I stood in front of the sink, washing the dishes. At the same time, I could hear the wheezing sound escaping from the pot of beans on the fire. Our kitchen was a very big one, beautifully decorated with white tiles and cream wall paint. The sound of the beans cooking on the gas got louder and I quickly rinsed the ceramic plate I was holding to check the food. I opened the pot and peered in, the beans did not look like it was ready. I picked up a plastic spoon from the rack and dipped it into the pot. This way, I could taste about 5 seeds of the beans to be sure of how long it would take for the food to be fully cooked.
As I dipped the spoon into the pot, I felt a loud slap on my back. It hurt so much and stung at the same time like bees had been released on my back. I screamed and the tears flowed freely.
“Stupid girl, so this is how you eat from the pot before serving everyone right? Shameless idiot. Or are you trying to poison the food? village witch like you! ”. Another slap followed.
“Aunty please stop, I was only checking if the beans is ready”, I replied.
“Liar, tell that to dogs who have no brain”.
I heard her daughter giggling behind her. As a result of all the drama going on in the kitchen, no one heard the knock on the door. Or the turning of keys in the key hole and Uncle returned from work. Uncle walked straight to the kitchen as he heard so much noise coming from there.
“Honey, princess, what’s going on? ”, he called out to his wife and daughter.
Aunty, carefully upturned the container of palm oil on the kitchen counter. We all watched it spill on the beautiful white tiles and I inwardly groaned. That meant I would go to bed later than I planned because I would have to clean up the mess.
“Don’t mind this useless girl, she just wasted the palm oil mama sent to us from the village”. Uncle stood at the entrance of the kitchen and listened to Aunty as she continued. “And you know its richer and better than the palm oil they sell in the city. How do I send for another now ehn? ”. Uncle smiled as he heard this. We all knew Aunty and Mama were at logger head. They had been ever since Uncle introduced Aunty to his mother as the woman he wanted to marry. Mama hated her immediately; after all Aunty was not from our region neither did she speak our native dialect.
“Is that why you are beating her? For just palm oil? “, Uncle asked. “I did not touch her, she just finished slicing some onions for the beans that’s why her eyes seem to have moisture in them”, Aunty told Uncle. This made him smile again, he knew his wife and he knew what she was capable of doing.
“Princess dear, is that true?”, he asked his daughter. She just wobbled her head up and down, taking sides with her mother. Princess was dumb from birth. That was another reason why Mama disliked Aunty. She felt Aunty was possessed and so could not give birth to a child with complete faculty. Princess was the first child and only surviving. The other two had died at birth further cementing Mama’s claim that Aunty had some demonic spirit in her. She picked up Princess, ordered me to clean the kitchen and make sure the food was ready soon as she was sure Uncle was tired and hungry. I quickly curtseyed and replied that it would be ready in a jiffy. She nodded like a Queen giving orders to her subject and sashayed out of the kitchen with her daughter.
I picked up the plastic spoon from the floor where it had fallen from my hand after that ear splitting slap landed on my back. I proceeded to taste the beans like I originally planned. It needed just 6 more minutes of boiling and it would be ready for consumption. And 6 minutes was just perfect for playing. Playing a game I loved.
I had just been in the city for one month. I was sent from the village by Mama who had good intentions. But, only both of us knew what exactly Mama’s wish was. I looked up at Uncle who was still standing at the entrance of the kitchen and smiled. He returned the smile. I knew I had surprised him last night, it was different from the others and he thoroughly and wrapped around my finger as Mama predicted. Phase one of the plan was complete.
Uncle turned around to make sure Aunty had gone into the room. He walked into the kitchen and I knew the coast was clear. “our game, our game and my answer for today is Pink!” he exclaimed. I giggled and tried to suppress the sound by placing my right palm over my mouth while I used the index finger on my second hand to point at him, wagging it in a seductive yet casual way. “Please tell” he said. We played this game every day, on his return from work. I slowly pulled up my jeans skirt revealing the sexy lacy thong I had on. “Yes!!! I got it”, he screamed. I giggled louder.
“What is that? Honey?” we heard Aunty’s voice. He quickly gave me a kiss and walked into the room to meet his wife.
“Oh nothing much, a call just confirmed that I won a contract I’ve been chasing for a while”, uncle said to Aunty.
“Thank God o, I will show those women when we go to the village for your uncle’s burial, they will know I am a proper city woman. I know what I will wear now…”, the sound of her voice droned on as I walked back to the kitchen to check on my beans. Smiling to myself, my fingers itched to call Mama to tell her. I knew she would be extremely happy with me. She just had to tell me what next to do.