When their mother was in the house, his father never for once raised a hand on them let alone letting them sleep hungry. He was at least grateful that his little sister had been fed that night and was sound asleep after failing to console him. he pinched himself over and over again just to be sure he wasn’t dreaming or having a terrible nightmare. That night, he had cried himself to sleep.
Morenike: “God knows I don’t want you to be in the same shoes as I am in now. You know I have never believed in all these feminism nonsense. I believe in a woman staying submissive to her husband and keeping the home together. If your husband is also in support of me moving out which I know he is then I should do that without dragging you into my mess. You should try to understand their plight too; they lost two beautiful girls at the same time”
Morenike: “I have nothing to lose here anymore. My children are gone, i want a fresh start” she had retorted and all attempts to dissuade her proved abortive.
As she laid on her bed, staring at the ceiling that night, counting the number of rotation of the ceiling fan, she could not help but cry for herself and the fact that the accident could have happened to her children; it could happen to anyone.
“I have to do something about this sister of mine’s stubbornness. I cannot let her marriage be ruined the way mine is. No matter what, I cannot leave with her” She mumbled to herself.
At the third cock crow that morning, she quickly rose up, dribbled something on a piece of paper and left the house taking nothing with her. When she got to the gate, it was locked with a padlock. She had no option but to blow her cover with the gateman; a middle aged Hausa man with little knowledge of English.
Morenike: “Come and open the gate for me” she said after rousing him up from his slumber.
Gateman: “Ah goodu moring mallama” he greeted, yawning sleepily. “Wetin you talk?”
Morenike: “Come and open the gate. I am going out” she said without basking an eyelid.
Gateman: “Ah by this time mallama? Time never reach for person to dey comot for house o. Madam know sey you dey comot?”
Morenike: “How is that any of your business? Please open the gate for me before I get angry. You know how that will make you lose your job right?”
Gateman: “Ah no vex madam. I go open am na na na” he said and scampered off to open the gate.
Morenike: “Thank you” she said and stepped out into misty cold morning. She took a deep breath and began walking unsure of which direction she was taking.
“I should go see my children before they leave for school right? I need to see them even if it is this once. The house if far from here but I’m sure I can make it before seven” she thought and then change direction and started walking faster
Mary: “Stupid girl. Didn’t I tell you to be careful so the water from your dirty body would not touch me?” she slapped the little girl over and over again for splashing water on her while she bathed her. “Oya shhhhhhh” she placed her second finger on her lips wickedly when she began to cry. The girl used her hand to cover her mouth in order to muffle her cries. She knew other slaps would follow if she dared cry out.
“Nonsense children. How did I even become your maid in this house? I am your father’s wife not your house help to be bathing you up and down. Idiot and imagine her crying like someone being ill-treated. Oloshi” she cursed under her breath.
At exactly 7a.m, the children were ready for school without eating breakfast or money lunch in school. That had become the daily routine for them. They had suddenly become unhappy and dull in school unlike before. As she pushed them out of the gate to start going to school on their own, she sighted their mother walking tiredly towards the house with her eyes fixed on the children. She quickly pushed the children back inside and stood waiting for the approaching woman.
Morenike: “Mary thank God it’s you I met” she smiled with relief clouding her expression. She had been afraid of facing her husband whom she wasn’t sure was going to welcome her.
Mary: “Thank God you met me indeed” she replied with hostility which was lost on the woman.
Morenike: “Yeah thank God my dear” she said and made to enter inside but she shoved her back.
Mary: “Do you want to walk over me? Ahn ahn! Madam respect yourself o or what is all this nonsense?” she shot her a revolting look.
Morenike: “Haba Mary. It has not gotten up to that now. I only want to see my children. I saw them go inside just now. Abiodun!” she called out to her son elongating her neck in order to see past Mary who had covered up the small space with her body.
Abiodun: “Mummy!” she screamed excitedly from inside and made to push pass Mary but she pushed him back.
Mary: “If I slap your rude face you will lose the ability to talk” she berated him.
Morenike: “Mary. What is going on here? I thought you are here to take care of my children in my absence?” she still couldn’t understand the idea behind her attitude towards her.
Mary: “Ehn na. You know you have an automatic house girl in me. I am now the wife in this house. Wife not house girl” she blurted out.
Morenike: “Wife? Whose wife? Did you and Andre pack into the compound too? Wow that is good to know. Please let me in briefly, I will be out soon, just want to hold my kids and then leave” she replied pleadingly.
Kemi: “Mummy!” she called out fearfully. She had been afraid of what her step mum would do to her if she dared make a sound. She still had tell-tales of that morning’s slaps on her cheeks.
Morenike: “Baby!” she also called out emotionally. She wanted so much to embrace, kiss and just look at them.
Mary: “Please leave now before I release the dogs on you. I am the madam now, the wife of Joseph Ogedengbe and your presence here is really infuriating me like hell itself”
Morenike: “What? You Mary?” she opened her eyes in bewilderment. “That is impossible, you are just bluffing right? Not you, not my Mary” her voice quivered.
Mary: “Who is your Mary? You mean I am not worthy enough to be married to your ex husband? Now leave!” she stepped out fully at last and the children bounded out too, reaching frantically for their mother.
Morenikeji: “Oh no! What kind of letter is this? How can you leave without telling me? How can you decide to leave without taking anything with you not even a simple phone? Sister where are you right now?” she asked rhetorically filled with grief. “Yes I know you must have thought of seeing your children first right? I shall get you there. I pray she is really there” she said and rushed back to her own room, grabbed her car keys and hand bag then headed out too. Outside, the gateman made her know her sister had left almost two hours ago.
God please don’t make me lose my only sister like this. Where will I find her if she isn’t there? How will I go about locating an adult who doesn’t want to be found? She got engrossed in deep thoughts as she drove the long distance to her place.
Question: Will she meet her sister there? Will Morenike get to properly meet her children?
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