Wearily Papa Nkechi staggered to the clustered unventilated one room apartment. He slugged into the already overused double-sitter sofa, the only one in the room. As he sat he noticed that the chair was unusually wet. This was to start off the first exchange that would open cans of fire shots.
“Mama Nkechi, who poured water on this chair or is anyone having diabetes in this house?” he finished and after a sigh sat down irritant into the chair. Mama Nkechi, a tiny woman but rather too tall, too tall for her short stout husband stood from where she had been arranging her wares.
“Is that your new ways of greeting when you get home and by the way what water are you talking about?” She replied without flinging a gaze at him.
“Woman have you lost all your manners, e rachara ńsi onye ara, did you lick the feces of a madman.” He roared.
Mama Nkechi checks herself all over and murmurs a rather unremorseful “Welcome Dim.”
He is unperturbed “Ehn, eem where is my food or do I have to summon a jury to get that?”
“There is no food in this house o. when you left this morning, I asked for foodstuff and housekeeping allowance but you said when you hit 360 Bet, ehn, let’s wait for 360 bet then we can eat.”
He is outraged “what do you mean when we win 360 Bet, Ara ona gbadi gi, are you running mad?”
Mama Nkechi interrupts him “Stop it there, asim gi kwusi. It is the entire generation of old fools in your clan that is mad, in short if they gather all your kins men, you all will be prized for less than kobo, ndi achikota ekwe onu.”
Obviously startled by her outburst, he stammers “are…are you tal…talking…chere, wait….did you just make ‘pim’…Nwanyi, what diarrhea did your mouth just vomit?”
Not relenting, Mama Nkechi didn’t bulge, “You heard me right, lazy man, you are waiting for ‘Ototkoto’ money to become rich. The little you make form the ‘nkpon nkpon’ shop, if you don’t drink with it, you will lavish on 360 Bet.
360 is your new concubine but mathematics, imaro, because if you had calculated that 1+1=2, you will pay your daughter’s school fee but no, you will rather spend it on those stupid kinsmen of yours. You go about with your ‘afo beer’ like ‘ulaga masquerade’. Someone will not know it is stupid alcohol that has your stomach protruding like a woman in labor.”
He was stupefied, like his wife had taken on some strange spirit, he wanted to speak but nothing will come out.
“Look at you, even my ‘abada’ and ‘George’; you stole just to play pool. Everyday e go better but ‘worku kwanu’ iju, you refuse. Every opportunity to make things better, you blew away. Under the sun and rain I am hawking. All season it is either okpa, groundnut, walnut, garden egg, corn; what have I not hawked, my second name is ‘Mama All-Rounder’.
After I saved enough and rented a shop, I asked you to look after it while I continue hawking but what happened irikpom shop, you closed it within two months. You sucked me dry and now that I have started to gather my half broken eggs to see what good I can become, you want to carry your ‘ekpem ta’, your ill luck, it won’t work, nwoke m, asim oga bayen.”
She finished arranging the wares and started getting ready to set out, Papa Nkechi’s eyes darting around like someone who has seen the spirit world. This was not the wife he knew. He couldn’t shut his mouth and a fly would have found its way down his throat.
Mama Nkechi continues, “Five years, afo ise, five good years I have feed you like a good wife but from now you will answer your father’s name, ekuchana m” she collected her headtie and muttered almost to herself, “I don’t blame you, if not life, how would I have ended up with a thing like you.”
Recovering from the shock of the confrontation, Papa Nkechi rubbed his face with his palm.
“What do you mean by ‘answer your father’s name?”
Sternly, she looks at him as she makes her word count their weight.
“You are no longer my husband and since I pay the rent, if you can’t feed yourself, leave me and my daughter. But in this house, no food for you, I have locked my cupboard. Go, let 360 or whatever you call it feed you.”
She storms out leaving a dazzled rotund man staring after her.