By the time he was done, the children were dressed and wearing their shoes; he smiled to himself ‘this time tomorrow, I will carry my family in my keke’ he thought. He retrieved one of his clean trousers and a polo t-shirt then, as usual, helped the children fill their water bottles and made sure their bags were packed with the right things. Yejide wore her shoes and rushed to meet her mom in the kitchen to help pack the ingredients she’d used in cooking. By seven-thirty, the family said a brief prayer led by Hannah and they were ready to leave home; the children to school, Hannah to the canteen where she washed plates and Tomiwa to the keke dealer instead of the mammy market where he helped a friend for a wage of at least five hundred naira a day depending on how the day’s sales went and how much profit was made. Once out of the house and in the compound while Hannah was locking the door, Tomiwa gave the children fifty naira each as opposed to the ten naira their mother usually gave them, the delighted children thanked their father and danced around, one watching from a distance would have thought they’d won a lottery; Hannah joined her family and smiled when she saw her children’s excitement.
“Ahahn, what are we celebrating?” she asked no one in particular as her eyes darted from Yejide to Korede.
“Daddy gave us fifty fifty naira each.” A delighted Korede screamed. Hannah’s gaze immediately swept over her husband, she wondered why he’d given them money, he was probably celebrating something he hadn’t told her because she’d been hostile for a few days now.
“Daddy thank you o…” she said quickly to mask her suspicion “… Oya children, tell daddy thank you and let us leave, we don’t want to be late.” She added and guided the children towards the gate, Tomiwa held her back awhile, covered her right palm with his left palm and left the two thousand naira in it, Hannah was taken aback, this was the first time in two months that her husband was giving her money for anything.
“What is this for?” she asked, surprise written all over her face.
“Just manage it to buy food for today.” Tomiwa replied, he had a feeling his wife was about to say something nasty or probably begin a tirade of questions which he was not ready for and besides, it was still too early for him to argue with anybody so he walked away quickly and waved at the children who were patiently waiting for their mother. Hannah sighed inwardly and walked the children to their school; she was thankful that they were in school but she wished it wasn’t a public school; she had a strong resolution to change their school as soon as she could afford it. In my opinion, Hannah has totally written off her husband and was taking vital and critical decisions on the family without her husbands’ input, really bad! If you ask me.
The day went quickly, it was a sunny Friday afternoon, Hannah rushed home, as was her usual practice, to warm her children’s lunch and make sure they changed out of their uniforms. When the children had changed, done their homework and eaten, she took them to the neighbour’s room and rushed back to the canteen not noticing that her son hadn’t dropped his school bag.
Korede was relieved that his mom had not questioned him about the bag, he was barely able to contain his excitement, he precede his sister into the room, dumped the bag on the floor and immediately tore it open to retrieve the drawing book he’d just bought; a friend of his had brought the exact same type to school on Monday and he’d promised himself to buy his own even though he’d have to save his daily ten naira for two weeks before he could afford it but God had been really kind to him and his dad, out of the blues, had given him fifty naira in the morning and his sweet sister had also ‘dashed’ him ten naira to complete the money. He knew he had to be careful with his treasure because his mom had always been against his passion for drawing painting(sometimes) but his sister and dad have always been encouraging and supportive; his mom had burnt the last drawing book right in front of him saying he was wasting time and money and was getting distracted from studying.
Yejide walked in after a while and saw her brother staring, in awe, at his new drawing book and she smiled.
“You better keep that thing orelse mummy will burn it again.”
“I know, I’ve been thinking of where to keep it since.”
“Keep it with Bolu, you will tell him to bring it for you in the morning and take it home in the afternoon.” Korede smiled, his sister was simply the best, he knew he could always count on her for advice; she always had his back one hundred percent.
“Thank you, I dinor even remember that one.”
“I know you will not remember na…” she said with a smile “… me am going to shade’s house, I’ve forgotten our next week hairstyle.” She lied.
“Hmmm. Lie lie, which forgotten, just say you wantu goan play, sha be going, maybe I will go to Kabiru’s house to play ball.” Korede replied.
“Ah, if mummy asks why your cloth is dirty, am not there o.”
“I will remove it na, are we going to tell mummy Sewa before we go?”
“Yes now, am even going with Sewa sef and instead of going to Kb’s house why don’t you kuku rush to Bolu’s shop and give him the kini.” Korede grinned, his sister was just super smart. They left the house having at the back of their minds that their mother closed by eight pm.
Tomiwa had had a very productive first day as a thirty-five year old keke rider, the person he’d bought the tricycle from had been kind enough to introduce him to the garage boys and had explained that he was working for him. Tomiwa only rode short distances and made two hundred naira for trip. By the end of the day, Tomiwa had gone about twenty trips and had made a whooping four thousand naira; on his way home, he bought the suya he’d promised his son and some other goodies, he also made up his mind to save at least five thousand naira a month just so it would be easy for him to pay up his one hundred and fifteen thousand naira debt; his wife would be shell shocked, he knew, she didn’t even know he had a bank account let alone fifteen thousand naira in it. As he rode home, Tomiwa felt proud of himself, soon, he got to his neighbourhood; he’d purposely left the park at night to avoid answering any questions from his nosey neighbours.
Tomiwa opened the gate and rolled the tricycle into the compound, as he locked the gate, he was grateful that there was light so most people were in their rooms, just then, mama Lati walked out of the building tying a wrapper and most likely on her way to dump refuse.
“Ahahn baba Yejide, good evening o, e ku ojo meta (it has been a while)” Tomiwa hissed under his breath, he wondered why she’d not just gone straight to the point when she’d seen him just the previous afternoon and had even asked him why he was home early but he’d laughed it off.
“Abi o, good evening iya Lateefah.” He said with a forced smile.
“Ehn, how work?” she continued
“Thank God o.” Tomiwa replied and continued on his way having had enough of her talk.
“Ehn o, naso e suppose be, na only God fit do am…” she said with a grin “… na who con get that keke?” she asked, finally hitting the nail on the head; Tomiwa looked about him as though he didn’t know what she was talking about before he finally settled his gaze on the tricycle then smiled.
“This one?” he asked.
“Ehn o.” she replied with enthusiasm
“Na God provide am for me and my family, make you help me thank this baba God o.”
“Eh!…” she exclaimed “… congratulations o, this one good o, I pray in Jesus name say this keke no go do you accident (Amen) you no go jam person (amen), person no go jam you (amen), you go dey see plenty plenty passenger(amen), for park, agbero no go see you (amen), all these people wey dey collect money for bus-stop no go disturb you (amen), Almighty God go…”
“Iya Lateefah! The prayer don do, I don tire for today work, thank you ehn, goodnight.” Tomiwa cut her short and rolled the keke to the side of the house without a sideward glance at her.
Tomiwa walked into the house and sat heavily in the armchair amidst greetings from his family, as usual, Yejide brought him a bowl of clean water and soap to wash his hands and a napkin to dry it. After sitting for a while, a thought suddenly popped in his head, his wife needed a phone, her phone’s mouth piece was really bad and it was difficult for her to make and receive calls.
“Daddy thank you for the money you gave us in the morning, are you ready to eat?” Hannah voiced into his thoughts.
“Em, you’re welcome, what did you cook?” he asked.
“Eba and Egusi.” She replied simply.
“Daddy, if you eat that Egusi ehn, you will enjoy your life.” Korede added and Tomiwa smiled.
“How long ago have you guys eaten?” he asked, completely disregarding his wife’s offer of food.
“Since nine.” Hannah replied.
“Okay, please give me garri because I bought six hundred naira suya and I cannot allow I cannot allow it to waste.” Yejide and Korede screamed for joy while Hannah had on a perplexed look; Tomiwa had never refused eating except they’d just had a heated argument.
“So it is the food I cooked that can waste or should waste abi.” She demanded.
“No now…” Tomiwa said calmly “… I will eat it tomorrow morning before going to work…” Hannah hissed but Tomiwa ignored her, he planned to tell her about the ‘keke’ tonight but he decided that she was clearly in no mood to receive good news. He turned his attention to Yejide and instructed her to serve him garri and water ten he proceeded to share the suya; he took the smallest portion as he watched his children eat the suya with unmasked happiness; luckily for him, Hannah rejected her portion, probably as a sign of protest and he was only too delighted to eat it. He’d also bought a large loaf of bread and promised the children a breakfast of bread, fried eggs and beverage the next morning. Hannah didn’t say a word to him till the family said their night prayers and went to bed but that was the least of the thirty-five year old’s worries.
The next morning, Hannah woke up, as usual, at five AM, had her bath, woke the children for their bath before she proceeded to the kitchen while her children continued with other chores; after sweeping, Yejide rushed to the kitchen to remind her mother that their dad had promised to make the family’s breakfast but Hannah waved her off. Later, when Tomiwa had had his bath and his wife was about leaving for work, Tomiwa decided to break the good news to his family.
“Good morning everybody…” he began then looked round the room to ensure he had their full attention.
“… who amongst you has gone outside today? (pause)… well, I am pleased to inform you that God has provided a ‘keke maruwa’ for us, I paid the first installment of fifty thousand naira yesterday and oga Friday has given me one of his two keke’s.” he concluded with a wide grin. The family was in celebration mode as the elated children jumped for joy and Hannah knelt as she sang praises to God. Without warning, Hannah gave her husband a warm hug with her tear streaked face resting on his chest; Tomiwa’s insides warmed up instantly and he felt close to tears as he returned the hug; Hannah tore herself from the embrace and cleaned her face with a wrapper.
“Come and show me, I am proud of you my husband.” She said with unmasked joy. The whole family trooped out of the room with Tomiwa as the lead; Hannah hugged him again when she saw the yellow and black tricycle parked by the fence.
…to be continued