ECHOES OF SILENCE – PART FIVE
Mary arrived Lagos on Tuesday evening. The progress of her journey had been closely monitored by incessant calls from Iya Dele, her mother, whom she calls by the name of her first son, Bolu.
She lived a pampered life with her grandmother till the latter died three years ago, and had always thought Iya Bolu was her sister until she was informed otherwise at the onset of her teenage exuberance. Her mother’s pregnancy and aborted education were constantly drummed into her ears as a warning for her to tread carefully, and to avoid her mother’s familiar pitfall. Though, it came out as insults at times, particularly when the old lady became tired of her unrepentant waywardness. That information, and her mother’s claim to have lost contact with her father who is said to live abroad with his family, only fueled the void in her and pushed her drive to be independent.
She, nevertheless, worked her way through school and passed from polytechnic by means of her beneficial alliances with both lecturers and students. Of average height and rosy fair complexion, her beauty guaranteed her pick of constant supply of only those who could render her any required assistance.
“You are welcome again. How is everyone at home? Where you able to check on your two siblings at Ikirun before you came, hope they are fine?” Mama asked in quick succession.
“Everyone is fine ma”, she replied courteously, trying to hide her distaste for the old woman who is her supposed hostess.
She stood from the table after finishing her meal of Amala and Egusi, and followed her mother as she packed the plates to the kitchen,
“Mama Bolu, this house is fine o. Yehh, see fine garden outside”, she peered from the kitchen window. “They even have fine curtains in the kitchen window … just like the fine houses we see in films”, she said dreamingly, as she caressed the white lace of the curtain. “Now, I know why you refused to come back to the village …”
“S-h-h. Modeyi (young woman), you have to come down from your high horse. Your attitude since you came to this house few hours ago does not show that you want any help. Am afraid if you continue this way, you may scuttle my good plans for us o”, Iya Dele whispered.
“Iya Bolu, what have I done wrong? Have I wronged you just now now that I came?”
“Heee, it’s this your attitude; you have to watch it and behave well here o. Now, see am the one watching plates while you stand, looking and ogling around like a thief. When we finished eating too, you watched me pack the plates without doing anything. If you continue this way, they will all soon notice and know you o. That will jeopardize everything I have planned out for us all, you hear me?”
“But, Iya Bolu, I was going to ask: don’t they have a maid in this big, fine house?”
“No, they don’t. A woman comes in once a week to do the laundry and general cleaning. Asides from that, Iyawo and I do the cooking, cleaning and other necessary washings”, she replied drying her hands.
“How can, does she not have a job or trade to keep her busy other than house keeping?”
“You mean Iyawo, she is full time housewife. Even, if she is working, won’t she tend her home?”
“Well, if that is acceptable to her fine: but as for me, I didn’t come to Lagos to be anyone’s slave, have you heard?”
“M-a-r-y”, she called after her as she walked out. Iya Dele sighed as she continued to put the plates away, wondering how in heavens she became stuck with a selfish and stubborn daughter as Mary. Their relationship has not been particularly fantastic, but she had made several overtures since her mother’s death to, at least, be a mother to her. Her attempt to get her a Lagos job was one of such attempts.
“Am I not trying enough for this girl? Why does she have to be rude like this? H-e-n? I hope she will not come here to pour sand into my garri o. I must talk more sense into her head later”, she muttered to herself as she rounds up the chore, which she could have left for Iyawo but for her need to continue to impress Mama and her host.
“Wale, are you saying I no longer have a right to know who is coming or who is going in this house? ”
“Darling, what’s your stress on this matter now? What else do you want me to say. I have told you that the little girl is Maami’s guest. She came to Lagos to job hunt. She’s a distant relative and Aunt’s daughter. Maami told me of her intention to seek employment here on Sunday night but I forgot to tell you. What else do you want me to say?”
“Mama’s guest. Do you hear yourself speak? “… the little girl is Maami’s guest …” Wale! Mama guest or no Mama’s guest, I am your wife and I deserve to be informed before any guest barges into my home. Now, that’s my stress”, she said fuming at his response.
“Now, look here Abike. This is also Maami’s home, do you hear me? I have noticed the change in you since my mother came here. All these attitudes you’re putting up simply because my mother is here does not suit you nor your profession as a Christian o. For God’s sake, it could as well be your mother staying with us: would you become so grumpy if that were the case?”
“Well, that’s not the case and my mother knows well to respect the sanctity and privacy of my home”
“Respect? Respect you say? So, my mother is the disrespectful one, hmm? I would rather say we won’t know how disrespectful your mother too can be because she abadoned you long time ago. The sarcastic way you spoke to me too just now is disrespectful. If we had seen her, we would have asked her where you got that rudeness from” He said as he walked away angrily.
Abike sank on the bed, too dazed by his remark to reply him.