WRITER’S FOREWORD: I want to use this opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ to all you, readers of what Adaku has to say every week about her life. Thank you. I appreciate it. And if you stick around to the end of this episode, you will see how I intend to extend my appreciation. 😀 Read, enjoy and don’t forget to comment.
To read the previous episode of The Housewives’ Tale, CLICK HERE.
I heave a sigh of relief. I have just come into Gabby’s room for the umpteenth time to check on him and Nuella. His fever has broken. The red swelling, however, is still there.
“God have mercy on you, Mr. Ugwu!” I mutter under my breath, as I dial my husband’s number, yet again, and he doesn’t pick up. “How the hell does a man keep malice like this?” I wonder out loud, before proceeding to scroll through my phone to look for the number of his friend, the paediatric doctor. I come across Nurse Onyinye’s number first, and decide to call her instead.
She doesn’t pick up her call. After the third try, I give up and continue scrolling through my phonebook in search of the doctor’s number. I have forgotten what name I saved the number with.
I am still thumbing through my phone when a beep sounds from its tiny speaker, signifying the receipt of a text message. I click out of the phonebook at once to check the message. The number of the sender is unfamiliar.
Good day, ma, the message reads. We are having nurses’ week and I am presently in a seminar. I cannot leave the hall, and I cannot answer calls either. Please send a text message. Regards, Onyii.
“Oh! Thank God!” I heave, as I press the Reply button on my phone. And then I type back: I’m sorry to distract you in this manner, but it’s urgent. My son came home from school today with a fever and a red and painful swelling on his body, just beside his left rib. I already gave him paracetamol syrup, and the fever is gone. What do I do about the swelling? Should I come to the hospital?
I read through the message. Satisfied, I click on the Send button.
Suddenly remembering the call I made to Gabby’s teacher, I clicked on the Reply button again, to explain further: I called his teacher, and she swears he did not fall down or get into a fight with anybody today. She might be lying, I’m not sure, but that was what she said.
I click ‘send’ again, and wait for Onyinye’s reply. It comes shortly.
He may not have fallen down. With the description you gave, I’m suspecting insect bite. Even if it isn’t it, it is an inflammation. It’s nothing to worry so much about for now. Get chymoral tab and divide it in half. Dissolve one half of the tablet and give him to take. The swelling should go down by tomorrow morning. If it doesn’t, (which I doubt), then, you can bring him in.
I read the text message with more than a little relief. Pulling on a pair of loose combat pants over the shorts I am wearing, I walk out to check for the chymoral tablet at the tiny chemist shop on the street, praying they will have it in stock.
“Adanne…” the unmistakably throaty voice of my sister-in-law, Ihuoma, comes through the phone. She lives in Ghana, with her family and my mother-in-law.
“Sis! How are you?” I greet back with false gusto, guilt cutting through me like hot blade as I remember that I haven’t been in touch with her in a long while.
“I’m fine o! Hope you’re not too angry with me for not calling often to know how you’re doing?” she says.
“Ah! Sis!” I exclaim, surprised. “And here I am, feeling guilty for not calling as I should. Please, forgive me.”
“I’ll forgive you, if you’ll forgive me too,” she says glibly.
“Of course, I forgive you,” I declare, unsure if she was trying to be funny or not. I have always been in awe of her no-nonsense attitude.
“What am I hearing?” She goes right to the heart of the matter, niceties over and done with.
I sigh audibly. “Ifeanyi called you? Sis, look, I’m really sorry about the role I played–”
“Firstly,” my sister-in-law interrupts me, “Ifeanyi called to report you to mama. But thankfully, I was the one who answered the call. Secondly, I want to hear what exactly happened before you start apologizing.”
“Um…okay,” I start, faltering a little.
“I just want to hear your side of the story,” she encourages, “and I want you to tell me the truth.”
“It all started the first time he came home with his girlfriend…” I start, diving into the narrative of how Ifeanyi and Leticia had aggravated me in the past, and how I’d ignored them until I couldn’t deal with it anymore. The recital wasn’t difficult for me to tell, as I’d already rehashed the entire episode to myself severally, turning my remorse to anger at Ifeanyi, Leticia and my husband. The vexation directed at my husband was heightened by the fact that Gabby was ill. His fever has broken, but that red swelling still worries me, and the fact that I cannot share my concerns with my husband, all because of that gutter rat named Leticia, incenses me no end. True, I had given Gabby the drug prescribed by Onyinye. But the provision of a remedy has done nothing to cool my temper.
Ihuoma listens to my story, interjecting intermittently with expressions of her surprise and disgust, using words like ‘What?’, ‘Imagine!’ and ‘Is she high?’
“Ha!” she finally exclaims when I am done. “What is brother – I mean, your husband doing about this rubbish?”
“Nothing o,” I say, the embers of my anger glowing a bright red-orange. “The most annoying of it all is that he has refused to pick up my calls since yesterday, after he heard about the fight. Gabby came home from school with fever and a red swelling on his body. I have called and called, and he still won’t answer me!” I wail, tears of frustration and anger stinging my eyes.
“Don’t worry,” Ihuoma says, in an assuring voice. “I’ll talk some sense into him. And don’t mind Ifeanyi. Even mama knows that he can foment trouble sometimes.”
“Thank you, sis,” I say, feeling relieved.
“How is Gabby?” She switches over to the niceties once more.
“He is fine. Like I said, he was ill when I brought him home today. I gave him paracetamol syrup, and the fever has gone. But the swelling is still there. I’m thinking of taking him to the hospital if the home medication I gave him does not bring it down by morning.”
“Did he get into a fight in school?”
“His teacher says he didn’t.”
“Did he fall while playing?”
“She says he didn’t also. In fact, she says it was her turn to monitor their playtime today, and she was certain he did not fall down.”
“Hmm… So, what could have caused it?”
“I’m sure his teacher is lying to me one way or the other,” I reply, grasping at the only logical reason why my son would come home with a swelling on his body. “The school admin will hear from me tomorrow.”
“Yes. They have some explaining to do.”
Just then, I hear the pedestrian gate swing open. Looking out through the sitting room window, I see Nneamaka coming towards the door. I swing my gaze to the wall clock. The time is 3:17 pm.
“This is early…” I mutter to myself.
“…how can they be so careless?” Ihuoma is saying as I return my attention to the call. “Make sure you don’t smile when you get there. This is just the height of negligence.”
“Thank you, sis,” I reply shortly just as Nneamaka’s knock sounds on the door. “Someone is at the door, sis…” I let my words trail out, silently inviting her to end the call.
“Alright, take care,” she says, taking the hint. “And don’t let Ifeanyi’s threats bother you, inugo?” And she disconnects from me.
Nneamaka’s knock sounds a second time.
“Nwanyi, don’t break down my door, biko!” I say light-heartedly, as I rise from the sofa to go open the door for her. “This one you came back early today?” I say in greeting as I admit her into the house. “No bakery and choppery today?” I ask, chuckling already at the reply I know she’ll give me – the same one she always gives whenever I refer to her studies as ‘bakery and choppery’.
“Isi adiro gi mma!” She laughs, setting herself down on one of the sofas. “They were going to teach Chicken Pie, this after having taught Meat Pie and Veggie Pie.”
“Um… Okay, today must be Pie Day then…” I say, not grasping why pie would be a good reason to skip her class.
“You don’t get it. Meat pie…chicken pie… Is it not just to switch the beef with chicken?”
“Mcheew!” She rolled her eyes. “I forgot I was talking to a JJC.”
“Wareva!” I say, sticking out my tongue at her. “Nuella is still asleep. Do you want me to wake her?”
“No, no,” she objects even before I finish. “Let her sleep. I came here to swap gist biko.” There is a twinkle in her eyes as she says this.
“Swap gist how?” I ask, my brows furrowing just a bit.
“You know…the fight nau. Mama Ezinne was the person who took the girl into her house so that she can change into her clothes. You know how that woman can gossip. By this morning, I heard up to three versions of the fight story from three different persons.”
“Who is Mama Ezinne again?” I ask.
“That woman wey no get shape. She lives downstairs, has two daughters…” Nneamaka stares at me, watching out for any signs of my realization. When my face remains blank, she explains further, “She’s the owner of the kiosk in front of the compound –”
“Oh!” I gasp. “I know her now! She’s fair, has body…” I arch my brows at Nneamaka in an expression that wants to know if we are talking about the same person.
“She reminds me so much of my primary school headmistress,” I say with a small reminiscent smile.
“Was your headmistress a bible-thumping, incurable gossip?” Nneamaka asks. At my silence, she says, “Because if not, then, Mama Ezinne shouldn’t remind you of anybody you’re fond of.”
“So, she took Leticia in… And then, what?” I ask, urging.
“I don’t know. All I know is that she managed to relay whatever the girl told her to a lot other persons between yesterday and early this morning. I heard three different versions, and the tale-bearers all said Mama Ezinne told them.”
“Wow! Odikwa egwu o,” I exclaim with a clap of my hands.
“So, tell me the real gist.”
“Nne, see ehn, I have had to repeat this same story severally since yesterday, and three times just today. I need a break from it.” At her fallen countenance, I say, “Maybe you should tell me the versions you heard, then, I’ll make necessary corrections and adjustments.”
“That’s better.” She beams. “One version says your brother-in-law is her fiancé, that you were having issues with him, so, you stopped giving him food. She now took it upon herself to come over and cook for him every day. And then, yesterday, when she was cooking, you came in and started fighting her with your friend. Another version says you saw how in love she is with your brother-in-law, and decided to use her as your slave, because your husband is under your spell, and, if you don’t approve, she won’t get to marry your brother-in-law. She cooks, cleans your house and even brings back your son from school for you. And then, because she burnt the fish she was using to cook yesterday, you beat her up with your friend. Then, the last version is that she was relaxing in the sitting room when you came back. You got angry that she hadn’t prepared lunch and started beating her up.”
I sit there and stare at Nneamaka, struck speechless with stupefaction.
“So…” she says, with a small smile. “Which one of these versions is the truth?”
“Ok, which one is closest to the truth?” she asks, her smile widening, becoming teasing.
“None,” I say again. “In fact, let me tell you what happened, because you are my friend. And please, don’t bother setting Mama Ezinne and her good-news-spreading disciples right. I honestly do not care what they believe.”
And with that, I proceed to tell my friend the whole story.
Written by Adaku J
WRITER’S NOTE: Hello, guys. So it turns out this post is the first anniversary episode of The Housewives’ Tale. Yep. The series is one year old on MyMindSnaps. To commemorate that, I have a N1000 recharge card of any network to give away. Just one. And to get it, I need the best dramatic, most delicious narration of how you’d like the final showdown of Adaku and Leticia to happen. Gist us what you want to happen between these two women in the comments section. It doesn’t have to be an excellent write-up. We just want to be entertained by what you can come up with. And the owner of the best ghen-ghen narration gets the N1000 airtime. 🙂