I turned to face madam Amaka. I starred into her eyes and turned my face away. I could not stand her looks. Madam Amaka had succeeded in putting fear in me. I had suddenly lost my boldness to speak or even challenge her. “Wale what is it? What is the problem?” She inquired. “There is no problem. I am fine.” I replied with my head bent towards the floor.“You look scared.
Are you scared?”“Nnnn..no I am not. I am fine.” I stammered.
Madam Amaka walked towards me and sat on the bed. She dragged my hands and placed it on her laps.“Wale. I want you to promise me something.” “What could that be?” I asked “Promise me that you will never leave me no matter what. Promise me that you will never share my secrete with anyone. Especially the secrete about the death of my late husband Tunde.
I kept quite for a while. I Was trying to play back her words in my head.
Madam Amaka’s secretes were safe with me. I wasn’t going to tell anyone. Even if I wanted to, the case had been long gone and forgotten.
Uncle Tunde’s body must have decayed below the ground by now. It has been Ten years since he died. It was better to let the sleeping dog lie.
But I was scared. I was scared of telling her I didn’t want her any more. I was scared of telling her I was tired of warming her bed and having countless sexual intercourse with her. I was scared of telling her that I needed my life back. I was scared of my life. I feared she would kill me if I refused to make her that one promise. And so I did. I lifted her hands and held them firm. I wanted her to see the sincerity in my eyes. “Mummy, I promise you. I would not leave you.” I spoke faintly.
I felt my palm become sweaty and moist. I felt like I had just sealed a contract with the devil himself. I shivered.
Madam Amaka hugged me. “My daughter will be coming back next week. So from now, lets pretend that we never had any sexual encounter together.” She said. “Does that mean we would no longer have sex until she is gone?” I asked. “No na. Do you think I can stay without you? When she is not around, we can both have sex. You know how much I love quickies.” She smiled shrugging my shoulders. It was obvious that she was not going to relent. She was still bent on having sex even when her daughter was back. But all she asked was that we pretended nothing like such goes on.
Days passed quickly, and soon it was already one week gone. One day, I went to the market to help Mama in her shop. Mama was a lover of vegetables.
She was a dealer who sold vegetables to market women on retails. Some of this women bought it on credit from her. When they had finished selling it, they paid back mama at the end of the day.
Mama had requested that I followed her to the market to stay in her shop. That way, she would be able to go in search of some of the debtors who owed her and refused to pay.
Being a dealer in vegetables, we never lacked vegetables in our soups. Mama made sure there was more than enough vegetables in the okra, Egusi and other simple traditional soups she prepared.
Our jellof rice was not left out from the vegetables too. She always packed a handful of vegetables into the Jellof rice when ever she cooked.
Sometimes, all I chewed in the soup was leaves. But that usually happened when Mama sensed that her vegetables were going to be spoilt if they were not used
before the next day.
Madam Amaka was not left out. Mama made sure I took vegetables to her house whenever we had any to spare. She would smile and collect them. Mama loved to give and she gave with a clean heart.
As I sat in the market on a very short stool located in Mama’s shop, I saw the market women go up and down. I saw customers come to buy. Some came to buy from me and I gladly sold to them. I loved the feel of money in my hands.
Later that evening, Mama returned looking very tired. She requested we closed the shop and went home. I too was looking tired and dirty.
The market dust had covered my hair, hands and feet. I yearned for a hot bath at all cost. I did not waste another time. I grabbed onto the huge padlocks and locked up the shop doors.
That evening, Mama made me carry a sack full of vegetables on my head. “Wale, when you get home, go straight to Mummy Amaka house and give her this vegetables. She requested for them.” Mama said.
Once upon a time, at the mention of Madam Amaka’s house, I rejoiced. I danced in my heart and pucked my steps quickly. But here was I, suddenly feeling irritated. I felt no joy anymore.
When we got home, I passed directly to Madam Amaka’s house without even branching my house. I was dirty and smelt of sweat.
I knew Madam Amaka would never request of me to stay back considering the way I looked. It was an added advantage for me.
I walked to the door and knocked hoping that Madam Amaka opens quickly. I dropped the sack on the floor and held onto my waist. I was completely tired and exhausted from the days hustle. The door was opened and a beautiful face popped her head out.“Hello” she waved revealing a beautiful smile. “Emmm h h..h..i, hello.” I stammered.
I was speechless and stunned. I had never seen such a pretty dark woman as that in my life. She had a long black hair which fell smoothly down her neck. Her nose was pointed and her eyes enchanting.
My heart danced. I felt something move in my stomach. Her smile was unending and never seized.“Any problem?” She asked.
Her words came to my ears loud and clear. But it felt like it disappeared right before it sank into me. All I did was stare at this creature standing in front of me. All I did was admire the bright eyes on her face. I loved the way her eye brows were carved and how they were neatly placed. “Hellllllloooo any problem?” She said waving her hand sat my face.“Em yes. I mean no. Is Madam Amaka inside?” I asked.“Yes she is in. But she is taking her bath now. Can I help you?” She asked. “Emmm yes. I mean no.”I tried to remember what had brought me to Madam Amaka’s house. I tried really hard but I could not. All I did was stand and stare at her. “You are very beautiful. Very…very… very beautiful. ” I said slowly in whispers.
I watched as she chuckled softly.“Thank you. Anything else?”“Yes. There is something else.”“Okay. What is it?” She asked with a sweet accent. “You have beautiful eyes and pointed nose too. You know what I love about you the most?”“No tell me.” She said chuckling. “You have the softest sweetest voice I have ever heard.” “Thank you.” She chuckled again.
Just then, Madam Amaka appeared behind her. She had a towel tied round her chest.“O Wale it is you. You are back. Mummy nko?” She asked. “Mummy is fine ma. She said I should bring you vegetables.” I replied, bringing myself back from the world I had been emersed in.“O your mother. Do you know I thought she would not remember?”I watched as the sweet lady walked out and picked up the bag of vegetables. She walked in almost immediately. I never noticed her body. All I kept looking at was her face. I could tell that she was older than I am, and almost my height. “Goodnight Wale. Help me thank your mummy for me.” She said.
I walked away that night wondering who that lady I hadseen was. I struck my leg on a stone after I failed to focus on my path home. I kept turning. I kept looking at the windows o madam Amaka’s house.
I was hoping the young lady take just one peep to know who I was.
Just then, I realised just how dirty I was and just how dirty and foolish I had appeared standing in her front.
A pound of shame fell on me immediately.
I went to bed that night with her on my mind. She was in my thoughts. The girl I never knew. She was the girl I never saw, yet I had mental pictures of her in my head.
Deep down in my heart, I realised that I felt something strong. I slept with the hope of rising tomorrow to meet with her. I prayed silently in my heart, that who ever she was, it better not be Anike; Madam Amaka,s daughter.
To be continued….