What he did not realize is that I already knew her. It was the first Sunday in July, thanksgiving service, they sat beside eachother in church.
Although a part of me felt she was just an ordinary member, the number of times she whispered into my father’s ears made me begin to wonder what the connection between them was. I knew almost everyone in church, and it was easy to point out a first timer without asking him or her to indicate. I tried to listen to the sermon but my gaze kept resting on her. The church had about a hundred people in population on Sundays, on thanksgiving Sundays; it was usually about twice of that. They sat in the center pew, she wore Aso-oke Oleku style, her eyebrow was drawn with black eye pencil, similar to drawing a straight line on a plain paper. Thepowder made her face appear white. I wondered what my father saw in her, I knew he could do better. What I disliked the most was the manner she laughed, mouth wide open, two hands apart in the air, and legs facing the sky. Dad found whatever she said amusing too, he laughed with his mouth open and his facial expression empty, like he couldn’t afford not to laugh seeing the manner she laughed.When we got home from church the next Sunday, dad called me.
“Tara, Tara.” He screamed.
I was downstairs in my room, with my ears plugged.I removed it to go use the bathroom when I heard my name called.
“Sirrrrr.” I screamed in response.
I placed my hands between my thigh to prevent the urine from spilling from my very full, ready to explode bladder. I ran up the stairs to my father’s room. I knocked on the brown wooden door.
I opened the door with one hand with the other still in position.
“We are having a guest tonight. Mummy is coming to visit. I want you to clean the house and prepare something for Mummy to eat.”
The journey from dad’s room to the bathroom was the longest I’ve ever had since living in the house. Urine started spilling when I got in front of the toilet door, I pushed the door open with my leg. As I tried to remove my trouser, more urine came uncontrollably. The blissful moment of urinating ended and I got to start my new assignment. The introduction was brief, food was served and she took her leave. Without care, she moved into our home two weeks later. I had a chance to look at her closely, she was taller than my father, about 5’8 inches, lanky with a scar on her forehead just before her eyebrow, she had wrinkles on her dark skin. Her voice was very loud, it seemed talking to her was sending her a shouting contest invite. The only assistance she gave was cooking occasionally, take care of Bolanle and servicing father. It was one of such mornings she unleashed her true self. As she was bathing Bolanle, she used the bailer to hit her head; it was her cry that drew my attention from the kitchen into the bathroom. I couldn’t ask Bolanle until later in the day. She also didn’t know why she did that. That was the first of many other encounters. She began treating me like her rival. Was I the first wife or first daughter?
One night, she and dad had an argument, I didn’t understand what was happening, I was worried,I had never seen dad this angry. I wondered how things got so bad, it was the sound of the first blow that made her land on the floor that brought me back to reality.She stood up, took a few uncalculated steps back and forth, she griped dad’s shorts, and started screaming.
“You will kill me today o, you must kill me today.” The typical Nigerian women line when they’ve been rendered powerless. Dad looked stern and away as she held on tightly to his shorts, pulling in all directions. I felt embarrassed, since we moved into this area, no one has ever heard our voice, just two weeks this woman (Mummy) moved here and all hell has let loose. It was even more annoying because it was very late in the night and the street was quite. I went in between the two of them to help them settle but my effort did little or nothing. I kept at it, “Mummy, it’s ok now. Daddy say sorry.” Nothing yielded result until we heard a knock on the door. It was Iya Bose, our neighbor.
“Baba Tara, stop fighting. Please forgive her. Mummy it’s okay.”I was embarrassed, Iya Bose, is a gossip, coming to help settle this, was just an opportunity to get gist, to know what the real cause of the fight was. Even though I didn’t like that she came, her words stopped the fight.
The next morning, my dad’s family members were present. Everyone was trying to settle what caused the fight. Grandma was present at the meeting, she stood to talk.
“Ma pa mi lomo.(Don’t kill my son)
From the moment he told me it was you. Mo ni rara.(I said no!) He shouldn’t rush, see where he has landed now. O ma ko e sile ni, he will divorce you, I heard you’ve even married before with a child.”That word must have done something to her brain because she stood suddenly and pushed grandma, she landed on the floor in front of us all.
I have to leave the house soon I thought to myself.
To be continued next Thursday at noon.
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