Things had to be very bad at home for her Mother to choose the Aunty Evarista option. A few weeks under the same roof would be the death of both of them. Emotan took a day off from her job at an Ad Agency and left Abuja for Benin on a Friday morning in February. Her brother, ‘Mudia, picked her from the airport.
‘Welcome, Sis!’ he said as he hugged her; she tried not to choke on the scent of his body spray. He was 22 years old-a recent graduate-and had the lanky build and confidence of youth.
Emotan tried not to let her panic show as he manoeuvred their Father’s ancient 504 through Benin traffic. The car was obviously being held together by the grace of God and with no apparent shock absorbers; she felt every bump on the road to their house on Wire Road.
‘Aunty, welcome’. Emotan stared at the beautiful woman who opened the door. She realized that she knew the woman; she lived a few streets away and was also in their church. Emotan nodded and walked in, her childhood home suddenly feeling surreal with this strange woman encroaching upon the space. ‘Where’s my Father?’ ‘He’s inside. Let me call him’.
Emotan watched the woman walk into her parents’ bedroom. ‘Emotan? What happened?’ Her Father emerged from his bedroom, frowning. He was wearing his house uniform of white singlet and black shorts. ‘Daddy. Why is Mummy not here? Who is that lady?’ Emotan had never spoken to her Father in such a direct manner, and she marvelled at her own boldness. Her expression was neutral, but she felt her toes curl in her black pumps and sweat drip down her back in her purple ankara dress.
Her Father sighed heavily. ‘Sit down’. Emotan did as he asked, and he sat down beside her, which was strange. ‘Well’. He cleared his throat. ‘Well, your Mother and I seemed happier in the last few months, but all of a sudden, she became very difficult…so difficult. I asked Ms. Ezomo to come and start taking care of the house since your mother refused to do anything anymore. After some weeks, your Mother packed her things and moved to your Aunt’s house’.