The dinner was a remedy dinner. Your boss told you to bring ‘him’ over for dinner on a hot friday. She said him, not because she did not know his name was Emeka, but to show her disapproval at your pregnancy months to your wedding. So, on that day you sat across her, nausea and morning sickness making you feel woozy, your skin dry, you felt like a failure. She had afterall taken you like a daughter, telling you, because you were her first staff, things she ought not to, like how being married to her husband felt like acting a play whose lines she did not know. And you laughed with her too, telling her you would be wiser in making decisions regarding marriage. And then all of a sudden, months to your wedding, you were pregnant.
She returned from her Qatar trip after you and Emeka tied the knot and your belly was rounder. It was then she asked you to bring ‘him’ over for dinner.
‘I work at LASU, the VC’s office’ Emeka said. It was what you asked him to do, to be vague in some areas that sloped and could ruin the things you desperately wanted to straighten.
‘Oh, how nice’ Your boss said, reaching for a glass of wine. Her gestures seemed pleased, perhaps she really liked Emeka afterall.
You could not eat the jollof rice because it was too spicy, and the salad had too much cream that nauseated you. But you smiled and smiled, part of you hoping things would not fall apart and crash round you in a messy heap.
‘I hope the pay is okay’ She asked again, a question that was okay if she did not go deeper. You gazed at Emeka, and wondered if he felt the restlessness you felt, the way you clung to things above your reach.
‘We cannot complain’ he said again and she laughed, a hearty laugh. It was a good sign, this laughter, and it pleased you.
An hour later, you and Emeka rose and said ‘Imelah’ and you felt calmer inside because Emeka had made your boss laugh heartily. But just as you got to the door, Emeka turned back and said to your boss. ‘Madam, you are not happy. I can see it in your eyes.’
You froze, not because your boss stopped dead, her eyelids dilating, but because you felt something crash, something you had spent hours arranging and balancing atop each other.
Outside, you wanted to push him, slap him and scream until you felt your throat closing, but you did not. Instead you asked him calmly ‘You’re drunk, aren’t you?’ and you watched him, rage filling you up as he said ‘It was only 4 glasses of wine, Kamsi. I swear, just 4’. But you knew, from his unsteady gait that he had taken more than 4 glasses so you left him standing and walked home alone, the klip klop of your shoes echoing on the pavement.