Previously on The Housewives’ Tale…
“So, what’s up? What about Aunty Esther’s case?” I ask Chinwe once we were well on our way out of the hospital.
“Her case has already been filed and we dispatched to her husband just yesterday,” she replied.
“Oh! Cool!”After a few minutes of silence, I ask, “So, what were you going to discuss with me about the case?”
“Nothing, actually. I just preferred to ride with you.”
Preferred to ride with me ko! I think. This babe must think I’m dense.
Aloud, I say, “I know that you’re not telling me the whole truth sha, but I won’t force you to say what you’re not prepared to tell me. So, take your time.” I cast a brief glance her way and then refocus on the road.
A moment passes and she expels a heavy breath. “Okay, it’s about Ebuka. I can’t help but think I’ve done something very stupid.”
At this, I glance at her again. Her eyes are downcast.
“Okay, so, you know how I told you that he’s always hinting he wants us to get married?”
“So, the last time we saw, he came right out and asked me to marry him…”
“And you said no?” I preempt.
“More or less, but that’s not the story.” She sighs again before continuing, “I just wanted to know his exact plans for us. I mean, he was talking about going back to the UK, and I was like, so he’ll marry me, and then what? Do you get?” She looks at me as she poses the question.
“Anyway, he didn’t say anything that made sense to me, so I turned down his proposal.” The look she turns back to the windshield is resolute, an affirmation of the decision she made with the man who’d asked her to marry him.
“And now, you don’t think you should have rejected it?” I prod.
“Er…well, it’s not exactly that…” She trails off.
Jeez! It’s like pulling teeth, I think with a tiny spurt of irritation. My ire however doesn’t colour my tone when I say, “Babe, I’m sure you made a smart decision. You are probably just feeling the loss, but it’s just for a short while. You’ll be fine.” Those are bland words of comfort, I know. But I have nothing else to go on unless she tells me exactly what Ebuka said to her. I don’t want to ask outrightly, as I think that might be the reason for her initial reluctance.
“That’s it?” Chinwe’s terse question slices through my thoughts. “You won’t scold me for refusing? You won’t make me see reasons with him? That’s all you have to say to this?” She is evidently angry at me.
“What do you want me to say again? I don’t know what he said to you to make you refuse nah!” I reply defensively.
“He wants to marry me and keep me here while he travels!” Chinwe spits, her eyes suddenly igniting with annoyance. Her voice rises several decibels as she adds, “What kind of marriage is that one?”
“Oh!” I digest the information with apparent surprise. “He doesn’t plan to document for you to come over?”
“Well…” The steam leaves her as suddenly as it surged to life. “He says he’ll do that.”
“Ok. That’s good, right?”
“No!” She finds her steam again. “Why can’t he do it now? Why do we have to marry first before he does it? What is he hiding that he doesn’t want me to see before he ties me down with marriage?” She is practically screaming the words at me.
“Wait, wait, wait!” I raise my voice as well, not in responding anger but in nascent understanding. “I hope you’re not thinking you’re dealing with Okechukwu? Because that would be unfair to Ebuka. What your ex put you through was terrible, but Ebuka has done nothing wrong –”
“Yet,” Chinwe interjects tersely.
“Nothing wrong. Period,” I maintain. “He deserves to be judged according to what he’s done, and not based on your experience with another guy.”
“Why are you supporting him now?” Her gaze smoulders in my direction. “Whose friend are you, his or mine? And why are you not moving?”
“We’re in front of your house,” I reply, amused in spite of the tenseness in the car.
“Oh!” she exclaims, looking around at our surroundings. “Well, you shouldn’t have brought up Okechukwu in this discussion!” she returns to fuming. “He has nothing to do with anything!”
“Babe, just calm down,” I say placatingly. “I’m trying to reason with you. Isn’t that why you decided to talk to me? I just think you should give Ebuka a benefit of the doubt. Don’t just push him out like that. If you want to find out anything about him and his stay in the UK, there’s always a way.”
“Really? What way?”
“My friend, get serious!” she chides with a derisive snort and an eye-roll.
“Okay. I was going to suggest you hire someone to investigate him. And that might backfire if he finds out. I think you should get to the point where you trust him. You could also have him send you an invitation to come and visit him. My whole point is to give him a chance, that’s all.”
“Hmmm,” she huffs, and then shrugs. “Well, I think that bus have left the station.”
“What do you mean?”
“We broke up. He says he cannot continue in a relationship that is one-sided.” She shrugs again.
“Yeah! Wareva! Good riddance to him.” She flicks a hand in a dismissive gesture.
“He’ll come round. Do you want me to talk to him?”
“No! Don’t bother. I’m good.” She opens the car door and steps down. “I’ll be fine.” And she shuts the door a little too hard.
“Small-small oh! My car is innocent oh!” I call after her in jest.
“I wanted to take Gabby for a little walk this afternoon, and I took your husband’s slippers. And he went, ‘No! Uncle! That is my daddy’s own, see your own here!’ And he’s pointing at my shoes!” Ifeanyi recounts with a laugh.
“Ehen! You want to steal his daddy’s slippers, mgbo?” I say, laughing along.
“He insisted that I wear my shoes before we went oh!”
“That’s my boy!”
Ifeanyi is regaling me with the story of how he and Gabby spent the day while I was away visiting Mimi at the hospital.
“Hope he made you wash your hands when you guys came back?” I query.
“Yes! I didn’t know what he was saying at first. He kept rubbing his palms together, until he went to the sink and opened the tap. I figured he wanted to wash his hands.” He chuckles, this time with a shake of his head.
“Was he saying ‘dub-dub-dub’?” I ask.
“Yes! What’s that?”
“Rub-a-dub-dub. He learnt that from Dora the explorer.”
“Oh! That kid is smart oh! Anyway, what else can you expect when he’s from the Ugwu family, nko?” He grins.
“Oh please!” I laugh.
“I have to be going now though.” He rises says from the sofa.
I am struck afresh by how easygoing our relationship has come back to being post-Leticia. That woman was real poison, I think with familiar bile. Aloud, I ask, “You won’t wait for your brother?”
“No. I am expecting a visitor,” Ifeanyi responds.
“Aha! I’m sure it’s a woman,” I tease
“No oh! Which kain woman? Abegi! It’s a friend of mine from the US. He’s coming to see his babe, and he’ll be staying at my house.”
“Oh! How disappointing. Maybe his babe will have single friends.”
“Well, maybe,” he says, wiggling his brows. “See you.” He opens the door and steps out.
As I rise to walk with him to the verandah, he pauses and turns to me.“Do you think Mercy would like some movies?”
“Huh?” I am confused by the question.
“The last time we gisted, that day I met her here, we talked about movies, and I happen to have some to give her.” His expression is so studiously neutral, it is all I can do not to snort a laugh.
“Uh, okay. So, ask her now!” I say, my eyes gleaming mischievously.
“Yes, I should. So, can I have her number? I forgot to ask her the last time.”
This time, I can’t hold back my amusement. I throw my head back in laughter. “Nice try! Nwokem, I’m not giving you Mercy’s number jaré!”
“Please now! I’m serious. I just want to ask her if she wants movies.”
“And you’ll return it?” I ask, still in my mischievous mode.
“Return what?” he asks, uncomprehending.
“The number nah!”
He laughs shortly. “Ehn! I will return it.”
“See, I’m not sure Mercy will like it if I give out her number without asking her. So, I will ask her, and get back to you, okay?”
“Okay. I will call you in the morning to check if you’ve asked her,” he says, as he turns to leave.
“Yeah! No problem,” I say, closing the door behind him with a chuckle.
Minutes later, my husband’s car drives into the compound. I start setting out his meal. I need to turn in early this night in order to wake up early enough for church service tomorrow. I have been told that I will be making the announcements, and, as usual, if I don’t make it to the workers’ prayer session at 7:30am, the assignment will be taken from me.
My husband walks into the house while conversing on the phone with someone. He sounds a little put out by whatever whoever is on the other end is telling him. I finish setting out his meal and sit on one of the dining chairs to wait for him.
“How was your day, nnem?” he says.
It takes me a moment to realise that he is talking to me. “Oh! My day was fine.” I rise to give him a hug. “Welcome.”
“Thank you, my dear.”
“Who was annoying you over the phone?” I enquire.
“My uncle oh. It’s just some family issues sha.”
“Uncle Donatus?” I ask.
“Ehn,” he says, pulling off his shirt, shoes, socks, and generally getting comfortable. He obviously doesn’t want to tell me what is going on, but I have a fair guess.
“Do you want to eat before bathing?” I ask, changing the topic.
“I think I should eat first,” he says, pulling out a chair.
“Do you mind if I go to bed now? I am tired,” I ask him in the ensuing silence.
“No problem. I will come in when I am done.”
I walk into the room and prepare myself for bed. Noticing the LED light flashing on my phone, indicating the presence of unread messages or unanswered calls, I pick up the device to check.
The first thing I see is the number of missed calls from Mercy. I redial the number.
“Hello nne,” I say when she picks the call.
“Hello, Ada,” she responds, “keekwanu?”
“Odi mma. I just saw your missed calls.”
“I wanted to ask you for your brother-in-law’s number.”
My brows lift in surprised pleasure. First was Ifeanyi, now is Mercy. The gods must have a hand in this.
“Hope no problem?”I ask, smiling.
“No oh! I just need him to help me out with something.”
“Do you mind if I ask what that is?” I ask, my lips twitching with amusement. Help you out with something indeed!
“Yes, I mind. But since you’ll ask anyway, I will tell you.”
“Smart girl,” I beam. “Oya, out with it.”
She gurgles a laugh before replying, “I got this collapsible wardrobe that I want him to help me couple up.”
“A collapsible wardrobe, huh? That’s it?”My voice sags with sheer disbelief.
“What else do you want to hear?”
“Ah! Nothing oh. Sha take it easy.”
“I hear. Send me the number biko! This wardrobe will not fix itself.” She laughs and ends the call.
Written by Adaku J.