Aunty Vicky

My dad came into town yesterday. I had to take the day off work so I could pick him up from the airport and be his personal chauffeur. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Its just a little annoying that he still has so much control over me, even at the ripe old age of 24. When he says jump, I ask how high when I’m already half way in the air. No thinking, no room for negotiation, I just do.

 

I remember the first day I saw my Dad smile. Seeing as I witnessed that monumental event only a handful of times in my 24 years on earth, this particular occasion is ingrained in my memory. My Dad’s younger sister moved away when she was 24 and he was 30. The day she left for the airport is till date still one of the saddest moments of my life. I remember like it was yesterday. My Dad had warned her not to go. He told her that Italy would eat her up and spit her out and that ‘abroad’ was not meant for people like her. Truth be told, I think he was just scared of having to raise me all by himself. He tried to bully her into staying; even threatening to call immigration and claim her visa was a fake but Aunty Vicky didn’t budge. Their stubbornness was a trait they both inherited from their father, my Grandfather.

 

The day she left, Daddy refused to drop her off at the airport. He claimed he had an ankle injury and said he couldn’t drive. We watched as Aunty Vicky dragged her too large suitcase out of the door and into a taxi. Aunty Vicky moved in with us, the day my mother died. She had lived with us for 10 years. We weren’t sure the next time we would see her again.

 

One Tuesday evening, I was sitting on our front porch reading an Archie comic. My dad wasn’t back from the office yet so I was left to my own devices. I was so engrossed in what Jughead said to Betty that I didn’t notice someone was walking up to the house.

 

I smelled her before I saw her. She smelled like a fish market on a very sunny day. Her hair was supposed to be blonde but it looked like the yellow of urine. She had a gold cap on her front tooth, and so many spots on her face it looked like a football pitch in the middle of a match. She was wearing a leopard print jumpsuit and yellow heels to match her hair. She carried a small duffel bag and walked like she had something heavy between her legs.

 

‘”Dunni! Oladunni temi ni kan! I’ve missed you my baby”, she said as she tried to envelop me in a hug. I recoiled from this strange woman who knew my name. “How did she know my name?”

 

“Ahn Ahn Dunni! I haven’t been gone for that long. Its me, Aunty Vicky” she said.

 

I think this was the first time in my life that I felt truly horrified. This woman was nothing like the woman that left our house that evening three years ago. The Aunty Vicky I knew had skin as dark, smooth and shiny as a freshly polished shoe. She told me she used to win ‘Miss Ebony’ contests when she was in secondary school. Aunty Vicky had long hair that she always complained wasn’t full enough. She was slim, not thin, and tall; taller than my father. This woman looked nothing liker her.

I tried as much as possible to hide my shock, and returned her hug. I helped her with her too light duffel bag. For someone who had been living in Italy for 3 years, she had almost no luggage at all. We talked for a little while, or rather I should say that I talked and she listened. I told her about school and my friends. She never once mentioned anything about Italy and avoided all questions I asked about it. I pretended not to notice and kept talking, anything to reduce the awkwardness in the room. This Aunty Vicky was different. She had changed. I got the feeling she was listening to me but wasn’t hearing what I was saying. She seemed far away. After talking for a while, she said she was really tired from the trip and was going to take a nap.

 

Regardless of what she looked like, I was happy my Aunty Vicky was home! Finally someone would explain to my father that it was okay for me to go to the movies with my friends. I was so excited to tell Daddy she was back. It would be a pleasant surprise.

 

I heard the horn of Daddy’s car and rushed to open the gate. I couldn’t wait to tell him the good news! It turned out Daddy had already heard. Our nosy neighbor, Mrs Uzo called Daddy and told him she saw a ‘strange looking young woman’ go into our house. He rushed home immediately after that.

 

“Who is in my house? Ehn Dunni? Who did you let into my house? You are now friends with prostitutes? Mrs Uzo said a prostitute entered this house today!” he screamed at me. Before I could say a word, Aunty Vicky came out of the bedroom.

 

“Good evening Brother. Ekale

 

My Dad was silent for almost one minute, and then his face broke into the biggest grin I had ever seen.

 

“I told you so,” he said. “I told you abroad was not meant for people like you”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

EXPENSIVE

There is no kerosene left in the lamp. I told my husband to let us buy one of those solar rechargeable lamps but he said no. It’s too expensive. There are also no more candles in the house. I told Kunle, my husband to let us buy a generator but he said no. It’s too expensive. Everything is too expensive for Kunle. I have no engagement ring because Kunle said the ones he found were too expensive. He proposed to me with a ring I already owned. At the time I thought it was cute.

 

I don’t have a car. I had saved up money to buy one but Kunle said it was too expensive and we should put the money to better use. I also do not work. I got a job in Lekki- we live in Ikeja, but Kunle said it was too expensive going from the mainland to the island to work. He told me turn to turn it down. I joked that if I had a car, it wouldn’t be a problem. Kunle said my joke was too expensive.

 

Kunle and I have been married for 5 years. We don’t have any children. Kunle said children are too expensive and we can’t afford them at the moment. He said we should wait till our 6th year of marriage or our first million; whichever one comes first. Kunle is an engineer and he works at the Apapa port. He spends 3 nights a week at the port, making repairs to the ships. Kunle said that buying fuel in his car to go from Apapa to Ikeja everyday is too expensive. He sleeps on the ship to cut down on costs.

 

I decide to take some food to my husband at the port one evening. I think about taking a taxi, but I know he will say it’s too expensive and get upset. I take a keke from our house to Ikeja along bus stop, a bus to Moshalashi, another one to Oshodi, one more to Ajegunle and an okada to the port. I get to the port and look for Kunle’s station. The security guard tells me there’s no one there. “Madam, call your husband for phone. Everybody don commot for this place,” he tells me as he slouches back to his old chair to resume his nap. It shouldn’t be this stressful to surprise one’s husband.

 

“Oga, my husband dey sleep for this place. I’m sure he just stepped out. I will sit down here and wait for him”, I tell the surly looking security guard. He barely even lifts his eyelid to look at me. I wait for one hour and consider calling Kunle. It’s almost 8pm at this point and I don’t want to have to go back home too late. Ikeja under bridge is not the safest place for a lady at night.

 

I finally run into someone that looks a bit knowledgeable. ”Good evening” I say to the gentleman. “Please I’m looking for Kunle. He works at this station”.

“Ohh you mean Oga Kunle?” he says with a smile. “He has gone home oo. They are having a party at his house this evening.” I quickly apologize to the man for disturbing him. We are obviously not talking about the same person. Kunle is definitely not an Oga and he doesn’t believe in parties. He says they’re too expensive.

 

“There is only one Kunle in this station,” he tells me. “I am even going to their party. I can give you the address so you can go there yourself. Or I can take you if you don’t mind.” My curiosity is piqued, so I get into his car, hoping and praying he’s not a ritualist and this is not a ploy to get me into the forest and drain me of all my blood.

 

We climb unto Eko brigde, head into Victoria Island and pass the first tollgate. At this point I’m terrified because now I’m sure he’s not referring to my Kunle. Kunle hates Lekki, he says everything there is so expensive. This man is definitely trying to kidnap me.

 

As I prepare to open my mouth to scream for help through the open window, he stops at a majestic white house. There are two fountains in front of the house, each one with a cherub placed strategically at its centre. The lights in the garden give the water a rainbow colored tint. It’s arguably the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen.

 

Trying not to get too distracted by the house, I begin to plan my escape.  I’ve watched too many Nollywood movies to not know what happens next. This is where they cover my head with a bag, and lead me to meet the other victims in the all-white room. I quickly open the door and prepare to run unto the street until I notice there is actually a party going on. My curiosity gets the better of me and I go inside the house.

 

The house is brimming with people; they spill out from the inside to the garden. They are all dressed in white, holding champagne glasses and eating Hors d’oeuvres. I hear the clink of a fork against glass and a man clears his throat, preparing to give a speech.

 

“Thank you all for coming to celebrate my beautiful wife’s birthday. We’ve been married for 3 years now, and it’s been so wonderful. She still hasn’t left me even though I have to be away from her four nights a week.” The room erupts in laughter at this and he continues.

 

“I love you baby. I promise to give you the world. Nothing is too expensive for you.” Kunle turns around and kisses this woman on the lips to a round of applause.

 

Everyone turns around to stare as I drop the bowl of food I completely forgot I was holding.

 

The bowl rolls down the short flight of stairs I’m standing on and lands right in front of my husband.

 

Okro doesn’t look too nice on white, hand made, leather shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEAT

“Lower the heat oo! Shalewa lower the heat! Do you want to burn down my house?”

 

You would think that I had increased the temperature of the gas burner so high, that flames had burst through the kitchen windows and were eating up the street. I was only trying to fry some plantain, and it was taking too long. I don’t have time to waste.

 

Anyway, all the cries and shouts of ‘heat lowering’ from my mother were just entering one ear and coming out of the other, like wind. Not because I am an alaigboran- which some members of my family claim I am. Uncle Funmi says I’m as stubborn as a he goat, but what does he know anyway? He is a man and his name is Funmi, his parents must have probably passed their poor judgment to him.

 

Anyway Uncle Funmi called me a he goat just because he told me I shouldn’t carry the large bucket of water from the outside of the house to the bathroom in the house. He doesn’t know that I’m very strong. Of course I carried it to show him. If not for the stupid carpet that decided to trip me, I would have made it. Instead of everybody to tell me sorry for falling down, they were shouting that I broke bucket and poured water on the floor. That day mummy shouted and shouted and shouted, I thought her throat was going to collapse with the pressure.

 

So as you can see I am not an alaigboran. Bad things just tend to happen to me. Aunty Bukky says it’s the people from my father’s village that are following me. I wonder why they are following me, where do they think I’m going? I never really liked Aunty Bukky anyway. Ever since that day that she shouted at me just because she said she wants to eat ‘yam hand hegg’ and I said Mummy didn’t cook ‘hegg’ that morning. That day she said I’m very ‘senseless hand hunserious’. It took me a minute to figure out what she was trying to say.

 

It’s obvious that my family members don’t love me. Last week I tried to run away but mummy caught me when I was trying to sneak some rice from the bag in the store to take with me on my long journey. I had decided to go to Lagos to see my daddy. He’s the only one that loves me. He buys me everything I ask for, and he doesn’t shout at me or call me a stubborn goat. On my 7th birthday this year, he bought me a phone. I use it to call him and play snakes. Anyway, that day he came and I told him how mummy beat me the day before, because I was sweeping the living room but they started showing ’As told by Ginger’ on the TV and I stopped.

 

My daddy’s face became very red! Did I tell you that my daddy is half-caste? He looks like Ramsey Noah. Anyway, my daddy went upstairs to talk to mummy. I’m sure he went to tell her to let me watch TV anytime I want. I miss when daddy used to live here. He told me that mummy and Aunty Bukky and Sister Tokunbo sent him out of the house, because they don’t want him to have any friends. I remember that day. Sister Tokunbo went out and saw daddy with his friend, Catherine and came to tell mummy. I don’t know what is her business. Anyway mummy and daddy started shouting that night as usual, and then they started banging the wall and screaming. I never understood why they did that. Daddy will make noise, ‘gba’ ‘kpo’ ‘gbo’ and mummy will now be screaming and shouting. Was it some sort of game? When they were done, daddy would leave the house and mummy wouldn’t come out of her room till the next day.

 

Anyway, Daddy left that day for the last time. He never came back. He told me he had to move to Lagos to stay with Catherine his friend. I begged Daddy to let Catherine stay here with us, in the house in Ibadan. I even offered to give her my room but Daddy said no.

 

So Daddy went upstairs to talk to mummy about my TV, and they started playing their game again. I hear ‘gba’ ‘kpo’ ‘gbo’ followed by mummy’s screams. I increased the volume of the TV because I knew they would soon stop, but it kept getting louder and louder. I wanted to go upstairs, but I know mummy will say I should stay downstairs with Sister Tokunbo. That’s what she does anytime they play their game.

 

They finally go very quiet and I can finally hear what Blossom is telling Buttercup on Cartoon Network. Praise God. Daddy comes downstairs and runs straight out of the house, so fast I feel the wind blow past as he leaves. He didn’t even say bye to me. What did mummy say to him? I go upstairs to ask her but I’m calling mummy and she’s not answering.

 

“Mummy! Mummy! Mummy wake up now are you sleeping? What did you say to daddy? Why is he angry? Muuuummmmmyyyyy!!”

 

Mummy isn’t answering me, she’s acting like she’s asleep but her eyes are open. She’s staring at me but she’s not saying anything. Me I don’t understand. Aunty Bukky and Sister Tokunbo are sitting beside her, crying and screaming. Why is everybody shouting?

 

Something feels funny. I don’t understand it. But I’m going downstairs to finish my power puff girls. When mummy wakes up she will explain everything.