Amir unconsciously slept off after Tomi announced her cravings for moi-moi. She tapped him to get up but the sleep was intoxicating him badly. A thought crossed her mind and she got up and rushed to the bathroom. She came out with a bowl of water and then sprinkled some water on his face. He quickly jumped up and shouted at her.
“What is the meaning of all this?” He shouted.
“I’m hungry. I can’t sleep, don’t you get it! I want moi-moi.” Tomi expressed while staring hard at him.
“Okay Okay………………go and peel the beans then call me after you’re done.” He said with one eye open and attempted to lie down again but she pulled him up.
“I can’t peel the beans o. If I get involved in the process of cooking I won’t be able to eat the food.” Tomi responded.
“You mean I’ll be the one to peel the beans too?” He screamed.
“Yes now. You’ll do everything.” She replied while he stared strangely at her for some seconds before getting up and headed to the kitchen. He paused at the door to say something.
“Won’t you come along? He asked.
“I’m too weak. I can’t stand on my feet.”
“You can’t stand on your feet but you were able to get water from the bathroom.”
“Ohhhhh! You’re wasting a lot of time. I am hungry please!” She chided while he shook his head and walked out.
After he left, she tried to sleep but the sleep wouldn’t come. She got up and paced up and down the room while holding her tummy. Her eyes caught a freezer inside the room and she quickly opened and saw some can malt. She picked one, opened and gulped it down. That eased her hunger a bit and she was able to sleep. By the time Amir was through with the cooking after over an hour, she was already fast asleep.
He tried to wake her but she wasn’t coming around. He thought to pay her back in her own coin. He got some water and sprinkled on her face. She jumped up and shouted too.
“What are you doing?” She shouted.
“Exactly what you did a while back.”
“Why are you so petty?”
“That’s the only thing I can do to get you up. I’ve been trying to wake you for the past 5 minutes. Your moi-moi is ready. Don’t waste my effort. Enjoy it.” He said while putting the tray on her hands and went back to sleep.
She collected the tray sleepily. She wasn’t as hungry as before. The malt she took had probably reduced her hunger but she couldn’t resist the aroma of the moi-moi in front of her. She unwrapped it and hesitantly had a bite. It tasted so well and she quickly had a second bite. She finished it in no time and was craving for more. She walked into the kitchen and served some more. She sat on the floor of the kitchen as she ate and unwrapped new ones. She eventually finished all the seven wraps of moi-moi before morning.
It was already Subh time and she thought to pray before going back to bed. She walked into the bedroom to wake her husband but he was already up.
“Were you eating the whole kitchen?” He teased.
“I actually ate the whole kitchen.” She replied with humour and quickly added. “Thanks for the moi-moi. It was so yummy. I finished everything in one sitting.”
“What!!!” He exclaimed.
“Even I am surprised at myself. I don’t know how I turned into a glutton overnight.” She expressed calmly.
“It’s fine. It’s because of your condition I understand. Don’t worry I’ll be your chef for the next 7 months.” He assured.
“And that’ll be enjoyment galore for me! You’re such a good cook, who thought you how to cook?”
“My mum of course. In my house there’s nothing like chores discrimination. Boys cook as well as girls. There’s nothing I can’t do except that which I don’t want to do.” He boasted.
“Wawuuuuu!!!! That’s impressive! I’m definitely in for a great treat. Only that I don’t know how I’ll cope when you’re away at my co’s.” She expressed dully while going to sit on the bed.
He joined her on the bed and sat beside her. He placed his hands on her palm and turned her face to face his.
“Don’t worry, I’ll cook the meal that’ll last for a week then refrigerate. The electricity here is very good. All you need do is take whatever you want to eat and heat it…………………..
“No, I don’t like frozen food o. You can’t compare frozen food with fresh food, I don’t want.” She said and shook her head.
He thought for a while before responding.
“Okay, there’s a fast food joint down the street, you can be their customer. How about that?” He asked with a smile.
“That’s better only that I can’t stay alone in this house when you’re away.” She grumbled.
“Teslimah, she can come stay here.” Amir suggested.
“That’s not possible. How will my dad cope if Teslimah leaves the house? My dad needs her more than I do.” Tomi shook her head while Amir thought for a while.
“Okay……….I have a niece. Her name is Fatia. She just finished her SSCE exams so I’ll try and talk to her mother. She’ll be here while waiting for admission.” Amir said while Tomi impulsively ran into his embrace.
“Oh that’s very thoughtful of you. You’re really a darling!” She expressed happily with a grin.
“Anything for you and my baby.” He said while kissing her forehead.
They observed the Subh prayer and went back to bed.
Amir spent the next five days with Tomi while Fatia, his niece arrived a day before his departure. By this time, Tomi had already began the NYSC program but was exempted from camp because of her condition so she was home. Amir shuttled between his two wives houses with an allocation and devotion of five days to each of them.
Whenever he wasn’t around, Tomi would missed him greatly especially when the so called niece is an introvert. She could be in her room for days without coming out. Fatia doesn’t give room for friendship. It was just the normal ‘good morning or asalam alaykum. She does the chores once in a while if she feels like and returned to her room. Tomi got her ass together and does her chores by herself. It was only cooking she doesn’t do and that was because she wouldn’t be able to eat it. She was beginning to get bored and missing her husband’s five days absence so dearly. She tried to get friendly with Fatia but the latter wanted to keep her distance. On some occasions she would decide to initiate a discussion but Fatia would be cold and she would have no option but to leave her alone. She thought she was just being herself, an introvert but how wrong was she.
Two months after Tomi returned to Lagos, Amir organized a family time-out in his first wife’s place. He came to pick Tomi and Fatia and they headed to Ikeja where Aminah stays. That was the first time Tomi would be visiting her co and she received her with open arms. Fatia displayed a strange cheerfulness with Aminah which got Tomi surprised. She couldn’t believe she could be as cheerful as that. She watched on as Fatia began to give Aminah the gist of the universe while they both giggled and laughed.
Tomi joined in the kitchen and assisted with cooking. She practically does the bulk of the work while Fatia sat on the stool with Aminah as they continued their gist. Tomi felt the urge to visit the toilet and she excused herself.
She was coming back when she heard Fatia mentioned her name. She paused at the door to eavesdrop their conversation and know why her name was being mentioned.
“Don’t mind aunty Tomi, she’s just a pretender.” Fatia started.
“How do you mean?” Aminah queried.
“She’s cooking here as if she cooks at home. She doesn’t cook at home o. in fact she doesn’t do anything except to eat and sleep. She can sleep for Africa. It is my uncle that does the cooking whenever he’s around, what nonsense.” Fatia remarked.
“Well…………whatever that goes on there is none of my business. So why should I be bothered, after all your uncle isn’t complaining, is he?” Aminah replied unperturbed.
“You should be bothered because he’s cheating you. I stayed here in the past and I never saw him cook the meal even for once so why should he cook for her?” Fatia pointed out again.
“A lot of things might be responsible. She’s pregnant. Some pregnant women are always unable to eat whatever meal they make themselves. She might be in that category…………….
“It’s a lie………I think she’s just lazy and he’s over pampering her. Why wouldn’t he cook for you but her.” Fatia argued.
“Now you’re taking this too far. I’m always agile during pregnancy. I can cook and eat my meals. I don’t vomit, neither do I sleep too much. Our body differs.” Aminah explained.
“Okay let’s agree that our body differs, is it not good to pamper a pregnant woman? He should cook for you too even though you can cook and eat the food you make. He’s just being unfair. And do you know that she’s on Facebook? And my uncle did not allow you to have a Facebook account, it’s very unfair.” Fatia protested and Aminah laughed out.
“Why are you using paracetamol for my headache? Okay don’t worry, when next I’m pregnant I’ll also request him to cook for me, is that all?” Aminah replied just to shut her up. “And one more thing, please don’t treat Tomi badly because you’re advocating for me. I didn’t send you. My husband may not have cooked for me before like he does for her but he doesn’t maltreat me, neither does he deny me of my rights. And about the facebook issue, it was initially his order but he later changed his stance but I wasn’t interested again. Please be good to Tomi and don’t try to take out anything on her, like I said earlier, I did not send you.”
“I don’t like her one bit.” Fatia said with disgust.
“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Keep quiet and go check what’s on the fire.” Aminah said dismissing any further negativity from Fatia.
Tomi’s legs felt heavy on the floor. It was so heavy that she couldn’t lift them. Her eyes were filled with tears. When she was eventually able to carry her legs, she ran to the guest room instead of returning to the kitchen. She broke into loud tears with the thought that she’d been living with a venom all the while. She thought Fatia was an introvert not knowing that her behavior was borne out of hatred for her.
One hour later, one of Amir’s son’s came to knock on her door that food was ready. She quickly rushed to the bathroom to wash her face after which she opened the door and told the boy she would join them soon. She went out to join the family on the table. She began to eat and it wasn’t long after when Fatia decided to taunt her.
“Aunty Tomi you’re eating! You made the food now, I thought you can’t eat the food you make by yourself.” Fatia taunted while Amir ordered her to keep quiet.
“Keep quiet you fool!” Amir instructed.
“Honey it’s okay, I’ll reply her.” Tomi replied.
“The food was a joint effort and not solely made by me and besides, my grandmother raised me well, she taught me not to reject food where I’m in the position of a visitor.” Tomi replied calmly.
“I see!” Fatia replied with sarcasm.
“You honestly shouldn’t have replied her.” Amir cuts in.
“Don’t mind her Tomi. She’s just a silly girl.” Aminah expressed while casting Fatia a nasty look.
“Now let’s all eat in silence!” Amir instructed and the rest of the meal was eaten in silence.
They left Aminah’s place in the evening and returned to Tomi’s place. It was Tomi’s turn for the five days allocation and Amir would be spending the night. At bedtime, Tomi layed on the bed and was unusually quiet. Amir asked what was wrong but she replied with nothing but she wasn’t responding to what he was telling her. Suddenly she sat on the bed and fixed her gaze on him.
“What is the problem?” He queried.
“Why?” Tomi asked
“Why didn’t you treat your wife rightly?”
“What!!! What did she tell you?” Amir screamed.
“She didn’t tell me anything, please answer my question.
“I don’t know what you heard and I don’t know your definition of ‘rightly’ but I have never denied my wife of any right. And I never treated her badly. I might not be perfect in the discharge of my roles but I’m not guilty of an ill treatment.” Amir explained.
“You’re such a good cook, why didn’t you for once cooked for her whenever she’s pregnant? At least to pamper and relief her burden.” Tomi accused.
“I don’t believe you didn’t hear anything with all you’re saying. Anyways, it’s true I never cooked for her while pregnant like I’m doing for you and that’s because she never requested for it and I thought she was fine and coping well with the chores. I never thought a man could pamper his wife by cooking for her until I married you. If your condition didn’t warrant my cooking for you I wouldn’t have because I’m still the same Amir. That doesn’t mean I’m being unfair to her or unjust or treating you better.”
“Well, now you know that a man should relief his wife of cooking once in a while even without her requesting. You should start doing same for her as well.”
“But she’s not pregnant.”
“She doesn’t have to be pregnant. Just pamper her once in a while and you’ll see that she’ll appreciate you more. Some women don’t request for some things but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate it if done to them.”
“Are you sure Aminah didn’t tell you anything?”
“Wallah she didn’t tell me anything. You didn’t exaggerate when you said she’s a good woman. She really is and may Allah shower his blessings on her. More reasons why you should be good to her always. She didn’t tell me anything actually, it’s just that some spectators are watching us with 100% attention. They’ll stop at nothing to compare and contrast the relationship you have with me with that of my co. They want all you do for me to be done for her which is not out of place. Any deficiency would be picked up and broadcasted by them and I don’t want that to happen. Please darling, do your best to be just and may Allah strengthen you.” Tomi prayed.
“Aamin. Why will I love you less? You’re such an angel.” Amir remarked delightedly.
“Which makes you the husband of two angels.” Tomi teased with smiles.
“Oh yes, I’m blessed. I’m indisputably blessed.” He expressed with a grin.
Later that night, Amir had been fast asleep beside Tomi but Tomi couldn’t sleep. Her mind was worried. If she wanted to act weird she would have told Amir the kind of girl Fatia is and ordered for her immediate evacuation but family issue is very sensitive and she wanted to be careful. Her mind was occupied with several thoughts and she finally decided to win Fatia’s heart by being extremely good to her.
The following day, she went to a shopping mall and got some nice lingeries and a roll-on deodorant. She returned home and met Fatia in the kitchen preparing a meal. She smiled at her and greeted her. Fatia responded coldly and continued her work. Tomi smiled again and brought out the stuffs she bought for her.
“I got this for you.” Tomi said with smiles while Fatia collected it hesitantly without saying thank you.
“They are nice, you’ll like them.” Tomi said with smiles and walked to her room.
Moments later, Fatia knocked on Tomi’s door and immediately the former opened the door, she handed over the stuffs back to her and turned back while Tomi quickly called her back.
“Wait a minute please. May I know why you’re giving this back to me?”
“The lingeries are not my size.”
“Okay, what about the roll-on?”
“I don’t like the fragrance.” She replied coldly and walked briskly away while Tomi heaved a very long and dejected smile.
She entered her room and sat weakly on the bed. She felt dejected and unhappy. She doesn’t know why she felt so dejected about an I8 year old girl she should have scolded and ignored. A girl who was same age with Teslimah, her kid sister. Could it be true that the lingeries does not fit her or she was just trying to be problematic? She bought Teslimah’s size because she felt they have the same stature. Could she supposed to have asked for her size before buying? ‘Maybe I should have’ She tried to shift the blame on herself. She doesn’t like a toxic environment so she decided to try harder to win her love.
She continued to be good to her but the girl wasn’t coming around. The three weeks orientation camping program Tomi was exempted from had finished so she was posted to a hospital for her primary assignment since her course of study was science laboratory technology to serve in their laboratory.
One day after close of work, she was heading home when she saw Fatia coming into the hospital with a woman Tomi couldn’t identify. She hid in a corner so that she wouldn’t see her. She waited in her hiding place for another one hour till after Fatia was done and exited the hospital. After Fatia left, Tomi quickly came out of her hiding and went to meet the nurse that attended to Fatia. She asked what Fatia was there for but the nurse was reluctant to tell her, it was unprofessional to disclose such information. Tomi pleaded with the nurse and she also had to divulge her relationship with Fatia before the nurse finally opened up to her that Fatia had come for a birth control implant with her mother.
The nurse’s revelation made Tomi staggered backward. A cold shiver ran through her spine as she screamed. The nurse snapped at her not to implicate her and she quickly said sorry and exited the hospital. As she walked to the park her mind was occupied with disturbing thoughts. She had met Fatia’s mum before and the woman she saw with her earlier wasn’t her mum. What exactly could be happening? Why would an 18 year old girl come to the hospital for a birth control implant if not for a license to be wayward?
Tomi boarded the next available vehicle home in haste. She couldn’t wait to get home to talk some sense into the girl. She alighted from the vehicle and walked home in haste. She opened the door and what she saw in the living room sent her aback. Fatia had a male visitor and she was sitting on his leg when Tomi entered. They were not bothered by her entrance as Fatia didn’t get up from the boy’s leg.
Tomi felt disgusted. She felt uncomfortable, she was furious but she managed to walk pass them without saying a word. She got to her room before realizing she had acted foolishly, how dare Fatia! What an insolence! Tomi thought aloud. She went back to the living room and summoned Fatia’s attention.
“See me in my room now.” Tomi roared while Fatia hesitated before obliging her.
Tomi was pacing up and down the room when Fatia entered.
“You called me.”
“How dare you bring a man into my house!”
“My uncle’s house.” Fatia replied insolently.
“Tell him to live right away!” Tomi commanded.
“That’s not possible. I have as much right as you in this house if not more.” Fatia said and walked out on her.
“Fatia this is not right.” Tomi said but Fatia didn’t wait to listen.”
After Fatia walked out, Tomi picked her phone and dialed Amir’s no but his phone was switched off. She tried his second line but it was the same story. She continued trying and the story was the same. She decided to call Aminah but her call wasn’t connected. What could be happening? She soliloquized as she paced up and down the room.
She tried laying down but she slept off only to wake up at quarter past seven. She quickly dialed Amir’s line again and it was the same old story. She prayed magrib and walked into the living room only to see that Fatia’s guest was still around. She decided not to talk to Fatia this time around but faced the man himself.
“Young man it’s late already please leave!” Tomi ordered but Fatia hissed before replying.
“He’s going nowhere because he’s spending the night here!”
“Really?” Tomi marveled.
“Yes.” Fatia responded daringly.
“Alright, we shall see.” Tomi replied and walked out of the house.
“Are you sure she won’t do something nasty?” The boy said with fright.
“Don’t worry your poor head. She can’t do nada.” Fatia replied with a smirk.
Minutes later, Tomi returned with two armed police officers and pointed to the boy.
“Officer that’s him, that’s the thief that broke into my house please arrest him.” Tomi said while both Fatia and the boy exclaimed.
“I’m not a thief.” The boy exclaimed.
“He’s not a thief.” Fatia exclaimed.
“Don’t mind them officer, he’s a thief please take him away.” Tomi assured the officers and they took the boy away while Fatia followed them.
Some minutes later, Fatia returned with a confrontation.
“How dare you!” Fatia shouted while Tomi got up angrily to reply her.
“Don’t shout at me I am not your mate. Are you mad? What exactly is your problem? You have really crossed the line this time and I’ll make sure I report you to your uncle.” Tomi replied angrily and at the mention of ‘report to your uncle’ Fatia was suddenly sober.
“Please don’t report me.” Fatia begged soberly
“There’s no way I am going to conceal this. You have a problem that needs urgent attention. I won’t be doing you any good by keeping quiet.” Tomi objected vehemently.
“Please ma I promise I won’t do this again.” Fatia pleaded again.
“No No No.” Tomi replied obstinately.
If you’re in Tomi’s shoes, will you still report with all the beggings?
Two more episodes to go in shaa Allah.
LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH