BISI – THE OTHER WOMAN EPISODE 14
By Jon Doe
At the door a couple waited, unmasked impatience on the face of one. On their person were attires matching in fabric but very different in their design.
“Namdi how many times must I tell you to call me mommy.”
A look of longing appeared on Namdi’s features for a fleeting moment as he heard this. Her hands went to her tapered waist in a posture of disapproval, her lithe body bouncing on the ball of her foot. Framing her softly made up face was long wavy dark hair. She was still a pretty woman even with her approaching 50th birthday a little over a week away. One could easily see where Zainab’s beauty came from.
“Yes my son! Now come here.”
Namdi took a step, walking into her open arms now glad he had taken the painkillers. Her perfume drifted to him with each breath, subtle and pleasant. The top of her head was easily visible. He still could not tell where her natural hair ended and the long locks of Virgin Peruvian began. Zainab had said her mother had Peruvian ancestry but she would never be able to finish the sentence with a straight face, breaking into laughter each time. How could this woman be over 40 Namdi thought, his knees slightly bent so he did not tower over her.
“Please come in, mommy you should find Zainab in the kitchen.”
Stepping back from her embrace Namdi moved to the side for them to enter.
“That daughter of mine is in the kitchen. What happened to the chef?”
“On vacation. Should be back in a couple weeks.”
“I better hurry then before what we eat is less food and more…”
Namdi did not hear the rest of it, her voice far enough away. Turning he saw his father-in-law staring intently at him, still outside the house.
Feeling uncomfortable under Mr. Shagari’s scrutiny Namdi’s fingers began to fidget. Not wanting the older man to see them he quickly put his hands behind his back, involuntarily standing straighter. The man had not said a word, merely standing there like a boulder in a flowing stream unaware of the passage of time. An unseen pressure came of him that Namdi felt the full brunt off. He never could explain it but each time he met Zainab’s father he felt less a man and more an object the man had obtained at great expense to his wishes.
“This door does not suit this house.”
Namdi felt stupid with how he seemed to only have the ability to say ‘sir’ to this man. Determined not to be reduced to single word sentences he began to speak again.
Mr. Shagari walked past him into the house, ignoring the next words out of Namdi’s mouth. Namdi’s speech ground to a halt. He did not let his current emotion see the light of day. Swallowing the insult he followed behind Mr. Shagari as they made their way to the balcony, walking past floating kitchen gossip.
“This my daughter, can’t you see the vegetable should have been steamed for longer. And the meat on this high heat? They’ve already killed the animal, are you trying to kill it again?”
“You don’t have to be here.”
“Then where should I be?”
“The house is big there are plenty places for you to go to.”
“My own daughter chasing me away after I…”
“Yes, yes you spent 18 hours giving birth to me. How many times will you play that card.”
Zainab threw the sponge in her hands into the left sink half filled with water, splashing her apron with a healthy dose of soapy liquid. Her mother walked up beside her, picking up the sponge and handing it back to Zainab. Rolling her sleeves up she began to help her daughter rinse dishes, her mouth still working though dropping in volume.
“So you know now?”
“Know what again?”
“Zainab why are you pretending to your mother? That your husband is cheating on you.”
Soft laughter was Zainab’s answer to her mothers words. Without turning she could already feel her mom studying her closely.
“Will there be a day when you come to this house and not accuse my husband of cheating?”
“Daughter of mine, men are not as they seem. Look at your father didn’t he…”
“Don’t you dare say anything about daddy!”
Mrs. Shagari’s lips firmly pressed against each other after her daughters outburst. The kitchen was devoid of the sound of voices. It was not a complete silence, the torrent of water from the kitchen tap a reminder the tranquility was not true. Dish after dish was washed and rinsed; passed from the hands of daughter to mother. Soon there was no more dirty plates to occupy the hands. Still they stood there, both not wanting to be the first to move. The tap now off Zainab began to feel the pressure of the quiet. Unable to take it anymore she caved, turning to her mom.
“Just because you say it over and over doesn’t make it true.”
“What about the tracker I put in his car for you. You are telling me he has never once lied about where he was?”
Zainab hesitated then began to speak.
“Yes, he has never once lied. Just because you have no trust in daddy does not mean I have to be you.”
“I am your mother, no matter what you do in the end you will forever be like me.”
Zainab’s mom laughed, walking to the kitchen island to sit down.
“Daughters grow up to be their mothers my dear. You could have told him about the tracker in his car at anytime but you didn’t.”
A pain crept up her heart when faced with the inability to refute her mothers words. What a hateful woman Zainab thought, fingernails biting into the softened skin of her palms. She said nothing in reply, choosing to ignore the one who sat on her kitchen chair. Rather she made her way to the stove to put the finishing touches on dinner. Her mother on the other hand would not let up.
“You will thank me one day when you too have children of your own. Then you will understand all I do is for you. Speaking of which, have you convinced him to…”
Mrs. Shagari stopped mid sentence as she heard footsteps approaching the kitchen. A smiling Namdi walked through the open door.
“Is there anything I can help with Mrs. Shag.., I mean mommy.”
“Such a good child, don’t worry yourself, your wife is taking good care of me.”
Namdi did not notice anything amiss as he walked past his mother in law on his way to Zainab’s side giving her a short hug.
“Food smells amazing. Where are the matches?”
“Cupboard beside the sink. What do you need matches for? You and dad better not be smoking again.”
“Of course not. We wouldn’t dare.”
He sounded very unconvincing. Finding the matches he quickly made his way out of the kitchen not wishing to give Zainab a chance for further interrogation. Having escaped an atmosphere which felt like a recent battlefield Namdi stopped just out of sight of the kitchen door hoping to hear snippets of their conversation. As he waited, he looked to the floor remembering Zainab had shattered a few cups against the wall earlier today. Seeing nothing he smiled in his heart at the meticulous way his wife handled things. Having fruitlessly stood there for a little under a minute, Namdi made his way to the balcony.
There was nothing special about the place they called the balcony. It had been a last minute addition to the architectural plans. Zainab wanted to be able to spy on the neighbors or at least that was what she said. A strange reason considering at the time they had no neighbors. Instead they were surrounded by acres of forest. The second time they had made love beneath the stars had been right there. It had been late December, the heat they generated with their bodies easily driving away the cold. Celestial objects gazed upon them, twinkling in approval of their fiery affair. Her father currently stood on that balcony, looking out into the dark star filled sky.
Standing outside the glass sliding doors Namdi watched Mr. Shagari. Even alone the man stood ram rod straight, his military bearing hard to miss. Though not as tall as Namdi, there was never a time Namdi stood beside him that he felt above the man. Clamping down on the budding fear within him, Namdi slid the door open. His father in law did not turn around, his eyes fixed on the starry night sky. Namdi’s mouth opened and closed, unsure if he should speak. After a quick debate he decided to remain silent and just watch the stars as well. Decision made, Namdi took a step placing him shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Shagari. As his chin lifted to the heavens he heard words coming from beside him that made him shudder.
“Do not hurt my daughter.”
To be continued