I said a quiet prayer for the safety of my dear husband as I started pacing, making use of what was left of our tiny floor space. Everywhere was packed with our worldly possessions, the apartment was no longer practical for our family of four. There wasn’t an immediate need to move into a bigger space though, seeing that Deolu worked out-of-town and he was only in every fortnight – for two days. Even if we wanted to, money was likely to play tricks on us. *Sigh* Describing our family as affluent would only be appropriate when compared to the average family in my neighbourhood. The poverty around here ran skin-deep with most of the people already resigned to fate, living from hand to mouth.
I quickly made my way back to the window when I heard what sounded like war cries. In my hurry, I stumbled into Deolu’s prized possession, sending it tumbling down to its final sojourn, its grave. “E gba mi, mo daran” was all I could mutter! Deolu was going to have my head on a platter! In that moment, that was the least of my worries for the noise was growing louder. What I saw through the windows left me bewildered! What is this I am beholding?! Commotion rendezvous!!!
In circular motions, running like a headless chicken in the rain was my dear husband with Mrs Okafor right behind him with wrapper tied high above her breasts. Mr Okafor stood afar yelling, “Prisi, Prisi, no wound person o!” In her right hand was the 24-inch long pestle she grabbed from her kitchen, raised high in the air. From her mouth came words I couldn’t understand; she was speaking in her dialect, cursing more like. The neighbours began pouring out of their homes in droves, the unscrupulous ones amongst them chanting for more drama as I watched my Deolu leap over puddles of muddy waters, dodging every swing of Mrs Okafor’s pestle. His shirt was in tatters already. Only heaven knows what transpired in that house!
He could have made his way into our home for shelter and safety but knowing him for who he is, he wouldn’t want to bring harm his family’s way. The children were fast asleep in all of these and I was unsure of what to do. Stepping out to join the ongoing madness was not an option. It could leave both Deolu and I injured or bring about the untimely death of either of us – Mrs Okafor was vicious like that! We also stood the chances of being looted. I know the area too well so I stayed put, watching helplessly.
Mrs Okafor’s reign of terror on Deolu continued with no end in sight. This left me exasperated and all I could pray for was a divine intervention of some sort. From nowhere appeared Morufu, the neighbourhood tyrant, and for the first time, I loved Morufu, for I could see an imminent end. Morufu nicknamed himself “Voltron” because he was of the belief that he defends the helpless in the neighbourhood irrespective of their gender. Deolu was the obvious helpless in this case and Morufu’s venom was about to be unleashed on Mrs Okafor. Thank goodness!
The chase was steep; Deolu was now within her reach. As she gathered herself to launch her deadly attack, she did not notice Morufu nor his outstretched leg in her way. Her very next stride landed her in the awaiting pool of muddy water nearby. She was covered in mud like an apple on a stick dipped in melted dark chocolate at Carlos’ Bakery. Talk about divinely answered prayers. On seeing what had just happened, Deolu stopped for a moment, looked at Morufu with the eyes of gratitude, gave a nod and resumed his running. This time he was headed in my direction.
I immediately undid the door locks and let him in; marking the floor of the apartment with heavy muddy impressions from the sole of his bare feet as he crumbled into the nearest seat to him. He was a total mess. I had never seen Deolu this disconcerted. I dare not try Mrs. Okafor’s stunt with him, not with the way he prances around the house like Achilles from the movie ‘Troy’. Seriously, I really do not have any reason to disrespect him, he is a good man. I made my way into the kitchen to get the kettle boiling while I gathered old towels and the small tub of Aboniki balm to soothe him with.
Apparently, it was Deolu who triggered the pandemonium when he reprimanded Mrs Okafor for slapping her husband in his presence. I warned him severally to stay out of Mr & Mrs Okafor’s business but the peacemaker in him wouldn’t let him. Now he’s learnt his lesson the hard and shameful way.
As I emerged from the kitchen armed with all I needed to bring him relief, he asked quietly, “What happened to the clock?” Taking a deep breath, I narrated how the accident occurred, stammering along the way. He listened without interrupting which made me fidget. I had just succeeded in ruining a family heirloom. Soon after, he started to laugh. By this time, I was mopping his body with a hot towel; I stopped for a minute and took a long look at him, he was laughing real hard. I couldn’t help but chuckle along though dismayed. He eventually calmed down and said to me with all seriousness, “Thank you for helping me rid that menace of a clock from my life. It wasn’t worth anything much anyway! I only held on to it as a result of Uncle Bayo’s sentimental blackmail.” What a relief!
As we retreated into bed at almost midnight, Deolu made the announcement I’d been fantasizing about for many years. “We have to leave this neighbourhood. It is unfair to raise the children in an environment such as this. What’s the point in saving all the money if we cannot invest it in creating a better life for the kids?” “Deolu, you know we don’t have that kind of money to rent a new place in a decent neighbourhood?”, I interjected. He then revealed, “I have some money saved apart from that in the joint account. I will make use of it to secure a new place. We are moving out by the weekend and that is final.”
I snuggled into my dear Deolu with a satisfactory grin on my face, knowing our days in the neighbourhood were numbered. The curious woman in me wanted to make a fuss about his hidden savings; I thought we were operating the ‘open book’ policy with everything but at this point, it was best to let that slide. After all, we all would be benefiting from his hidden treasures now. My fantasy was finally becoming a reality all thanks to Mrs Okafor. I began rehearsing my farewell speeches to all and sundry in my head till into coo-coo land I faded.