He didn’t understand the scene, but he still said, ‘I’m sorry, I just came to check if everything was alright.’
Nwamgbeke slapped Nnamdi’s shoulder. ‘So this child-child pray, you not stop it yet abi?’
Nnamdi turned to Ikechukwu. ‘I’m sorry, man, we do play rough at times.’
Ikechukwu nodded, very slowly. ‘Of course… I can see,’ he said quietly. ‘It’s alright, it’s fine, I’ll just go back downstairs.’
He turned and walked out.
Nwamgbeke glared at Nnamdi before running after him.
Later that night, they were on the bed when Nwamgbeke asked him, ‘I hope you not thinking anything o?’
‘The way you coming in and seeing us na.’
‘Oh, that. No.’
‘That Nnamdi like mumu play eh.’
Nwamgbeke pulled up to a sitting posture on the bed, her brows drawn together in a frown. ‘Ikechukwu,’ she called.
‘Ikechukwu, why are you behaving like morokwe now?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Since evening you behaving somehow, hope you not thinking I sleeping with my cousin blother o?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous, why should I think that?’
Ikechukwu put one hand on her shoulder. ‘I’m not thinking anything,’ he said. ‘Now lie back down, let’s sleep.’
Nwamgbeke stared at him and then lowered herself down beside him. ‘So we not doing it tonight?’
‘Do what?’ Ikechukwu asked, feigning lack of knowledge.
‘Eeh?’ Nwamgbeke turned to face the other way.
She was waiting.
Ikechukwu knew she was.
Finally he held her and drew her to himself. ‘Come here.’
‘Leave me!’ Nwamgbeke was struggling and turning to him at the same time.
The next morning he dropped N10,000 on the bedroom fridge for her.
He was standing in front of the mirror, knotting his tie, when Nwamgbeke picked the notes and counted them.
‘Why you bringing ten thousand na?’ Nwamgbeke asked.
Ikechukwu turned to her. ‘What?’
‘I tell you I just buy fish and ede and you giving me ten thousand. Ikechukwu, you have started o. You have started o. After now, your sister will say I the one finishing your money.’
Ikechukwu lifted his leather briefcase from the bed and turned to his wife. ‘Well, I thought since your cousin is around, you may want to get something.’
‘Something like what kwanu?’
‘I don’t know, whatever you feel we need in the house.’
Nwamgbeke folded the money. ‘We not needing anything now, evelything still full, so I keep this money till we needing something.’
Ikechukwu wrinkled his chin in concession. ‘Well, if that’s what you say, it’s entirely up to you.’
‘What is coming up to me?’
‘I said entirely up to you!’ He leaned and pecked her. ‘I’m off.’
‘Having nice day, you hear,’ Nwamgbeke said.
‘You too, hun.’
Nwamgbeke turned quickly and slapped his back.
‘Ouch! What’s that for?’
‘I not telling you to not calling me horn again?’
‘Hey, but hun is good, believe me.’
‘I not want. Vely soon you call me siren too. Calling me my Gbeki or darling-darling.’
‘Good boy, now lun.’
Nwamgbeke gave a small wave. ‘Lun arong.’
‘Oh, ok. Bye.’
She was downstairs in the sitting room watching TV when Nnamdi came down scratching the side of his head.
‘Hi,’ he said to her. His eyes appeared swollen, the skin around them a bit reddened.
He had clear fair skin, embellished with a sprinkling of soft curly hair.
Ikechukwu is taller, darker and appearing to be more firmed up.
‘Hi, nke gi,’ Nwamgbeke returned to Nnamdi. ‘So it is by 10 o’clock you waking up evely morning?’
Nnamdi said nothing and walked to one of the sofas and sat. ‘Where is your husband?’ he asked.
‘He gone out already.’
Nwamgbeke stood and dropped the remote she was holding on the central glass table. ‘I going up to dless. I going to market. If hungry is catching you, entering the dining and making tea for yourself. There is blead.’
‘Oh, you are going out?’ Nnamdi asked.
‘I cally water for mouth when I talking it before?’
‘Evelything for tea is in dining. Making tea o! If you doing ntikpo and go and making coffee, you must finish it o.’
‘What do you mean by that?’ Nnamdi asked her, offended. ‘Do you think I’ve not taken coffee before?’
Nwamgbeke pulled down her cheeks. ‘Oh, I not know. I going up.’
Nnamdi was still on the sofa when she came down now wearing a light pink blouse above a jean skirt and holding a folded poly bag.
‘I leaving o,’ she said.
As soon as the door closed behind her, Nnamdi stood and ran upstairs.
He held the door to the main bedroom and tried to open it.
It was locked.
‘Shit!’ He kicked at the door.
Hesitating a minute, he quickly left the door and ran back downstairs again.
At the back of the central door he found a bunch of keys stuck to the hole.
He took it and ran up again.
Finally inside the room, he pulled out the bottom drawers of the closet.
They were so many papers.
He started to scan through.
The bedroom door swung open, startling him.
Nwamgbeke’s brows were drawn together as she walked into the room. ‘Nnamdi,’ she called. ‘Nnamdi, why are scatteling Ikechukwu papers na?’
Nnamdi stood. ‘You didn’t go to the market again?’
‘I not lemembering to cally my purse, what you doing here kwanu?’
‘Why you calling M.I?’
‘Yes, you see, your husband is a cheat!’
‘Yes, Ikechukwu! He’s been cheating on you so very grandly.’
‘Ikechukwu shitting on me, how?’
‘How much does he pay you at the end of every month?’
‘Hia, pay me? For what? Nnamdi, glow sense na, glow sense. I tell you Ikechukwu mally me, I not come do sales girl.’
‘No, Mgbeke, you are the one that needs to grow sense.’
Nwamgbeke touched her chest. ‘Me, as in me here?’
‘Yes, you! You need to grow sense as fast as possible.’
‘What you mean?’
‘As his wife, legally, customary and traditionally so, you are entitled to monthly marital benefits.’
‘What is that one?’
‘It is a form of remuneration full-time housewives like you should expect from their working class husbands every month.’
‘Nnamdi, I not understanding you o.’
‘Wait, let me ask you, who cleans this house?’
‘I crean the house.’
‘Who prepares his meals?’
‘Is me that plepare food.’
‘You see! For all these things, my dear, you deserve to be paid. Normally, the two of you should have been sharing all the chores, but since you are the only one doing them, he should be paying you.’
Nwamgbeke shook her head. ‘You not talking sense, where you see man crean house and cooking food before?’
‘Mgbeke, you see your life? You see your life? You are terribly timid, completely uninformed, devoid of any iota of logical thinking.’
‘Jesus! Nnamdi, why insulting me like this na?’
‘It is not an insult. It is pure fact. You need to open your eyes before you’ve been reduced to a mere maid and then the real wife will come.’
‘Leal wife, how?’
‘Let me ask you, do you know how much your husband earns? I mean the real amount.’
Nwamgbeke shook her head.
‘Gross income, net income, a total breakdown of all his allowances?’
‘I not know all these things o.’
‘You see, all these things are in the marital agreement but you are just so daft you don’t even know the name of your husband’s company.’
‘Hey, Nnamdi, so you saying Ikechukwu shitting me?’
‘Too much cheating o.’
‘Hey, but he giving me money na.’
‘How much does he give you?’
‘He give me five thousand for soup, two thousand for okada, ten thousand to do hair. In fact, he even give me ten thousand this morning.’
Nnamdi started to laugh, eyes coated with derision. ‘Five thousand, two thousand, ten thousand, Mgbeke you disgrace me o.’
‘Hey, Nnamdi, another insult, why?’
‘Yes, seriously. Are you not a daughter of Ichida again? Ichida gworo ose gwoye Nnewi! [Ichida that fed Nnewi pepper] Mgbeke, you should be collecting nothing less than hundred thousand naira from him every month.’
‘Hundred thousand gini?’
‘Nnamdi, hundred thousand, I work in bank?’
‘Stay there! Don’t you know Kate?’
‘Kate with knock-knees na.’
‘Yes, that went to Awka-Etiti Girls with you.’
‘What happen to it?’
‘She is now driving Camry. Toyota Camry! Latest chassis, all courtesy of her husband.’
‘Hey, Kate buy motor?’
‘Hey, Ikechukwu!’ Nwamgbeke’s face turned mournful. She gave a small hiss, her head swaying. ‘Ikechukwu is 419! A tellible good 419.’
‘Don’t worry, I’m here to help you, okay?’
‘Yes, just pick your purse and go to the market. Let me look for the paper we will use to calculate how much he is owing you.’
Nwamgbeke gave another sorrowful hiss. ‘Nnamdi, thank you.’ Another hiss. ‘Thank you vely much. God will bress you.’
‘What are friends for?’ Nnamdi picked her purse from the bed and gave to her. ‘Oya go, inu?’
Nwamgbeke nodded. ‘I going.’