Uzoma did not know what was wrong with her.
For some weeks now, she has been nothing but herself.
Everything irked her, even the things she previously enjoyed. It appeared the world has turned against her.
Last night, when she noticed her husband’s trespassing hand on her, she’d grabbed it like one grabbing a thief and flung it away.
The last thing on her mind now was sex. All that kissing and wriggling around each other, no. The mere thought of it sent a chill running down her spine.
This morning, she came out to the sitting room, feeling blank as usual. The only feeling her senses were able to process was hunger, and it seemed to be alive in all her parts.
In the new madness, her stomach had turned unfillable. She had gotten up twice in the night to snack on dry corn flakes.
She turned the TV on and dropped the remote on the table. Inside the kitchen, she opened the fridge and found all the packs empty.
She had eaten the last of the flakes last night.
She held the bottle of cashew nuts. Only three nuts in the bottle. Throwing them into her mouth, she fought the urge to hurl the bottle to the wall
It was barely a week she went to Home Affairs to get these things. How come they’ve all gone already?
Is it that the boys that work in the supermarket opened the packs to take out some before repackaging?
Uzoma concluded the store would never see her legs again.
Back in the sitting room, Yemi Alade was dancing with her legs spread apart, undignified, asking people if they’d seen her Johnny.
Uzoma quickly picked the remote and changed the channel.
Why wouldn’t her Johnny disappear? –she thought. She couldn’t understand now why everyone seemed to be in love with the song.
With that Yemi Alade’s dance and hairdo, she saw the song as entirely stupid, Yemi Alade stupider.
Though only some months ago, she used to hum to the song every chance she got.
On MTV Base, the madness was same. A guy in dreadlocks with body covered in tattoos like a human zebra was bouncing about the place, spewing trash.
She finally left the channel on Nickelodeon which used to be her most hated station.
Everything she formally liked, she now loathed and those she formerly loathed, she found herself liking.
Uzoma was still thinking when this mystery that had befallen her would finally be unravelled when suddenly the answer came.
It was her husband.
Her eyes were on their wedding photo on the wall now. In the large framed photo, she was smiling, but her husband wasn’t.
That ugly dark man she married is the reason all this is happening to her, Uzoma was now sure.
Now she couldn’t understand why she’d even agreed to marry him in the first place.
He was slim like a bony fish. People said he is handsome, but now, staring at the photo, Uzoma couldn’t believe she had once actually seen that goat face as handsome.
Maybe he’d charmed her. Yes, that must be it. After all, he’d come from Okija.
That’d also explain the changes to her entire system, the new irregularity to everything that was formerly her: her sleep, her eating, even her flow. They are all the effects of Okija juju.
She touched the flabby extension of her arm. Gosh, she must have accumulated over 50 pounds.
Her stomach rolled and slowly, instinctively, she parted the inner part of her legs to free the gas.
A moment later, the air around had been ammonified.
She wrinkled her nose to the pungent smell and held herself not to spit. But a second after, the spit was wriggling round in her mouth like a worm.
She stood and walked to the bathroom.
Some hours later, she heard the sound of a car horn and quickly got up. She picked the long spoon she’d brought out and waited for the devil to come in.
It wasn’t long that he did.
The curtain parting, the slim, suited figure of Mr Francis came in.
‘Hello, darling,’ he said, dropping his case on the table.
Uzoma’s cheeks were swollen in a great frown.
Francis leaned in to kiss his wife. She pushed him away.
‘Useless man! Stupid useless man! Take me back to my parents! Take me back! I’m tired of all these! Take me back!’
Francis did not look as surprised as he did the first time his wife’s madness started.
Now he quietly turned away, picked his briefcase and started towards the room.
Uzoma ran after him. ‘So you are ignoring me eh? You must think that I am mad, I know, but—’
Francis turned back to his wife. ‘You are mad, honey,’ he said. ‘I do not think it, I know it.’
For a second, Uzoma appeared to be without reasoning. Then she recovered. She raised the spoon to strike Francis.
He grabbed her hand. Dropping his case, he held the other hand and carried a struggling and cursing Uzoma to the couch. There, he tied her arm to the foot of the settee.
Bound like a Ramadan ram, Uzoma continued to curse. ‘You will see! Francis Okpoko you will see! Oke Belgium! Ezi Bida! Uchicha Carlifornia! If you know what is good for you, don’t ever untie me o, because if you do, that would mean your corpse. Stupid useless man! Useless stupid man! Enwe India!’
Francis left her and walked into the room.
Some minutes later, he came out to the sitting room again now in a casual shirt and brown knickers, and a cool head more adapted to deal with Uzoma.
He was about to untie her when the house telephone began to purr. He walked to the shelf and took the call.
Dr Anang sounded rather impatient on the phone, not his usual sluggish drawling.
‘I want to see you and your wife at the clinic the soonest you could,’ he said.
Francis swallowed and said ok.
Now free, Uzoma glared at her husband. She bent and picked the spoon again.
‘Hey, drop that thing and get dressed!’ Francis said. ‘Dr Anang asked to see us right away.’
For once, Uzoma’s madness seemed to recede.
Twenty-five minutes later, husband and wife neither smiling were in Mercy Medical Centre, Ajah, inside Dr Anang’s office.
The short dark man started with an apology. He told them there had been a mix-up in the test they did three months ago.
Uzoma may indeed actually be pregnant.
For confirmation, a nurse came in to take her urine sample. In a few minutes, the result was out.
Uzoma was pregnant.
Dr Anang extended his small hand to Francis. ‘Congratulations, Mr Francis. She’ll be due in about four months’ time. Again, my apologies.’
Francis was looking, no clear expression showing on his face.
Uzoma looked at her belly. ‘Doctor, what are you saying? Look at me, do I look like someone that is five months pregnant?’
The doctor smiled. ‘There are actually women like that who don’t show. Once, we have delivered a lady of a child when she only walked into the clinic to complain about abdominal pains.’
Francis looked at his wife; she was quiet now too, face showing no emotion.
‘So, Doc, could it be that it is the pregnancy that has been causing her mood swings?’ he asked.
Uzoma turned suddenly to him. ‘Mood swings? Why paint your words now, Okpoko, call it what you’ve always called it—madness! Say it!’
Dr Anang smiled, drumming his fancy pen on the table. ‘Well, this is her first pregnancy. It is indeed possible that it is the pregnancy. You know, all those many hormones running round and the sorts, it’s always expected.’
‘Is there a drug for it?’
Dr Anang gave Francis a kind of smile. ‘She is only pregnant, Francis. It’d all be over soon.’
‘Can I ask you, Doc?’ Uzoma said.
‘Is there a drug for stupidity?’
‘My husband would need one.’
Dr Anang gave her her own kind of smile. ‘Well, Madam, in as much as I do understand how you feel, I’d advise you take a little control so that it won’t affect your baby.’
Uzoma stared at the doctor, and then nodded.
A crooked smile appeared on Francis’s face. ‘Doctor, can I leave her here?’ he said. ‘I will come and pick her after she’s given birth.’