By Adeola Nissi
Tina paced the kitchen nervously. Her brain was in overdrive and she did not have the slightest idea about what to do. It has been three days since the abominable Miss Lisa entered the house and the house was practically on fire, but that was not what was getting on Tina’s nerves. Ever since Amara moved into another room, Tina hadn’t set her eyes on her. She had practically locked herself inside the room without opening the door. No single sound came out of the room and it was beginning to scare Tina to death. Since she hadn’t even opened the door, it was obvious that she hadn’t eaten anything for the past three days.
The frustration was too much for Tina to handle and she paraded Amara’s door endlessly, knocking loud and hard enough to rouse the dead and speaking both softly and sharply through the door, but she hadn’t received even a sound in response. She had repeatedly left meals by the door, hoping that Amara would at least eat, even if she did not want to see anyone but she always ended up retrieving the cold meals untouched until Lisa yelled her brains out, threatening to get her fired if she continued to waste her ‘husband’s resources on a hopeless village dropout’.
Fear gripped Tina as she wondered what had happened to Amara. Three days! Yet Amara was not opening the door. She had pushed aside negative thoughts at first but since yesterday, she couldn’t but think about evil things. ‘What if she slipped and fell in the bathroom?’… ‘She might be terribly sick’… All her attempts to stop her fears proved abortive. She had tried to bring the matter up before Mr. Alex but she never got to meet him alone and every time she got to mention Amara’s name Miss Lisa would shut her up instantly, saying that she and her hussy were not interested in spoiling their mood with the ‘village tramp’ and that she should mind her business and do what she was employed to do instead of carrying gossips. Mr. Alex had also seemed to be in perfect sync with Miss Lisa. Tina did not believe that a man could be so cold and heartless.
“Hey” Tina jerked and saw Tola looking at her with a frown. “Do you want to drill holes into the expensive kitchen tiles? What is eating you up?” Tola asked.
Tina did not need to be told that Tola disliked Amara, it had been obvious since day one, but still, Tina felt obliged to share her worry, hoping beyond hope that Tola would put aside her hatred and help her find a solution to this issue. “I am worried Tola” Tina responded.
Tola hissed. “I can see that clearly. My question is why?”
Tina hesitated then threw caution to the wind as anxiety took over. “It is our madam, Amara. She has not opened the door to her room for the past three days. I am getting scared.
Tola frowned deeply, looking terribly worried to the surprise and relief of Tina. “Oh my God! And you are just telling me now? You always spend time with her and since she was always used to staying in her room, I did not notice anything weird” she seemed startled now.
This made Tina more worried. “I know. I should have told you but I thought she just wanted to be left alone and was sulking because of Miss Lisa’s arrival, but this is the third day Tola. She has been in there without eating for three days. I am so scared.”
“Jesus” she breathed. “Let’s go there again” she started out of the kitchen instantly and Tina hastily followed.
When they got to Amara’s room, the knocked and banged endlessly and called out but there was no response. They tried to open the door but it was firmly locked. Sweat gathered on Tina’s forehead and she wiped it away, feeling cold all over. Her heart raced in fear.
“Jesus! What are we going to do Tina?” Tola asked getting equally agitated.
“I don’t know” Tina almost screamed. “That is why I told you. Miss Lisa knows but she does not give a damn. She hasn’t allowed me to tell Mr. Alex either” she swallowed. “What if… what if something happened to her? What if…”
“Oh Tina, shut up. You are beginning to scare me” Tola mouthed nervously. “Come, let’s see if we can find a spare key to open the door” Tina nodded, even though she had already done that before, searching again was a very good idea.
I raised my hand weakly and rubbed my hot face. I heard knocks on the door but totally ignored it and the voices that came afterwards. Even if I wanted to answer, there was no strength left in me to talk. I mustered enough strength to push myself off the bed and almost fell back down.
I had stayed in the room ever since I received the bomb shell from Alex and even now, the words still made me double over in pain. During my three days of ‘room arrest’, I have cried more than I have ever cried in my life. The tears just kept pouring and pouring until there was no strength left in me to cry. The water from the tap in the toilet’s washing-hand basin was the only thing sustaining me.
The three days have been terribly hard, filled with pain and intense hunger which was almost maddening, probably because I am pregnant and my baby was demanding food. I whispered to my baby every now and then, telling myself that I am not alone. I continued to comfort my child, begging him to bear with me. The isolation was necessary.
After staying alone, the reality of loneliness dawned on me. I finally reached a resolve. I have reached my terminal where crying is concerned. I have finally realized that crying over Alex was a hopeless cause and a waste of time and energy. All I have in this world is my child, whom I would continue to cherish, no matter what I am up against.
I managed to drag my dehydrated self to the bathroom and relieved my full bladder before quenching my killing thirst by drinking from the tap in the toilet. My eyes seemed to have sunk into their sockets as I looked at myself in the mirror. I was a shadow of myself and I knew I would have to change that. Despite my starvation, my breasts were much fuller than they were months back, giving me a more shapely body than I originally possessed and I knew it was due to the pregnancy. After drinking my fill, I washed my face and left the bathroom slowly. There was no strength left in me due to lack of food and the water I just drank woke up a hunger that could not be ignored. It was disheartening that I had to treat Tina the way I did but I just could not see anyone. If I had seen her earlier, I was pretty sure I would take my anger out on her and that would be terrible since she did not deserve it.
I opened the door of my room and walked out weakly, grabbing the walls for support whenever my legs shook. I was on the verge of a new beginning and the first step would be to quench this abominable hunger. I held the railings of the stairs in a viselike grip as I went down. Immediately I got to the landing of the stairs, Tina and Tola stopped the search they involved in and turned, nearly jumping out of their skins when they saw me.
“Amara” Tina gasped.
This was the first time she called me by my name since she discovered that I was Alex’s wife and I was pleased by the timing. Now, I could confidently call her my friend. “Christ! You have almost killed me with worry” she jumped to my side instantly. “This is terrible! How can you be so inconsiderate in your condition?”
“Thanks Tina” I managed weakly as I bent from extreme hunger. “And you too Tola” I whispered, remembering that I heard her worried voice, minutes ago. “Thanks for your concern” I swallowed. “I am terribly hungry though” I smiled weakly at Tina.
She jumped to action right away, going into the kitchen and working with lightning speed, condemning my actions like a mother as she worked. I sat in the kitchen with her, contented to hear her angry words. Tola hung around, not saying anything. I smiled softly at her and relaxed against the backrest of the chair with my eyes closed.
A plate of indomie was placed at my front faster than I imagined and I attacked it like a hungry lion. As I ate, she took a large piece of chicken from the microwave and put it on my plate. I ate like I have never eaten before and the rich aroma of piping hot tea drifted to my nostrils and my desire to eat increased several degrees. She placed the steaming cup before me and stood back to watch me eat. I grabbed the cup instantly, taking a careful sip before continuing my meal, muffling my thanks between mouthfuls.
After draining the last drop of tea minutes later, I could confidently say that my hunger had been quenched.
“Why did you lock yourself in?” Tina asked with a disapproving frown.
“I was charting a new course”. I smiled at her confusion and stood up, walking out of the kitchen with Tina at my heels. “By the way, where is Alex’s mistress?” I asked unconcerned as I made for my room. Tina followed me, probably to make sure I did not lock myself in again.
“She went shopping” she responded.
I nodded with my smile still intact. “I would take my bath and get dressed. I need you to follow me somewhere. Are you free” I asked.
“Of course. Where are we going?” she asked as we entered my room.
“We are going shopping”. Her eyes widened.
Tina and I left the house and returned hours later with several heavy nylon bags. She had insisted we take a driver but I was not interested, the idea of walking around was more appealing to me and we later got a taxi to bring us home, due to the weight of the bags. The bags were filled with clothes, and definitely, more than half were baby clothes and toys. I hadn’t been able to leave behind a single baby thing. Lisa assured me that there was more than enough money in the credit card and I asked her to teach me how to use it which she did eagerly. We bought the clothes from a cheap store and I found myself smiling genuinely with thoughts of my child floating around my head.
Apart from buying baby things, I had decided to harken to the words of my parents by buying some suitable clothes for myself. I bought mostly gowns which were free from just beneath my bust because this would conceal my tummy effectively. The clothes were so beautiful and I could not wait to try them on. My three days indoors made me come to the conclusion that my parents had been right after all. I couldn’t stick with Alex. Despite my dislike for the word ‘divorce’, I was forced to see the reality of the fact that there is no future for Alex and me, because even if through some sheer miracle, I forgive him for all he has done, I would never forget, and the pain would hunt our relationship till the end of my days. Right from the time that Alex told me I was nothing more than a betting competition to him, everything called love that I felt for him died instantly, replaced by hatred which grew with each passing minute. I only have my child, my parents and myself; the earlier I accept that, the better. There is one other person who loves me though; I smiled at Tina, grateful to God that she is with me.
“Why do I have the nagging feeling that these clothes look more than what we actually bought?” she asked with a frown.
I smiled and changed the subject. “I am happy you finally call me Amara. At least, something good came out of locking myself up in the room” I said as we entered the house.
She scoffed “The only thing you achieved with that is putting your child at risk. We need to go to the hospital to have you properly checked-up”
I laughed. “It is not that serious. My little baby boy also agrees that the fast was necessary” I replied confidently.
She snorted as we entered the house.
“Where are you coming from?” Alex’s voice rang out silently. I glanced over at the couch and saw him looking at me. Lisa was lying on the chair with her head on his laps, feeding him crackers. My glance did not take more than a second and I continued up with stairs without a word, pulling the bags of clothes along.
“Are you deaf? I said where are you coming from?” he repeated with more authority.
“Are you blind? You have eyes, use them” I returned as I paused.
“Are you talking to me?” he boomed with surprise showing in his voice. I turned to look at him squarely and Tina quickly got out of the way.
“Are you daft as well as blind? Of course, I am talking to you. I see no reason why I should owe you any explanation for my movements. Need I remind you of the words of the very same agreement we signed? I am allowed to do whatsoever I feel like in this house. After serious thinking, I have decided that the agreement is probably the only sensible thing that has happened to me ever since I met you. Secondly, I greatly hope you keep the credit card you gave me loaded with money because I am a pregnant woman who would need a lot of cash to keep up with the demands of motherhood. That should not be a problem since you seem to possess more money than brain. The former Amara is gone. She died three days ago. You better not mess with the woman standing here, because if you do, you would taste the wrath of a woman’s scorn.” I paused to catch my breath and continued calmly. “I am the woman of the house here and I expect my demands to be met. If you find that you would not be able to cope with me and want to grant me the divorce I asked for earlier, I would be more than happy to sign the divorce papers, but be rest assured Alex…” I smiled “… that I would destroy your life just as you destroyed mine before I leave you alone”
“You threaten me?” I asked with a softly deceptive voice which made him sound terribly dangerous.
I smiled sweetly. “No sweetheart, it is not a threat; it is a promise”
I turned and marched up to my bedroom, leaving them stunned and speechless. When I finally sat on my bed, I realized that Tina was looking at me like I had grown four heads. I smiled.
“Mr. Alex does not take threats lightly” she said, looking agitated.
I nodded. “I am not expecting him to” I said. “Thanks for your help today Tina, I am totally exhausted” I sighed. “Yes! I have something for you” I declared and she frowned.
I checked the nylon bags and saw the one I was looking for. It was a nylon filled with clothes. I gave it to her and her eyes widened. “This is for you” I grinned happily.
“No” she gasped. “It can’t be for me.” She gasped more when she checked the clothes. While we shopped, I had noticed her eyes hovering dreamily over some clothes and I had taken note. In order to pick out the clothes and some more without her notice, I had sent her to get me something, picking the clothes behind her back. “I can’t possibly wear these” she seemed close to tears. “And they are really expensive”
I smiled affectionately at her. “Oh Tina, come on. Do you know the magnitude of what you have been doing for me? A truck load of clothes would not be able fully appreciate your help. When I needed a friend, you were there”
“But I did not ask for anything in return”
“I know. I just noticed that you loved these clothes and bought them, besides, you deserve more for putting up with my insatiable choices today without complaining. Here” I gave her another nylon which was just halfway full. “For Tola. I don’t want her getting jealous. She was also worried about me earlier, so she deserves it” I smiled.
She thanked me profusely and the excitement of having clothes took over her. I saw sadness flash in her eyes and became curious. “It is just a shame that I won’t be able to wear them anytime soon since I have to always be in my uniform” she explained.
I had totally forgotten about that little piece of detail. An idea popped into my head and I grinned. “We would salvage that situation now. Follow me” I stood and charged out of the room with Tina following in confusion and agitation. I could hear Lisa’s angry voice screaming at a silent Alex and I smiled, knowing that I was the subject of discussion. I got to the sitting room and Lisa fell silent as she glared at me.
“Yes” I began. “Remember, I told you I would be taking charge of some things as the madam of the house? Well, I am about to change something. I just bought some clothes for my dear friend here but noticed that the uniform she is mandated to wear would restrict her from putting on the clothes and I won’t have that. From today, I put an end to the uniform. The girls would put on anything they feel like, but for moderacy, they would be restricted to putting on gowns. I just decided to let you know” I said with an air of indifference, ignoring Tina’s gasp.
“You must be joking. Who do you think you are to enforce laws in this house?” Lisa yelled with her hands furiously jammed to her waist as she tapped her feet, standing pensively.
I glanced at her like a piece of pest. “Last time I checked, I wasn’t a comedian. And whenever I talk in this house, you keep your filthy mouth shut because I am the only one with the legal rights in this house, not you. You are nothing more than a concubine or a mistress who is enjoying the privilege of being in this house. Now, shut your mouth because I am talking to my husband, not you and I won’t have you interrupt my speech” I shifted my eyes to Alex. “The issue of this uniform is not up for discussion and has been settled because I have given my approval” I faced a pale-faced Tina. “You can go Tina, inform Tola about this and I wish to see you both changed with immediate effect. The three of us would go shopping tomorrow to select more gowns for you both” I said finally and walked up the stairs with my head held high.
…to be continued