Hi everyone, this is the fifth episode of the series. Remember, this series is free and I post it only on Mondays and Fridays. Kindly share this link and leave a comment, thanks!
P.S: Have a fantastic weekend!
Becky was sleeping soundly when she felt someone slapping her arm.
She opened her eyes and sat up straight to see her husband fully dressed. “Toye, what is it? What has happened?”
“When are you going to wake up? It’s seven am!”
“Are we going somewhere together?” She shook her head and tried to remember if they had planned to go out early.
“Do we have to go anywhere together for you to wake up early?”
Becky was confused. “What do you need me for?”
“Am I not going to eat breakfast?”
“Oh!” she rubbed her eyes. “What do you want to eat?” she slowly dragged herself out of bed, and scratched her abdomen. Toye sat down, irritated by her sluggishness and wondered if there was any point waiting for breakfast.
“Don’t worry,” he said and got back on his feet.
“I shouldn’t worry? So why did you wake me? You should have just let me sleep!” she muttered and got back into bed.
Toye gasped and walked out of the room before he became overwhelmed by his emotions.
Later that morning, he sat opposite Doyin at Mama Willy’s restaurant, a few yards away from the police station. The dining room had fifteen rectangular, wooden tables and chairs. Plain green and orange cotton sheets were spread on each table, brown plastic jugs, salt and pepper shakers and toothpick containers adorned the tables. Toye was eating a plate of rice, beans, plantains and fried fish. He ate greedily, savoring the taste of the flavorful fish stew. Doyin took a sip of water and stared at him in amusement, his own food, half-eaten.
“You’re eating as if you’ve just been released from prison. Didn’t your young wife cook breakfast?” he laughed. “I know what happened, the food was inedible!”
Toye shook his head and shoved another spoonful of rice into his mouth. “She didn’t even get up to cook.”
Doyin laughed. “You’re in serious trouble with that girl. But what about the other department?”
“What department?” Toye asked cluelessly, oil sliding from under his lips into his thick beard.
“You know…” Toye gave him a meaningful look.
“Oh, that! There’s nothing going on there.” He waved his hands dismissively and threw a plantain into his mouth.
“Nothing?” His friend asked incredulously, holding his spoon in mid-air. “What do you mean?”
“She’s always complaining of being tired and the stomach gets in the way.”
Doyin sniggered. “So what have you gained from marrying her?”
“My friend, I ask myself that question all the time.”
A young man walked out of the restaurant with a slim lady who was wearing a yellow miniskirt and carrying a matching purse.
Doyin nudged his colleague. “Did you see how much food that man bought? Pounded yam, vegetable soup and plates of chicken, fish and meat. Not to talk of all the bottles of beer and soft drinks. They couldn’t even finish it!”
“He must be the son of a rich man.” Toye said, looking back at him.
“No, he’s one of these corp members.”
“Oh! How do you know that?”
“I saw his boots. Probably posted to the ministry of agriculture.”
“They are supposed to do this service for one year right?”
“Yes, that what I heard on the news. But I can assure you, that he would be absorbed into the civil service. Ten years down the line, he would be buying houses in places we could never dream of.”
“Hmm.” Toye said, shaking his head and staring at his almost empty plate.
“See, he just drove off with a Peugot 504!” Doyin hissed and with a faraway look in his eyes. “Toye, this life is for the educated and wealthy.”
“Life isn’t so bad for us. We just have to keep hoping for the best.”
Doyin huffed. “We can’t even afford to buy ourselves a Coke!”
Toye finished his meal and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Well, I remain grateful.” He stood up. “I’m going to Alafia, I want to talk to that old woman again.”
Doyin frowned. “Why? I thought you concluded that she had no information.”
“Yes, but the more I think about what she said, the more I feel that I made a hasty conclusion. I think that we should at least look into it. Especially what she said about the truck, anyone who stole from those shops would have needed a big vehicle to move the goods.”
“Alright, wait, let’s go together.”
“Why don’t you go to Mrs Goke, the other victim? Go to her street and talk to the neighbours like we planned.”
“Alright then, see you later.”
Becky sat down in her mother’s stall, and gazed blankly at the stove in the corner, her mother, Rose was cooking beans. At the moment, she was attending to a customer, her youngest sibling on her back. She came in shortly after, muttering and wiping sweat off her face.
“Such a stingy woman, she refused to buy the tomatoes for more than twenty kobo.”
Becky didn’t respond, her eyes were on the blue and yellow flames that licked the blackened pot.
“Ma!” she replied startled.
“Where is your mind?”
“Nowhere ma, I was just thinking about something.”
“Is it about your husband? Is he treating you badly?”
“He doesn’t like me,” Becky said sadly.
Rose sat down on another stool opposite her and brought the child on her back to her laps. “Why do you say so?”
“The way he looks at me, the way he talks to me, as if I don’t matter, as if I’m a fly perching on his food.”
Rose searched her face. “Did you disobey him?”
“Do you cook his food?”
“Do you let him touch you?”
Becky grimaced. “I don’t feel like it. My body aches and…”
“You have no excuse whatsoever, let him do whatever he wants to do.”
“My body aches and he smells of sweat…”
“He’s your husband, no matter how badly he smells, you don’t deny him. How do you think your father smells, especially when he’s just come back from the beer parlour?”
Becky made a face and looked away from her mother.
“What is wrong with you? You’re no longer a child, you must know some things now. Even if he smells like the gutter, he is your lord, close your nose and let him ravish you.”
Becky was sweating, her gown was already sticking to her back and she wished that she had not come to visit her mother. She adjusted the strap that was falling off her shoulder and shifted in her seat.
“Why are you still wearing that dress? Hasn’t your husband bought you more clothes?”
“Did you ask him?”
“So why hasn’t he?” Rose barked.
“He said that he cannot afford it right now.”
“And what did you say?”
“Nothing, I didn’t want to disturb him, I felt that he should…”
“Why are you waiting for him to do the right thing? Do you think you would be in your husband’s house if I had waited for your father to do the right thing? Men don’t know the right thing to do, and even when they do, they need we women to encourage them to do it. Talk to him tonight, demand that you need new clothes. And if he doesn’t listen to you, go to his office tomorrow in your worst clothes, see if he doesn’t buy you new ones the next day.”
Rose smiled. “I’m telling you the things that have worked for me. Like I said, you’re no longer a child. Your husband is in your palms, he can do whatever you want him to do, just do what I tell you.”
There was an awkward silence between them and then Becky asked of her younger ones.
“They are fine, although they barely had anything to eat this morning. I hope you came with some money?”
All Becky had was the money she intended to buy soup ingredients for dinner but she smiled and said, “Yes ma, I did.”
Inspector Toye waited outside the door of Afonja Elewe’s house, trying to be patient. Someone had said that they were coming to get the door but ten minutes later, he was still waiting. When it eventually opened, a small, bald man who stood behind it was sweating profusely.
“Sorry, I was in the toilet,” he said panting.
“Good afternoon, I’m Inspector Abegunde,” he said curtly.
“Inspector? From the police?”
“Oh, I hope there is no problem?”
“No, there’s no problem, I’m here to talk to Mama Abeni.”
“I’m her son, Afonja Elewe. You want to see my mother?”
“Yes, she came to our station.”
The man came out and shut the door. “Why? What did she go there for?”
“Is she home?”
“No, she’s not. She’s not here anymore.”
Toye frowned. “Where is she?”
“She’s back in the village.”
He hissed in frustration. “When did she leave?”
“About three weeks ago.”
“Three weeks ago?” Toye wondered about this, the old woman had come into their office about the same time. “Why did she leave?”
“She said she was being watched.”
“She wouldn’t say, and I didn’t ask. You know how old people can be.”
“Hmm,” Toye answered with a forced smile but his mind was working furiously, trying to make sense of what he was being told.
“Did you notice any changes in her before she left?”
“Well, she just kept saying that she was being watched and that she should have left it alone.”
“Left what alone?”
“She didn’t say and…”
“You didn’t ask.” Toye finished for him with annoyance.
“What is this about? Is my mother in trouble?”
“I can’t say much about the case, but she’s not in trouble. If you remember anything, please come to Abowu police station and ask for inspector Toye Abegunde.”
“Err Inspector, please, what are you people doing about the robberies in this community? People are getting worried.”
“We’re doing our best, it will be over soon.”
Afonja nodded and held out his hand. “Alright, I wish you all the best.”
Toye looked at the sweaty hand and imagined where it had been some minutes ago. Afonja read his mind and laughed self-consciously.
“Sorry, let me go and wash it.”
Afonja tittered as the Inspector walked away.
“I need new clothes, I cannot continue to wear these old clothes, are you proud of me this way?”
Becky stared at her husband icily while he ate his food.
“Toye, can you hear me?”
Toye picked up his meat and swallowed it, tired of enduring the poor tasting food and being in the same room with her. He washed his hand and got up from the bed.
“Haven’t I told you that I can’t afford it right now? I will give you money for new clothes next month.”
“Next month? I cannot wait until next month! I went to see my mother today and everyone was looking at me funnily, one woman even said that I didn’t look different from when I was unmarried. How can you be proud of your wife going out in shabby clothes?”
“But I bought you new wrappers when we got married, why didn’t you wear one of them?”
“Those ones are for church, what am I going to wear when I’m going see my mother and friends?”
‘’Maybe you should stop going out until I can afford new clothes.”
“You want me to just sit in this small room and stare at the ceiling?”
“Becky, I don’t want to discuss this anymore, I want to sleep.”
“But I’m not done…!”
Toye stripped and got into bed.
The next day, while Toye was addressing four of the corporals at the counter, Becky walked in with a short, faded, pink gown that was too tight at the chest. She carried a shopping basket and dropped it on the counter.
“Good afternoon,” she said panting, and wiped the sweat on her face with a brown handkerchief.
“Becky!” Toye said in a harsh whisper. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you, I went to the market. Have you eaten?” she asked unloading the contents of her basket on the counter to the disbelief of her husband and amusement of his subordinates. One of the oranges she had put on the counter rolled off to the ground and out of the station. Becky ran after it and bent down at the waist to pick it up. The wind blew up her short gown, exposing her dark brown silky undergarment. Toye’s face warmed up with embarrassment, he gathered the things on the counter, shoved them into the basket and grabbed his wife’s arms.
“Go home now!” he said to her.
She looked back at him with feigned pain but he saw the twinkle in her eyes.