Previously on The Housewives’ Tale, Adaku happens upon a pregnancy crisis her friend, Mimi is undergoing, a visit that took them to the hospital where Mimi gets to know that she’s had an ectopic pregnancy and will need an emergency surgery. Ever the good friend, Adaku sticks by Mimi’s side, only realizing that she has a home and obligations to get back to late in the day.
I get home to a pacing husband and a confused Gabby.
“What happened? Why were you in the hospital? Is our baby okay?” my husband queries as he rushes over to me and places a protective hand on my tummy.
“Our baby is okay,” I reassure him, with a hug.
I turn my attention to Gabby, who is seated on the sofa, stripped of his school uniform and clad in his panties and singlet. “Honey mi, did you miss me?” I coo, bending to pick him up into my arms.
“So, what happened now?” my husband asks, his tone persistent.
“My friend, Mimi had ectopic pregnancy, and the baby had burst her fallopian tubes. There was no one to take her to the hospital, so she called me.” As I speak, I nuzzle my son’s cheek. He giggles in my arms.
“Oh God! What about her husband?”
“He travelled, and we still haven’t been able to reach him. But they should have started the surgery by now sha.”
“Ewoo! I pray she gets better.” He picks up his car keys from the living room table. “I have to get back to the office.” He moves towards the door. His steps become hesitant as he walks past me. He gets to the door and his hand hovers over the door knob before he turns to me. His brow is furrowed with that expression he usually gets when he has something to say, something he believes should be obvious to me. “I don’t know how this will sound, but, shouldn’t you be resting and not stressing yourself? You know you’re pregnant –”
“Don’t worry,” I interrupt. “I’m not stressed. I always log out when I’m tired. You have nothing to worry about.” I give him a reassuring smile. His frown doesn’t let up. So I return Gabby to the sofa and walk toward him. “Thanks for worrying about me though,” I say, before hugging him.
“Ok oh,” he murmurs as he holds me close to him. Then he breaks the embrace and turns to open the door. I walk out to the verandah with him.
“What do you want for dinner?”
“Just warm something up from the freezer when I come back. I don’t want you preparing anything. So, go now and rest until then, when I come back,” he instructs.
“Ok…” I pause and then add cheekily, “Are you sure you don’t want something fresh –”
“No!” he replies so vehemently, I burst out in laughter. “Go and rest! Nwanyi a, I’m serious oh!” He gives me a stern stare.
“Okay, okay!” I say, laughing and raising both hands in surrender. “Anugom.”
The next several minutes are spent bathing and feeding Gabby. Thereafter, I set him down in the sitting room before Barney and Friends, the only thing that keeps his attention occupied long enough to let me be.
Then, I strip and get into the bathroom. I turn on the shower, maneuver the knobs, and sigh when the jet of water hitting my body turns into a heated needle spray. Hot showers are sure-fire method of getting me to sleep during the day. That, and snuggling under the duvet with the air conditioner on full blast – and these were my exact plans.
The sound of my phone ringing intrudes on my shower bath, eliciting a groan from me. I am not ready to get out of the water yet. If Mimi wasn’t in the hospital, I would have ignored the call. I just don’t want to be unavailable when my friend is in need, especially when I know she’d be nothing but fully available if the roles were reversed.
I turn off the shower and grab my towel. I tiptoe out the bathroom, dripping water on the tiled floor and leaving wet footprints in my wake as I walk to the dresser to pick up my phone. The call ends just as I get to the phone.
Wiping my body with one hand, I click the keypad to check the missed call with the other. The caller is my mother-in-law.
“Hmm. Why is mummy calling me?” I mutter, trying to remember if we had any unfinished discussion. My mother-in-law only always calls when there is something serious for us to discuss. I am the one who calls her just to know how she’s doing, and she is always puzzled by this.
I decide to call her back. A call comes in just as I depress the call button. I place the phone against my ear, assuming that she has called back.
“Hello mummy,” I speak into the phone, staring at myself and my growing bump in the mirror.
“Adanne, keekwanu?” My mother’s voice comes through the ear piece, startling me.
“Erm, erm…” I stammer, taking the phone off my ear to check the Caller ID. It is indeed my mother.
“Hello, Ada, i na-anum?” my mum calls out as I place the phone back against my ear.
“Eh, mummy, adim mma,” I reply. Remembering that she’d recently applied to have her appointment as a lecturer in Enugu State College of Education and Technology extended, and assuming this is the reason she has called, I continue, “How far? Has the school gotten back to you?”
“Mba. But that’s not why I called. I heard that you’re stressed with housework. Should I come and stay with you for a while?”
“Ewo!” I exclaim, realizing that my husband has gone on to report me to both his mother and mine. “Shey my husband called you?”
“Ehn, but he’s just being concerned. You won’t agree to get a house help, and he’s worried that you’re stressing yourself.” Her concern is palpable in her voice.
“Mummy, don’t mind him joor! I’m fine.”
“So, I shouldn’t come?”
“You can come oh! But only if it won’t reduce your omugwo time.” I chuckle as I say this. After Gabby’s delivery, my father had tried to cut my mother’s omugwo time short, because she visited and stayed with me for a while on two separate occasions while I was pregnant. It took a lot of entreating from me and my mother to get him to relent and permit her to stay with me for two months, after which she had to commute from her home to mine for the remaining one month.
“This girl sef!” My mother laughs along with me. “Don’t worry. He’ll be traveling this weekend. I will come then.”
“Yay!” I exult, throwing my towel in the air and catching it again.
“What should I bring for you?” she asks.
“When you come, you’ll just help me with Christmas shopping. Ngwa, ka m zaa nne di m,” I say when I hear the blipping sound coming through the ongoing call. It must be my mother-in-law calling back. “I’m sure he reported me to her too,” I add laughingly.
“Be thankful that he’s concerned about you,” my mother chides gently. “Your father didn’t know what I was talking about whenever I complained about being tired when I was pregnant with you guys.”
“I’m not complaining oh!” I assure her. “Ka o di weekend,” I sign off, ending the call.
My mother-in-law’s call is waiting. I answer it and take the phone to my ear once again.
“Ada,” she calls out in her usual serious, no-nonsense voice.
“Ma! Hello ma,” I reply with forced cheerfulness. The truth is that I try not to get too familiar with my husband’s mother and sister. They are very nice to me, but I don’t want to risk a situation that will prompt the revelation of their un-nice selves.
“Did I hear that you are now a personal ambulance service for your friends?” she queries, her tone curt.
“Ah! Mummy!” I laugh, not sure if I’m genuinely amused or startled. “It’s not like that. I just went to visit my friend who wasn’t feeling okay. It now happened to be a hospital matter, and I was the only person available to take her to the hospital.” Oh this man will pay for this, I fume quietly at my husband.
“You have to be careful,” she cautions. “Carry yourself like an egg. You are carrying a full human being in your womb, you don’t need to answer every call, you hear me?”
“Yes ma,” I say, anxious for the conversation to end.
“How is Gabby?” she enquires.
“O no nso? Let me speak with him,” she requests.
A quick mental calculation tells me that distracting Gabby from Barney would mean no rest for me. So instead of acquiescing to her, I say, “Mba, he’s asleep. But I will call you when he wakes up.”
“Ok. Ngwanu. You heard what I said, abi? Carry yourself like an egg. Am I clear?”
“Yes ma. My regards to Ihuoma and the children,” I say before signing off. “This woman sha,” I say to myself, while shaking my head.
Tying my wrapper on my bosom, I move to the kitchen to get a snack to eat in bed. En route, I take a peek into the living room to see Gabby curled up on the sofa, asleep.
“Well, at least, I didn’t lie when I said he was asleep,” I mutter, detouring to the living room to turn off the television and take him to his bed.
Thereafter, I raid the kitchen for some snack, discovering some apples. I retire to my bedroom with my loot and settle in for some Facebook time. After a few minutes online, I start to get drowsy. So I turn off my phone and allow myself to drift off into slumber.
“So, why did you report me to the whole world?” I ask my husband as we eat dinner.
“I really do not like the way you are all over the place,” he begins crossly. “I don’t mind it, actually. But now, in your condition, I was thinking that you would consider taking things a bit easy. But, no! You’re still carrying on as if nothing has changed.”
“Why didn’t you tell me all these earlier today, before you returned to the office?”
“Shebi I tried to tell you, i si m, ‘I’m fine’–”
“So, you felt that reporting me is the best approach?” I cut in, ripening my tone with ire. “I don’t appreciate that oh, chaa-chaa!” When he doesn’t say anything in response, I continue, “So, if it were me that had issues while you are away, you would be happy with my friends if they don’t help out because of whatever reason they come up with? Mimi was pregnant, just like I am. That could have been me!”
He sighs. “Oya, sorry. I didn’t think of it that way.”
“Of course, you didn’t,” I snap, not mollified by his compunction. “But if you had told me about your concerns, I would have explained it to you.”
“It’s true. How is she now?”
“They say she’s out of surgery already. They still hadn’t been able to reach her husband when I called for update.” I wait a beat, before interjecting sourly, “Can you imagine how she would have felt if none of her friends were there for her?”
I arch my brows at him, waiting for a response. He keeps his concentration on his food. The man is clearly not taking the bait. I blow out a short breath, frustrated by his disinclination to provoke me.
After a few long seconds of silence at the table, disturbed only by the sounds our cutleries against the dishes, he speaks up, “So, your mum is coming over this weekend?’
“Yes,” I bite out.
The silence returns to the table.
I walk toward the hospital room where Chinwe says Mimi had been admitted, and I see her standing just outside the entrance.
“How far, why are you standing here?” I inquire as I come to a stop before her.
“The nurse is cleaning her up,” Chinwe replies, jerking her head in the direction of the room, “and non-patients are not allowed to be around while they do that.”
“Ok. She’s regained consciousness then?”
“Yes, even before I left her yesterday evening. The surgery was successful.”
“What about her husband? Were you able to reach him?”
“My dear, no oh! I’m even beginning to get worried. I hope nothing has happened to him,” Chinwe says, raising her arms to cross them over her bosom, in a manner that seems as though she is warding off the chill of whatever danger may have befallen Mimi’s husband.
“God forbid!” I say, snapping my fingers in a gesture away from me. Just then, I remember Mercy’s story about her father’s death.
“Hmm! Mercy’s father’s story has just been playing in my head since last night,” Chinwe says, intuiting into my thoughts.
“My God! Just what I was now thinking!” I exclaim, feeling goosebumps ripple across my skin. “God please, let him be ok!” I look heavenward with a prayerful countenance. “I don’t mind if his phone got lost or he got robbed. Just let him be okay in Jesus name.”
“Amen,” Chinwe and I chorus.
Just then, the room door opens and a nurse walks out with her focus stapled to the writing pad in her hand.
“Nurse…” Chinwe begins.
The woman looks up. “Oh right, you may go in now,” she says. She returns to her pad as she pads down the corridor away from us.
Chinwe and I file into the room. I take a seat on the only chair in the room, while Chinwe stands beside Mimi’s bed.
“How are you doing?” I ask, staring at Mimi
She looks better than she’d been yesterday, more serene. Maybe too serene.
“I have a feeling that something happened to my husband,” she says quietly, ignoring my question.
“No, now, Mimi –” I begin to reassure her.
“It is unlike him not to have called up till now,” she continues as though I hadn’t spoken. “I mean, even if his phone got lost or went bad, he would have found a way to get across to me. I just know that something has happened to my husband.”
Unsure what to say in response to this fatalistic certitude of hers, Chinwe and I exchange apprehensive glances in the ensuing silence.
Hello, Ada, i na-anum – Hello, Ada, can you hear me?
Adim mma – I am fine.
Ngwa, ka m zaa nne di m – Alright, let me answer my mother-in-law
O no nso? – Is he close by?
Written by Adaku J.