A bucket of water on her head, she attempts to get past the gate into the compound. With all the care that she manages, somehow her head tilts backwards and the bucket empties to the ground. She stands there in the middle of the pool, the empty plastic in her hand, head hung, eyes following the listless snaking of the water on the ground. As the water rises like tiny pebbles to meet the sun she sees Dayo’s face in the ghostly imprint of mud. There is a question carved with anger in his face. The face begins to talk but it is Dayo’s mother’s voice. She looks around, a pile of phones, the brand Dayo’s mother owns, surrounds her, rises up, up to her nose. She cannot breathe. The sea of phones covers her entirely. “What did you do with your womb?” the phones cough out at once.
She jerks awake in bed, coughing. The headache is hot pain rallied in her forehead. Her hand on her head, she throws the blanket to Dayo’s side and scuffles into the bathroom. Tap on blue, she pours cold water on her face, enough of it, and for a fleeting moment considers a cold bath. With the water still running, she stares at herself in the mirror, her mind working on nothing, before reaching for Panadol in the cabinet above her head. Three tablets fly into her mouth. She chews, watches herself chew. Her face is expressionless to the steel cold bitterness as she swallows and continues to stare into the mirror. Dayo’s coughing slips into her absentmindedness. She shuts the tap and drags her feet into the bedroom. Dayo is sitting up in bed, his spectacles on, the thesis he was reading the night before reopened. Tick-tock. The clock itches her ears. She turns to it. 4.30. The thought of morning makes her wobbly. She sits at the foot of the bed to catch her balance, aware of Dayo’s eyes on her back.
“We have to move.” Her voice surprises her. It sounds so distant.
Dayo takes off his spectacles. “Move?”
She rests her eyes on the bathroom’s doorknob.
“Honey, we’ve lived here since our courtship days. Why would you want to move?”
She does not answer him, does not even believe that she truly wants to move. So badly, she wants to try again with Dayo and have another child—to save herself the headache of the one-week old loss—in this house. But she does not say this.
Dayo slowly sets his spectacles and the thesis on the cupboard. He rolls out of the blanket and, holding her shoulders, he whispers, “Honey, let’s forget about Seun. We have to forget about Seun if we must…”
“I can’t forget about her!” She has shaken off his hands already, on her feet. Nothing in her body moves except a strand of her hair which the ceiling fan continuously blows over her face.
Seconds pass. Dayo sighs. “Any idea of a more comfortable place for you?”
IMG-20160701-WA0020Even though he sounds apologetic, she thinks that his earlier use of forget is as foul as his breath. Seun came to them after seven years of trying. Seven years of trying too hard. One never forgets seven years, especially when it comes wrapped in a kind of sweet package ribboned with ebony hairs. She folds her arms across her chest and her face softens. Like a child rebuked for doing what she thinks is right.
She begins to think. Not of places where they can move to, but of people. On Seun’s death, it was the coming around of people—people she struggled so hard to get to know, to get to remember where their paths had crossed before—that made her feel everyday like she had been taken out of her familiar skin in the middle of the night and forced into another one that felt strange, one not her size.
She wants a breezy distance. Something pokes her and she says too quickly, “We’ll start with clearing Seun’s playhouse.”
To Be Continue