Madu looked at the dusty streets leading to his house and
trudged it slowly, unconsciously kicking a stone one at a time. He had just
received the shocker of his life, he was broke, and he had no job. Life wasn’t
smiling at him at all. He wished he could cry, he knew he had failed everyone,
his aunt, his wife, his child. He walked the short distance to his house and
pushing the door open, he got in and sat down on the worn out sofa and cradled
his head in his palms. 

There was a knock at the door but he didn’t answer, the
knock came harder and more persistent.
“Mr. Madu, I know you’re inside the house.” His neighbor
shouted.
He hissed and walked towards the door, and opened it.
“Na wah for you ooo…I saw you come in and as soon as you
entered the house, I came to knock.” Bassey said.
“Yes, I was inside the room…” He lied.
“You don’t look too well, are you okay? You’re home from
work very early, is anything the matter?”
“Nothing…I wasn’t feeling too good at work so I returned
home.” Madu said.
“Okay, I came to tell you that there are some bills you have
to pay. The PHCN bills was sent to us and the total bill is seven thousand five
hundred, and we divided it amongst ourselves and each house should pay one
thousand two hundred and fifty naira only. The sewage is full and spilling in some
areas around the compound and each house is to pay one thousand five hundred
naira, our neighbor Iyabo, lost her mother and we’ve all decided to levy five
hundred naira per house so in total,  we
need three thousand two hundred and fifty naira.”
“Well, I err…will get back to you soon.”
“I need the money latest tomorrow morning to begin payment,
especially for the PHCN because they’ll soon come to disconnect our lights.”
Madu nodded.
“How’s madam?”
“She’s fine.”
“Her job must be a big one ooo…I see the company car that
drops her off every night.”
“Mind your business!” Madu said and slammed the door shut.
He walked back to slump on the sofa and just as he closed
his eyes in frustration, his phone rang, it was his aunt.
“Auntie good morning ma.” He greeted.
“Nna…are you at work?”
“No ma…”
“What happened? Are you ill? Why didn’t you go to work?” She
asked.
“Auntie, how are you? Your voice doesn’t sound too strong.”
“My dear, the cold in this village ehn can kill somebody.
It’s been raining nonstop and most times, I can’t even go to the market because
of the rains.”
“Ah ah…what kind of rains is that?”
“Well, I heard that the rainmakers held the rains so much
during the last raining season so, this time, all the rains from even last
season have come to stay.”
“Chai…that’s not good o.”
“How are you? How is my Kasiobi?” She asked.
“Her name is Kamsi, you confuse her name every time.” Madu
smiled despite his situation.
“Which one is I confuse her name. I gave her the name,
Kasiemobi which means, comfort me. You know that the name is significant to
your life especially since you lost your parents.”
Madu nodded.
“Stella hates the name…”
“Let her go and rest biko. That’s my name for my
granddaughter and I won’t have it any other way.” His aunt said stubbornly.
“So, how are you? I hope all is well?” He asked.
“My son, all is not well ooo…I am very sick, the nurse has
come to give me injections four times during the past week and she is not
smiling with me anymore because I’ve not been paying her all these while.”
Madu was silent, he really had no money.
“Madu, if you can send me even if it’s one thousand naira
recharge card so that I can sell to Obi the vendor, so that he can give me
eight hundred naira because his profit is two hundred naira. Such greedy man!
That’s why even with all his money, he has not built a house for himself,
nonsense! Ehen, as I was saying, send me the money so that I can pay the
nurse.”
Madu thought of the bills he had to pay for the compound and
thought of his aunt’s request, all he had in his account was five thousand
naira and all he could withdraw was four thousand naira.
“Madu, this one you aren’t speaking…is everything alright?”
“I’ll send you one thousand naira credit.” He said quietly.
“Are you okay my son? Talk to me …is everything alright?”
“I’m fine auntie…”
“How’s Stella? I hope you both are living well?”
“Yes ma…”
“Are you planning on giving me more grandchildren?”
“Times are hard and there’s a lot of think about. Kamsi’s
school fees alone is enough to weigh us down, we need to plan…you know.”
“Okay, I understand.” His auntie said. “I shouldn’t pry, I’m sorry.”
When she hung up, Madu stood up and paced the length of the
room in frustration. He wished he could give his aunt so much more for taking
care of him after his parents died and his father’s people took all he had and
abandoned him but he couldn’t.
********
Mitch returned home in high spirits. Angel and her mother
stared at him to see if he showed any signs of anger or bitterness especially since they knew his girlfriend had started seeing another man and had even gotten engaged.
“Hey Mitch.” Angel greeted. “So, you took all the goodies
down to her place huh?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? She’s my family too.”
“Really?” Angel started.
“Angel, stop it.” Her mother said. “Mitch, come and sit with
me.”
Mitch walked over to sit by his mother and she said.
“How’s Cherry?”
“She’s very well, she extends her greetings to everyone.” He
said with a smile.
Angel stared at him in surprise.
“So, tell me darling, what did you do in her house…in a
nutshell?” His mother asked.
“Am I supposed to tell you what I do with my fiance? Don’t
freak me out mom.” He said with a nervous laugh.
“It’s not that, I’m just wondering what you did that left
you in high spirits.”
“Well, there’s big news!” He said and paused. “I asked my
darling to marry me and she agreed.”
“What?” Angel gawked.
“What do you mean by, what? I’m engaged to Cherry, just the
way it should have been from the beginning.”
“You mean, you asked her to marry you and she agreed?”
“Yes, she did. She loves me, we love each other and what
better way to show our love than to get married?”
“What games is that girl playing?” Angel asked.
“What games are you talking about?” Mitch asked.
“Listen to me Mitch, you need to cut yourself loose of that
girl, she’s no good for you!” Angel said.
“What? How dare you talk to me in that tone? Have you
forgotten that I’m your older brother?”
“Listen to your sister, Mitch.” His mother said.
“Really mom? So because she bought a car and is now a car
owner, I get to wash her feet?”
“That’s not what I meant, I only meant that you should
listen to her, she knows things you do not know.” His mother said.
“Things like what? There’s nothing anyone would tell me
about my Cherry that’ll surprise me, she’s an open book and she doesn’t
hesitate to tell me anything and everything.” Mitch said.
“Including the fact that she just got engaged?” Angel said
quietly.
Mitch was taken aback but said.
“Yes, she just got engaged to me.” He said.
Angel retrieved a picture of Cherry from her phone and
handed the phone to Mitch. He took it and stared at the very huge and expensive
ring on a finger that bore close resemblance to Cherry’s.
“Hey everyone, my lover, friend, boo, darling and you know
the rest, just popped the question and I said Yes. Here’s a big toast to me and
my darling Sean; baby, you know I love you and I pledge my life to you. You are
my hero and the only man I’ll ever walk down the aisle to meet. You are my ride
or die, my strong king and warrior. Thank you for giving me your heart to keep
and taking mine to treasure.’ Look out for the hastag people, hastag
Sean&Cherry2016, hastag CheSean 2016.” Angel said aloud as her brother read
the caption on Instagram. “I memorized the words in my head.” She said.
“So?” Mitch said, handing the phone back to his sister.
“What do you mean by so? The girl is already taken so, hands
off!” His mother said.
“I’m so disappointed in the both of you for this! You know, I
thought you guys would be happy that Cherry and I are finally going to be
together but what do I get? Resentment, bitterness and envy but guess what? I
am getting married to Cherry even if the world ends today. Get it?” He said and
stormed off to his room.
“I can’t believe that just happened?” Angel said.
“What has gotten into him? Is he bewitched or something?”
Her mother asked.
“Do you know what? I’m going to pay that sleazy Cherry a
visit and when I do, I’m going to warn her off my brother or have her face the
consequences!” Angel said.
*******
Kamsi rushed to hug her mother as soon as she walked in
through the door.
“Hey baby…” Stella said as she lifted her daughter up and
spun her around.
“You’re back early today mom.” Kamsi said.
“Yes my sweetheart, I came home early to be with you.”
Stella replied.
“I like the way you smell mommy, is that perfume?” Kamsi
asked.
Stella laughed nervously.
“Yea…it is…” She said.
Madu stepped out of the small kitchen and wiped his palm
with a small towel.
“Welcome home hun.” He said. “Kamsi is right, you smell really good. I can perceive your perfume from the kitchen.”
“Good evening…” Stella greeted.
“How was work?” He asked.
“Hectic as usual, I was able to cut corners in order to get
home early.” She said, knowing very well that she only came home early because
the GM was not in town.
“Nice…” He said.
“How was work?” She asked.
“Well, I didn’t go to work…” He said.
“Yes, daddy stayed home today, he said his bosses are crazy.”
Kamsi said.
Stella’s eyes widened.
“Why would you tell her such a thing? You know I hate
hearing bad words from her.”
“I’m sorry hun, I was speaking with a former colleague over
the phone and she kinda listened.” He said.
“Former colleague? What are you talking about?” Stella
asked.
“Well, the company said they were bearing too much cost and
needed to cut it down a bit so…they let some people go.” He said.
“When you say some people, are you one of them?”
He nodded. Stella slumped on the old sofa, she was tired.
“I’ll be out on the street tomorrow. I’ll be dropping my CVs and hopefully…”
“Hopefully? Till when Madu? When will you get a new job?
This job didn’t pay much but it made you provide a little.” Stella said.
“I will find a new job.” He started.
“Stella is once again the breadwinner of the family! I am
tired of this! I am tired of everything! I foot the bills, I pay Kamsi’s school
fees, I take care of her upkeep, I pay the house rent, I pay practically for
everything in this house. When will this stop? I am tired of this!” Stella
shouted.
“Calm down, it’s really not my fault, I’ve been working so
hard and nothing is coming forth.”
“We both have university degrees, I have a good job, so, why can’t you?
Why do I have to be the one with the money?” Stella asked.
Madu looked at his daughter who was staring at their mouths
and gave her the signal to excuse them for a while, she hurried off into the
room.
“Honey, please I will work on this!”
Stella raised her hand at him as though to tell him to stop
talking.
“You’re not making things easy on me.” He continued.
“And why should I? If I don’t hound you, you won’t work hard
to get a job. I know how hard and how long it took you to get this one that you
just lost.”
“I’m not a lazy man honey…”
Stella hissed and picked up her bag.
“I bet we have nothing to eat for dinner.” She said.
When he didn’t reply, she stormed off towards the room and
as soon as she got in, she changed to a pair of trousers and a top and helped
her daughter wear her sandals.
“Where are we going to mommy?” Her daughter asked.
“We’re going to eat dinner.”
“Are we going to the burger place?” Her daughter asked
excitedly.
“If you want to, we can go there.” She smiled.
“Yay! Is daddy coming with us?” Kamsi asked.
“Daddy is a big man, he can take care of himself.” Stella
said through grit teeth.
Madu stood at the door and stared at his family in silence,
the words from his wife made his heart sink.

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