All the visitors left Tomi behind with her Grandmother when she insisted she wasn’t coming along. Amir however urged her to put on her phone to enable communication.
After everyone had left, Tomi was about walking into the bedroom when her grandmother called her back.
“Have a seat I want to talk to you.” Grandma said.
“Ohhhh! Grandma not again! I’m so tired I want to rest.” Tomi grumbled.
“Sit down my friend and listen to me!” Grandma instructed while Tomi reluctantly sat beside her grandmother. Grandmother stared at her for a while before speaking.
“What exactly are you up to?” Grandma asked softly.
“What do you mean ma?” She asked back in confusion.
“Since you have refused to follow your husband, what are you up to?” Grandma reiterated.
“I don’t know. I’m confused. Polygamy is the last thing on my mind.” Tomi replied bitterly.
“So what do you want to do?”
“I don’t really know. Maybe have this child and then move on with my life.” Tomi replied.
“Okay.” Mama replied unsatisfactorily and walked into the bedroom.
“Maami what do you mean by okay?” Tomi’s voice trailed the woman but she ignored her and walked inside.
That evening, mama made semovita for dinner but Tomi said she wasn’t eating semo but rice. The old woman told her to please herself. Tomi squeezed her face unhappily, walked into the kitchen and made some rice. After the rice was done, she couldn’t eat it as the food nauseated her. She left the food on the table and walked into the bedroom where she met her grandmother already lying on the bed. She tapped the woman gently and complained that she couldn’t eat the food that she made but the woman didn’t respond but feigned snoring instead.
“Grandma I know you’re not sleeping o. I am hungry and I couldn’t eat the rice I made o.” Tomi complained but her grandmother raised her snoring to power 10.
Tomi moved nearer to her and shook her vigorously but Mama didn’t respond. After a while, she left the old woman and walked back into the kitchen. She looked around for what to eat but nothing seems to appeal to her appetite. She was really hungry, the pang of hunger was pricking her hard and she was on the verge of crying when it struck her that she could have some tea. She quickly reached for a cup and made some tea. She gulped it down in haste and the tea came down in haste while the content was spilled all over the floor. She burst into tears as she went in search of a broom and dust pan to pack the rubbish.
After she was done with packing the rubbish and cleaning the floor, she sat in one corner of the kitchen and wept like a baby. Hunger is a killer especially in a state of pregnancy. After weeping for some time, she walked back into the bedroom to wake her grandmother but this time Mama was fast asleep for real. She hissed and walked into the living room. A glance at the wall-clock says 9:20pm. She sank herself into the sofa as she held her tummy in pain. She was still groaning in the pains of unbearable hunger when something struck her mind.
There’s a mama put joint behind the house. She smiled as the thought crossed her mind. She got dressed and quickly dashed out. By the time she got there, the woman was already locking her door. Tomi ran to her and told her she wanted some food.
“As you can see, we are closed for the day.” The woman said while Tomi burst into tears.
“No, you can’t be closed o. I need to eat this night or else I won’t be able to sleep o.” Tomi said amidst tears.
“Excuse me please you can’t stop me. I normally close by 9:00pm, and this is 9:25, I have passed the closing time. Next time don’t come so late.” The woman said and went on to lock her door while Tomi watched helplessly with tears dripping in her eyes. The woman was now leaving but Tomi pulled her back.
“Please don’t let me die with this pregnancy!” Tomi pleaded with teary eyes.
“You’re pregnant?” The woman screamed and Tomi nodded her head.
“I thought as much. Why would a grown up lady be crying for food if not because she’s pregnant. What do you want to eat?” The woman asked while opening back her shop.
“I want rice.” Tomi replied weakly. “Thank you so much, I really appreciate your understanding.
“You’re welcome. I am a woman and I understand that the pang of hunger in a state of pregnancy could be severe. Don’t worry, the food will be done soon.” The woman said as she washed the rice and poured into the hot water on the fire.
After some minutes, the food was done and Tomi ate to her fill without leaving a grain of rice inside the plate. She heaved a sigh of relief, thanked the woman and prayed heartily for her. She payed for the food and went home. By the time she got back home it was past 10:00pm and her grandmother was already up and waiting for her. The old woman screamed immediately she sighted her.
“Where have you been?” Mama screamed.
“So you’re awake? I was trying to wake you that I’m hungry you pretended as if you’re sleeping. I couldn’t eat the rice I made so I went to Mama Bola behind the house.” Tomi explained and Mama felt disgusted.
“Yuck! Mama Bola! That dirty woman?” Mama marveled.
“I don’t care if she’s dirty or a pig. If she likes let her make the food with urine, as long as I’m able to eat it without throwing up, I’ll eat it…………Ehn ehn maami, lest I forget, why was I unable to eat the rice I made and was able to eat same rice being prepared by another person?” Tomi asked curiously.
“It happens to some pregnant women like that. Don’t worry, I’ll be making your food henceforth. I don’t want you to eat Mama Bola’s food again.” Mama said displeasingly but Tomi objected.
“Don’t worry maami. Don’t let me bother you. Mama Bola’s food is bae.” Tomi expressed with smiles and without waiting for Mama’s reply, she walked into the bedroom.
Mama hissed as she thought her plan has failed. She deliberately didn’t make food for her because she wanted her to miss her husband and go back home. She also lied that mama Bola is dirty so that she would be discouraged from eating her food but Tomi wasn’t conceding any of her gimmick. She shook her head and walked back into the bedroom.
The following day, Tomi ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at Mama Bola’s place and this continued for two more weeks before Mama Bola’s sudden absence. She was so used to Mama Bola’s food that Mama’s food tasted sour on her tongue. Mama’s food not only tasted sour but every bite comes with throwing up. She started craving for ‘better’ food.
She’d spent three weeks with mama after the day of the reconciliation. Every single day her husband calls to check up on her and ask if she was ready for him to come pick her and her response was always no. He would propose to pay her a visit but she would reject his proposal. He however sent money for her upkeep which she wouldn’t reject.
One Saturday morning, she vomited mama’s food as usual and was lamenting loudly in the living room.
“I don’t know where this Mama Bola has suddenly disappeared to. This place is too local hence Mama Bola’s monopoly of business. If it were to be Lagos, there are one thousand and one Mama put joint plus sophisticated eatery that one will not even feel the absence of a particular person.” Tomi lamented with hiss.
“I think you should go back to Lagos!” Mama who had been listening silently to her lamentation suggested.
“Where should I go to in Lagos?” Tomi asked with a twist of her mouth.
“What a question! Where else would you go in Lagos if not your husband’s house. Look here young lady! You’re just punishing yourself for nothing. In this state that you are, you need love, affection and attention from the man who puts you in the family way. Why deprive yourself of happiness when no one is depriving you. A pregnant woman deserves all the queen’s treatment she could get from her husband. She deserves pampering and coddle. He should be the one to rub your back, massage your body, kiss your tummy, stroke your feet and caress your whole body. He should be the one to make your food instead of bothering me because I’m not the one that impregnated you………………………” Mama was saying but Tomi interrupted her.
“I’m sorry for being a burden to you but you don’t expect me to go back to a man simply because of food.” Tomi objected.
“And who says you should go back to him because of food. He’s your husband. He impregnated you hence you’re his responsibility now and forever.” Mama argued.
“I understand that he’s responsible for my pregnancy but I don’t want to go into polygamy don’t you get it.”
“And can you undo the fact that the man who got you pregnant is a married man? Why is it is so difficult for you to accept destiny. Every woman won’t marry a single man I hope you know?”
“Yes I know but not in a deceitful way.”
“Are we still having this conversation? Like seriously? Why do you find it difficult to let go and forgive the wrong done to you. Happiness comes to those who let go and forgive. If you continue to hold on to the past then you’re only hurting and harming yourself.”
“Hmmmmm, so how do I cope with polygamy?”
“Good, that’s the question you should be asking. Amir told me he’s not putting both of you under the same roof which makes it easier. Whenever he’s with you, make the best use of those times. When he’s not with you, consider him to have travelled and attend to your own personal growth. Put yourself in the shoes of the woman whose husband works away from home. Your own time is when he is at home while the other woman’s time is when he’s away at work. Pray to God to ease it for you. Have good intentions towards your co. Call to ask after her once in a while and pay her a visit once in a blue moon. Don’t be bothered about what your husband does with her. You might be married to the same man but your marriages are different. The rest of it you learn as you journey through it.”
“So I won’t be seeing my husband everyday?”
“Seems like it. The earlier you accept your fate and start getting used to it the better. Do you know Hameedah, the daughter of my friend?”
“Yes, what about her?”
“Her husband is not in Nigeria. Her husband is in far away Scotland. He comes home only twice in a year and she hasn’t die. Husband’s absence does not kill. Learn to live without him and be independent of him. A man does not even like a weak woman who can’t take charge in his absence.”
“Hmmmm.” Tomi Sighed deeply.
“Stop Hmming and go pack your bags.” Mama said while Tomi’s phone beeped. It was an unknown number. She picked the call but the network was bad. She couldn’t hear what the person from the other end was saying so she dropped the phone on the table without ending the call.
“Maami not so fast jare. Let me stay here a little longer. I’m very hungry I think I want pizza.”
“Pi Kini? What in God’s name is that? Call your husband to bring you pizza and don’t send me to an early grave”
“Are you now tired of me?”
“If I’m not tired of you where do you want me to get pizza? Please I’m going to Landlord’s meeting.” Mama said and walked out.
Tomi walked into the kitchen after Mama left and looked around for what to eat but nothing caught her fancy. She then got dressed, picked her purse and went outside. She had nowhere in mind, she was just walking aimlessly round the street. She asked the people she met on the way where she could get pizza. All of them responded exactly the way her grandmother did ‘pi kini?”
She hissed severally and continued walking. She met another young man and asked him where she could get Pizza around.
“Where did you come from?” The man asked Tomi.
“What do you mean?” She asked back.
“I’m asking because I know you must be a JJC. Where do you want to get pizza around here? The nearest place you can get pizza is Ibadan.” The man burst her bubble.
“Ibadan.” The man echoed and walked away while Tomi sob quietly.
She checked her wrist-watch. She’d actually wandered for over an hour. She decided she was going to Ibadan to get Pizza. The money with her could not take her to Ibadan and buy pizza at the same time so she decided to go back home and take her ATM card. She walked back home slowly because she was really tired. She thought she could order if weakness would not permit her to go to Ibadan. With this thought, she entered the living room and the person she saw sent her aback.
Alas! It was Amir, her husband. She stood on the spot and stared at him in dismay. After a while, she shifted her gaze from him and her eyes caught a pack on the table. On the pack was written ‘Domino’s Pizza’ her lips formed a delicious smile as she quickly move forward to grab the pack of Pizza. She doesn’t even care to know where it came from. She opened it immediately and devoured the family size pack of pizza like a hungry Lion. She ate the whole pizza before realizing both Mama and Amir were watching her as she ate.
On the table were bottles of Habeeb yoghurt. She took one and washed the pizza down with it. She heaved a sigh of relief. Now her ears could hear what was going on around her. She rested her back on the chair while mama shook her head and spoke.
“You didn’t even ask where the pizza came from.” Mama asked.
“Sebi I told you I wanted to eat pizza. You must have gotten it anyhow.” She replied.
“See your mouth like anyhow. Do I even know where to get it? It’s your husband that brought pizza o. he said he called you and overheard you telling me that you wanted pizza……..” Mama was saying when Tomi interrupted.
“So you were the one that called with an unknown number?” Tomi asked Amir.
“Yes that was my friend’s number, my battery was dead. I was in Ibadan since yesterday and I called to tell you I wanted to come here when I heard you telling mama you wanted pizza. I quickly went to Ring Road to get one. Hope you enjoyed it.” He asked.
“Yes I did. Didn’t you see me devoured it like my whole existence depended on it?” Tomi replied and both Mama and Amir laughed. Mama excused them and walked inside.
“So how have you been?” Amir asked.
“I’m good except hunger has been dealing seriously with me.”
“Let’s go home.” He whispered but she didn’t reply.
“Let’s go home.” He repeated yet she kept quiet.
“Are you still angry with me?”
“No. At last you’ve won me over with pizza but.” She replied softly.
“I don’t know how I’ll cope with polygamy.” She said and broke into tears.
He got up and sat beside her. He wiped her tears with his hands and enclosed her body in his.
“Don’t worry. I’ll try and make up for my wrong. I’m sorry for putting your foot where you do not wish to go. I promise to be good to you. You should try and be good too and I’m sure your co has no problem. She’s a good woman. I owe both of you the responsibility of being receptive, responsive and responsible. I hurt you as much as I hurt her and I have sought for her forgiveness. She has a very sweet heart so she’s forgiven me already………………..
“So are you saying I have a bitter heart for taking so long to forgive you?” Tomi protested.
“No I didn’t say that……………Wait a minute! Are you already struggling to be in my good book?” He teased.
“Leave me joor!” She said with smiles.
“I have missed those smiles of yours. You should continue to smile like this you know.”
“Yes I’ll continue to smile as long as you make me happy. No more lies and no more secrets no matter how small. Give me a reason to trust you. I want to trust you because I can’t live with a man I don’t trust.”
“I promise, no more lies and no more secrets. I want you to trust me and I’ll work hard to earn back your trust.” He assured and she stared deeply at him without looking away.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” He asked with smiles.
“Father of four! Who would have known you have four kids already with this fine face and physique. I actually fall for this mchhh!” She shook her head.
“Yours too will join in no time and I’ll be father of five. Even if I have 20 kids I’ll still be like this. A beautiful body is a family endowment I inherited. Didn’t you see my father? As old as he is, he can still woo a 20 year old lady.” Amir boasted.
“What a mouthy fellow!…………………..Ouch!!!!” Tomi let out a sharp noise.
“What is it?” Amir expressed worriedly.
“Didn’t you hear a rumble in my tummy? I think I’m hungry again o. Is it only one pack of pizza that you bought?”
“That was actually the biggest pack. I didn’t even expect you to finish it.”
“What are you now saying? That I’m a glutton? Is it not your baby that made me like this?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean that. Let’s go home and I’ll feed you with pizza everyday.” Amir said with smiles.
“Do you now want to lure me with food?”
“No…………………..Okay, let me put it rightly. Let’s go home my queen. I love you, I’ve missed you and I can’t wait to have you back home.”
“Better.” She replied with smiles.
Amir stayed till afternoon and after the Zuhr prayer, the couple bade grandma goodbye and left after she admonished them and prayed for them.
He took her to a well furnished three bedroom apartment in Magodo area of Lagos. He told her he’d informed his wife that he was going to get her and after doing so would be spending the next five days with her. Before bedtime, Tomi picked her phone and dialed Aminah’s number and the following conversation ensued between them.
“Asalam Alaykum ma. It’s me Tomi.”
“Yes I’ve heard your voice. How are you?”
“I am fine ma. How are you too and my lovely kids?”
“Alhamdulillah, we’re all very fine.”
“I want to inform you that I’m now in Lagos…………………….Errrrm Ermmm, our husband said he’ll be spending the next five days here, did he tell you?”
“Yes he told me. Why are you asking me, don’t you believe him?”
“Not like that ma, I just wanted to be sure you’re aware. Okay my regards to the lovely champs and have a beautiful night rest.” Tomi said and Aminah replied with ‘And you too’ and the call was ended.
Tomi turned back and her gaze met with Amir who’d been obviously standing behind her without her knowledge with a dazed expression.
“Subhan’Allah! Subhan’Allah!! Subhan’Allah!!!” Amir exclaimed.
“What is it?” Tomi asked with confusion.
“You mean you don’t trust me?”
“I’m sorry, I just wanted to be sure………………..”
“Oh no, you disgust me.” He said and walked into the bedroom.
“I’m sorry please now.”
“When I told you that you can trust me now, do you think I was fooling around? A marriage without trust is dead and that is why I’m striving so hard to earn back your trust but it seems my efforts are not appreciated.”
“I am sorry uhn. I’ll always trust you henceforth please don’t be crossed with me.” She said and hugged him.
“Are you sure you won’t doubt me again?”
“I cross my heart.” She replied and he embraced her too.
They went to bed and at about 2:00am in the morning, Tomi got up and woke her husband.
“Why ain’t you sleeping by this time?” Amir asked amidst sleep.
“I can’t sleep. I’m in pain.”
“Pain? What happened? Where?” He expressed worriedly while touching all parts of her body.
“It’s not a physical pain. I’m hungry.” She replied.
“Hungry? At this time?”
“Yes I’m hungry.”
“Okay go into the kitchen and make whatever you want to eat.”
“Maybe I didn’t tell you, I’m always unable to eat whatever food I make by myself o.”
“What!” He exclaimed.
“Yes so get up and make me something to eat. I’m very hungry.”
“Ohhhhhhhh! So what do you want to eat?”
“I want moi-moi.”
“Moi-moi at this time?” He exclaimed loudly.
“Yes that’s what I want to eat.”
To be continued
LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH