Lola Opatayo

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Abowu District Episode 21


Hi there! I trust that you’ve been enjoying the series so far?  I’ve got some news for you.

There’ll be one more episode (on Monday), and then the series will be on a break, for a month. I hope I’ll see you tomorrow! Please leave a comment and share this link.

Thanks for being here. ❤

The baby was crying, Becky could hear him but she was too weak to carry him from the bed where she had laid him. It was eleven in the morning and she had only been able to manage moving from the bed to the chair and table beside the wall. She needed to make some pap for herself, she could feel her weakness taking over her body and her eyes were dizzy from the little effort she had made.
Asking for help from Mama Adio had been futile. When she knocked on her door the previous evening, the woman had told her quite unfeelingly that she was going to church and could only attend to her when she got back. It wasn’t until ten that Mama Adio came into her room and dropped a plate of cold beans which Becky had no interest in. She carried the baby briefly and then said Baba Adio was waiting for her.
Becky cried along with her son, wishing that she had never met Toye and that she had aborted the pregnancy and moved on with her life. It became apparent to her that running away from the poverty in her father’s house by getting pregnant for Toye had not been to her advantage, and now she had a child to think of. She wondered how she was going to fend for the boy, Toye hadn’t talked about naming the child, even though he was eight days old, talk less of giving her money to buy things for the baby.
As Becky wondered how she would get up and make breakfast with the pain on her stomach and the weakness she felt, the door opened. It was Mama Abegunde. Becky cried out in joy and relief, she was never happier to see the old woman.
Toye sat under a mango tree, eating warm akara balls and fried yam slices. Ahead of him people were walking towards the market or going in the opposite direction towards the Ministry of Agriculture and the Catholic secondary school. He was seated in a grove of sorts where young lovers met, students poured over books and lonely figures sat to brood just as he was.
It was difficult for him to accept Annabelle’s announcement, especially when it was so close to the birth of his child. She wanted him to meet her parents and ask for her hand in marriage and he had promised that he would do that. But as he sat staring at a solitary ant crawling in the sand, he wondered how he was going to achieve this. His parents had been unhappy about Becky and he knew that they would not support him marrying another woman, especially when she happened to be from another tribe.
“Even if I marry her, how can I take care of her? Where would we live? Do I chase Becky out and ask her to join me in my little room in Pa Jinadu’s house?”
He knew that this would be a ridiculous suggestion, Annabelle already had her own little room, which she was paying for. She was moderately well-off, ate better than he could afford and wore clothes he could not dream of buying her.
“Why does she want me? I don’t have anything to offer her.”
Toye suddenly remembered that his son had not been named, neither had he sent someone to Igba to tell his parents that they were now grandparents. He sighed and placed his head in his hands. Doyin’s money needed to be paid and he had no clue how he was going to get it. The akara he was eating suddenly became tasteless. He set it aside on the bench and looked out towards the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Maybe I should get another job.”
As he sat under the tree, staring at the passersby, he wondered again why Annabelle was with him.
Mama Abegunde had come with one of Toye’s younger sisters who was excited about being in Abowu and couldn’t wait to see the town. Funmi was disappointed in her brother’s choice of a wife who looked younger than her and wondered why he was living in such a small room. She had assumed that her brother was wealthy enough to live in a larger house.
Her mother was sitting on the long chair, carrying the baby and watching Becky swallowing some pap slowly.
“So they brought this baby out of you? You mean you did not push him out yourself?”
“No,” Becky was tired of explaining herself and she wanted to sleep.
“And where was your husband when this was happening?”
“He was in the hospital.”
“Where is he now?”
“Mama, I don’t know. You’re not a stranger to his ways.”
The old woman nodded. “It is alright, finish eating your food.”
Sewa had just returned from the market, she was unpacking her things from the back of the taxi when she noticed a sign on Simbi’s door, Food Is Ready it said. For a moment, all Sewa could do was stare at the door, wondering if her eyes were playing tricks on her or if Simbi had really started the same business, right next door.
“Madam, I’m leaving…” the driver said, scratching his beard.
Sewa paid him and began to pack her things into her house. She came out for the sack of yams when she saw Simbi sweeping the front of her house. Sewa couldn’t help herself.
“Simbi? You’re a wicked person! Why do you have to do my business?”
Simbi rose up and stared at her. “I hope there’s nothing wrong with you? Your business? Was I not doing this business before you? Did I not buy the palm oil I used from you before they burgled your shop?”
“But you know that I need money now, why would you…”
“And I don’t need money? Yes, you started selling food from home first, but just as you copied my business, I am copying you…”
Babatunde came out just then. “Sewa!” he called firmly, startling her. “Come inside.”
As soon as she closed the door, he faced her. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“What do you mean? Did you hear what she did?”
“And fighting with her in front of everyone is the solution? Are you not better than that? Those who will buy your food will buy it, and those who will buy hers will.”
“What if the people who buy my food reduce?”
“You focus on what you’re doing. The person who will make a purchase doesn’t concentrate on the noise of the market. Focus on what you are doing and please don’t ever let me see you exchanging words with her again. After what happened with that man, you should know the kind of person she is by now.”
Sewa sighed and hoped that her husband was right.
Toye was sitting in his office reading a report, when a corporal came in to tell him that he had a visitor with a message from home waiting at the counter. Curious, he followed him and found Pa Jinadu’s youngest son standing against the wall.
“Inspector!” the young man greeted.
“Ah ah, Dele, what are you doing here?”
“My father sent me to you.”
“Hope there’s no problem?” he asked, wondering if Becky hadn’t done gotten into trouble.
“No there isn’t, he said I should tell you that your mother is around.”
Toye gaped at him,
“Inspector… what should I tell her?”
“Tell her that… tell her that I will be home this evening.”
“Alright, good bye.”
Toye walked back to his office in a daze. Who had told his family, and what explanation would he give his mother?
Later that evening, Toye went to Annabelle’s house and explained why he would not be spending the night.
“I think it is a good thing that your mother is around. You can tell her about me.”
Toye didn’t want to tell her that he had already told her and what her response was.
“I think you should also take a fabric to her, as a gift from me.”
Toye wasn’t sure that this was a great idea but he smiled and took it. “I will come and see you first thing tomorrow morning, take care of my baby.”
Annabelle blushed and watched him leave.
Toye walked past Mama Abioye, the woman who sold moin-moin and eko close to his house. Pa Jinadu was outside, listening to his radio as usual.
“Inspector, hope the bad people didn’t get you today?”
Toye flinched at the greeting, noting the speculation in the old man’s greeting. He had always stated that the bad people didn’t get him, and he had said so for as long as he had been his tenant. He wondered what had changed the greeting but he walked on to his room and opened the door.
Toye saw that Becky had lost some weight, it was the first thing he’d noticed, after greeting his mother and sister. He saw that the baby had also changed, he was a little darker than the last time he’d seen him and his face was less puffy.
“Where have you been?” Mama Abegunde asked as they stood at the back of the house. Becky, Funmi and the baby were inside the house.
“I have been busy with work.”
“You mean you have been busy with that other woman.”
“Toye, this is wickedness, I must tell you that. And I don’t know who you copied this heartless behaviour from. You left your wife and eight-day old child alone and went off with another woman? If not for my intuition the girl would probably have died. I suspected that you won’t be there when your wife was ready to give birth, so I told the good people in this building to send someone to Igba to let me know. I was really hoping that you would surprise me and come and tell us yourself, but you have disappointed me.”
“Maami, there’s no need to fight with me. This is a joyous occasion, my second wife even sent a present to you, to thank you for taking care of her senior wife…”
She watched him present a beautiful red and green ankara fabric to her and shook her head.
“This is what I came to say. Tomorrow, we’re going back with your wife and my grandchild. When she is stronger, she will come back. I do not know any other woman as your wife…”
“She is pregnant Maami!”
Mama gasped, shook her head again and walked away.

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