It was when I walked into the kitchen that I discovered that the sink tap was left running and the entire kitchen was flooded with water. Duru had left the tap running and gone to play that his computer game again. I was angry. He was fond of it; leaving the tap running and going away. Each time I confronted him about it he claimed to have forgotten. Imagine! I’m only a house maid and that is why I have to put up with his shit. Heaven knows the kind of merciless beating I would have given him if he were my sibling. Auntie isn’t helping issues either, she pets him too much and he misbehaves all the time. If only I could lay my hands on him I would teach him hard lessons.
‘’Duru!’’ No reply. Feeling foolish and angry I stalked towards the sink and turned off the tap. Duru never answers me when I call on him, especially when his name was being yelled. Nevertheless I had hoped he would hear the irritation and necessity in my voice and be pushed to answer.
“Duru!” I yelled again, still no reply. My anger was beginning to boil by then. He wasn’t answering but I knew he was sulking. He hated it when his name was yelled and I took pleasure in yelling his name. It was the only way I could ease myself of the irritation and anger I felt towards him. It gave me a small sense of satisfaction even though it was nothing compared to the satisfaction I would have had if I had knocked him hard .
This time it was not enough to yell his name. I wished I could knock him on the head till my knuckles bled. I was really itching to write a story after lunch but he had made sure that I didn’t write until the kitchen was sparkling-dry else auntie was going to give me that knock that he deserved. She was due to be home soon so I had to hurry up. As I reached for the mop bucket behind the door I slipped and landed flat on the flooded floor. The pool of water around me did nothing to cushion the effect of the fall. It was so hard and I started crying. It wasn’t the pain of the fall that made me cry, although it was really hard and my ass felt like stone. It was Anuli that made me cry.
Last week while uncle was watching the news he had called on me to sit and watch the news with him. Hell, I was scared to death that auntie was going to walk in and find us watching the news together. It wasn’t as if I was sitting on his laps. No, but auntie was very sensitive and she didn’t particularly like me. So you see, I thought uncle wanted to fire me but didn’t know how to and if auntie found the both of us sitting there together she was going to literally fire me. Charming! I was so wrong. Uncle wanted me to hear and see for myself what had happened to Umunede my hometown. He hated delivering bad news, that was why he let the newscaster , a skinny dark woman that looked like she had recently survived a coma, do so in the coldest of ways.
Mama called the following day and said exactly what the newscaster had said the previous night.
“The flood is here.” This time around her voice carried more warmth that the skinny newscaster from the previous night.
“I heard.” That was the easiest reply I could give. How did one take in the news that she had lost her home to water? Mmiri bun ndu, water is life. Yet, this water that gives life had just taken away everything we owned from us. What was I supposed to say to mama, all is well? When all was gone.
I was still searching for the right words to say to her when mama laughed. Mama’s laughter was sour and humourless. It reminded me of the funeral hymn the bird had given Papa on the morning of his death. The bird usually woke me up with its pleasant songs every morning but that morning was different. It didn’t start singing by 5am as usual. It sang around six and that was the time I woke up to find papa dead. Mama was torn apart. That was the last time Mama’s laughter went sour. Things became worse than they were for us and I had to join uncle and auntie in the city. Since then Mama called me every time there was a worthy news to share.
That day the news was the flood. It had invaded our village, swallowed our home and displaced my family. The flood had forced them into the camp where others that had also been displaced from their homes with nowhere to go to camped. It reduced our status from lower class to the pitied class. I wept but Mama laughed. Mama was a strong woman. She always saw the silver lining behind dark clouds. That was Mama for you. Even when sister took in and couldn’t tell who was responsible for her pregnancy mama kept quiet while others yelled.
She supported sister and made her feel good about herself.
The pool of water around me reminded me of the flood. The kitchen was flooded but not swallowed by the flood like our home. There was no phone call from Mama telling me that the kitchen was flooded. The water was not the brown-muddy water I had seen on TV, instead it was clear-clean water .It wasn’t irritating to look at. On the contrary, it was relatively a pleasant sight. It did not only remind of the flood in my village. It also reminded me of the phone call from Mama earlier this morning. This time it was good news. Sister had put to bed in the camp and it was a girl! The best part is that they asked me to give her a name. What better name than Anuli, she was joy. She had brought us joy amidst our sorrow. Her birth made me realize that all was not lost.
Mama had laughed when I blurted out the name. Her laughter was pure joy. We hadn’t gained back our home but we had gained back our joy.