I was surprised when my madam’s husband came back in the evening with new clothes that he bought for me. It was quite unusual and very unexpected. Madam’s face grew long and vilified from anger and disenchantment.
She couldn’t hide her bitterness. She hissed, sighed, banged the door, frowned her face and all-what-not just to register her annoyance but the husband ignored her. Extremely vilified, she lost her temper.
“Stupid man!” she bawled. “You’re not ashamed of yourself? No, tell me, are you not ashamed of yourself? Common housemaid? That’s what’s turning your head. Because of this small girl of a b—–d you no longer know your wife!” Madam sparked.
“Don’t insult me,” the husband warned calmly but sternly. “I said don’t insult me,” he repeated.
“And if I insult you what will happen?” madam countered. “No, tell me,” she continued. “If I insult you what will happen? IMPOTENT MAN!”
The last insult was too much for the husband to bear. He lounged ferociously at his wife and landed a thunderous slap on her left cheek. The sound of the slap jolted me and left me staring at the couple with fear, confusion and awe.
Even though I was partly happy that madam was at last tasting a piece of her own cake, I was scared of the uncertainty and the possibility of the transferred aggression that could turn towards me.
“Heeweeoooooo,” my madam cried out in pain and fought back, scratching her husband all over with her long sharp nails.
Irritated by his wife’s effrontery and aggression, the husband continued his assault with aggressive ferocity. His slaps turned into blows and his wife into a punching bag and me into a spectator.
“Oga biko ozugo,” I pleaded in ibo on my madam’s behalf. “Oga abeg e don do,” I continued.
The husband ignored me and the fight continued.
“You will kill me today,” my madam cried. “You must kill me today,” she continued. “Whether you like it or not, you must kill me today!”
The husband continued the beating as the wife held tenaciously to his trouser. The children were sleeping in the master bedroom so they didn’t hear what was going on. At long last, Oga and wife became tired and the fight came to an end…
For days madam’s face remained swollen and she and her husband didn’t speak to each other. Oga stopped eating madam’s food. The gap developing between them further strengthened my affair with the husband. Night after night he sneaked into my room and enjoyed my honey pie.
There were days he came back earlier than usual when madam wasn’t around and we did it freely all over the house. I knew I was playing a very dangerous game but then I was only doing all I could to survive…
The silence between my madam and her husband lingered so long that at a point I began to pray it doesn’t lead to divorce. How could I come to terms with myself if I should bring separation between my madam and her husband joined by God. The thought alone scared me. Madam and her husband were like two enemies in one house and on different occasions, clashes occurred.
There was one particular saturday that madam wanted me to go to a nearby supermarket and buy provisions for her. Oga at the same time wanted me to prepare his breakfast first before any other thing. Conflict of authority ensued.
“Before I close my eyes and open it, run to the supermarket and buy me those provisions,” my madam ordered.
“If you move an inch I break your head,” the husband countered. “You aren’t going anywhere till you’ve served my breakfast,” the husband affirmed.
Husband and wife stood at crossroads and none was willing to let the other triumph. I stood at the centre of the whole drama utterly confused. It was then that I realised the authenticity of the proverb that stated that it was difficult if not impossible to serve two masters at the same time. The drama continued for more than ten minutes before madam had enough and faced the husband.
“Ken, what exactly is your problem?” She asked calling him by the first name.
“Mabel, what exactly is your own problem?” The husband threw back.
“You’re biting more than you can chew in this house,” my madam added.
“You must be crazy,” the husband thundered. “My friend go and prepare my breakfast,” he added turning towards me.
This time madam didn’t counter the order so I set to work. Within one hour the breakfast was ready and I served it and then ran off to the supermarket to buy the provisions for madam.
I got to the supermarket within five minutes and found out on getting there that the provision my madam sent me to buy was finished and were yet to replace the stock. So I returned to the house to inform madam about the new development but she barked at me and asked me whether that supermarket was the only supermarket in the neighbourhood.
I went back in search of the provisions in the other supermarkets and it was when I entered one of the supermarkets that my eyes caught one cute guy that came to buy things as well. I felt the funny butterfly in my tummy and developed feelings instantly.
But then the guy was deeply engrossed in what he was buying and didn’t notice me. Out of disappointment, I bought the provisions hurriedly and left forgetting my change in the process. I was deep in thought thinking about the guy and the whole drama when I got to the house and madam demanded for her change.
By then the husband had left the house and went out. The slap that landed on my face when I couldn’t produce madam’s change was sufficient to kill a one month old baby if not older.
More slaps followed in quick succession and with pain I ran out of the house to get the change. Tears flowed freely as I ran to get the change.
On the way I passed the cute guy that made me forget my change and he passed me by and took not even a single notice of me.
There wasn’t anything attractive about me so I didn’t necessarily blame him. My clothes were tattered, my hair un-combed and my footwear were old and worn out.
My tears increased after I passed him by and soon got to the supermarket to retrieve my change.
Then I headed home…
My madam was seating in the sitting room impatiently waiting for me to come back when I entered with the change firmly folded inside my right hand.
I shot out my hand immediately to give her the change without waiting for her to demand for it and she took it abruptly and angrily from my hand.
Her face was all squeezed up and frowned. Then I turned to go. I knew madam wasn’t happy so I wanted to leave her presence as fast as I could. As I made the move to leave, she called me back angrily and asked me why I want to separate her husband and her. The question took me by surprise and I momentarily couldn’t reply.
“I don’t understand ma,” I replied looking confused and troubled.
“Oh spare me those pretences,” she countered. “Just know that your days in this house are numbered.”
I trembled as I heard those words. I wasn’t ready to go back to the village at that point so if madam’s statement was anything to go by then I was in deep trouble.
“I’m sorry ma,” I apologised to mellow her anger.
“Sorry for your stupid self,” she snapped. “Come on go and find something doing and get out of my sight,” she added.
In obedience I left her presence and went into the kitchen and sat on the mortar as usual. Then I drifted into deep thought.
There was no way I could possibly return to the village without Oga’s consent and as things stood currently, oga was firmly by my side if not for any other thing, for the hornilicious services I offer him every night free of charge…
To Be Continued… Watch out!!!
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