by Daniel Nkado
The door opens.
Philomena walks in. She looks dull, or sad, or annoyed. Or all three.
“Mama, good evening,” she mumbles.
Mama raises her face from her Bible. “Philomena, why is your face like that?” she asks.
Philomena shakes her head. “Mama, you can’t believe what I saw in Sister Beatrice’s house these past three days.”
“What did you see?” Mama asks.
“Sister Beatrice has become a man.”
“And what do you mean by that?”
“Mama, Sister is now the breadwinner of the house. She buys food, pays the house rent and even the children’s school fees.”
“And where is my son-in-law when she is doing all these things?”
Philomena hums. “Mama, the fool stays at home all day now. He no longer goes to work. Just lying around in the house, sleeping, waking up and sleeping again.”
“And why has he stopped going to work?”
“Do I know?” Philomena says.
She drops her bag on the table and sits.
Mama is looking at her. Her large reading glasses hangs down to her nose. They look heavy.
Philomena starts to pull off her shoe. “Sister said something about him no longer finding the job fun and he quit. Mama, can you imagine that?”
“And what else did your sister tell you?”
“Mama do you not know her?” Philomena asks. “You talk as if you don’t know your daughter. Will she say anything? Will she ever tell anyone anything? The little discoveries I made sef, I did by myself.”
Mama sighs. “What other things did you discover?”
“Mama, Sister wakes up at 6 a.m. every morning to go to work and she will not return till like 9 p.m. That man has turned her into his slave. We need to act fast, Mama. My sister has become so lean, and the worst of it all is that she is even okay suffering like that. Guess what she told me when I asked her.”
“What did she tell you?”
Philomena puckers her mouth. “Eh, that it is just a temporary change and that Andrew is going through some tough times at the moment but that he will come out of it.”
“And what was your response?”
“Hmm. Mama, I tried my best o, really I did. But you know your daughter na, she will not listen to me. She was even smiling as I was telling her what to do, as if I am a fool who is talking gibberish.”
“What exactly did you tell her to do?”
“I told her she should take her two sons and come back home o before that man finally drains off all fibre from her. Mama, you need to see your daughter now. She has grown so lean. Azu okporoko ka sikwa ya mma.”
“This is serious.”
“Mama, very serious o. That’s why I came home immediately to tell you so that you will call Brother Nnabuike at once. We must go there and bring her back whether she likes it or not.”
Mama heaves a deep sigh.
Philomena wants to talk again but sneezes. “Mama, they even leave the AC on every hour of the day,” she says. “See now, I have caught cold.”
“Mama, you are talking as if you do not know that I catch things quite fast.”
“That’s true,” Mama says. “I wonder why you have failed to catch a husband just as fast too.”
Philomena’s face swells in fury. She hisses, carries her bag and storms into the room.