Friday, 20 October 2017


It’s been just a day off this place. Yes. Just a night ago or simply put, just yesterday and everything look different in Laibe’s sight altogether. First it was the usual pathway that led to her friends’ houses. It was as though someone trimmed it to the form of a lawn; like a carpet grass somewhat. Then, Ebi looked fatter than how she used to and Umali appeared to have shed off some height. Yes, height. Funny! But that’s how she is seeing it. She couldn’t understand what exactly was happening to her eyes. Was she having issues with vision already or her perspective to life has quickly changed within a day? So much so that she now see everything as beautiful, as adorable?
Ebi ran the distance to hug her when the former sighted her from afar off. The both of them ran to Umali’s house and after greeting her parents hurriedly, they decided to take a walk to their ‘joint’. That’s where they always sit to talk - quiet and shaded. A perfect place for perfect gossip, courtesy of the three most talked about girls in Ofabo. Ebi and Umali took turns to narrate the ordeals that ensued between the hours of yesterday morning and today to her. They both were careful and meticulous enough to explain every detail, including saying the words as there were spoken and even mimicking the voice of the speaker. They started gesticulating from how Omachoko scared the living daylight out of them when he said someone was kidnapped in Ankpa yesterday morning. Umali mockingly explained the part of Ebi’s uncontrollable tears, demonstrating it in such a scornful way that Ebi started pursuing her round the tree they all sat on its cut branches. Laibe could not control the laughter that was spewing off her mouth and whenever she tried to catch her breath, something seem to make Umali rewind her mocking tales all over again. That’s how they are and have always been. Innocent. Young. Happy.
Laibe couldn’t have asked for any better company all through her life beside these two wonderful girls that make her life worthwhile. From their gist, she tried to sum up in her head whatever could have gone wrong; Baba must have actually thought she was kidnapped and perhaps ordered her aunt to bring her back home this morning as early as possible, those were the conclusions her mind came up with. But she wasn’t kidnapped, she thought within herself. More so, that was not what Ocholi told her. Ocholi connected her abrupt return to something that had to do with her Uncle and the more she tried to joggle her brain, the more she realises that she needed one of either her aunt or uncle to bring her into the exact picture of whatever was going on. She rubbed her first finger lightly against her temples as her head was beginning to ache more seriously. Just then she felt the other girls tickling her and she jerked up. She is always extremely sensitive to touch, sensitive to a fault at that and ever since Umali and Ebi discovered that one day, they continually used her weak point to their advantage.
It was a hot afternoon that day and they were all having a swell time of discussion in her mother’s hut when one of them said something that really pissed her off - It was Umali. Don’t get it wrong, Laibe never picks offenses easily, in fact, people in the village used to think she was a reincarnation of one of their goddesses with the easy way she lived her life and do her things, especially after all the inexplicable events surrounding her life. Some women call her ‘iganya ki ma nuchejun’ which is interpreted to literally mean ‘the sight of indescribable beauty’. Her spirit is warm, receptive, tolerant and accommodative to everyone that came around her but that day was quite different. Umali called her a fool for being so tolerant with one of her customers that kept piling up debt from continuous uncleared purchase of garri. Not as though Umali was totally wrong howbeit the manner of approach was just not it. Laibe didn’t share her worries with her friends to get litigated, did she? She believed she should feel better after talking about a pressing issue with them, why it is said a problem half shared with the right person is half solved.
The ‘fool’ part of Umali’s statement came across as a grave insult which got down all the way through her bones into the bloodstream. She felt like spanking Umali on the head or chasing her out of her house but as she usually is, there is no strength for troubles. She can’t make one and even when one is made for her on a platter of gold, she can’t handle it, so she just kept quiet. The girls tried to appease her, apologise to her in a way that would normally make her laugh yet she sat stiff-necked, just minding her own business. Ebi resulted to tickling after countless failed efforts and Tada! It worked. Laibe instantly burst into an uncontrollable laughter before she could stop herself. When Umali joined in the tickling exercise, Laibe found herself rolling on the floor and begging the both of them to let her go that they were already forgiven. It was from then this act became more than recurrent.
“Yes. What? Yes!” She exclaimed as she tried to keep herself from laughing. To her utter amazement, her friends stopped and burst into a loud thunderous laughter as if they were next in line on the laughing queue. She paused to look at herself, was anything so funny on her body right now? She couldn’t understand whatever made the girls laugh in a way that Umali had to lay bare on the dry leaves littered under this tree. It was when the two had laughed to their fill that they told her what aroused the laughter: It was her English.
Another round of mockery began; just a day in Ankpa and she’s become such a Queen Elizabeth already; we that are local here cannot speak English o; What if she had stayed longer?; Then she wouldn’t remember how to say her name anymore; Umali and Ebi took turns to say all these in Igala like they were talking about someone far away, using a ridiculing voice and Laibe only kept laughing as the duo continued catching real fun out of her.
She didn’t even have plans to give them any response. One would, as a matter of necessity, have to transverse her heart to be able to see how proud she was when Ocholi finally began addressing her in English. They, Ocholi and her that is, didn’t have any much discussion but she understood the few things he said to her at the different points they spoke and when she didn’t know how to correctly construct her response, she only replied him by nodding courteously. She is aware that she doesn’t have much mastery of the English Language yet, but there was no way she would ever improve if she continue keeping quiet because she gets scorned at any attempt to voice out just a word in English by her two other halves. That was part of the core reasons she was very happy to go to Ankpa, knowing fully well that even if her aunty doesn’t enrol her in a secondary school, the interactions she hope to have with neighbours around should make her pick up some basic knowledge.
“Ok! Ínyó mé” She tried to stop them by saying ‘it was OK’. If she does not do this, the girls would not round up the ridiculous laughter that had lingered for about eight minutes already. It worked. Ebi and Umali shook their head with the ‘now you are talking’ connotation. Laibe started smiling at her crazy friends but her smile slowly, till it ultimately vanished when they advised her to reconsider Omachoko.
Had something come lose in their heads? She stared at the duo like her eyeballs would pull out of its cage. Her shocked eyes begged them to seal their mouth but they wouldn’t bulge.
These girls were the same set of persons that killed whatever chances would have been between Omachoko and her. Their talks, blasphemous words and abusive remarks made her wave the poor boy off even before considering. Right here, they are telling her to reconsider listening to him all over again, strongly taking reference from the events of yesterday and telling her how many times Omachoko ran over to Edogbanya’s house - the only man that own a phone in the village - to confirm if he was back from Aloma or not. It’s amazing how people talk with both sides of their mouth over one issue. Laibe knew she was grateful, so grateful to have someone stick his head all out for her like that at his own inconvenience. She was ready to show appreciation but not by accepting his proposal for marriage. It may not be normal around here, still she was only a few months shy of thirteen for crying out loud. They are more things she planned to do with her life other than ending up in the kitchen, sitting room and the ‘other’ room. Plus, Ocholi her newly found crush was still there at Ankpa. Her fate with her crush however, would be determined by whether she is allowed to go back to Ankpa or left to remain here in the end. Whichever way, she has braced up for any of the two.
She noticed deafening silence around her. The two girls had unusually become quiet as they both stared into empty space. She knew something mischievous was about to happen and before she could ask why no one was talking any longer, she saw Omachoko walking towards them through the low scanty bushes. Laibe stole a glance at her friends and they both kept a straight face, like they didn’t know he was coming or better still, like they were also not aware at all. How be it? No one else knew this hide out. It is inside the bush deep behind the Local Government Area primary school, so inside that nobody would hear a thing even if one shouts for help from here. There was no way Omachoko would have known if none of the girls told him. This was a trap, right? She bit her lips mildly as her eyes flashed from one person to the other in quick successions.
Omachoko was walking too slowly and at a point she felt he was crawling. Maybe it was only her mind. Many things ran through it as she tried not to stare at the young man walking towards her direction, their direction as the case should be. When he finally got closer to them, he simply smiled at the duo before taking two steps forward to stand directly in front of Laibe. She is still sitting on the branch of the tree and if there was anything she avoided as much as it depended on her was eye contact with Omachoko. His right hand was in the pocket of his faded black jean on which he wore a polo whose colour we cannot place but it was a polo all the same. Then, he was too mute for comfort.
“Laibe, wólà ùlé wùnyí” Omachoko opened his mouth to talk for the first time since he got here and what he could bring himself to say was ‘Laibe, welcome back home’.
Laibe placed her innocent questioning eyes on him.
Could that be true that she was truly back home? Laibe asked herself as she jumped down from the branch on which she sat. She needed to face Omachoko more squarely.
Ocholi had to walk over to the gate when he overhead some heated arguments. Initially, he thought it was just his ears because he had dozed off on the cushioned sofa in the sitting room while trying to watch a program on WapTv since everyone left. The manner with which he was awoken this morning wasn’t healthy for him at all and he knew himself that much. The whole day would be wasted if he had to jerk abruptly from sleep for any reason. All thanks to yours truly – Bro Matthew. He forced his drowsy eyeballs open and stepped out of the building, only then did he see the intense argument was actually between the gateman and someone outside the gate. He had always maintained that this gateman was a thorn in the flesh - No manners, no sense of courtesy and ultimately, he is extremely lazy. Sometimes ago, Ocholi calculated what he would have done with the so much money they wasted on the man’s monthly salary. He tried to figure things out till he saw there was nothing he could do. He can’t sacrifice school and start working as a gateman in his own elder brother’s house. That would be the height of defamation and a family meeting would promptly be called eventually.
“I believe this is Dr Matthew Onoja’s compound” a woman’s voice greeted him, just when he barely got to the gate.
“Oga, I tell this woman say big Oga no de house. I talk say everybody comot, e no wan go” the gateman broke out and started explaining in Pidgin English. Ocholi was not only startled but was beginning to get pissed up with the unnecessarily loud voice the gateman spoke with. Aunty Udale had told him their gateman had some hearing disabilities. So? He should bring everyone else to his condition by screaming as though we were all deaf as well? Whoever uses a partially deaf old man as gateman anyway, he muttered inaudibly. Maybe that was why the woman in front of the gate had irritation wrinkling her well powdered face. The loud shouts of the gateman was very embarrassing indeed. Thankfully, this area isn’t so busy.
“Yes it is. I’m so sorry about the harassment Ma’am, how may I help you?” Ocholi responded politely, ignoring the gateman.
“I don tell am that one sef” the gateman interrupted.
“Please go into your office. I will take over from here” Ocholi ordered, trying hard not to raise his voice at the elderly man.
The gateman obeyed and in no time he was left standing face to face with the woman who read out the address loudly from her android phone for the fourth time.
“I’m really sorry, Ma’am” Ocholi apologised again and the pretty woman just responded to him with a shit-eating grin before heaving a sigh of relief.
“At last!” she exclaimed “…It was so hard locating this place, thank God I’m here at last” she said, pulling the large travelling bag behind her as she trudged into the compound immediately Ocholi opened the little gate wide enough.
Ocholi didn’t understand a thing anymore. The face of the woman didn’t look anyway close to being familiar but that was not the only cause of his worry at the moment. He couldn’t say if it were his usual hyperactive eyes or his ‘always assessing’ personality, but the woman looked heavily pregnant. Though she appears like a well comported person, the type that took proper care of their bodies and try to still maintain their smart shape during pregnancy. With the manner with which she still walked smartly on a black heel and jean trouser, she is undoubtedly civilised to the core. Atop the trouser she wore a flare orange dress, flare enough to hide her protruding belly from the eyes of one someone that is not observant enough. Pulling in a bag that look like she intends to spend the rest of her life here baffled Ocholi the more and it was at this moment he knew better than not to ask one salient question,
“Who are you, Ma’am?”
“I have come to Matthew’s house finally.” She said, still in her mood of excitement and not necessarily in response to what Ocholi just asked her. Ocholi swallowed and decided to ask the question again till she will hear him and respond appropriately.
“… Please where can I sit? It’s been a long and tiring journey” She snapped just before Ocholi opened his mouth. Wearing back her sunglasses, she headed towards the entrance of the main building without waiting for any further lead or directions.
Ocholi’s legs remained glued to the ground at the gate like an immoveable pillar.
Episode 10
“I have know for very long a time that you is a good persons. And… I say my heart… plenty of happy… for the one you did yesterday. But me… I cannot fit to accepting… into marriage you now. I… I will go school first. I will become a woman… big, big woman… and God still saying, marriage him, marriage him… I must not be able to run then again…” Laibe gesticulated every word as she barely managed to pull through the English sentences. She really wants to do it, speak English that is, as fluent and as perfect as Ocholi spoke with her aunty. She applauded herself in her head for this one she successfully pulled through even though it didn’t appeal to real sense. It was only before Omachoko she could dare this. Anyone else including her friends would laugh her to scorn, as they did some minutes ago without hesitation. Omachoko on the other hand would not, in fact he cannot laugh at her. Not when by staring into Laibe’s eyes, he could capture in them a perfect picture of his future wife and the mother of his kids. Those were what he told her, and as a matter of fact, what he’s been telling her. Well, the most important factor in effective communication, as it’s said, is that the other party should be able to read correct meanings to whatever one is saying, regardless of how crude the mode of communication is. For reasons Omachoko could not fathom, he found himself adoring, getting drawn even more and more to the beauty all endowed in just this one little innocent girl. Her hair is thick, dark and long. It lined her front head so perfectly that she look like a complete African child judging from how hairy she is. Her size: petite. She is slim, isn’t tall, and didn’t look like she would be getting taller anytime soon but he loved her height that way. She is just the perfect Cinderella he see himself as a prince charming falling in love with.
What more can a young man do when his proposal is politely turned down over and over? A point comes when perseverance becomes cheer stupidity and Omachoko right here was almost getting to that point of making a crucial but painful decision.
“No problem Laibe. Whenever you are ready. Don’t forget, you are here now, always and forever” Omachoko responded pointing Laibe’s attention to the position of his heart as he spoke. Omachoko had a fairly good command of the English language much more than anyone else in the entire village. That was because he completed the last two years of his secondary school at St. Charles College, one of the biggest and renowned secondary schools in Ankpa. He was truly close to the kind of man Laibe would want to have something with but she wanted to wait; there is a whole life and lots of time ahead. More so, she is just about beginning the real life, she can’t keep herself trapped down to something called a relationship or betrothal at this vulnerable age thirteen. Laibe smiled shyly as Omachoko spread out his arms while demanding for a hug. Her shy eyes begged him to bring down his hands but he wouldn’t. He wants that hug and would get it now. He wants the feel of having the one his heart beats for hear his heartbeat.
Laibe looked around again. What was Omachoko doing? It was bad enough that her friends left the both of them standing in this isolated place on the guise that they wanted to buy something. She knew as much as her surname that those two girls were just creating privacy for Omachoko. Whatever he bribed them with, she thought within her. What if someone saw them while they hugged, or better still, while he hugged her? Then the person would gist a neighbour who would gist another neighbour and it would keep spreading till it gets to her grandfather’s ears. She tried to imagine what would become of her when Baba hears that, how disappointed the elderly man would be. All these ran through her mind within split seconds and when she wished Omachoko had given up, he started walking towards her with his hands still widely spread out.
OK! She quickly gave him a light hug and withdrew almost immediately but the young man wanted more and that was beginning to bother her right now.
“No!!!” He exclaimed when Laibe withdrew almost as instant as she hugged, holding tight to her shoulders.
“No!!!” Laibe screamed in response as well when Omachoko still charged forward towards her. She winced herself from his grip, started running slowly round the tree while he followed behind her. Just as they were about going round the tree for the fourth time, she heard loud giggles and she instantly knew that her two lousy friends were back. They kept saying in Igala, ‘people come and see husband and wife o; God provide our own for us o; we are jealous o. At some point they clapped their hands while words came off their mouth in the gossip fashion. Truly, these girls could be awarded degrees in gossip mannerism. They know the appropriate way to demonstrate each statement. Omachoko only kept blushing quietly. Unlike Laibe, he had no problem with the teases from the girls, not when what they are saying are exactly what he wishes for. Laibe however wanted to explain that it wasn’t what they thought, that they both weren’t playing romantic games as it appears. She wanted to explain that she was trying to dodge a second hug, a more intense hug at that. As a matter of fact, that was all there is but the girls gave her no time to say anything before saying her grandfather and aunty were looking for her in the house.
Laibe’s heart missed a beat at that information.
Could there be any chance that she would still go back to Ankpa? Or have they concluded that she would stay back here? All these thoughts tortured her within as she ran the whole length from behind the primary school, where they all sat, and back home. Baba’s house is perpendicular to the school and only the major road demarcated the two places. Neither Omachoko nor her friends followed her as she ran. Not as though they didn’t attempt, especially Omachoko but she insisted they didn’t follow her. Reason being that she didn’t know what awaited her at home and wouldn’t want, if she has to eventually breakdown in tears before any of them.
“Ugbo elo?” Baba yelled, asking ‘where she went to’ as soon as she barely arrived the compound. His voice sounded a little irritated and that also scared her. She didn’t know whether Baba’s question was actually a question in the real sense of the words or expressions of displeasure. She couldn’t respond even if she wanted because she was panting, panting really loud one would think she would drop dead soon if she didn’t find anywhere to sit and calm down. She looked on at her aunty and couldn’t read anything from the way the older woman stared vacantly at the road before them.
Something must have gone wrong with the way the atmosphere felt, or something went unexpectedly right? She didn’t even know which to pick from any of the options. Whether it was part of her aunt’s profession as a nurse never to show emotions on the face or not, Laibe wasn’t aware of that, one thing she knew as much as she knew her name was that, none can ever read whatever was up in her aunt’s mind from her facial expression. She masked pain as perfectly as she masks joy.
Laibe stood patiently. She was hoping someone would open up and speak to her. She was too curious to know her fate. She decided to ask her uncle if she would be following them back to Ankpa. It is true the man hasn’t said a word to her since yesterday but she wanted to risk it this time. The presence of Baba should savage things and of course Uncle Matthew wouldn’t want to let Baba in on the fact that things weren’t so right between them. Just when she opened her mouth to let the words in her mind flow out, the Samsung galaxy in her Uncle’s hands buzzed and he wiped at the answer button almost instantaneously,
“Hello… Boyega? … Hello… Network is horrible here… If you can hear me, I will call you back when I get a better reception. I’m in the village”
She heard her uncle say into the phone’s receiver leaving some seconds silence between one statement and the next. With the expression on his face when he first dropped the call, she advised herself to just keep quiet.
Matthew walked over to the car, one of the village young men was washing it. This is common in Ofabo - more like an act of hospitality because the owner of the car wouldn’t even know when the person began washing. He and Baba came out with his wife only to see the young man was meticulously scrubbing the tires of the Black Ford Endeavour that had changed into gelatinous brown from the dusty roads. Left to Matthew, the car should be left that way till he got back to his car washers at Ankpa, because no matter how clean it would look at the end of this washing, the journey back would return it to brown or even worse than that now that it was fairly wet. He just let the young man finish his work anyway, moreover he had nothing to lose except perhaps the five hundred naira he would hand over to the young man to show appreciation afterwards and with his status, five hundred naira is some piece of change he gave out all the time.
“Mtcheew!” he drew a long hiss in irritation when his phone started ringing again. Not as though he didn’t like the caller’s ID on the screen but because he couldn’t hear him. The network strength was so horrible where he was and even as the calls pulled through, he couldn’t hear anything Boyega was saying at the other end of the phone save some noisy waves.
“Why is Boyega calling consistently nau?” He murmured to his irritated self. Apart from the fact that Boyega was part of the friends he rarely remembers having on his contact list, it’s been a while since they last talked. Calling him persistently and consistently now was a big call for concern.
“Matthew, you have a call” Udale called out from where she sat lazily on the veranda. She handed over the tablet to Laibe to go give her uncle and the latter hurried off to where Matthew stood. Udale kept the tablet in her bag for him when he parked in front of the house. She knew her husband quite well and his renowned reputation of losing phones over and over. Whenever he is not with his office bags, he forgets to pick up any of his phones after dropping them anywhere and that has been how three expensive phones had suddenly developed limbs and gone missing within the past one year. They had to both agree that whenever they were in a place and he wasn’t with the bag, Udale should keep the tablet safe for him, the other Samsung was something he could easily put in his pocket as the SIM card on the tablet wasn’t used for calls and only few persons had that line.
Matthew kept muttering some inaudible statements to himself while Laibe hurried towards him. There was no way Boyega would have his other number so who on earth is bothering him at this point? He collected the tablet from Laibe’s hands - more like yanking it off the poor girl’s hand, opened the case and saw the caller’s ID. Now it became obvious that there must be some fire on the mountain for Ocholi, his younger brother to be calling when he knew quite well they were at the village and he had the leverage to attend to any emergency in their absence. He reluctantly tapped on the receive button as the call came again the second time,
“Yes! What’s the problem Ocholi?”
Laibe’s heart missed another beat as that name was called while standing back and waiting to return the tablet to her aunty when Matthew finishes with the call. She raised her head to look at her uncle’s face and she could literally see how the face contorted into a fiercer one within a minute. He listened with eyes darting from sides to sides, like something was wrong, like something had gone so wrong.
“What! Who?” Matthew exclaimed loudly before he could stop himself. Udale jerked up and Baba straightened out on his chair as well, they both looked on eagerly as if they couldn’t wait for Matthew to be through with the call that’s arousing so much tension on his face. Patience is a virtue at this point.
Episode 11
The car was barely at the gate before the gate flew open. It was as though Ocholi couldn’t wait for them to return or better still he stood at the gate all the while. Whatever the case was really mattered much right now. He hurriedly pulled down the hook of the huge black iron gate and inserted them firmly in their holes on the ground before running underneath the canopy where the Ford Endeavour that just drove in parked. It parked beside Aunty Udale’s. The Peugeot hasn’t been returned yet so the parking lot allocated to it was left empty. Because of the isolation in this environment they live in, the fence was built so high up that it almost swallowed the whole height of the seven-bedroom storey building, that’s aside the barb wire that aligned the top of the fence so much so that any robber would be electrocuted, at the drop of a hat, if he/she dared to even climb the fence halfway. Matthew has always been the ‘prim and proper’ kind of man right from his youthful days. In fact, Udale practically learnt how to pay deep attention to tiny details from her husband. He didn’t literally teach her in that sense, she was compelled to learn by example. So much for marrying a cool, calm and collected husband. For her, anything goes and she was so happy to be in love with him, except that he could be a brutal and merciless animal whenever his anger issues came over him.
“Where is she?” Matthew questioned as instant as Ocholi got to the car, before the latter could say a welcome, before the former switched off the ignition.
“In the sitting room sir” Ocholi responded quite politely. He wasn’t much interested in responding to his elder brother as much as he was in looking through the window of the car for something or… someone only him seem to be aware of. Matthew finally killed the car, got down and headed straight for the entrance door.
Udale looked on with gross confusion written all over her face when she saw her husband’s actions. In fact, everything about Matthew to her has been pretty strange lately, including all the stunts he has pulled right from the morning they left here for the village up until now. Even after waiting patiently for him to get off the call he screamed from, the only answer he could give Baba and her was: “everything is under control. Udale, we are leaving immediately”. She remembered how Baba had to give up asking when he perceived his son in-law wasn’t ready to put them in the know of whatever was happening. She couldn’t help but wonder who the ‘she’ in her sitting room was and she needed to go find out. God help her today she wouldn’t be giving someone a hot pepper bath.
“Ocholi, take those things into the room. Laibe you too, join him” Udale ordered as she hurried after her husband who just entered the sitting room.
Ocholi stared at Laibe as she looked exhausted again, yet she was smiling. He remembered all the drama that ensued with the poor girl right from the road yesterday up till this moment. He admired her spirit a lot. Her spirit is indeed the fighting one.
Bundling her back to Ofabo the way they left this morning?
If it were some other girls, she wouldn’t have agreed to return back, and sincerely if he was to be the one he wouldn’t have taken any of the attitudes his brother was dishing out.
Something definitely inspired her. Something must be driving her with this so much grace and courage and he couldn’t wait to find out what that is.
Laibe bent over to pick up the ogede - bunch of banana, which a woman gave to her aunty as they were about leaving. She tried to lift it in futility before turning tired eyes to her crush of life. Ocholi let out a mischievous laughter before holding up the ogede from the trunk. Laibe marvelled at that, at the way the young man held the large bunch like a child would hold a broken pencil. She own strength, or maybe used to own one. She normally carried about four of that size of bunch from the farm back home in her wheelbarrow. Why she seem to be so weak today beats her imagination.
Yes! It could be the way she woke up this morning. Waking up abruptly and in fright has a way of giving anyone migraine all through the day let alone the unplanned return journey. The so much laughter her friends caused her, running round the tree so as to dodge hugging Omachoko, running back home in fright when she was told Baba and her aunty were looking for her and the peaceful elation that filled her heart when her aunty told her to sit in the car as they were all going back to Ankpa together – all these were tasking.
With joy, she almost jumped on Baba after hearing her aunt but she refrained herself to just a light hug. Baba held her hand and prayed for her. When he was done with the prayers, he dropped an adage that got her thinking “Laibe, anyaja a kedo ofu n” which means, despair has no meaning where there is faith. Of course she knew the meaning of the adage, he had heard Baba use it a lot of times especially when her mother was still alive. The only thing she had a difficult time in fathoming was the relationship between that adage and her going over to stay at Ankpa with her aunty. It was an important punch line because Baba didn’t say it like some of those words he voice out just for the fun of it. He had that deep crease on his forehead, squeezing his face into a fiercer form while sounding with the notion that he meant every word and anytime she joggled her head to decipher its meaning, the migraine doubles. It is true and said in Igala that what an elderly man sees while sitting on his chair, a child, even when he climbs up to the top of a high mountain, may never see it. She hoped and prayed silently in her heart that no bad omen would confront her here again. She lurched as a startling sound brought her back to reality. It sounded like something moved inside the handle of the car she just partly closed. Her frightful movement was so intense that her aunt’s bag almost fell off her hand and before she could gather her strength she heard Ocholi laughing really hard,
OK! Now that was beginning to get embarrassing. It wasn’t his normal welcoming and warm smiles, this was really a ridicule and she hates much more than anything else to become an object of mockery.
“What?” she yelled.
That took Ocholi aback. For real? Did she just yell? Her face contorted into a grossly irritated one. Well, Laibe looked so innocent no one would think she would get angry or irritated with anything. Ocholi stopped laughing, pressed down the ‘lock’ button on the car’s remote again and the car doors made the same sound but this time Laibe did not jerk, she only stood transfixed to the same point. She felt like hitting herself on the head for feeling scared in the first place. Perhaps, her thoughts necessitated that, but truly again, she wasn’t seeing cars with automatic remotes often, so she shouldn’t be blamed for her ignorance. As all these thoughts patronized the market of her head, she felt the impulse to laugh, just smile and release the face that had all of a sudden formed a horrible frown. Her friends tell her she looked horrible whenever she frowned. How could she have done that before her crush? How on earth did she raise her voice at him? Will he now become like Uncle Matthew who doesn’t speak at all to her from now? All these questions begged for sincere answers in her head.
“Laibe…” Ocholi called out for the second time. They must be something on this girl’s mind that makes her go ‘offline’ at every given interval. It was weird. He may be just five years older than her – he wasn’t sure though, but one thing he knew of a surety was that when he was at her age, he had nothing bothering his mind. He had just how many more times he should eat in one day to worry about.
“Erhm! Uhm?” Laibe stammered her response.
“Let’s go drop these things please, I have something important to show you!” He said and starting walking into the house.
Laibe took a deep breath before following him through the other door that led directly into the kitchen.
Matthew followed Udale into their bedroom. She had walked in on Angela hugging him cheerfully. Angela was so excited to finally see Matthew after a very long time so much so that she forgot her heavy condition and jumped on him. Matthew had nothing to worry about, he was powerful and huge enough to catch twice the size of pregnant Angela, of course, if he could raise his rotund wife off the floor with only a hand, there was practically no woman he couldn’t carry. They only both got into each other’s arms when Udale opened the door and walked in. He looked at his wife’s eyes and they weren’t friendly at all. Women and insecurity! For reasons not tangible in the sight of Matthew, Udale just walked on towards the stairs without responding to any of the greetings falling on deaf ears from Angela.
“Is anything the matter?” Angela turned back to face Matthew with a babyish look when Udale snubbed her attempt at giving a hug.
“Just be comfortable. I’ll be back” Matthew replied, touching her smooth and well powdered cheeks lovingly before following his wife.
“What do you think you are doing Udale?” Matthew confronted Udale immediately he was sure the door was firmly shut behind him.
“She is beautiful and gorgeous and I’m sure your baby in her would be as handsome as you are too” Udale responded while sniffing in the catarrh that was flowing down her nose. She let out a sarcastic laughter in between her statements as she fell her robust form unto the bed in frustration.
“Baby? Handsome as I am? What do you mean?” Matthew questioned her in return, sounding really marvelled.
“What if you had told me earlier? Would that kill your ego as a man?” she asked. Her voice was rising initially until she finally let them break out and the ocean of tears poured uncontrollably “only for you to announce it before my father this morning that you were taking a second wife… What can be more disgraceful?”
Matthew started laughing. He was still standing at the wardrobe in the room, very close to the entrance door, but he laughed so much that he didn’t know when he walked to the edge of the bed and took his seat on one of the side drawers.
“Sweetie, I told you and Baba that the statement was a joke. I mean, we settled it there and talked about other jovial things so what’s all these about?”
“Yeah! Joke indeed! It would have been cool if you deceived just only me, but saying a done truth was a joke to my father and denying it in my very before is worse than taking a knife and cutting my head off right now” Udale lamented slowly. One could feel the agitation in her voice and if she had her way, she would have screamed out the many harsh words her mind had collected for Matthew. She didn’t have the energy to use a loud voice this time though, she sobbed quietly while her mouth talked on.
“Matthew just kill me” she broke down finally into full uncontrollable tears, “Kill me now...”
Matthew has this issue with women; very emotional and very close to tears. It irritates the life out of him a lot. He tried to cuddle his wife, even if he didn’t know which was the best word to use first, he wanted to get her stabilised all the same but she yanked off his hands immediately he placed it across her shoulders. That got him even more vexed.
“You should have at least let me introduce her to you before concluding” Matthew said with the calmest voice he could gather at the moment.
“Keep your stupid explanation to yourself Matthew. Oh! You impregnated one of your concubines and even had the nerves to bring her into my house? I see, you will have to kill one of us to survive in this house” she yelled at the top of her lungs now.
“Damn!” Matthew yelled hitting hard on the wood he sat on,
“That woman is Angela, Boyega’s wife. I couldn’t hear whatever Boyega was saying over the phone because of the stupidly poor network in your village. Ocholi called to let me talk with her. I was only shocked she could locate my house, that was why I screamed that way. There was no big deal, there is still no big deal. She has a screening tomorrow morning in Lokoja and she is coming from Aba. She is aware I work in Lokoja so would hitch a ride with me down tomorrow morning. That’s all!” Matthew narrated with increased provocation. He paused and glanced at his wife’s direction. The sobs were lighter now, not as loud and pitiable as they were when she started out. He rolled his eyes in disdain.
“Maybe, I wasn’t joking about taking a second wife after all but she is definitely not Angela” he added and got up, displaying his intimidating huge form. His voice still sounded very much irritated.
Udale wiped her eyes quickly and turned to face Matthew, for the second time today she preferred her ears didn’t hear clearly instead…
“Not Angela? Who?” Udale asked, popping her eyes wide open as though they would fall off their sockets. Of course she wasn’t expecting her husband to respond. She knew him better than that and just when she wished today could be an exception, Matthew only eyeballed her coldly before walking out of the room and closing the door gently behind him. She was left to figure what to believe as usual. Her heart however didn’t completely buy her husband’s tale regarding the pregnant woman in her sitting room. She pulled herself together from the large bed as a scene came into her mind. It’s about time she displayed her acting skills.
To be Continued..


Post a Comment

We Cherish Your Comments Most, Kindly Drop your comments below.