Nestled comfortably in her posh velvet couch, Tope leafed through her teenage diary in reminiscence and content. She had been pampered and therefore happy every moment of her exuberant life by her super-rich parents, bribed teachers, favor-seeking friends and finally, her puppet of a husband.
Her doting parents had taught her early in life that with money, literarily everything and everyone was at her beck and call. But even though she manipulated Robert (her husband) with the dexterity of an accomplished puppeteer at home and social events with the aid of money, she loved him with jealous, crude, barbaric and intense passion that made him untouchable and undesirable by any other female. She surprised her parents by agreeing to be his housewife (an idea she originally perpetuated), turning down the prestigious seat waiting for her in her father’s company. She had even agreed to carry his baby despite her parent’s suggestions of a hiring a surrogate-mother. Maternity was clearly a task too cumbersome for their only child.
But she did it all for the sake of love, or so she told her friends. They in turn were concerned for her, the few that really cared anyway. It was too good to be true, they tried to tell her as politely as possible- not that she wasn’t adorable, but to get a 26 year old man at 32 with her bulky frame…Well that sort of love existed only in…well fiction; something shifty was at hand. But she shunned all manner of negative opinions. It wasn’t long before other ladies started seeing what she saw in her husband. But then they also saw, or forced to see her dark side hadn’t they? Ever since she married him, she’d been watching him like a hawk in the sky with her minions of bodyguards her father ran surplus on.
Should any female at the Anande & Odumosu Detective consultancy firm engage in a private discussion with her beloved, her ‘bulldogs’ were sure to give a warning. All this happened without Robert’s notice. He never knew that the glances his female staff stole from him weren’t of admiration, but of dread. If the gold wedding ring didn’t chain him to her for eternity, the baby in her womb did. Their marriage wasn’t just a commitment, it was milestone suspended down his neck…
The door creaked open downstairs, snapping her out of her reverie. She had been so lost in thought that she didn’t notice his car drive into the compound.
She glided down the stairs into the parlor (living room as Robert insisted) to his suited 6 foot tall frame, grimly planted at the doorpost, looking like he’d entered the wrong house.
“Welcome darling” she crooned, searching his face
No answer. Something was wrong.
As if she was invisible, he walked past her into the house, pausing wistfully in the ‘living room’ before going to the master bedroom upstairs, leaving her dumb-founded. Rambled thoughts ravaged her brain. Had he found the truth? No, not likely. Not if the family doctor valued his life and career.
The baby kicked inside her and she really had to respond to nature’s call, a condition that had become even more frequent with the advent of her pregnancy.
10 minutes later found her persuading her husband to eat something, while his eyes remained transfixed on the wall TV.
“I’ll make chips for you before I start cooking” she offered
“No” he replied distractedly.
“But you will eat won’t you?” she bit her nails nervously. She wasn’t used to being neglected. “I can make your favorite-goat leg pepper soup”
“No Tope” he grunted in a weary monotone.
A cold chill began to creep up the staircase of her spine.
She was fidgeting self-consciously on her favorite couch now. “I’m getting fat, isn’t it?”
“Okay let’s talk” he turned off the TV and turned to face her square in the eye. It occurred to her that after 4 years of marriage, she was really seeing her husband for the first time. “I don’t love you” he tersely began.
He never did and that was why their marriage wasn’t working. It wasn’t even a marriage; it was slavery, slavery to a fat, spoilt, snivel of a mistress who arranged for females who chatted with him to be beaten up. He had started the relationship hoping he would fall in love with her, but who could fall in love with her? She was a bully and he’d allowed himself to be blinded by money. Yes money was the foundation of their relationship; it was hunger for money that had driven him into her matronly arms 4 years ago. He graduated and couldn’t find a job, and then she came along. What was he supposed to have done?
Right now, he was still young, handsome and everything his secondary school sweetheart wanted. So he was leaving. Besides the thing she carried in her womb wasn’t his, as far as his consciousness was concerned anyway. He had gotten the necessary evidence from their family doctor, including the sedative/sexual stimulant drug she had used on him- Rohypnol it was called.
He paused with an accusatory glare to gauge her reaction. There was none. She was shell shocked- a silent hysterical plea in her eyes begging him to stop. But he didn’t. He went on and on, shattering her marbled heart into a million pieces.
He was suing her to court for drugging and molesting him, and with his agency’s prestige and reputation, no amount of family connection or money would be able to breach justice.
With that, he stood up and flew up the flight of stairs again to his room upstairs, smashing the door behind him with a resounding clap that jolted her out of shock on her beloved velvet couch.
I’m dreaming…she thought. It was all false; it couldn’t be happening. Perhaps she was reacting to those anti-natal pills she had been taking.
But somewhere in her heart of hearts, she knew it was real. Robert Anande, her husband was leaving her.
“No!” she shrilled abruptly, startling herself with the pitch of her voice. It echoed throughout the elegantly furnished building she had come to call home and it was the desperate cry of a deranged woman…a woman whose life had gotten out of control.
But control was something her parents her mentored her in early in life, her dad with money, her mom with wit. They had not wasted all those years bringing her up for nothing; she was not going to let anything in her life get out of control.
She started humming to herself a Yoruba lullaby her mother sang as she stood up from the chair and walked into the kitchen in the next room. The freezer was stocked with assorted meats from beef to mutton, but her hand went to the last shelve, the one with the frozen goat-leg. She had promised him his favorite, and he was getting nothing less.
Then wielding it in her hand, still wrapped in its paper foil, she marched out into the parlor up the stairs to the master bedroom. The door was slightly ajar, but she could see his tall frame looking out the window at the far end of the room into the streets below.
She didn’t know what she was doing up until this point. Yet when it came to her, she didn’t shrink back in horror, she embraced it. In 5 brisk steps, she walked up to him and in the same breath, swung the goat leg at the back of his head with all the brute strength that came with her bulky frame. Had she been seconds late, she would have missed as he was about turning to see who had joined him in the room. With a bewildered look on his handsome face, he crashed sideways to the expensive mahogany floor.
Back in the kitchen, she used the butcher’s knife to disassemble the meat before setting it on a slow boil. Then she rushed upstairs to her pink bedroom and had a quick bath. She paused at the mirror to check her countenance after the shower.
She toweled her hair and glanced at the pink wall clock behind her to check the time. 6:50pm
It surprised her for a second that in the rush of her activities, she hadn’t thought about what had happened an hour and a half ago.
She dressed up, picked her shopping bag and slipped out the gate.
Across the street was her favorite shop where kitchen necessities were sold.
“Bimbo dear, how are you?” she asked the exuberant teenage sales girl who had too much life and vigor for her scrawny frame.
“Fine ma, what do you want to buy?”
“Curry… do you have Ghanaian pepper?” when the girl bobbed her head, she continued “good, nutmeg powder and seasoning cubes”
“Hmm…its like your husband is in soup today oh!” the girl chirped flitting from one stand to another in the shop, picking the things Tope had ordered.
Tope smiled, the girl hadn’t the slightest idea how close she was to the truth. “Goat leg pepper soup”
“I knew it!” Bimbo shrilled triumphantly, punching a bony fist in the air, the other setting the cooking stuff into her shopping bag.
30 minutes later in the house, a delicious concoction was sizzling in the kitchen while Tope punched the number of her husband’s detective consultancy firm, but no one answered. Damn her stupidity, why should anyone? It was past office hours!
She dialed the hotline of their housing estate security and wait to exchange any pleasantries… “Somebody help, my husband is dead!” she cried the litany over and over again on the phone until police officers flooded into her house. She was well known in the police force, not just because of her father who frequently hired them as guards but also because of her husband who ran a detective firm.
The wailing came easily; she had after all been his wife for 4years.
“My men are inspecting the house.” The Sergeant assured her. “Just answer the questions that young man over there…” he gestured behind him “has to ask…” she nodded.
The Sergeant, a burly impressionably figure of justice stood up and turned to the young officer in question. “Livingstone!”
The Sergeant turned to another young officer, obviously a rookie. “Rotimi!”
“Sir” the short guy stood at attention and saluted.
The Sergeant sighed wearily “This is not the army!” He yelled.
“Sorry sir” the young lass apologized stupidly.
“Call the hospital!”
An hour later, the resident doctor at the hospital confirmed him dead. He had in fact probably died the moment the weapon collided with his head and cracked his skull. The most intriguing thing about it, according to the doctor, was that Robert Anande must have seen the identity of his killer before dying. It was just a suspicion, but a strong one anyway. His head was frozen dead in a half turn to the direction the impact had come from, he had probably intended to see who had joined him in the bedroom. Telling from the look on his face, his effort hadn’t been in vain. The terror etched in his furrowed eyebrows, wrinkled forehead and dismayed mouth said it was the last person he had expected.
“How long have you been married?” asked Livingstone, the officer who had been ordered to question her.
“Four years” was her quivered reply.
“Go over the story again”
Robert had come back fro work, so she rushed to the shop at the other side of the road to get some spices for dinner. After putting everything in the pot, she rushed to her husband’s room with a stinging pang of premonition. And there it was- her dead husband on the mahogany floor of his bedroom.
She exploded into and another fit of tears…
Every man in the room ached for her. The rich, helpless mammoth had been lucky to get a husband the first time, after this event they weren’t so sure.
“The soup will be ready by now” she announced, wiping her eyes and trying to be brave. “And there is no one to eat it, do you all mind?”
“No, thank you”
“Nah, it would be wrong”
“Thanks madam, but we done chop for office”
They all deemed it morally wrong to eat the meal that was meant for the dead man.
But none of them knew he’d already gotten the raw lion share…
“Let me drop it from the gas before it gets burnt” she said, standing up to her feet and leaving them for the kitchen.
A 4 minute silence ensued.
“That woman is still in shock…” the Doctor said in a cautious whisper. “Activity is the only thing keeping her together. I’ll indulge her if I were you” he advised with wizened hawk eyes, narrowed to each man for emphasis.
“It’s getting late” the Sergeant insisted, checking his wristwatch. “…and we still need to check the house”
“Not after you’ve all tasted the pepper-soup” she said in a sing-song voice, carrying a large tray with the number of bowls for each person in the room. She staggered a bit under the weight and Rotimi found himself at her rescue. It was his undoing for once the aroma wafted into his nose, he was dazed. “Robert would have loved you to”
“Please Mrs. Anande…” stammered the Sergeant uncomfortably.
“I know your men must be hungry after a long day of work. Come over” she urged them to the dinning table.
The sergeant held his ground even though his men helplessly joined her until the doctor caught his eye. “Just a little” he relented.
That moment, the door bell chimed, momentarily waving off the spell her pepper-soup had cast on them. It harshly awakened them to the reality that they where at a crime scene, not a Christmas dinner.
“Don’t worry, it’s my parents” she assured sweetly, marching her matronly figure into the parlor to the door. “You men can start eating, there’s a bowl for everybody…”
Once she was out of earshot, the men began a conspiratorial banter with their heads dipped in their steaming pepper-soup laden bowls.
“This woman sabi cook eh!” remarked the Rotimi, reaching for a toothpick.
“Make una no worry, we go find de killa.” jabbered Livingstone, with his stuffed mouth pounding the meat in his mouth with the efficiency of an industrial jaw crusher, at the same time darting out his tongue to trap the trickles of soup that escaped the onslaught of his mouth.
“You could start by identifying the weapon his attacker used” the doctor suggested. Among them all, only he ate his meal with some sense of decency. The sergeant wondered if it came with the profession.
Rotimi was not on planet earth anymore. Some how, his hands can gotten involved leaving his ladle to lay idle on the table. “Maybe the thing…” munch…munch… “dey unda…”munch…munch.. “…the grave”
“Not so officer.” Said the Sergeant, surprised at how much he was enjoying the meal. “It’s right under our noses”
The others grunted in accord…
This story has been published on aspire.org.ng and squirelit.wordpress.com