The house felt strangely empty, and uncomfortable.
Madam was away. Stella was nowhere to be found. Okon rarely came upstairs. The few times he did; to carry food, ask for a cold water or drop something for Oga, he didn’t say much.
Strangely, Mma found a part of her missing the fat maid.
She’d concluded when Richard came back, that she was going to tell him to bring Stella back too, just as she’d told him to do Madam.
Before her stern eyes that evening, Richard called Cynthia fifteen times and she did not answer.
“Continuing to calling her, she will answering,” Mma had told him.
Richard shook his head. “I don’t think she will.”
“I knowing she will. If not, she will offing the phone since.”
Richard tilted his chin in consideration. “You may be right,” he said.
But he did not call Cynthia again. He would go to Ikeja and bring her back himself.
“I will get you a phone tomorrow morning so that anyone can easily reach you. Do you have any make you like?”
“No o. No buying me anything again o.”
“Is it not the first one you buying me that sending me out of the house?”
Richard curved his lips.
“Speaking of, where are the clothes?”
Mma hummed and folded herself, old-women style. “Nnanna, biko, not remembering me that night. I fearing it. I fearing it very much.”
Richard smiled and patted her shoulder.
Mma was in the kitchen when she heard noises at the front door. She thought it was Okon because Richard did not return that early.
She turned off the sink and dried her hands with a towel.
Appearing at the sitting room, straight faces of two women greeted her.
Vanessa and Cynthia.
“Good afum, mas,” Mma finally produced.
“How are you, Mma?” Cynthia said.
Mma opened her mouth to respond but Vanessa cut her off. “Oya, you, carry this box inside.”
Mma rolled the box away.
Vanessa didn’t stay for too long. She had a glass of water and picked her handbag. Cynthia walked her to the door.
Vanessa hugged her. “Babe, hope you remember all I told you?”
Cynthia nodded but there was a tinge of hesitation to her eyes.
“Good.” Vanessa left. She knew it’d be tough for her to do but she trusted the conviction she’d presented. She had but little choice.
Some minutes later, Cynthia joined Mma in the kitchen.
“What are you making?”
Cynthia made a face. She gestured around the items on the surface. “And you using all these stuffs?”
Mma began to point. “That one ede, ma.”
Cynthia nodded. “Cocoyam, I know it.”
“That one okporoko.”
“You using so many.”
“Oga saying we buying plenty. Four thousand naira.”
“He followed you to the market, I see.”
“Yes, he driving me but I using keke to come back.”
“Ok. What’s that?” Cynthia’s long, purple-painted nail was pointing at two wrapped pieces.
“Oh, that one is ogiri, ma.”
“What is it used for?”
“You adding it to the soup and it giving it wonderful scent.”
Mma picked the green piece and started to unwrap it.
Cynthia watched intently.
“This it, ma.” Mma showed the darkish paste to Cynthia.
She covered her nose and ran out of the kitchen.
Mma set the table and called Madam.
Cynthia dropped her iPad and pulled out of the couch. She dragged to the table.
“Water for washing hand, ma.”
Cynthia opened the china containing soup. “Are you sure I can eat this?”
“I suring you very well, ma. You eating it and licking your fingers.”
“Did you put that dark smelling stuff?”
“No, ma,” Mma lied.
“Thank Heavens.” Cynthia washed her hands, one hand actually. “Are you not joining me?”
“I eating in the room, ma.”
“I liking to eating there.”
“Mma, the table is meant for dining, that’s why it’s called a dining table.”
“You eat here not in the room.”
A moment later and Mma dropped her soup plate on the table and sat facing madam.
Cynthia glanced up at her. “Why dish your food in those plates?”
“Those are old dishes, we don’t use them anymore.”
Mma did not understand; dish the verb and dishes the plural noun all seem very confusing. She said ok anyways.
Cynthia picked a lump of stock fish from her soup and threw into her mouth. “The soup actually tastes nice.”
Mma smiled. “I telling you before.”
The two pregnant women sat down quietly and enjoyed their meal.
Halfway in, Mma stood up. She beat her belly lightly.
“What is wrong with you?” Cynthia asked.
“My belle turning me. I think I going to toilet.”
Mma had been gone for a while when Cynthia’s eyes flitted across the table and a thought came to her mind.
Perfect time—she was almost sure she heard Vanessa’s voice in her mind.
She held up her soup-soiled fingers still in the air for a while, mind busy with cogitation.
She finally rose and walked into the room.
A moment later she was back at the table. She stared at Mma”s food, turning the bottle Vanessa had given in her hand.
Then, with one quick sudden motion, she let a drop of the purplish content of the bottle into Mma”s soup.
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.