Mrs Cole lay down on the three seater sofa in the sitting room, waiting for her husband to return. She slept off watching TV.
Mr Cole came back around 2:00am, banging on the door.
She went to open the door for him. He staggered into the house with the stench of alcohol and cigarette cloaking him like a heavy robe. There was nothing new about that but she noticed something different about him.
‘What’s this all over your face?’ She asked him looking at the red and purple streaks of lipstick, on his face.
‘What is it?’ He asked with disdain written all over his face.
‘Dare, these are lipstick marks on your face. Not just from one person but at least two.’ She said furiously.
‘And so? Woman, move away. I need to sleep.’ He sneered and cleared her off his path.
‘Dare, how dare you? It’s bad enough you don’t cater for the needs of your family. You go out every night and drink to stupor, now women? Really?’ She was infuriated. Everything about the man disgusted her. At that moment, she didn’t care if he beat her up or killed her; she had to let out her hurt. ‘You are such an ingrate Dare; I regret ever meeting you.’
‘What!’ He turned around sharply, his sudden movements inconsistent with his drunken state. He, clearly, had been jolted out of his reverie by her cutting words. ‘Are you out of your mind?’ He began, as he walked menacingly towards her, eyes flashing like red pointers and fists outstretched like two angry looking beasts. He was ready to teach her some lessons.
Mrs Cole saw him coming close; she knew he was going to pounce on her at any moment if she didn’t act fast. She took a calculated turn around and bolted for the kitchen, slamming the door and locking it safely on herself. She slid wearily to the floor with her back against the door, panting heavily and silently congratulating herself on her timely escape from the clutches of blows.
Mr Cole pounded noisily at the door. ‘Useless woman, why did you run away? You should have stayed so that I’ll beat the living day out of you’ he staggered as he made his way towards their bedroom.
Mrs Cole sat behind the door, listening and waiting till she heard him leave. When she could barely hear his receding footsteps, she lay on the kitchen floor and bawled like a baby, ‘Oh God, why? Why am I going through all this? Why is life so unfair to me?’ Hot tears rolled down her face uncontrollably. She cried until no strength was left in her then she stood up and went back to the sitting room. The thought of going to her room and lying on the same bed with her husband disgusted her. She turned off all the lights and slept on the three seater.
The next morning, she was up by 5am. She said a short prayer committing the day into God’s hand and got up. The thought of the fight between her husband and her and what led to it flashed through her mind and with it came an overwhelming feeling of sadness. She told herself that she wasn’t going to start her day that way so she brushed the thought away but the feeling lingered. She went first to the kitchen to heat up water the children will use to have their bath. Then she went to their rooms to wake them up.
Bayo’s room was a mess as usual; the windows were shut and the whole place, stuffy. ‘Why is this boy always closing all his windows?’ She asked herself as she opened them. ‘Bayo, Bayo wake up’ she tapped him ‘get up and get ready so you won’t be late for school’.
Bayo was always the most difficult to handle when it came to waking up so Mrs Cole usually went to his room first. He tossed in bed for half a minute while his mum persisted in tapping him, making each tap more painful than the previous, all in an attempt to get sleep off his eyes. He finally responded ‘hmmm’, first rubbing his eyes and then stretching. After about a minute, he was fully awake. He realized what was going on and quickly pulled his top sheet to himself as if he was hiding something.
‘What is it Bayo?’ She asked wondering the cause of the strange and sudden gesture.
‘Nothing mummy. Good morning.’ He said hoping she would press no further.
‘Good morning my foot,’she pulled the cloth away from him. ‘What is it you are hiding?’ She thought he hid something under the cloth little did she know that the ‘something’ was his nakedness.
‘Bayo what exactly is wrong with you? Why have you been sleeping naked these days?’ She asked.
Bayo used one hand to cover himself and the other hand was stretched to retrieve the cloth from his mum. ‘I’ve not been sleeping naked.’ He told her. ‘I woke up to use the toilet in the night and…’ He started his usual lines again but his mum cut him short.
‘Which useless toilet? Is it toilet that said you should not wear your boxer when you were done?’ She had a hunch that there was more to what he was saying. ‘Bayo, you had better stop lying; you know I’ll get to the bottom of this and something tells me that when I do, you will be so sorry.’ She pointed her right index finger at him in a warning gesture. ‘Get up and get ready for school. Go to the kitchen to get hot water. I must not come back and meet you on the bed; is that clear?’ She spoke sternly.
‘Yes ma,’ he said.
Mrs cole left his room, went to the ladies’ room and woke Bimbo up then she went to her room. She saw her husband fast asleep and snoring. She shook her head, quietly closed the door and went back to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for the family.
By 7am, Mrs Cole, Bayo and Bimbo were all set. Seyi was up, had brushed her teeth but not yet had her bath because she wasn’t going out. She had breakfast with them. Mr Cole hadn’t come out of his room. His food was in the warmer. He was a part-time lecturer at Overcomers University. He ran a very flexible schedule thus got to work around 10am every day.
‘Seyi take care of the house. Make sure you are security conscious and use your time wisely. Call if anything arises.’ Those were the same instructions she gave her every morning.
‘Okay mummy,’ Seyi responded and rolled her eyes.
Mrs Cole saw her saucy attitude.‘Ejo e ko (it’s not your fault).’ She told her and hissed. She turned to Bayo and Bimbo, ‘Eyin omo (children), let’s go.’ she carried her bag and stood up.
Seyi followed them out of the house and helped open the gate, ‘bye’ she waved as her mum drove off.
She went back into the house and tidied up the kitchen and dining where they had just eaten then she went to her room. She lay on the bed looking straight at the ceiling trying to paint a mental picture of her plan for the day. Gradually her eyes began to close and then off to dreamland she went.
It was the sound of her phone ringing that woke her up. She looked at the caller’s ID. It was Sope. ‘This girl will have my head; I haven’t given her the gist of how yesterday went.’ She said as she picked the call.
‘Hi Sope!’ She said hoping her friend won’t pounce on her.
‘You know you are not serious?’ Sope didn’t disappoint her.
‘I’m sorry Sope; my data was exhausted.’ She tried to give an excuse.
‘And you couldn’t call?’ The tone of her voice revealed her annoyance.
‘I didn’t have airtime too’ She hoped her explanations would suffice.
‘Whatever!’ Sope responded nonchalantly.
‘Sope now, I said I’m sorry.’ She knew her friend. She never stayed angry with her for more than a minute.
‘Do you now want me to beg you before you give me the gist?’ Sope was no longer angry but was eager to hear all Seyi had to say.
Seyi chuckled, ‘I knew you’d forgive me. The gist is not exactly what you’d expect. The guy is a bastard.’ She started.
‘Jeez, what happened?’ Sope was in shock.
Seyi hissed, ‘ He asked me out; I wasn’t even expecting it.’
‘So is that why he is a bastard, Seyi?’ Sope asked.
‘No nah, wait till you hear the full gist. He tried kissing me. I mean who does that?’
‘Well guys could be like that, sha.’ Sope explained to her.
‘Oh please, spare me! That’s not even the problem. Can you imagine that idiot has a girlfriend?’
‘Wait! What? It’s a lie.’ Sope couldn’t believe her ears.
‘I swear! My brother saw his picture and recognized him as his friend’s elder sister’s boyfriend. Can you imagine?’ Seyi was boiling.
‘This guy na big fool!’ Sope was even more upset than Seyi.
‘I’m telling you. You sef look at it o, he hasn’t called me since yesterday evening. Is that how someone who claims to care would behave? I’m sure he’d have one useless excuse.’
‘We don’t even want his call. He should keep his call to himself.’ Sope said.
‘Hold on Sope, a call is coming in’ Seyi said as she checked who it was. ‘He is the one calling.’
‘What does he want? Abeg he should leave you alone o.’ Sope already disliked him.
‘I don’t even want to hear his voice. Anyway, how are you? What are you doing today?’ Seyi asked, changing the subject of discussion.
‘I followed my mum to her office; I’m tired of staying at home.’
‘I know right; it’s frustrating.’ She looked at her phone and placed it back to her ear. ‘Can you imagine? He is still calling o.’ She informed Sope.
‘You know what? Pick the call and hear what he has to say; we’ll talk later.’
‘Alright dear, take care.’
To be continued. Read Part 17 Now Here
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