“Who is this?” Uncle Ebong’s deep baritone boomed on the other end of the phone line.
Uncle Ebong paused. “Are you all right?”
“Is Mmayen there?”
“She just left with the car. Is anything wrong?”
Sunday depressed the red button on the phone, cutting off the conversation. He leaned against the kitchen counter and thought of ways to stop Mmayen from getting into the house.
How did it get to this? A few minutes ago he had Kim trapped in a lie. Now, he was the one trapped…in something. He retraced the past events in his head, but his thoughts got jumbled up. He paced the kitchen floor aimlessly.
Mmayen is coming!
Kerosene was going to be poured into the fire for sure if Mmayen arrived.
What to do?
He thought of telling Kim that he was going to the store to pick up a couple of items. If he could slip out with that line, he could just disappear for a couple of hours, and avoid being a witness to the impending mess of Mmayen and Kim going at it.
He marched up to the door of the room Kim was holed up in, and turned the lock. No dice. “Kim?”
No answer from Kim
“Kim, open the door.” He wanted to tell her that Mmayen was coming but held his tongue instead. How could he explain that one later? She would know that he was running because Mmayen was coming. Ugh-huh.
Victory! At least she was still willing to talk to him. “I need to go to the store.”
“I need to go pick up something.”
“African cooking oil.” Good job! he thought, mentally congratulating himself. With that, he could go to Mama Beji’s store. That store was a hundred miles away!
“We have it.”
“No, we don’t. It’s not the Canola oil.”
“I know the difference!”
O-kay. Did she?
“Your mother brought it yesterday.”
“Where is it?”
“In the cabinet.”
Sunday ran back to the kitchen to check. Yep, right there, radiating in its golden glory, was the peanut oil encased in its liter-sized bottle. He slammed the cabinet door shut, and then kicked at the trash bucket, sending it flying into the air.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, yes. I’m okay, honey. Just tripped.” He hurriedly picked up the spilled trash and placed the can back in its proper place.
He could’ve told her he wanted to go get wheat bread!
Nobody had the type of wheat bread Mama Beji had. In other words, all wheat breads were not born equal. Ghana wheat bread ruled, and Vons, the local supermarket, couldn’t touch that!
Now he couldn’t escape. He walked up to the couch and sat in it. Something poked at his buttocks. He stood up and saw that he’d sat on the digital recorder he’d used in recording Kim. He picked it up and threw it across the room. The recorder slammed against the book cabinet and then bounced unto the dinner table, creating an audible ruckus.
“What’s going on there?!”
“Nothing.” Sunday stood up and walked into the kitchen, a determined look on his face. He brought out all he needed to whip up an egusi soup. He turned on the stove and placed the pot on it. He froze mentally when he forgot what he was supposed to do first.
He ran upstairs and brought back the notebook in which he’d written cooking instructions Geneva had given him the last time they spoke on the phone. Right then, his cell phone rang.
“Una don fight finish?” It was Geneva calling from London.
Sunday looked at his wrist watch. “It’s late in London, Gigi.”
“You should’ve thought of that when you called earlier. Now I can’t go back to sleep. Why haven’t you returned my call, Sunny?”
“Busy.” Sunday sat on the couch and leaned back against it. He was glad Geneva was the one on the line. He’d take the opportunity to ask her to clarify some of the points she’d given him on how to prepare egusi soup.
“Busy doing what? Fighting with Kim? I told you to forget dat Naija macho bullshit you Nigerian men take overseas with you. Dis no be Daddy days o.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Papa used to talk to Mmayen like dat. He even slapped her around some because she didn’t put enough meat in his soup. I’m sure you remember, Sunny.”
“He was the man of the house.”
“And she was a human being!”
“Na whose side you dey sef?”
“I dey her side! Last time I was there I saw how you talked to that girl. You’re educated, Sunny. Don’t talk to her as if you brought her from Uyo to come clean your house. She has a Masters degree and she’s your wife.”
“So I can’t be the man in my house anymore because I come America?”
“I’m saying dat you have to watch how you talk to her. That is one good akata girl, Sunny.”
“Akata girl when no know how to cook egusi!”
“You know how to cook Chilli Con Carne?”
“Wetin be dat?’
“My point. Kim make dat food when I come last time. Dat food was the bomb, like una dey say there. I remember dat you liked it too. But you no know how to make am. She no call you stupid, abi?”
“I haven’t called anybody stupid.”
“You could’ve fooled me, Sunny. The way you dey go on about,” Geneva put on a whinny tone, “how she no know how to cook egusi!”
“She’s the wife, Gigi. She is supposed to be the cook!” Sunday felt like cutting off his sister.
“E he! If you’re talking like dat it means that something don yawa. Make I talk to am.”
Weee! Weee! Weee!
The smoke detector was on. Sunday ran to the kitchen and saw that smoke was shooting out of the pot he had placed on the stove. Right at that moment, Geneva’s voice on the cell phone got panicky, Kim, with a horrified look in her eyes, rushed into the kitchen, and the door bell rang, signaling the possible arrival of Mmayen.