People underestimated Iya Ibeji a lot because she had a small frame. It was only those she had worked with that could attest to the fact that she was a very hardworking woman, undeterred by her size. She had cleaned Ronke’s house and laundered all their clothes for seven years without any problems, so when Ronke asked her to help her find a maid she was not only shocked but offended. Therefore she decided to show Ronke that she could not be used and discarded so thoughtlessly.
She called her back soon enough to let her know she had found someone to serve as her maid. The catch however was that she was bringing someone close to home to fill this position, that way her steady supply of cash from Ronke would not cease. she sat down now on the sofa shaking her legs and wondering what was taking Ronke so long to attend to them.
Ronke came into the sitting room moments later smelling of garlic. “Sorry Iya Ibeji I wanted to put the meat on the burner before I came here so that I can do two things at the same time.” She said laughing.
“No problem ma” Iya Ibeji said with a fake smile. “So this is the girl, her name is Peace”
“Okay, Peace how are you?” she said to the girl who was already on her knees in greeting.
“So she can speak English” Ronke said surprised.
“Ah yes o! in fact she’s one of the best in her class and that is why her father insisted that she must continue her education here.”
“That won’t be a problem, there is a public school just outside the estate. I hope you can work very well?” she asked Peace.
“Ah you don’t have to worry about that, she’s very agile. After working for you all these years, I won’t bring you a lazy child now will I?”Iya Ibeji added.
“So how did you say you’re related to her again?” Ronke asked curiously.
“She’s my older brother’s daughter.”
“No wonder! You look so much alike.”
“A lot of people say that” Iya Ibeji replied laughing. “I have to get going now, one woman is waiting for me down this street to clean her house”
“Iya Ibeji! The ever enterprising woman!” Ronke hailed her.
“That’s me o! Can she see me off to the gate, I just want to encourage her a little more.”
In front of the gate Iya Ibeji faced Peace and said to her. “Remember where you’re coming from and behave yourself. Ah ah! Are you crying again?” She said to Peace who had obviously been doing her best to keep her emotions in check. “Wipe your eyes and toughen up! We have not brought you to a foreign land. Besides, I’ll always check up on you. “
“Yes ma” Peace said solemnly.
“Do not forget, you must never let anyone know I’m your mother!” Iya Ibeji opened the gate and walked out.
Ayodele, Ronke’s first child was in his room stewing over the disagreement he had had with his Dad, Dapo. He had been sent on an errand to buy a recharge card and had sincerely forgotten to return his father’s change but Dapo believed he was deliberately trying to rip him off. No explanation was good enough, he had called him a “good-for-nothing child who did not have the fear of God”. His father barely said anything nice to him or complimented him over his achievements.
His younger siblings Joke and Posi soon burst into his room excited about a game they were playing on their father’s tablet.
“You people should stop making noise jo!” He snapped at them. Soon however, they were all engrossed in the game and then they began to take turns playing it. Ayodele however decided that he would get more than his turn because he was older.
“It’s not fair. It’s my turn!” Joke said.
“Don’t you know I’m older than you!” Ayodele responded.
“That doesn’t mean you should cheat! Give it to me!” Joke protested struggling over the tablet.
“Oh!!! Stop fighting!” Posi said in his small childish voice.
Ayodele and Joke now had the tablet in their hands, the older one struggling with his teenage energy and the younger fiesty one refusing to back down. Suddenly Ayodele pulled back the tablet with so much force that his sister let go, flinging Ayodele back to the ground. The tablet fell out of his hand and landed on the floor. The children froze for the next few seconds until Ayodele walked towards it and gingerly picked it up. The screen had cracked from one end to another.
“Yei! I’m dead, Daddy will kill me!” Ayodele placed one hand on his head wishing the ground would open up and swallow him.
“See I told you to stop fighting!” Posi cried
“It’s all your fault!” Ayodele said.
“It’s your fault, you were cheating!” Joke retorted.
Ayodele realised that the blame game was taking them nowhere and he was still in trouble. A plan hatched in his mind.
“Posi tell Daddy you did it” he said
“Daddy won’t beat you, you know you’re the favourite child. Please now! Do you want Daddy to kill me?” That last statement helped Posi make up his mind.
“Okay…” He said reluctantly.
“But what if Daddy kills me?” Dapo said suddenly.
“Daddy can never kill you. You’re his baby”
“Posi…” Dapo their father called as if on cue.
“What happened here? Is that my tablet?!” Dapo asked furiously
“Daddy it was Posi…” Ayodele said tentatively
“Ehn Posi! Is that true?”
“Yes Daddy… please don’t kill me!” Posi begged fearfully
“I will never kill you my baby ehn. But how did you break it?”
“It was….it…” Posi fumbled, his little mind hadn’t thought of this question.
“He was jumping up and down and it fell from his hands.”
“Is that so?”
Dapo sighed, he had bought the tablet two weeks ago but as Ayodele rightly surmised Posi was his baby.
“It’s alright” He said finally.