As Ella ate Mama Charity’s fried rice with coleslaw, she
salivated. She’d missed the luxury of her home and something in her wanted to
go back. She had just started tearing a piece of chicken when she looked up to
see the curious stares of her parents and siblings.
“What?” She asked with the leg of chicken in her mouth.

“You’re eating as though you’re starved.” Tamara noted.
“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s just that this food tastes so
good.” Ella said licking her fingers.
“Darling, are you okay? Do you eat well at your house?” Her
mother asked worriedly.
Ella dropped the chicken back in her plate and faced her
family.
“What is all this about? If you guys are waiting for me to
come crying that my marriage is falling apart, then I’m sorry but that’s not going
to happen.” She said.
“We’re not saying that love…we’re just concerned about
you. You look quite dull, I mean… look at your nails! You don’t even fix them
anymore…they are chapped…and…” Her father noted.
“Daddy, I am a married woman and I do not have a house help
so I do most of the work in the kitchen. You can’t expect my nails to be one
hundred percent after kitchen work.” Ella said.
“I never said that. Doing kitchen work doesn’t mean that you
shouldn’t still look nice.” Her father noted.
“Can we have a normal lunch and stop with these questions?”
Ella said, already getting irritated at her family.
Her parents and siblings continued with their meal. Due to
the way they’d stared at her earlier, Ella suddenly became self-conscious and
she began to pick her meal. As she picked at the food, her mind went to Lola’s
apologies this morning.
“Auntie…na devil work ooo…I just dey my own jeje, na so
devil come use me. I beg you…I beg, nor vex.” She’d begged.
“Why did you say all that you said to me yesterday?” Ella
had asked in disappointment.
“I dey sorry, abeg nor vex. Broda Jacob na my cousin, him
mama and my mama na de same papa and de same mama.” She swore.
Lola had looked at her in surprise.
“I thought you said that his auntie is your uncle’s something
like that…”
“Nor be wetin I talk be dat…I talk say, my mama and…”
“It’s okay but please mind what you do and say in this house
because if push me any further, I’d send you away.” Ella had said and walked
away.
Now, as she stared at her plate, she wondered if she wasn’t
being too lenient with Lola. What if what she said had an atom of truth in it?
She asked herself. She’d seen the look in her eyes yesterday when she blurted
out those words and something told her that there was truth to it. She wished
she could confide in someone but she really had no one, she couldn’t tell her
friends and definitely not her sister or her mother.
Her phone suddenly beeped and she jerked.
“It’s a message…sorry for the loud noise.” She apologized.
“It’s okay…it’s your message tone, there’s no need to
apologize.” Her mother said to her with a smile.
As Ella opened the message, her sister asked.
“Is it your husband? Is he asking you to come back home
already?”
Ella read the message, it was from Lawrence, the fruit
business guy.
“Hello
Ella, I thought of you this morning. Don’t worry, I’m not texting to hound you
for new orders. I just want to wish you a happy Sunday and I hope you’re well.”
Ella couldn’t help but smile at the message.
“Thank
you, I hope you’re well too. My Sunday is going great, I’m at my parents place
.” She
texted back.
He sent an instant reply.
“Oh
really? How are your folks? I’m in Ikoyi, delivering fresh juices to a client.”
“Serious?
I’m at Ikoyi too…that’s where my parents live. I’ll be here all afternoon. Do
you have any extra juice for me?”
“Ha!
Now, you’re asking for fresh juice. I thought you said you didn’t want anymore
juice or you’ll burst.”
Ella’s laugh startled her family as they looked up from
their meal to stare at her.
“I’m sorry…the text is funny!” Ella said to them.
“Hmmm…from your hubby?” Tamara asked winking at her.
Ella looked at her sister and looked at her phone and said.
“Yea…yea…”
She quickly typed a message back to Lawrence.
“Lol”
“I’ll
be heading out in the next five minutes, maybe I could catch a glimpse of you
before I leave.”
“Sure…just
tell me when you’re leaving and I’ll drive out briefly to see you.”
“That
will be great.”
 Ella stopped texting
and continued her meal, Tamara kept making funny noises with her mouth.
****************
Queen was having mixed feelings, Junior was in high spirits all
morning and she could tell that it was the after effects of the party. She had
tried talking to him but he kept making gestures with his hands and movements
with his body. In his special school in Calabar, parents had been advised to
learn the sign language so that they could communicate effectively with their
children but Queen hadn’t wanted to learn it because she still hoped that
something could be done for Junior to make him interact like every other child.
“Are you happy Junior? Did you have fun at the party?” She
asked with a smile.
Junior jumped on the bed and hugged himself tight then fell
on the bed and rolled about in glee. Queen didn’t understand what it all meant,
all she knew was that he was extremely happy and she had Jessica to thank for
it. She quickly picked up her phone and dialled Jessica’s number.
******************
Zach had just returned home from church with his wife and
she was in the bathroom taking off her make-up. Suddenly, his wife’s phone
began to ring.
“Honey…your phone.” He called out.
“I’m having a bath…” She called out from the bathroom.
After their fight yesterday, they’d given each other the
silent treatment till they got to church and the pastor’s topic was
‘Reconciliation’ and there and then they both reconciled with each other.
“I thought you were just removing your make up.” He said.
“I know you’re worried that I won’t start cooking on
time…but I’ll be done with my bath sooner than you think.” She shouted from
the bathroom.
The phone rang loudly and persistently and Zach walked over
to the side stool where it was to pick it up. The caller ID read; ‘Col 1’.
“Could it be short for colonel? That’s ridiculous! Jessica
doesn’t know any colonels.”
He pressed the answer button and placed the receiver against
his ear.
“Hello…” He greeted.
“Zach?”
The phone slipped from Zach’s hand and fell to the ground in
a dull thud. He quickly picked the phone and ended the call then placed the phone
back on the side stool and jumped into bed. His heart pounded very hard as
though there were some kind of soldiers marching in his chest.
Jessica stepped out of the bathroom clad in a towel.
“The phone has stopped ringing, has it?” She asked.
“Errmm…I wasn’t paying any attention…I think it has
stopped.” He said quickly.
Jessica nodded and picked up her phone, at that moment, the
phone started ringing again.
“Hello…what’s up Colleague?” Jessica greeted breezily.
“I…errr…goodmorning, I thought someone answered the call
a moment ago.” Queen asked over the phone.
“Someone answered the call? Of course not! I was in the
bathroom and the phone was ringing…”
“Someone picked the call…” Queen pressed.
“My husband is the only one in the house with me and he
didn’t answer the call. I’m sure your network got jammed. Sometimes, these
network service providers confuse people a whole lot.”
“Oh okay…never mind, I just called to apologize for
yesterday. I acted very weird and I shouldn’t have…I am really sorry.”
“C’mon Queen…you don’t need to apologize. I would have
panicked too if I were in your shoes.”
“No, you would have been cool but…”
“Hey…it’s okay, your apology has been accepted. You’re a
nice woman and I really like your personality. I can’t get angry with you
because you were trying to be a good mother.”
“Thank you so much dear.”
“How’s Junior?’
“He’s here, jumping about and enjoying himself. I can tell
that he really enjoyed the party yesterday.”
“Yes he did. You should have seen the way he glued himself
to my…”
Zach knew what was coming next, so he took the phone from
his wife’s hand, ended the call and started nuzzling her neck.
“You ended my call! Zach!”
“I’m jealous…you’re taking too much time on the phone.” He
said still nuzzling her neck.
“Oh my goodness! I was chatting with a woman. The lady I
took her son to the party yesterday…she called me and…”
Zach didn’t let her finish, he cut off her statement with a
kiss.
**************
Queen was disturbed, she looked at the phone in surprise.
Jessica had ended the call abruptly but that was not what disturbed her, it was
the fact that the voice she’d heard some moments ago belonged to her husband
and she was one hundred percent sure of it.
“What is Zach doing in Jessica’s house?” She wondered.
“Jessica said that no one answered her call, who then, picked the call?”
She quickly dialled her husband’s number and it rang several
times but there was no answer. She was troubled.
Something wasn’t right.
***************
Ella told her family that she was going to get a few things
from the supermarket and drove out of the house in her car. Within five
minutes, she was at the roundabout and soon got into the filling station on
Awolowo road where Lawrence said he was waiting. She parked her car and got
out.
“Hey you!” He greeted, walking over to meet her.
“I didn’t see you!” She said with a smile.
“I was standing right here…” He said. “How are you?”
“I’m fine…I was just having lunch with my family.”
“I hope you didn’t miss lunch because of me.”
“Of course not! I’m done with lunch already. So, do you have
any juices for me?”
Lawrence smiled, it was a very charming smile as he had
dimples on his cheeks.
“No it’s finished.”
“Can I have some tomorrow?”
He sighed.
“I’ll be going to Ibadan tomorrow, there’s an event that I’m
catering to, there.”
“Wow, that’s nice.”
“I just regret that I have to disappoint my customers here.
I’ll be back on Tuesday.”
“Don’t you have an assistant of some sort?”
“It’s hard to find a worthy assistant especially in this
kind of business. The fruits business needs clean hands.” He said showing her
his two hands. “I don’t want people to get germs from my drinks.”
“I understand the frustration.” She said.
“It’s no worries, I can manage.” He said.
“But what will happen tomorrow and the day after? Your
customers are going to be very disappointed.”
“I’ve drafted texts to send to them tonight.” He said and
shrugged.
“Do you know what? Maybe I should learn this business of
yours.”
“What? Do you want to rip me off?” He said laughingly. “You’d
stop patronizing me and you’re one big client.”
“Ohhh c’mon! I don’t mean that, I’m just wondering if I
could help out….that’s if you teach me,”
“Are you serious?” He asked with eyes wide.
Ella suddenly caught herself, she was going too far with Lawrence
and she should stop.
“No, I don’t really mean that.”
“Of course you did, I can tell that you want to learn and
I’m willing to teach you.”
“What was I thinking? I have a lot of work to do at the
office, coupled with my husband and my home, I won’t be able to…”
“Oh…that’s true…for a moment, I forgot you’re married.”
He said.
“It was nice seeing you again and thanks for helping me out
with my car.”
“Oh stop it, you’ve been thanking me for that since like
forever.” He said.
“I have to go now, I still have to spend time with my family
before I head home.”
“Okay, thank you for coming out to see me.” He said.
“Bye…” She said as she waved to him and got back into her
car.
As she drove away, she watched him through the review mirror
and saw him watching her leave. She sighed deeply and said.
“Keep a reign on yourself Ella! You’re married!”
To be continued next week….

 

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