It was a Saturday evening…one of those unfortunate Saturdays when the bank required I put in some hours. I was standing at the kitchen sink. Practically everything hurt: my feet ached; my knees knocked against each other; my waist felt broken; my arms felt like lead weights; and most of all, my shoulders: they felt like someone had used a wrecking ball on them. I was tired…very tired.
I had a rough day at the bank…costumers and their plenty wahala. One of them –caught my attention. The lady in question was pretty in an odd way and petite. She obviously wasn’t very literate. Her English, or lack of it thereof was a sure proof of that.
She had come in that morning, her effort to keep her tears at bay very obvious. One of the ATM machines outside the bank had debited her account severally, and then it proceeded to withhold her card. I had to calm her down…wasn’t an easy task… and then ensure that she withdrew over the counter with a promise that I would personally hand her the card and ensure the failed transactions were reviewed on Monday morning. She had been very grateful…so grateful she kept on thanking me.
Thank you my sister.
God go bless you. Make im bless ya husband and ya shidren and ya shidren shidren.
As you no gree make hungry kill ma shidren –
Huh?! Kids? She could pass for 20.
… na so ya shidren go chop belleful. Hungry no go eva catch dem. Dem go chop sotaaay dem go tire. E go beta for you.’
It was when she left it struck me: there was nothing in the freezer for this weekend: no stew for Sunday’s meal, and our store of soup was fast running out. If I didn’t do something fast, the lady’s prayers might as well be in vain. I tried calling Amaka.
Deborah had lost her phone again, so she was out of reach. My husband…hmmm…that one matter plenty. No be today talk.
And I didn’t know who else to call. There was actually no one I could call. So I did the only thing that made sense: I left the bank before the close of work and I went straight to the market to buy what I needed to cook.
I spent the next few hours haggling prices, inspecting products, carrying bags laden with food stuff- bags so heavy they threatened to dislocate my shoulders.
I got home to an empty house: empty, dirty and all messed up. There were toys everywhere: on the floor, coffee table, sofas, balcony, even in the kitchen sink. There were clothes everywhere too: Ada’s skirt was hanging from the edge of the TV, Chima’s shirts were under the table, Chidiogo’s jeans were on the fridge door, there was a pile of tiny mismatched socks on the ottoman and there was a note on the fridge. From Deborah; she had taken the kids with her to Ibadan for the weekend. My husband had called and asked her to…without my notice or permission.
I checked the note again; no number. I was wondering how to reach her when my phone vibrated softly. Unknown number. I picked. It was Deborah calling to say they arrived safely, she and the kids. I spoke with all of them and ensured they were fine, then I set to work.
First, I set the house in order: Put the toys away, sorted out and paired the stockings and returned the scattered clothes to their hampers.
After that, I started cooking – chicken in tomatoes stew for Sunday. I would later call the cook to make the soups.
So there I was: tired, sweaty, in my work clothes at the kitchen sink. I was done making the stew. I had just set the cooker on low heat to let it simmer when I heard the front door open. My husband. The most annoying creature alive.
Walking into the kitchen, he goes:
‘Something smells nice.’
I hold on to the kitchen counter and say nothing.
‘My love.’ He croons. ‘What have I done this time?’
‘What have you done? Nothing! The real question is: What have you not done?! You abandoned me and the kids – your kids for two whole weeks without notice. No calls, no texts, no Facebook updates, no chats, nothing. You just disappear – poof!! And then you expect me to hug you and kiss your cheeks whenever you deem it fit to come back. As if that’s not enough, you call to send them away without as much as a word to me. Who does that? Eh?! Do you have any idea what that does to the children, to me? You wouldn’t know. You do not care about anything, or anyone but yourself. Just leave me biko. Go. Go and bath. You smell like an incinerator.’
He stands there, head hanging. I hope he feels sorry. I return to my chores, totally ignoring him. I’m so engrossed in cleaning the counter I do not hear him leave, or come back…until he stands behind me and wraps his arms around me.
‘I’m sorry hun.’
I want to push him away, to remain aloof, to ignore him. But I am too tired, too spent. I just let him hold me. The warmth…it’s heavenly. And he smells nice and clean. I’ve missed him. I turn round and face him.
‘I know I should have told you, but there was no time. There was this gig…the company had this multi-million dollar project that ran into some issues: some luxury hotel in the south. I just had to go. I didn’t call because I lost my phone along the way. I didn’t have enough on me to replace it. I forgot my card at home. I’m so sorry.’
I nod and lean fully on him, my head on his chest. He bends slightly and kisses the top of my hair.
‘I’ve so missed you. Don’t do this to me, ever again.’
‘I won’t. Promise.’
He kisses me on the lips. The kiss is soft, just like the touch of a feather. His fingers trace shapes on my back, leaving in their wake a jumble of fiery lines. He kisses me again, softly, slowly and softly. There’s a yearning in my belly. I feel my blouse slowly fall off my shoulders.
He kisses me yet again. The kisses tease me, make me want more. He seems to understand. His hand lifts to cup my breast. There’s more urgency, more need in his kiss. I give in to it. The kiss intensifies. He lifts me onto the kitchen counter and then –
My bare back touches something very hot – the pot of stew. And it burns me.
So here I am now, with my bandaged behind, in bed. The perfect ending to an awful Saturday…and one helluva reunion.