Previously on The Housewives’ Tale: Adaku and her friends, Chinwe, Nneamaka and Mercy go on a mission to get proof of Mercy’s fiancé, Chidubem’s homosexuality. They have a spy camera they intend to fix into one of the bulb contraptions of the bedroom to record whatever happens in his bedroom. But alas! The bulb they have cannot fit into the fixture in Chidubem’s bedroom.
And that’s what you missed in the last episode.
“I can’t believe this shit!” Chinwe heaves as we walk into the sitting room of Chidubem’s palatial home.
We all let out dejected sighs as we drop into sofas.
“I just hate this!” Mercy fumes. “I hate it when my plans get ruined!”
“My dear, who doesn’t?” Chinwe says, placing her hand comfortingly on Mercy’s lap.
“Eh-eh! You don’t get to do that!” Mercy snaps at her, slapping her hand away. “Were you not the one whose brilliant idea it was to purchase the bulb? How could you not know that bulbs come in different types? This is your mistake!”
“Chineke mee!” Chinwe is taken aback. “Were you not there when we ordered for the bulb? Why didn’t you remind us of that, in all your super wisdom, ehn?”
“Guys, no fighting,” I interject. “We all forgot. It’s not anybody’s fault –”
“No! It is Chinwe’s fault!” Mercy clearly isn’t in a magnanimous mood. She continues, rounding on the person she has decided is the culprit for today’s fiasco. “Didn’t they give you options on the website? Now, I have to stick around and pretend with a guy who I’m not sure what exactly he is!”
“Mercy,” Chinwe begins with obvious restraint over her own temper, “I will respect your grief and not reply that stupid statement you just made –”
“Munwa – stupid?!” Mercy shrieks, shifting to the edge of the chair to face Chinwe squarely with a menacing expression.
“Eh-eh-eh –” I start to say, rising from my seat to stand between the two of them.
“Shey you heard her call me stupid?” Mercy turns to me.
“Come, Mercy…and Chinwe, if you guys want to quarrel, let me just start going. What kind of thing is this? We should be putting heads together to find a solution to our problem, and you guys are here fighting and calling names! Gini budi ihea? In fact…” I adjust my handbag dramatically on my shoulder. “Anawa gom! Nne, bia k’anyi si ebea puo,” I say, snapping my fingers at Nneamaka.
“Can I ease myself first?” Nneamaka says, looking first at Mercy and then at me.
“Knock yourself out,” Mercy replies curtly, gesturing at a door adjoined to the sitting room, close to the entrance.
“Better tell her where exactly to go oh! Before…” Chinwe starts saying, but her voice trails off.
I stifle a chuckle.
We wait in silence as Nneamaka disappears through the door.
Then Chinwe takes in a deep breath and begins in a conciliatory tone, “Mercy, all that we have ever done is try to help you. I honestly don’t know why you’re tackling me like this. Yes, I know that you’re the one mostly affected, but do you honestly think that I thought about bulb differences, and didn’t consider it? People forget things. You did too, or you would have mentioned it that day.”
Mercy maintains a sullen silence in response.
“Well, no problem. Sorry we tried to help. I’ll just go with Ada,” Chinwe says, rising to her feet.
“I think I have an idea that might work,” Nneamaka says, as she walks out of the rest room.
All three pairs of eyes swing to her, expressions instantly attentive.
“CCTV cameras usually record stuff. We could check if any of the…erm, you know, acts are still in the system.”
“At least, someone here is thinking straight,” Mercy mutters as she rises and gestures for us to leave the sitting room and follow her toward the inner rooms.
We all troop to the room which Mercy referred to as the study. Like every other space in the house, it is opulent. It has a sofa, big enough to serve as a bed, situated in a corner, but the major décor is the book shelves, which line the two opposite walls of the room, filled with books that range from the hardcover to the paperbacks. There is an expansive table in the room, upon which a desktop computer is sitting.
Nneamaka immediately walks over to the table, settles down before the computer and proceeds to tap the keys on the keyboard.
“So, while we wait for Madam Guru here to do her thing…” Chinwe begins to say.
“Oh my God – no!” Nneamaka exclaims softly, but loudly enough to get our attention.
“What is it?”
Three voices query in startled unison.
“It has been on,” she gasps. “The camera has been on all along!”
“What?!” Mercy screeches. “I thought you said it was off!” The three of us hasten to the table to stand at Nneamaka’s side, Mercy on her right, while Chinwe and I crowd in on the left.
“Yes – but…oh God, I didn’t think past the lights!” Nneamaka says in a trembling voice.
“Can you explain in simple English?” Mercy snaps at her, causing her to flinch.
“Most cameras come with LED. That’s Light-Emitting Diode – you know, those small blinking lights you see when a camera is on. Some of them don’t. I just looked at the camera at the entrance, and because I didn’t see any blinking light, I assumed it was off. God! I messed up!”
“Of course, you messed up!” Mercy rails, before stalking away from the table to begin pacing the room.
“We have to think of something fast,” Chinwe says, moving around to stand at Nneamaka’s right, where Mercy just vacated.
“There’s no point! I just knew we shouldn’t have done this! You people have destroyed whatever is left of this relationship! Thanks, guys!” Mercy laments, sitting heavily on the sofa.
Chinwe draws herself up to her full height, looking set to give Mercy a piece of her mind. I grab her hand and shake my head at her, effectively cutting off her reaction to Mercy’s indictment.
“You know, I can delete every recording from the time we came in…” Nneamaka starts to say quietly to the two of us, and then abruptly stops.
“Ehen?” I prod.
“It will be obvious that it was deleted,” she sighs, casting a forlorn glance at Mercy. It is clear she wishes she can do something.
“But he will never know what happened, right? Please, do it,” Chinwe commands.
Nneamaka set about to the task of deleting the recordings, while we watch her in silence.
“Will you still be able to check the recordings?” Mercy speaks up from behind me, causing me to jump. I hadn’t heard her walk back to the table.
“No! She’s not checking anything,” Chinwe says with grim emphaticness. “We don’t want to destroy your relationship anymore.”
“Wait! Did you hear that?” I cut in just then.
We fall silent as we tune our hearing to what I thought I’d heard.
“No. I don’t hear anything. What did you hear?” Chinwe says.
Just then, the sound comes again. It is of a door clicking shut.
“Shhh!” Mercy whispers, her index finger on her lips.
With a couple of clicks on the keyboard, Nneamaka accesses the CCTV window. And we find ourselves looking at Chidubem staring about the sitting room with slight befuddlement. My heartbeat instantly accelerates with alarm.
“You guys remain here until it’s safe to leave,” Mercy says in the barest whisper. “I’ll send you the okay as a text message.” She moves swiftly to a shelf, grabs a book from it and carefully lets herself out of the room.
“If he finds us here, we’re dead!” Nneamaka declares in a low tone, her hands fluttering with apparent anxiety before her.
“He won’t find us!” I say with an assurance I do not feel.
We watch the screen as Mercy walks into the sitting room with a wide smile. She hugs Chidubem and there is a brief exchange before they leave the room. They remerge in another section of the screen, and we watch them walk along the corridor, and then into the bedroom, which we vacated some minutes ago. There is no camera coverage for the bedroom.
“We should go now,” Nneamaka suggests.
“No! Mercy asked us to wait for a text message,” I object. “So, we’ll wait.”
After five minutes of sitting and pacing the study with our hearts in our hands, minutes that felt like hours, I decide to text Mercy. Reaching into my handbag, I remember that my phone battery is dead.
“Chi, nyegodum phone gi, let me text her,” I say, stretching out my hand to and wagging my fingers at Chinwe.
“What? While she’s still with him? What if he reads it?” Nneamaka says in protest.
“I’m counting on the hope that they respect each other’s privacy. Meanwhile, I won’t be clear in the text.” My hand is still outstretched to Chinwe.
She silently hands me her phone which she had been fiddling with.
Hey babe, what’s the next step for the party? I type, and send to Mercy’s number.
Seconds later, Mercy’s phone shatters the taut silence of the room as it simultaneously vibrates and belts out the intro to Beyoncé’s Best Thing I Never Had. She had left her phone on the table in the study, and my text message had caused it to ring.
“Oh my God,” Chinwe gasps, as she scurries toward the phone to silence it.
Just then, we hear footsteps approaching the door. We freeze.
“Baby, I told you I went in there to take a novel!” Mercy says loudly.
Her voice serves to draw us out of our frozen state, and the three of us spring into motion. We tiptoe as fast and as silently as possible to the adjoining lavatory, and I shut the door by holding down the door handle, pulling the door close and gently releasing the handle, in order to forestall the clicking sound. Just as I shut us in, the door to the study is jerked open, and we hear footsteps enter the room.
With bated breaths, we listen to the ensuing dialogue. The rapid pounding of my heart roars in my ears, interfering with my hearing.
“See?” We hear Mercy say. “I just came in to relax and read a novel. Then, I heard someone at the door, and went out to check… Come, what is your own sef? Why don’t you even want me in this room? Are you hiding anything here?” There’s just the right amount of petulance in her voice to make Chidubem placatory in his response.
“No, baby – Haba, it’s not like that! It’s just that I treasure my books…”
“Of course, you treasure your books more than me! I said, let me come here and give you a pleasant surprise, and all you have done is ask questions upon questions! Whatever! I’m going back to my house. If you ever see my legs here again…”
“Wait – baby…”
And then, we hear quasi-erotic sounds coming through the door, a clear indication that they are kissing.
“I’m sorry,” comes Chidubem’s voice seconds later. “Let’s go to the room.”
“Yes, but let’s take a shower first,” Mercy coos before giggling. “Race you to the shower!” A moment after, we hear their receding footfalls as they dash out of the room and down the hallway. We don’t hear the study door click shut behind them.
I exhale then, feeling relief surge through my insides, causing my extremities to tremble.
“That babe deserves an Oscar,” Nneamaka whispers as she opens the toilet door.
“Yea, we’ll find her one once we’re safely out of here,” I whisper back.
We make a beeline for the open doorway of the study. Suddenly, Nneamaka stops and whirls sharply around.
“What!” Chinwe and I hiss in unison.
“I forgot to do one quick thing,” she says, as she walks briskly back to the system. She stands over it, clicking rapidly and severally with the mouse; then she pulls out a flash disk. “Good, let’s go!”
We carefully pick our way through the corridor and into the sitting room, whose door is thankfully standing open. Then we are out into the compound. With the resurgence of relief and the smell of freedom now in the air, we break into a run, out of the compound, and down the street, where I parked my car.
We pile into the car, and I gun the engine immediately, pulling away from the kerb and speedily driving away from Chidubem’s house.
“Yes! Yes! We did it!!” Nneamaka screams from the backseat, boxing the air.
“Oh yes!” I respond, feeling the adrenaline rush. “Gawd, this must be how James Bond feels whenever he narrowly escapes the bad guys.”
Nneamaka gives a hearty giggle in response.
“You guys know that the camera will pick us leaving the room, right?” Chinwe says, effectively pulling me down from my high at the thought of our undetected escape from Chidubem’s house.
“Oh hell no! Not on my watch!” Nneamaka says with a grin, looking like she knows something that we don’t.
“What did you do?” I ask, hope creeping back into my voice.
“I turned off the camera,” she declares.
“That’s my girl!” Chinwe hails, turning her body on the passenger’s seat to high-five Nneamaka.
“Best of all,” Nneamaka continues, “I copied every recording from the CCTV for the last two months onto my flash disk.” She brandishes the disk.
“Woo-hoo! Fiat Accompli!” Chinwe whoops, throwing both hands in the air. “Mission What-were-we-thinking just became Mission accomplished!”
“I know, right? Mercy will be so happy!” Nneamaka says, giddy with excitement.
“Whew!” I say, concentrating on the road. “I cannot believe we did this! This is some serious Jane Bond action.”
“We are badass like that!” Nneamaka rejoins.
“Ain’t you just the woman after my very heart?” Chinwe says, proffering her open palm again to Nneamaka for another high-five.
“Seriously though, let’s not do this again,” I say.
“Ehn, k’anyi nu ife!”
“Don’t come and spoil our victory dance here, biko!”
The other two come back at me at the same time.
Then the three of us burst out into gales of laughter.
We sit in silence, watching Mercy as she stares off into empty space, not knowing what to say to her.
We have just concluded watching the recordings from Chidubem’s house. Even though there were no explicit recordings showing Chidubem and Chetanna having sex, there was enough evidence – the odd smooch here and there, the intimate familiarity between the two men – that showed that he is definitely gay, or at the most, bisexual.
What wouldn’t I give to have Chinwe here! She always knows what to do in difficult situations. But, we had to do this without her, because she has to be at work, and Mercy wouldn’t hear of postponing it till the weekend.
The weekend which, by the way, is Ifeanyi’s introduction to Leticia’s family; in other words, I wouldn’t be free to join then.
“So, guys, what should I do now?” Mercy breaks the silence to ask.
“It depends, what do you want to do?” I reply gently, leery of guiding Mercy down any path that might backfire on me in the future.
“I don’t know… My mind is just blank. I need suggestions…”
I exchange a quick look of hesitancy with Nneamaka, before saying, “Well, knowing what you now know, do you want to go ahead with the relationship and eventual marriage? If yes, then you have to find out that he’s gay for yourself, and then let him know that you’re okay with it. If no, then you just have to call off the relationship and return his ring and all his stuff.”
“Return all which stuff?” Nneamaka interjects with clear vexation. “Lai-lai! She has earned everything he gave to her. That’s the price for using somebody. Besides, I’m sure he doesn’t want the world to know what he is. The fear of fourteen years’ imprisonment is the beginning of wisdom oh!”
“His father won’t even let it get to that,” Mercy says quietly.
“Who is his father?” I ask.
“Senator Aguike,” Mercy replies.
“Huh?” I say in confusion.
“Really?” Nneamaka says at the same time in surprise. “I know him now!” she continues. “He’s from my place – as in, my father’s village.”
“You’re from Oji River?” Mercy asks.
“Yes!” Nneamaka exclaims. “And oh – that senator does church things well-well oh! I wonder why his son turned out like this.” Nneamaka’s brows furrow with a mixture of disbelief and distaste.
“Wait! We could use that as our blackmail,” I suggest. When they turn to stare at me, I continue, directing my words to Mercy, “Shey you said Chidubem works in his father’s company?”
“And that the house belongs to his father…”
“So, basically, everything he’s got is actually daddy’s own, right?”
“Er…but he’s the first and only son. So, his father is basically handing everything over to him. Plus, he works really hard in his father’s company, so, he’s earning his pay fair and square,” Mercy replies, apparently uncomfortable with the insinuation that she’s dating a spoilt, rich daddy’s boy.
“Chill first!” I say, raising my hands to her. “My point is, if his father is a Jesus fanatic, and he hears that his son is an abomination, he will most likely cut him off of his inheritance. So, we threaten Chidubem with sending a copy of the recordings to his old man, if he doesn’t settle with you in your terms and lose your contact forever thereafter.”
Oh, how I feel like Chinwe, as I watch the smiles spreading slowly across Mercy’s and Nneamaka’s faces.
Munwa – stupid? – Me, stupid?
Gini budi ihea? – What is this even?
Anawa gom! Nne, bia k’anyi si ebea puo – I am going! Nne, come let us leave this place.
Nyegodum phone gi – Please give me your phone.
K’anyi nu ife – Let us hear word.
Written by Adaku J.