I laugh, unable to believe what Bimbo is telling me. I’m seated beside her in her luxurious flat and she’s just explained to me why she’s not cooking dinner for her children who are sulking and watching TV.
“The next day, he took me out to lunch and made me promise not to stress myself whenever I’m not up to cooking. And guess what, today is one of those days. I’m just too tired after a long day of customer service and supervising deliveries. The boys have just finished their homework and I can’t wait for the food to come so that I can put my feet up and relax.”
“So what if they don’t deliver the food on time?”
“Oh they always do. They never fail. And if they do, I’ll call Sola and tell him to buy some food on his way back.”
I stare at her in amazement and suddenly feel awkward. “You are lucky. I am cooking dinner tonight, and every night. My husband and I don’t have such an agreement.”
“You haven’t drawn the line for him. Pretend to be half dead one day out of exhaustion and watch what his reaction would be.”
I laugh genuinely. “Not all men are as sensitive as your husband Bimbo.”
She smiles. “You’re right. Not all men are as sensitive. You know yesterday, after driving for so long in traffic, my feet hurt badly. When he came home he gave me a foot rub.” She closes her eyes in ecstasy. “I knew he was tired, but he still obliged me. My sister, I slept like a baby afterward.”
“Of course, the foot rub must have led to other things…” I say with a knowing smile.
She laughs. “Ah… no… You see that’s another thing about my husband. He understands when I’m not in the mood. Yesterday, it was a simple foot rub. Nothing more.”
“Wow.” I reply. “Your husband must be superman.” I say sarcastically.
“He is not o. He’s just one in a million and I thank God for him. Many women are not so lucky.”
I smile as cheerfully as I can. “I have to go now. Like I said, I have to cook dinner.”
“Aww… I wish you didn’t have to leave…”
“I know jare, we’ll talk later.”
“Okay, I’ll probably come and see you tomorrow. If you’re not buried in research.”
I laugh. “Okay.”
As I slowly dice the plantains for dinner, I think of my conversation with Bimbo.
He’s just one in a million….
I think of Mr Martins’ firm hands holding my arm and I can feel my body getting warm. Slamming my fists on the counter, I exhale sharply.
“Ah ah! Remi, what is it?” Dayo asks coming into the kitchen, tugging on his tie.
“Yes, the boys let me in. What’s the matter?”
“I hope they asked who it was before opening the door.” I’m alarmed at the fact that the boys let someone into the house and I didn’t know it.
“They did.” Dayo shakes his head in confusion. “Why were you slamming your fist? What’s wrong?”
I shrug and resume cutting the plantains. “Nothing, someone annoyed me.”
“Okay… what happened? I’ve never seen you slam your fist like that. It must have been very annoying…”
I shake my head. “I don’t want to talk about it. Really, I’ll be fine.”
I can feel his eyes on me but I refuse to look at him.
“If you say so.” He mutters and leaves the kitchen.
The boys have gone to bed and Dayo is pulling off his shirt. I look at his protruding belly and smile. My Dayo used to have the flattest abs but now I can’t remember the last time I saw him do a push-up.
“Why are you smiling?” he asks, coming to bed.
“I’m looking at your Daddy body.”
“Oh this?” he pats his stomach. “This is a sign of responsibility my dear.”
I laugh. “I hear you. You better start going to the gym.”
“I would if I wasn’t paying so much for school fees.”
My smile fades and I don’t reply him.
“Hey… I was joking!” he says. “Ah ah, I was only joking. Of course my boys are more important than flat abs.”
“Okay.” I reply, trying to convince myself that his joke isn’t a reflection of how he truly feels.
“He gave me a footrub… I knew he was tired but he still obliged me.., I slept like a baby afterward”
“Dayo…can you give me a footrub? My feet hurt so bad…”
He laughs. “Even I am looking for someone who will give me a massage.” He kisses my cheeks. “Good night.”
He’s just one in a million and I thank God for him. Many women are not so lucky.
I know my Dayo is one in a million… he has to be.
Two weeks later, I hurry into the car with the boys and start the car but it the engine doesn’t start. I try several times but it won’t start.
“Mummy, what’s the matter?” Tomiwa asks, pausing his breakfast of sandwiched bread and eggs.
“I don’t know…” I mutter and open the bonnet.
Staring at the dirty engine, I have no idea what could be wrong. I check the engine oil, the battery and generally fiddle with everything but I can’t figure out why the engine won’t start.
“Mummy maybe you should call Daddy.” Dotun says, walking towards me.
“Okay.” I nod. “Go and call him.”
As he goes upstairs, Bimbo comes down with her children, Tola, Kola and Sola. The two younger ones are eating a yoghurt as they climb into their mother’s Ford SUV. I can’t help but notice the sleek black color and the specs of the vehicle. I compare the clean, shiny leather seats with my own faded soft polyester seats.
“Remi what’s the problem?” she asks, flicking back her braids with her well-manicured hands.
“Don’t mind this car jare. It just refused to start.” I reply with false cheer.
“Ah ah.” She replies, coming over to me. “Has it been giving you problems before?”
“I don’t even know.” I reply with an embarrassed smile.
“So what are you going to do?”
“I’ve told Dotun to go and call his Dad.”
Dayo comes down the stairs in his under shirt and trousers and I am angry. Why did he wear this slack t-shirt?
“Good morning Madam.” He says to Bimbo warmly.
“Good morning sir.”
Dayo gets into the car and starts it. The situation remains.
“I thought you serviced this engine…”
“And you’re sure that boy used an original engine oil?”
“Yes Dayo, I even bought it myself.”
“Which one did you buy?”
“The same one we’ve been buying!” I snap at him, unable to understand why he’s asking me such questions.
Bimbo clears her throat. “Err…. I should probably get going… I’ll call you… Have a nice day sir!”
“Thanks!” I reply with a forced smile.
“Thank you Madam, you too!” Dapo says then turns to me. “Maybe you should follow her. At least she’ll get you to the junction and then you can take a cab from there.”
“And how much will that cost?” I say more to myself than to him, going into the car to search my purse.
“Go and join her before she leaves.”
Reluctantly, I call out to Bimbo as she pulls out of her parking space.
“The problem was with the ignition.” Dayo says to me later in the day as we eat dinner.
“Yes, it’s been fixed.”
“I hope it didn’t cost too much?”
“No it didn’t, but I’m really tired of that car Remi.”
“I know… but what can we do? We can’t afford to get ourselves into more debt.”
He takes a break from his meal and rubs his eyes with both palms. “Just bear with me ehn?”
I smile at him and squeeze his hands. I know he’s doing his best.
My mother has come in to see us from Abeokuta, we have just finished talking about her niece’s wedding and the price of the aso-ebi. I’m already feeling much more tired than when I came in.
“Mummy, can we eat dinner now?” Dotun asks me, rubbing his stomach.
“But, I’m hungry.”
“My dear, have you eaten since you got back from school?” My mother asks.
“We ate gari.”
I sigh inaudibly, I know my mother will be unhappy about this.
“You ate gari?” she says facing me. “And you don’t want to give him food now?”
“Dotun, the food will soon be ready. Go and sit down.”
“Okay, but what are you cooking?”
“Go and sit down.” I reply sternly.
Instead of obeying me, my son wrinkles his nose. “Are you cooking beans again? Mummy but we ate that yesterday. I don’t want to eat beans!”
I stare hardly at my scowling son and imagine the punishments I’m going to mete out to him when my mother leaves.
“Dotun, if you don’t go and sit down now, you’re going to bed hungry!”
My mother stares at me as he walks away.
“How long will you continue like this Remi, is this the kind of life you want to be living?”
“Mummy what are you talking about?” I reply without looking at her, fiddling with the throw pillow on my laps.
“Your husband’s financial condition. That’s what I’m talking about! Remi, this is not the kind of life I wanted for you. Have you forgotten that you were the best student in your class? This is not the kind of life you should be living.”
“Mummy, what do you want me to do? I’m not happy about the way things are either but I can’t just leave my husband.”
“I’m not saying you should leave your husband, I’m saying get yourself a better job!”
“Most of the well-paying jobs are in Abuja…”
“Ehn ehn? Go to Abuja then!”
“And what happens to my boys?”
“You take them if you like…”
“He can follow you too! His job is not special, I’m sure there are many sales people in Abuja. You’re the one who is important. How long are you going to continue like this? If his own job is not enough to cater for the home, then you step up and be the man!”
“Yes! Look, I cannot see my child suffering for nothing’s sake and keep quiet.”
“My grandchildren are drinking garri. Did you ever see me doing that when you and your siblings were younger?”
I purse my lips and look away.
“Do something about this Remi.”
“Yes ma,” I reply and exhale slowly.