been three years right?’, I couldn’t tell if she was honestly happy or not, Jackie never really liked me and she had made that clear on several occasions during our time at the university, especially on the day Jordan left.

‘Yes, yes it has. How have…’

‘Excuse me everyone, may I get your attention’. His voice.

I looked at the tall figure standing beside a young lady with hair the colour of leaves dried up in autumn. My eyes fell upon their fingers knotted tightly and at that moment I could feel my heart being knotted painfully as well.

‘I want to say a big thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate my birthday with me. I want to thank this princess too standing right by me, for setting up everything. I don’t know what I would ever do without her and so…’ he got on his knees.

He got on his knees! I wanted to scream and faint at the same time and as I looked around the room to see if anyone would stop what was just about to happen, all I could see were faces lit up with smiles, including Yetunde. My eyes settled back on the ring in between his finger and as if wanting approval from the gathering of people he looked around with a smirk as people begun to chant ‘c’mon man! Ask her already’. He showed off a white set of good dentition as he tuned his head from left to right and as if being smacked suddenly, his eyes displayed shock as they met mine.

‘Stop playing tricks Jordan!’ she said laughing and bringing him back to the moment.

‘Will you marry me Nana?’ the excitement in his voice had gone. He managed to get to his feet and kiss her as she said yes.

I wanted to run out, to pack my bags and go home. I was hurt even when there was no reason to be hurt. He owed me nothing…at least not his love.

‘Hello stranger’, he said finally walking up to me while his bride-to-be showed off her ring to her friends.

‘Hello groom-to-be! Congratulations!’ I managed to fake excitement, ‘I’m so happy to see you! I’m even happier you’re getting married’, I leaned in, responding to his hug. He hugged me tightly, like a child who had just found its most cherished stuffed toy. I pulled away quickly.

‘I had no clue you were around’, he said ignoring my comments on his engagement, ‘I’ve missed you, you know’.

‘I came to see Yetunde, she’s getting married soon so I thought I’ll come help out now that I got some time off work’.

‘You’ve been gone for so long’, he glared at me and I could tell he hadn’t heard what I said.

‘It was nice seeing you again Jordan. I should get Yetunde we have a lot to do tomorrow and should really get home to rest’. This wasn’t the day or the time to talk about the past.

Placing a peck on his cheek, I walked off to get Yetunde, giving him no chance to pull me back or speak. The past belonged in the past and his future was different from mine. My heart had been right from the beginning…we just couldn’t be together.

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