Oghenekome Ejire lie coiled on the couch as would a reptile dosing and daydreaming intermittently. It is a quarter to three in the afternoon; she has had breakfast but not her bath. She is the second child of a family of seven. She has three sisters and a brother. Her elder brother, Efe, the first child and the only son of Mr and Mrs Karoh Ejire comes out of the bedroom he shares with his siblings, on his way to the kitchen, sees his sister on the couch, shakes his head and addresses her “Kome, it is your turn to sweep the house and prepare the afternoon meal. What are you still doing lying on the couch at this time of the day and judging from the way you are stinking up the whole house; it is obvious you haven’t had your bath”. Kome groans and turns on to her other side; backing her brother, mumbling “Can’t a girl have peace in this house again? haba! yanga dey sleep, trouble come wake am. The food you ate in the morning is yet to digest, and here you are hankering after lunch, mtshew!” She finishes on a hiss. “Lazy pig!” Efe spits, exiting the sitting room.
Stung, Kome bounces off the couch yelling “I don’t blame you people; if I was in my husband’s house I won’t be receiving all this insult. Kome do this, Kome do that. It is not your fault and I am not going to prepare lunch until four o’clock and you can just do your worst” she yells at the top of her voice. “Who will marry this one? Opelenge subu lawo. You are so dirty and lazy; I pity the guy that will be so drunk or insane enough to have you for a wife” Efe replies from the kitchen. The twins, Taiwo and Kehinde Ejire who are watching a comedy series on the tube quietly leave the sitting room and disappear to the backyard. They knew when to take cover when a storm is brewing or else there will be collateral damage.
Efeoghene Ejire and Oghenekome Ejire can’t seem to cohabit in the same space for five minutes without tweaking each other valves. Neighbors find it difficult to believe that they are from the same parents. The frequency at which they fought is consistent with children from polygamous homes. Oghenekome Ejire is born lazy. She is a total disappointment to her parents. A nightmare in the ‘wife material’ department.
Oghenekome has always believed she wasn’t cut out for the mundane house wifely chores. What’s with getting up in the morning, make the bed, sweep and dust every nook and cranny of the house, prepare the meal, wash all the dirty clothes, feed the kids, prepare them for school or whatever, wash the plates, prepare meal again, take out the garbage, tend to husband needs, get the children ready for bed, wash the plates again, prepare meal again and the list is endless and it goes on and on for eternity. From age seven- the age of enlightenment- she watched her mother go through this insane thankless humongous motion of being a mother and a wife, where there are no vacations, no timeout, no leave of absence and worse still, no house helps.
She vows never to marry a specimen in the mold of her father. Her father comes back from work 4.30pm unfailingly every work day; dashes to the bathroom to take a thunderous one minute bath, re-appears in the sitting room in his beloved faded George wrapper, way down around his hips, revealing plumber’s butts- sagging old school style. He collapses on his overstuffed cushion chair, colonizes the television and the day’s newspaper simultaneously, shouting intermittently “Woman, my food!”
A bloody civil servant. Who has never heard of the term, ‘multiple streams of income’. He is hell bent on dying poor and taking mother with him.
Oghenekome Adedeji recalls with nostalgia as she slips in and out of consciousness, wondering how on earth she had managed to make a total mess of her life and how much longer will she be able to stick it, before taking concrete action. “Where my food woman?” a gravel voice booms, as if coming from a tunnel. Oghenekome moves listlessly on the bed; then she is brought rudely back to consciousness when the threadbare Ankara wrapper she used as a cover blanket is snatched from her body. Shivering uncontrollably, whether from the chill in the air or from mortal fear of her husband or a combination of both is extremely hard to tell, as she scrambles off the bed looking down at her husband. It is ironic that, the only person Oghenekome feared most in this world is three inches shorter than her.
Oghenekome avoids the withering, contemptuous stare of her stout disagreeable husband, as she stoops to pick her wrapper and ties it about her breasts. As she makes to side step her husband to attend to his needs. He tears the wrapper off her, jerking her around shouting “How many times I don warn you make you no dey tie wrapper for your chest for ma house?” Oghenekome tries unsuccessfully to regain her balance; she falls, hitting her left rump hard on the center table. That does it. Oghenekome comes at her husband roaring mad. She is only able to make a superficial scratch on her husband’s left cheek before a sledge hammer fist lands on the side of her head, knocking her senseless half across the room onto the tattered linoleum carpet. “Idiot, idiot, didirin, olosi…” her husband shouts kicking her balled up whimpering form hard “stupid fool, you get liver come carry hand for me…” he kicks her some more “come on, enter house and wear clothe before I kill you, idiot!” her husband steps over her inept body, heading for the bathroom, but not before giving her a back-heeled kick. “Elede” he hissed
Oghenekome Adedeji picks her bruised self off the floor, goes into the bedroom to change into a pair of black denim shorts and a cream color tank top, and then, heads straight to the kitchenette to prepare her husband’s meal. She is going to put an end to all of this nonsense once and for all she says to herself as she went about painfully preparing white rice and chicken stew.