“A female corps member has been found dead on the roads of Borno… the body is yet unidentified… We’d bring an update…”
The television set was muted by Ebenezer. Speaking to the TV, “Can you imagine? After all the parents have suffered to send a child to school especially this period, she’s killed just like that.” He snapped his fingers.
Ha! It’s a crazy world we live in oh”, he continued.
He turned to his wife, the speech was for her benefit and he believed he deserved a response so he could get back to the news; there was still the stock market to monitor, but she sat still, almost lifeless save for the bulk under her blouse heaving. He inched closer to her on the settee to inspect; since she learnt she was pregnant he had noticed she’d fall asleep almost anywhere. A ploy to evoke pity and dodge chores, he thought.
Sensing his movement, she opened her eyes, “Is that the point?”
He shifted back, he didn’t understand her.
“Is it about what the parents have suffered? What does that have to do with anything?”
Silence. He waited for an elucidating addendum, none was forthcoming.
“Are you saying it is alright? What these people have done.”
“That is not what I’m saying”
“What then, are you saying? You agree the parents have tried, it’s not easy to send a child through secondary school talk more of university”
“How can you reduce human life, a child, to an investment? So if they didn’t send the child to school, it would be easier to bear?
No, no she was getting it wrong – he wasn’t the enemy. The enemies were the killers.
“You are not listening, nobody is saying that. What I am…”
“Tell me, what are you saying?” Her voice trembled and she was shaking.
“I am calm, very calm” she stilled herself, resting her back on the cushion and her palm under her blouse on the stretched skin of her protruding stomach. Still, her eyes were red.
The husband was aghast at the transformation and concluded it had to be the pregnancy. Come to think of it, he had read something on the trauma during pregnancy…
“You are not listening. See, relax” He could be understanding, there was no need for this.
“I don’t want to relax, I want to talk. There is nothing growing in my mouth”.
What is love if it is struggles that count? What about family ties? It is not business! Crying over lost money is not genuine grief…” With every statement, question, exclamation, her voice rose.
He had to find a way of stopping this, the neighbours might hear. “OK. I am sorry.”
“Again you miss the point! I don’t want you to be sorry!”
Her voice dipped, “So if I miscarry, it wouldn’t hurt? After all, you haven’t spent on the child.” This was wrong; he should not be on trial. Besides, technically they had spent – hadn’t she doubled her eating?
Her voice dipped further, suppliant, urgent, “Please answer me”
He knew there was no right answer- silence even wouldn’t suffice, it would be indicting. The question, like a goal bound shot couldn’t be saved, only parried.
There was a sound at the door. At first, neither of them knew what it was, and then Ebenezer realized it was a knock.
He almost leapt over the single settee on the side to get to the door. It was the Ajalas, probably heard her voice and decided to feed their curiosities like food. That was inconsequential though, they had just purchased his friendship, more- his allegiance.
He led them to the dining table, away from the main area of the living room. He brought drinks.
They small talked first. Then, “So where is the wife, or have the triplets glued her to the bed?”
The couple laughed. He joined them, said, triplets, and made inverted commas in the air.
The clock ticked audibly.
The couple laughed at another joke. He checked the bedroom, the toilet. He checked the kitchen and found the back door ajar. He stood outside the door and felt the breeze hit him softly and he yawned drowsily. She had gone for a long walk; he’d have to invent something for these (most welcome) intruders. But that was the easy part; the hard part would be the apology.
He yawned again.
Leaving the door open, he walked back to the dining.
©2009 Aigbokhaevbolo Oris