Mma had slept when he came to her door. He knocked gently.
He knocked again.
He’d turned to leave when the door groaned and opened.
“Hey, I sorrying o. I sleeping and not knowing you knocking.”
“It’s ok.” He walked in and sat on the bed.
Mma sat on the chair by the wall.
“How are you?”
“Have you eaten?”
“Eh. I didn’t even finish the yam Stellar gave me.”
“Yes. She giving me with ofe okwuru.”
“You ate yam and okro?”
“Yes. I wanting to asking you sef how you people eating in this house.”
He stood and left the room. From her room, Mma could hear his voice, stern and loud, as he questioned Stella.
“What did you make for dinner?”
“Then why would you give her yam?”
“Are you silly? So you think people from the village eat yam and okro?”
Mma heard Stella’s “I’m very sorry, sir” and nodded. She would have a small discussion with the fat maid in the morning.
Nnanna returned to her room. He told her that she would follow Madam to the clinic on Saturday.
“What is kilinic?”
“Oh. No problem. I going with her. Please wearing her so that I thanking her.”
“She agreeing to taking me to hospital. She very good woman. You knowing Ekeoma?”
Nnanna shook his head.
Mma hummed. “She pouring hot water, mmiri oku, on Ifunanya, the girl selling beer at Oye because she hearing Deh Amadi sleeping with the girl. The girl, Ifunanya, you suppose knowing her now, she fairing well well.”
Nnanna stared at her, amused. “You will thank her in the morning. She’s slept already.” He said. He turned to himself. “No facebook tonight means she’s really tired.” He muttered.
Cynthia left early in the morning before Mma even wake up.
Nnanna too. Before he left, he’d entered her room and found her sprawled on the bed, snoring gently.
He asked Stella to take care of her and make sure to provide all she needed.
The knocking sounds jarred on her head. Slowly she crawled out from unconsciousness to full awareness.
The kpo kpo kpo sounds persisted, till she could endure no longer. She threw herself this side and that on the bed and got up.
She opened the door and Stella’s huge frame came into view, covering the door space. She felt like giving her the quick, face-covering slap called mkpuchi.
Stella walked into the room, looking round the space like an officer on inspection. “Okon told me you were vomiting in the morning, hope you cleaned up the bathroom.”
“I washing it.” Mma’s response came too briskly.
Stella looked at her and pulled a face. “You had better. By the way, what do you think you are doing still in bed by this time?”
Mma’s face tightened the more. “How?”
“I just returned from the market and very tired. Follow me, I’ll show you the things to do.”
“I not doing anything till I eating. Twelve o’clock and I not eating morning food.”
Stella stared at her, her cheeks pulled down in disdain. “You want food?”
“Do you not do morning chores before eating in the village where you come from?”
“I doing. I sweeping the compound, I fetching borehole and even getting grass for the goats but I still eating before twelve. Twelve o’clock and we started talking afternoon food sef.”
“You are silly. If you are really hungry, you better go into the kitchen and pick the broom by the door and start to sweep.”
“I not sweeping anything.”
Stella gave a short ominous chuckle. “My dear, you will not only sweep, there are dirty dishes in the sink too for you to wash.”
Mma left her in the room and walked downstairs.
She asked Okon to show her where to buy akara and bread.
“Ha! Stella no give you food?”
She shook her head.
Okon hissed. “My dear, no mind her. Even me, sometimes I no dey eat till three o’clock.”
“I dey tell you. Follow me, make I find small bread for you, I dey sure say the woman wey dey fry akara for Hospital Road go done close by now.”
“Thanking you, my brother.”
She stayed with Okon till Richard drove in. It was some minutes past six.
He asked what she was doing downstairs and Mma threw her mouth open in narration. She didn’t spare anything, but she didn’t add a lie.
Okon stood aside, nodding fully to all she said as though he had been there all along.
When Richard told Stella she had been suspended for two months and she dropped to her knees in plea, the hard lumps of anger crowding Mma’s heart started to dissolve.
“Please forgiving her, Nnanna, please.”
Nnanna didn’t listen.
Stella was still kneeling and begging when the curtain parted and Cynthia walked in.
“What’s going on here?”
“Can you imagine Stella denied her food all day and she had to share half loaf of bread with Okon, can you imagine that?”
Cynthia turned to Stella. “Why would you not give her food?” she asked, her disappointment fully showing on her face.
Stella didn’t say a word. She appeared unable to believe Cynthia would ask her that question.
“That’s quite inhumane of you, Stella. She is a guest in this house and you have no right to deny her food, not in her condition even.”
“I’m very sorry, Madam,” Stella murmured. “Very sorry.”
Cynthia sighed and turned to Richard. “Richard, I think you have to pardon her this one time.”
Richard said nothing. He dropped on the couch and held his chin on one hand.
Cynthia looked at Mma. Her head was fully bowed as though afraid of Cynthia’s eyes. “You, what is your name?”
“You can calling me Mma, Ma.”
“Ok. So have you eaten anything now?”
Mma was nodding and shaking her head at the same time.
“Whenever you are hungry you can go into the kitchen and make yourself something to eat.”
A quick bow. “Ok. Ma.”
Cynthia turned to Stella. “Stella, if you feel you can’t make her food, at least you can show her how to make herself something to eat.”
“Tell me if we lack anything.”
“Nothing for now, Ma.”
“Good. Now apologize to your Master.”
“I’m very sorry, Sir, it won’t happen again.”
“Get up and go inside.” Richard said.
“Thank you, Sir.” She walked away.
Mma turned to leave too.
“Hey—” Cynthia paused, turning briefly to Richard. “What’s that her name again?”
“Mma, have Richard told you, you will be going with me to the hospital tomorrow?”
“Good. You can go in and sleep now.”
Mma left and Richard asked her how her day had gone.
He was impressed with the way she handled matters this evening and he showed it by kissing her when she sat down beside him. He knew and liked her sense of control, subtle and effectual.
Later that night, Mma was on her way to the bathroom when she saw the silhouette of a figure in the hallway.
She followed it and saw Stella with one ear pressed to the door of the room Richard and Cynthia slept in.
She could make out the low yelp-like sounds of ecstasy from inside the room. Stella was so immersed she didn’t even know someone was behind her.
Mma quietly walked back to her room.
Copyright © Daniel Nkado 2014. All rights reserved.
Consented personally by the author to be used on Alifediary only.
Daniel Nkado is a Nigerian writer and journalist, author of bestselling Ola – The Tale of a Young Moon Maiden and founder of DNBStories.com.
Interact with him on www.dnbstories.com or @danielnkd on Twitter.