Chinwe and Mercy have gone. Gabby and Nuella are back from school. After putting the children down for their afternoon nap, I lie on my bed. Deciding to chat Ijeoma up with the latest development, I pick up my phone. Immediately she sees the headlines, her excitement about the fight is so contagious, that I find myself smiling.
Just then, my phone starts to ring. Ijeoma is calling. Apparently, BBM chat isn’t enough to digest the gist. Chuckling a little, I answer the call.
“Onye ashiri!” I hail her in greeting.
“Eehn! Ya buruwa,” she returns. “Please, this is not chat gist. I want to hear ALL the details.”
It takes a few minutes for me to recount the entire episode to her. She listens with rapt attention, only interrupting with an outraged ‘Hmmph’ and the occasional exclamation.
“Heu!” she finally exclaims at the end of my narration. “Wonders will never end! That girl bukwanu obere ekwensu o!”
“Obere kwa?” I ask. “No small devil will have the guts to do all that she has done, biko. She is nnukwu ekwensu!”
“Anyway, I hope you know the fight isn’t over yet?” Ijeoma says.
“Hmm? Which other one is remaining?”
“Hold on! You think she won’t come back again? See, Ada, sometimes, you behave as if you don’t live in this our world, like you are from outer space. A girl like that will not go down after this first fight o! You humiliated her when you won this round. You best believe that she will find a way to get back at you.”
“Oh God! So, what do I do?” I ask, feeling a shiver of sudden dread.
“I don’t know o! Depends on what she comes up with. But first of all, tell your gateman never to allow her into the compound, even if she is with your brother-in-law. You stand a better chance if she fights from outside,” Ijeoma advices.
“Hmm, ok o! I just wish –” And my words are cut off when her line goes dead abruptly.
I try calling her back, but she keeps rejecting my call. I give up after the third time.
I wish my husband is home, I think to myself. Almost immediately, I wonder what his reaction to the fight will be. I am sure he won’t like it. But I sincerely hope he won’t take it too seriously.
BANG! BANG!! BANG!!!
I wake up with a start.
BANG! BANG!! BANG!!! BANG!!!
The loud knocks are coming right outside my bedroom, hammering down on the room door.
BANG! BANG!! BANG!!!
“Come out and fight me!”
BANG! BANG!! BANG!!!
“Shebi you have strength to fight, abi? I hope your partner is still around o, because you must fight today!”
Ifeanyi, I think, sighing. The olodo is back.
I rise from the bed and approach the door. My hand freezes on the handle, as I wonder if Ifeanyi will have the mind to hit a woman. Not wanting to find out, I bolt the door instead.
“Ifeanyi, o gini?” I ask waspishly.
“Are you asking me? Did you see what you did to your fellow woman? Wicked woman! Open this door!” he screams, banging again at the door.
“Open it, so that what will happen?” I scream back. “You want to beat me? You should be ashamed of yourself. You are threatening to beat a woman!” I give out a vicious ‘Mtcheeeew’. “Please, get out! I want to sleep. You can beat me when I wake up.”
I move away from the door and go to sit on the bed. I pick up my phone, wincing a little from the dull aches wracking my body. I realize that the impact of the fight is reporting on my body. I make a mental note to take some pain reliever before bedtime tonight.
“Don’t worry!” Ifeanyi’s voice booms from the other side of the door. “Mummy and all my uncles will hear what you did in this house today! Just wait! If you don’t go back to your parents’ house after this, just know that my name is not Ifeanyi!” he threatens, his voice receding as he walks away from the door.
“As if you were the one that brought me here from my father’s house…” I mutter, clicking my tongue.
I stare at the phone in my hand. Ijeoma had sent me a text. As I click it open, I mutter, “I have to tell my husband the story myself at once, before that fool of his brother will go and give him the Leticia version.”
I read Ijeoma’s text. She explains that she was ordered to sleep before our earlier conversation, and she ended the call because she heard someone at her door. She would call me back when she wakes up. She goes on to congratulate me on what she so cutely describes as ‘my first step to reclaiming my territory’.
“This girl will not kill me,” I say with a chuckle, before dialing my husband’s number.
“You fought in my house?! That is shameful! Honestly, I didn’t expect this from you!” My husband fumes over the phone minutes later.
Things aren’t going the way I thought they would. The plan was, I tell him what happened, making myself out as the victim as much as I can, without outrightly lying. And then, he will understand and empathize with me, while being angry at his brother and the gutter rat he’s touting as a girlfriend.
“She started it first o…” I protest.
“No!” he cut in with a grim tone. “Baby, listen to me! No matter what happened, you shouldn’t have fought with her. You shouldn’t have brought yourself so low to her level by engaging her in a fight! You soiled my name and my reputation by fighting. I am sure everyone on the street heard the fight. I am not happy with you at all! You should have respected me, and overlooked whatever she must have done –”
“I am tired of overlooking!” I interrupt with a scream, tears of anger and frustration stinging my eyes. “I am tired! Should I start listing all that I have overlooked? That girl must think I am a goat. I just lost it today!” I pause after my outburst, breathing heavily and blinking back my tears. “Hello?” I say, when he doesn’t say anything. “Hello, sweetie, are you there?” I ask in trepidation.
“Yes, I am here,” he says quietly. His disappointment seeps through the phone line.
“First and most importantly,” I start, insistent on making all my points and getting him on my side, “she enters my kitchen and does whatever she pleases. Baby, that alone is wrong on all levels –”
“You let your friends enter the kitchen, what is different about her? Oh, I know. You hate her.” His tone is rich with sarcasm.
“That is different,” I say, ignoring his sarcasm. “My friends don’t enter my kitchen if I don’t invite them in. Okay, let me explain it this way, a woman’s kitchen is like her sanctuary, like her shrine, and entering it without her permission is like desecration,” I explain, proud of my analogy. That pig actually desecrated my kitchen. “Then,” I continue, “I called her out on it today, and what she does is fight me. In fact, if not that Chinwe, my friend, came visiting today, that…” – I bite back the word ‘bitch’ and replace it instead with – “girl would have beat me to within an inch of my life. In fact, I think I have to go to the hospital tomorrow for checkup. My whole body is aching,” I add, riding out the victim role.
“I’ve heard you,” he says, dismissing me.
“You’re not going to say anything?” I ask, annoyed.
“I said I’ve heard you. Let me end this call now, please.”
“Typical,” I fume under my breath. “Ok now, bye,” I say sourly and end the call. This is how he always behaves when he is angry with me, but doesn’t want to ‘walk out on me’.
“At least, he’s heard my part,” I say to the empty room, trying to draw some comfort from the words.
It has been almost twenty-four hours since the debacle of yesterday. Today has been uneventful so far. I took two tablets of Ibuprofen yesterday before going to bed at night, and by this morning, all the body pains were gone.
Ifeanyi has been puttering about in his room all day. I wish he will go out, so that I will stop worrying about if he is going to assault me or not. I wish my husband is around. I wish I remembered to tell him last night that his brother threatened to beat me.
Tired of moping around the house, and waiting for either my husband to call or for Ifeanyi to come out of his room and either scream at or beat me up, I decide to dress up and go out to visit Ijeoma.
After bathing and dressing up, I bring my cosmetics bag out to the sitting room to apply my makeup, because I prefer the lighting in the sitting room to that in the bedroom.
Humming slightly to myself, I apply my powder, and then, set about the task of doing my brows. I had stenciled the left brow to perfection, and was getting started on the right one, when I hear some ruckus at the gate.
I drop the eye-brow filler on the centre table, and walk out to the compound, calling out to the gateman to find out what is going on.
“Madam,” he says, walking briskly toward me and panting slightly, “that aunty wey dey come find Oga Ifeanyi dey for gate, and that other aunty wey dey come find you, the one wey take your car go pick your pikin from school yesterday, don already tell me say make I never open gate for am, say na you talk am –”
“Who said that rubbish?”
I flinch, shifting slightly at Ifeanyi’s voice. I did not know he had come out, and was standing behind me.
“I said, who had the right in this house to say who can come and visit me and who can’t?” he repeats, glaring at the gateman.
“I did,” I fire up. “I asked that girl never to come here again, and I asked the gateman not to open the gate for her.” I stand before him, my eyes and stance daring him to do his worst, after taking in the fact that the gateman can singlehandedly beat him to a pulp if he tries anything funny.
“Go and open that gate!” he orders the gateman.
“Don’t open that gate!” I declare my own order. Turning to Ifeanyi, I say, “You don’t have more right in this house than I do. At least, not until your umunna ousts me, you hear? If you want to visit with Leticia – or whatever her name is these days – do that outside this house!” I stomp off, back to the house.
“Go and open that gate,” he barks at the gateman immediately I turn my back.
“Ah! Oga Ifeanyi, I no fit o! Madam don already – Ah! Oga Ifeanyi, wetin you dey go do?”
I turn away from the front door where I am to see Ifeanyi stalking toward the gate with determined steps, and the gateman scurrying after him.
Thinking fast, I dash inside and grab the house keys and my phone. I run out of the house, lock the front door, and calmly walk towards the gate.
I take a few steps to the gate, and just then, Ifeanyi manages to bang open the pedestrian entrance of the gate to admit Leticia. The woman walks in, shooting first a fulminating look at the gateman and then a grateful smile at Ifeanyi. The smiles freezes and her steps falter however when her gaze shifts and she sees me.
“Come, let’s go inside joor!” Ifeanyi growls when he observes her hesitancy. “Let me see the bees that she will poop!” He very nearly drags Leticia by the hand as he makes for the house.
I chuckle a little as they pass me, making sure they heard me. Leticia turns to look at me, her expression a mixture of dislike and wariness.
“Let us go! Onwero ife o ga-eme!” Ifeanyi says, pulling her after him, preventing me from seeing what her eyes are saying.
I walk briskly out the gate and flag down a bike. I have to get out of here before they realize what I just did to them.
Onye ashiri – Gossip
Ehen, ya buruwa – Yes, let it be
That girl bukwanu obere ekwensu – That girl is a small devil
Nnukwu ekwensu – Big devil
O gini? – What is it?
Umunna – Kindred
Onwero ife o ga-eme – She can’t do anything
Written by Adaku J.