PREVIOUS EPISODE: Auntie Obiakpor’s Downfall
“Hello, is anybody home?” I knocked on the door.
Nobody responded. I knocked several times but to no avail. Part of me was happy that nobody answered which meant I didn’t have to see Obiakpor’s face again. Another part was angry that she dared to refuse to answer when I trekked to her house under the hot afternoon sun to deliver her own package o. I almost turned back but my curiosity won. Before I knew it, I was making my way to her backyard.
I stopped half way when I heard angry voices. I tiptoed forward and leaned on the wall to spy what was going on. Auntie Obiakpor was quarreling with her mother. Figures!
“Mama, why are you disturbing me this afternoon?” Obiakpor angrily asked. “I said I will replace it. What do you want me to say again?”
“Bia Nkechi, how many times have I told you not to touch my cream?” Mama Nkechi angrily replied. “How many times have I asked you not to touch any of my things?”
Nkechi scoffed. “Most of the things you’re talking about, I bought them with my money. Anybody listening to you now would think I stole them.”
“Is it not stealing when you take something without my permission? And yes, you may have bought them but it’s my house. If you don’t like it, go and marry!” Her mother spat out.
Obiakpor’s face colored with rage. “Did you dash me any husband?”
“When all those men were coming for your hand in marriage years ago, you refused. You said they were too local for you. Look at you now. No husband. No children. No money. You’re still in this village dragging my husband’s house with me. If you were not my daughter, I would have thrown you out a long time ago. Nna ga-alu!” Her mother ranted.
“Marriage is not by force.” Nkechi muttered with hurt in her voice.
“Shut up!” The elderly woman shouted. “Look at Cordelia. Is she not your mate? She’s happily married to Emeka. He has money. He’s taking good care of her and their children. Did you see her new car? You could have been the one enjoying all these things. Remember he proposed to you first. You turned him down. You said he was an illiterate and a local champion. You wanted an international husband and a big career in a big city.”
“What is wrong with that?”
“I said shut up before dogs lick your eyes this afternoon!” Mama Nkechi shouted again. “I can’t go anywhere in this village without people gossiping about you. Even Mgborie, that ugly girl with her caterpillar face is married with five children. Her mother rubs it in my face every time we have our association meetings. Everyone is saying I have a daughter who wasted her youth and beauty waiting for a perfect man that never came. Now she is old enough to be a grandmother but no man is looking at her, even the local champions.”
It was obvious Nkechi was not taking this well. But very unlike her, she was quiet.
Her mother continued. “Look, I give you a year! If you don’t find a man that will manage you, I will throw you out of my house!”
The woman stormed into the house. Nkechi deflated like an overused balloon. She sat on a low stool. All the fight had gone out of her. It was the first time I was seeing her like this. Wow, who knew Obiakpor was getting the heat from home? No wonder she was always bitter. For the first time, I felt sorry for her.
I pretended I was just arriving and clapped my hands to announce my presence. She jumped and glared at me transforming back to her Auntie Obiakpor status.
“What are you doing here?” She snapped.
I offered her the package. “The Principal asked me to give you this.”
She took it and glared at me like what-are-you-still-doing-here. Strangely, I wasn’t offended. Probably because I knew it was a front. I had glimpsed the real her. But I didn’t want her to know I felt sorry for her.
So I retorted. “For the record, I didn’t want to be here. Next time, pick your own packages. I cannot come and be trekking under the sun.”
I turned and left. But I didn’t go far. I returned to spy on her again. Nkechi was back on her stool. This time, she was crying! You know those silent tears that come from a broken heart. I regretted my rudeness.
Nkechi resumed coming to school a few days later. But she was totally subdued. Before, she was looking for someone to pounce on. Now, she avoided everyone and concentrated on teaching and writing on her desk.
I approached her one morning with my lesson note.
“Good morning.” I greeted.
She looked up from what she was writing.
“I’ve come to submit my lesson note.” I said when it was obvious she wasn’t going to say anything.
“Drop it here.” She replied indicating her desk and resumed writing.
I complied and hesitated for a moment. She didn’t look at me. I left and joined Debbie under a huge mango tree in the school compound.
“Have you noticed that our Auntie Obiakpor is very quiet these days?”
Debbie chuckled. “If I were her, I would be quiet. That Ijeoma drama must have humbled her.”
“Something tells me that that’s not the only reason.” I said.
“Who cares?” Debbie shrugged. “At least, someone can now have peace in this school.”
“I feel sorry for her.”
Debbie stared at me, surprised. “You, I.T, sorry? Ha! If I hear. Was it not you that was fighting her all the time?”
“I don’t know.” I replied. “I kind of miss her wahala. This place is boring without it.”
Debbie laughed. “If you’re looking for wahala, go to someone else. Start with Dami.”
I rolled my eyes. “Dami ke? Nobody notices her except when she’s whining about her invisible bae.”
“My bae is not invisible.” Dami said behind us.
Later, I went to retrieve my lesson note. Nkechi was not around. In fact, nobody was around. I wasn’t surprised. Teachers and Corpers hardly stayed till school was over.
I found my lesson note on her desk and went to pick it. But something else got my attention. It was what she was writing earlier. Again, my curiosity would not let me be and I found myself reading it. It was a story about a poor single lady in her thirties living in a society that always reminded her of her single status. It talked about love, heart breaks, shattered dreams and bitterness against the world that mocked her.
It was a beautiful story. Every word, every sentence showed the beautiful mind of the writer. Nkechi had a great knack with using words to create pictures for the imagination. I was lost in her story. I was so absorbed that I didn’t know when time passed.
“What are you doing?” Nkechi barked behind me.
I jumped in shock and turned to face her.
Episode 8 is coming out next week Monday. Thanks for reading.