by Daniel Nkado
Young Bisi folded herself at the foot of the couch, watching her parents arguing again.
Mr. and Mrs. Ojo argued often, and never in lowered voices.
Now their voices rose the more and Bisi covered her ears with her hands.
‘You stupid man!’ Mrs. Ojo screamed.
‘You are just an ungrateful mad woman,’ Mr. Ojo screamed back at her.
Now it appeared they fought for dominion of voice.
Bisi stood and ran to the kitchen, her school bag swaying on her back as she ran.
Madam Ojo turned and saw her little girl. She frowned at her husband. ‘Stupid man! See what you’ve caused! See what you are putting a five-year-old girl through!’
‘Aha!’ Mr. Ojo scoffed. ‘Shall we call her and ask her if she does not regret having you as a mother! Shall we try that now, nag hag, shall we?’
‘Fool! You are just big old fool, Raymond. Gosh!’
Finally when Madam Ojo drove her daughter to school, Bisi did not say good bye as she got down from the car.
‘Come, dear,’ Madam Ojo called.
‘Take this, dear, and buy yourself a nice cream candy during recess.’ Madam Ojo was extending a 100.
Bisi shook her head.
Madam Ojo was surprised. ‘You won’t take?’
Bisi swayed her head. ‘Yes, mommy. Bye.’ She turned to run into the school compound.
‘Hey, baby, come!’
Bisi stopped and turned slowly back to her mother.
Madam Ojo came down from the car.
She crouched in front of Bisi and pinched her cheek. ‘Hey, you upset about something?’
Bisi did not smile. ‘I want to go and live with Aunty Jummy,’ Bisi said.
‘What?’ Madam Ojo’s eyes were bulged. ‘Why? You don’t want to live with your parents anymore? You don’t want to live with mommy anymore?’
Madam Ojo pulled slightly back. ‘Baby, why?’
‘They don’t shout in Aunty Jummy’s house.’
Madam Ojo pushed a hard nut down her throat. She did not know what to say. ‘Baby.’ She took Bisi’s hand in hers. ‘Baby, all parents shout. It doesn’t mean that they are not happy or don’t love each other.’
‘You and daddy don’t look happy,’ Bisi said.
‘You and daddy don’t smile. Aunty Jummy smiles with Uncle John.’
‘Well, what you don’t know is that Jummy has slapped John before, several times even. They fight a lot too. Even more than your father and I. But they don’t do it downstairs, so the children don’t know. They stay upstairs and fight in hushed voices. That’s why you have not seen them fight, but, Baby, they do. They even beat up each other. They are not perfect. All parents shout, my dear.’
‘So why can’t you and daddy do the shouting upstairs in hushed voices like them too?’ Bisi asked her mother.