Fatou was outside their one-room apartment house with other children from the neighbourhood, when she heard noise from their room. She looked so unhappy and ashamed among her peers. Her parents were at it again, quarrelling and screaming at each other, attracting neighbours, friends and foes. She reluctantly stood up among the children of her age to go in to see her mother and father.
Ranti: “you cannot leave this house, except you drop money for food for me and my children” she said, breathing heavily as she locked her husband’s dashiki, and shaking her legs vigorously, supporting her waist with her second hand.
Aremu: “woman, leave me alone. Otherwise, I will show you the other side you don’t want to see”. He threatened his wife to let go of him.
Ranti: “yes! It is the other side I want to see. Show it to me right now, or else you will not leave this place. You this good for nothing useless old fool”, she retorted, pointing her first finger to the ground.
The statement she made stirred her husband up, so, he pushed her away so hard, and she missed her stand and hit her head against the wall.
Ranti: “you will kill me today o, you this agbaaya (old fool)” she yelled, locking her husband’s immaculate white danshiki the more, almost choking him. “if you don’t kill me today, I won’t leave you alone, you this daginigboooro, alainironu, omo oninakuna (stupid fool, shallow thinker prodigal son). She hurled abusive words on the husband and these words aggravated her husband that he gave her a punch the face. But, she was fast enough to duck it, so, it landed on her left eye, and she got bruised. Devil was let loose, the couple engaged in a free for all fight, scattering and shattering objects in their one room apartment, with their baby screaming in her cradle unattended to, and their first daughter weeping as they fought. However, no neighbour came around to separate the two.
Ranti: “agh, o ti pa mi. he has killed me o”. She cleaned the blood stain oozing on her head with her husband’s outfit.
Aremu: “see what you have done to my buba, this woman? You stain my dashiki with blood? I will kill you today.
Ranti: “kill me. shebi you kuku want to leave me and the children to go out, without leaving money for food so that we can stave to death abi?” she did not let go of her husband, she stuck to him like a termite would stick to its prey.
Aremu: “Emi ko l’o ma ran lo s’ewon (you can’t implicate me).
Ranti: “is this how you will pay me, for all I have done for you? See our daughter looking at us as we argue. Is it a good thing? Are you laying good foundation for her? She asked, sobbing.
Her husband freed himself from her grip and went outside, while the wife sat on the only three seater sofa in the demarcated one-room apartment. The daughter could not behold her mother weep, at a tender age of five, she knelt beside her mother and dried her tears.
Fatou: “don’t cry maami”. She said, faintly.
Ranti: “can you see what your father is doing to me, Fatou? Can you see how he is treating us? We have not eaten in this house since morning and your father is going out. I am sure he is going to the beer parlour”. She said, and burst into another round of cry.
Fatou: “e pele maami! I will give you money and take care of you when I grow up”, she said, looking into her mother’s eyes.
Ranti: “o seun oko mi, omo a toju iwo naa (thank you my darling, your child will take care of you too)”she prayed as she drew her daughter up and closer to her.
All of a sudden, Ranti stood up as though she was remote controlled and readjusted her wrapper and went out with the blood stain on her dripping down to her neck. Her daughter asked her where she was heading to.
Fatou: “mama, where are you going to?”
Ranti: “just leave me alone. I am coming”. She replied as she forced the door open and slammed it, almost breaking her daughter’s tiny fingers.
Khadijah had just come back from a business trip in Cotonou, the capital city of the republic of Benin. The whole room was flooded with wares and clients were around to sort their goods. Her husband came in to the sitting room.
Khadijah: “no, I will not tale that from you. If you don’t bring the balance I will not give you the goods”. She said to one of her clients who had brought half of her pay to clear her goods.
Client: “haba, aunty. I will give you the balance as soon as I collect money from my customers. You know I don’t owe you money before nah”. She spoke, calmly, blinking her eyes.
Khadijah: “I know you have not owed me before, nut this period the gbese (debt) I have to pay is too much. And moreover, the custom officers charged us a lot this period. You know this is fayawo (smuggling). You too should be strict with your customers, or else these people will just eat your money and make you enter huge debt. You will now be running up and down looking for cooperative money to settle your debts while they sit on top of your own money. My sister, business is not run like that”. She replied, straining her eyes at the poor lady.
Client: “so, all you have been saying since morning now is that no goods for me?” she asked staring at the goods scattered on the floor of the room.
Khadijah: “ ehehe, see me see trouble, have I been speaking Latin since morning, abi you don’t understand me ni?” she asked rhetorically, attending to another client. The first client heaved a sigh of relief, shook her head and looked downward. “See, madam, shift let me clear this place, your goods will be here, till you complete your payment. I promise not to touch them. You just come with the balance and you will get your goods”. She replied, squatting to pack her goods. Shortly afterwards, her husband entered the room and in few minutes the clients left the room.
Khadijah: “agh, welcome. How was work today?” she greeted her husband bending her knees forward.
Abbas: “good evening. You are back from Benin?” he asked, as he sat down.
Khadijah: “aghn, aghn, you can see now”. She replied, waving her hands in a circular motion.
Abbas: “hmmm, I have eyes, I can see. So, how was the trip?”
Khadijah: “we thank Allah! It went well, my goods were not seized.
Abbas: “Alhamdulillah! But, don’t you think you should rest for today at least? You are just coming back and you are sorting the goods today again. Don’t kill yourself o, this woman.
Khadijah: “hmmm, no wahala. Everything will be fine”. She replied, smiling.
Abbas: “okay o. if you insist. That is by the way, have you gone to see Iya Abiye?” he asked as he stretched his hand to pick the remote control on the table at the centre of their room. This question sickened Khadi, as she was fondly called by her closest friend and husband.
Khadijah: “see, I will go to see her when I have the time”. She replied casually, rumpling her face and grumbling.
Abbas: “hmmm, when you have the time?” he asked nodding and smiling wryly.
Khadijah: “you know, I have been busy for some times now and I am just coming back from a business trip. I will go, don’t be upset with me”. She begged her husband, raising his chin to look in her direction.
Abbas: “You know I won’t argue with you and I will always say yes to your wish, but, I want to remind you that we are not getting younger. I am getting older day by day and the same thing with you. Time is going”
Khadijah: “hmmmm”. She heaved a sigh of relief, looking downward.
Question: “Why do you think Khadijah is lackadaisical about her childlessness? And where did Ranti head to?
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