“What’s going on?” she asked temporarily dazed.
“You passed out…we… I…”
Olayinka’s memory returned and she stiffened. “You hit me!”
Helen and Obiora who had heard the arguments and the sudden thump on the floor above them were now knocking frantically on the door calling out their names.
Effiong opened the door and they barged in. “What’s going on?” Obiora asked. “Is Yinka alright? We heard something fall”
Effiong sighed. “I think you should take a look at her” He said to Helen.
“Daddy…” Sharon called eyes wild with fear, she had heard the commotion.
“Go to bed sweetie… everything is alright” Effiong said
“But I’m scared!”
“Why don’t I take you to bed dear?” Obiora offered and carried her.
“What happened?” Helen asked moving towards Olayinka and feeling her wrist for the rhythm of her pulse.
“I…I slapped her… She fell on the floor and passed out briefly” Effiong said shamefacedly.
“Are you alright?” Helen asked.
“Yeah…” she said rubbing her cheek
“Can you tell me what the date is?”
“I know what the date is, who I am and where I am… I also know that Effiong slapped me…” she said tearfully rising slowly with Helen’s help. As soon as she was seated on the bed, Helen found her a shirt to wear.
“Sorry” she said softly to her and then looked at Effiong who had also sat on the bed with his head in his hand. Obiora came in shortly.
“What happened here?” he demanded.
“Effiong slapped me because I refused to unlock my phone for him. Helen can you imagine that?” she said sobbing. “C…can you please just ask Effiong what I have done?” she said and broke down into pitiful tears.
Effiong got up and left the room followed closely by Obiora.
“You’ve barely said a word to me today? Are we fighting?” Banke asked Kunle who was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling.
“I don’t have anything to say to you” Kunle replied coldly.
“What do you mean you don’t have anything to say? We just had a child! I mean most husbands would at least say “I love you” or “How are you feeling?” but I haven’t gotten any of such from my beloved husband!” Banke indignantly
“And most wives I know would not go around discussing their family’s finances!” Kunle shot back.
Banke was quiet, wondering what Kunle could possibly be talking about. “I didn’t discuss our family’s finances with anyone…”
“Think very carefully about what you’re saying”
“Except…” Banke was saying
“And there we have it! Except who Banke?” Kunle asked, sitting up.
“My parents?…” Banke said timidly.
“Your father gave me a cheque this morning.” He said reaching into his pocket for it and throwing it at her. “You made me look inadequate just so you could satisfy your ridiculous fantasy and yet you expect me to ask you how you’re feeling!”
“But Kunle he’s your father too isn’t he?” Banke said sadly not understanding.
“And when last do you think I collected money from my biological father?”
“Okay Kunle I’m sorry” Banke said regretfully “I honestly didn’t see anything wrong with telling him about our finances…”
“Even when I specifically told you I would handle it?”
“I’m sorry…” Banke said reaching for his hand.
“Yeah, me too” Kunle replied snatching his hands away and rising from the bed.
Peace wrung her fingers feeling self-conscious. Madam was asking her a very personal question and she wondered why.
“Yes ma”she replied timidly.
“Do you know how to calculate it? Do you know when next to expect it?”Ronke asked
“No o…”Peace answered amused, how did anyone calculate such things? It was a natural phenomenon and she just expected it.
“So how will you know when it doesn’t come?”
“I don’t know” Peace said bashfully, this conversation was becoming more uncomfortable.
“Don’t you know that if it doesn’t come you are pregnant? Didn’t your mother tell you that? Do you want to be pregnant?” she queried the now frightened girl.
“Ah no ma!” Peace replied enthusiatically
“Good. You better not even be pregnant because if you do you’ll go back to your father’s house. Do you hear me?” she said holding her ear for emphasis.
“So don’t let boys touch you or you’ll get pregnant!”
“Yes ma!” Peace replied kneeling. This touching thing was going to be a problem. She had touched a lot of boys for several reasons; passed notes in class, held Posi’s hands on the road several times, kissed Ayodele, helped an old man cross the road yesterday. Did that mean she was pregnant and for all of them? Peace was terrified but she didn’t have the confidence to ask her Madam who hadn’t even taught her how to calculate her monthly period.
“I’m terribly hungry! How long will it take you to bring the food?” Ronke asked impatiently.
“I’m coming ma!” Peace answered, distracted from her thoughts.
Ronke settled on the bed, stretching and easing out the day’s tension. She replayed the day’s events and made a mental note to see a debtor the next day, go to Posi’s school for the P.T.A meeting, pick up cartons of noodles and also pick up the outlines for Sunday when she remembered.
She hadn’t taught Peace how to calculate the dates! She got up from the bed and walked towards the dressing table picking up the table calendar.
“What are you doing?” Dapo asked
“I want to teach Peace how to calculate her menstrual cycle.”
“Can’t it wait till tomorrow morning?”
“I want to do it before i forget”
“If you say so” Dapo said shrugging, his wife was looking incredible tonight.
Ronke got into the hallway and saw Ayodele coming from the sitting room where Peace slept.
“What are you doing here?” Ronke asked
“I came to get my phone” He answered quickly.
“Are you sure?” Ronke asked suspiciously.
“Okay, goodnight” She said to him making her way towards Peace. “Peace! Wake up, I forgot to teach you that thing. Sit up” she ordered
“Yes ma” she said rising.
“So this is how you do it, you have to know the last date you began your period and then count the days in between then to the next period. The number of days is your cycle. So from then you’ll…” She saw that the girl was not getting it.
“For example, if you started your period on the seventh last month and you know that your cycle is thirty days it means you’ll…” Ronke stopped. She suddenly realised she had missed her period in the last month. She studied the calendar to see how many days she was late.