Ijeoma was at her sister’s house. Ndidi was 2 years younger, a teacher, and married to a businessman. Her children Ade and Nike were close in age to Ijeoma’s and they got along fabulously. Ijeoma saw her home as a safe haven. It was to her, she unburdened her heart whenever her worries became too much to bear
“Ij, the rice is ready. Shall I dish yours?”, Ndidi asked.
“Let’s feed the children first. We can eat later”, she replied. ”
Okay. Ade!, Nike!, Jonah!, Kevin!”, she called. “Lunch is ready”
The children flew down the stairs in excitement. Her nanny, Mofo, led them to the table and helped them get seated. Ndidi passed their food to her.
“Ade, say a prayer for us”, Ndidi requested.
He rose, clasped his hands and looked around to ensure everyone did too, before closing his eyes.
“Some have food but cannot eat. Some can eat but have no food. We have food and we can eat. Glory be to thee O Lord! Amen. Bless this food O Lord for Christ sake”
Everyone chorused Amen, thinking he was done.
“The Lord’s prayer” he requested.
They all recited the prayer.
“It’s enough, thank you”, his mother stopped him with a laugh. “Let the food not get cold, please. Before you ask us to recite Psalm 119”
Everyone laughed as they descended on the food. Mofo fed Nike, Ijeoma fed Kevin, while Ndidi supervised the older children. When they had eaten, they rushed to the play room to play with their toys. Mofo cleared the table before joining the kids. She would eat when Ndidi and Ijeoma had eaten. Ndidi dished their food.
“So, what has Magnus done this time?”, Ndidi asked, over their meal.
“He is your brother, why not ask him!”
“When did we become brother and sister? I don’t know why you feel I always take sides with him”
“But, you do. If Femi was half as stingy, wouldn’t you have left him?”
“Ndidi? You who loves good things?”
“I love my husband more than good things”, she bit into her chicken.
“This chicken is too tough. I may have fried it for too long”
“It’s fine”, Ijeoma reassured.
“Femi is not one to throw money around”
“Yes, but, he provides your basic needs”
“Do you know that Magnus gave N50000 to his mom when we owe rent and electricity bills?”
“Hmm. That guy is irresponsible”
“Don’t say that”
“It’s the truth. He spends so much on the specialist care for his autistic brother. Am I the one who cursed him with autism?”
“I pity that boy”
“You pity who? You should pity me! They cleverly hid the boy from me till we married. I would have thought twice. God favored me that none of my children inherited the thing”, Ijeoma snapped her fingers angrily.
“Deceiving you was wrong but, so is your attitude”
“Honestly, I hate that boy. I hate all his family.Stuck-up people! They live on Magnus’ money and leave us to suffer. If I didn’t have this job, we would starve”
“God is taking care of you, don’t forget”
“Shouldn’t Magnus have that responsibility? Is it God I married?”
“Take it easy”
“I’m tired ”
“I have been seriously contemplating divorce”
“For what? Is he cheating on you? Beating you?”, Ndidi dropped her fork.
“Must I wait till then?”
“As Christians, divorce is unacceptable except on grounds of infidelity”
“Akuko! (Story!). Tell that to the birds. All these pastors leaving their wives, won’t they make heaven?”, Ijeoma asked.
“We are not to judge another man’s servant. I only answer for my actions”, Ndidi insisted . “Please, dismiss that thought. How will you take care of the kids alone?”
“Am I not already doing so?”
“Trust me, those living that life, will tell you they wish they fought harder. How can you look your children in the eye and tell them you left their father for such a flimsy reason?”
“You call it flimsy because you are in a happy marriage”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be flippant”
“Let’s pray about it, okay? ”
“I have been praying”, Ijeoma complained.
“I can imagine the type of prayer. Hahaha!”, she laughed. “Probably praying for his brother to die?”
“Is it not better? What type of life is he living when everything has to be done for him? Drools spittle on himself, bangs his head, and injures his caregivers? Is that life? O di ndu onwu ka mma (Living dead)”
“Stop it, Ijeoma! ”
“God forgive me”, she repented .
Ndidi heard Nike crying and got up to investigate, leaving Ij to her thoughts. She pushed her plate aside sullenly.
“Marrying this man was a big mistake. Look at Ndidi. Living in a duplex, has a housekeeper, a good car, a caring husband, and loving in laws. I deserve better”, she thought.
Regina was chatting with Miriam, her best friend. They were at a birthday party thrown by 1 of the ushers at an eatery for his wife. Both of them were single, christian, successful, and pretty.
“These brothers, why won’t they notice people like us?”, Miriam began. “We were in this church when Jimi went to another church and married that girl. Tell me, is she finer than we are?”
“Look at Disu. He was hanging around me. Immediately I helped him get the loan he wanted from my bank, he realized I am too old for him”
“Look at the small girl he married”
“My sister, I don’t know what is wrong with them. Pastor needs to talk to these young men”
“He really needs to. If I marry a Muslim now, they will say I didn’t have faith. Wait for your time, wait for your time: Don’t they know a woman’s time passes fast?”
“Jukwa m, m’ajuo gi( Ask me and I’ll ask you in return) ”
Both girls hissed as they turned to accept drinks from the waiter.
“How far with the hotel contract? Did you get it?” Miriam asked.
“Of course. After my 3 days fast? How would I not? ”
“God has been faithful to us though. I won’t apologize for my success”
“Don’t mind those who say we are intimidating”
“Aha! Do you know my aunt, Aunty Weruche, told me to trade my car for a cheaper one? That it is driving away suitors”, Miriam dropped her drink and slapped her friend’s thigh.
“Trade? My mom said I should sell mine and use the staff bus”
They both laughed.
“Why are you ladies laughing?”, Tom, another guest joined them.
“Ladies talk, sorry”, Miriam said.
“Alright. Do you think women who drive their own cars are intimidating? ”
“Well….”, he thought for a while. “If I didn’t have a car, I guess I would be nervous approaching such a lady”
“Eh, eh? So, what if her car is better than yours?”, Regina asked.
“Hmm. How did she get the car? If there is a credible source…”
“You don’t know her. You just saw her somewhere and followed her to the lot. Only for her to unlock a posh car”, Miriam pressed.
“I will retrace my steps and investigate”
“Diplomatic answer”, Regina smirked.
“Seriously”, he insisted.
“My brother, you are engaged to a girl who is in her final year in the university. Didn’t you see all the sisters in the choir with you?” Miriam asked
“You can’t tell the heart who to love”
“That’s just an excuse” Miriam mocked.
Tom laughed and beckoned to another guest, Dave. “Come and rescue me from these girls”, he called.
“Hi, ladies” Dave greeted, pulling out a seat.
“They have been interrogating me about Anuli”
“It’s not about Anuli. We only wondered who you were leaving all those faithful choir sisters for” Regina corrected.
“This topic again? ” Dave asked .
“My brother”,Tom shook his head
“Pastor addressed it during the last Singles’ fellowship” Dave stated, unbuttoning his jacket.
“What did he say?”, both ladies chorused.
“Neither of you was there? ” Tom asked
“We have been attending for years. Is it just this 1 we missed that will change anything? ” Miriam hissed
“Okay. He said brothers can marry from anywhere. So long as she is a Christian”
Both ladies hissed and shook their heads. Regina threw a playful punch at him.
“No wonder Arsenal keeps losing. When they have fans like you”, she teased
“Leave my club out of this. This year, we will break the jinx.They all laughed and rose as the MC announced that they were required to take pictures with the celebrant.
TO BE CONTINUED.