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Sleeping With Yesterday (Episode 13)

Posted by on September 10, 2016.

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In Funminlayo’s office Nnafuka’s eyes are caught on the posters on the wall. She sits, Helen by her side. The peculiar scent in the air, the smell of drugs and antiseptics and other hospital things fill her nose. She feels something under her shoe. She bends her neck in her seated position to see that it is a brown tape.

Out there on the hallway, Funmilayo had stood in front of her office, opened it wide and gestured to them to go in. As she comes in now she notices Nnafuka trying to remove the tape.

“Sorry about that. I don’t know where this cleaner has gone to.” She takes her seat, facing Nnafuka and Helen, drawing her lab coat over her body as though it were a babariga.

Nnafuka lifts her head to meet Funmilayo’s smiling face.

“I have been looking forward to meeting you, Mrs. Aregbesola. Malik, your husband’s friend and colleague, you know him, right?”

“Yes.” Nnafuka scratches her arm.

“He is my husband’s half brother.” She is sieving through the pile of files on her desk. “He made this meeting possible through your husband.”

“You mean he came to you with my story?”

Helen turns a sharp eye at Nnafuka, not sure what to do about Nnafuka’s face which was turning gloomy.

“Mrs. Aregbesola, your story is also my story…”

“It is not. You have a child now. I don’t care how long it took you. It took me seven years and after two months I am facing a repeat of those seven years. Is that your story, Doctor Abiola?”

“No. But…”

“Then I don’t know what I am doing here.”

Helen wants to jump on Nnafuka and beat some decorum into her. “Nnafuka, what are you doing? We are here to seek help.”

“It’s okay. It’s okay,” Funmilayo cuts in. “I understand what she is talking about.”

Still staring at Nnafuka, Helen says, “I’m sorry, Doctor Abiola.”

“Nnafuka, let us first talk about what having a child means to you.”

Somehow, in Nnafuka’s head, there is a sensation like something moving there, like water flowing through her brain – endless stream of water looking for a way out. She beats her eyelids and her eyes become filled with water.

Funmilayo and Helen notice this as Nnafuka covers her eyes with her hand. Helen bends towards Nnafuka, inching to put her arm around her friend. Funmilayo stops her with a lift of her hand. Helen withdraws and keeps her arm to herself.

“Nnafuka, you have cried and cried over and over again. When do you think tears will come to your rescue?”

Nnafuka does not know if it is the sudden disappearance of ‘Mrs. Aregbesola’ in Funmilayo’s address to her that feels like a fist on her chest or that her words sounded like Iya’s own before she had Seun.

That day Nnafuka had been in their sitting room, a plate of pawpaw before her on the table, General Abacha in the news saying something about the country’s judiciary not suffering any form of interference. Nnafuka had elongated her lips and thrown her face slightly forward at the television, her way of mocking what she perceived as the Head of State’s lie, before she heard a commotion outside. She had gone to the window to see that it was Iya shouting at Abdul for opening the gate late.

“Onwu ni mo sokpe kin Dayo ma gbe Muslim wo si ile wa,” she screamed about telling Dayo not to bring a Muslim into his house, before setting off towards the house, her face red, asking, “Where Dayo? Dayo. Dayo.”

Inside Nnafuka had felt her heart in her stomach. Yet she had gone over to the door before Iya knocked and opened it. Iya flung the curtain to the right and said directly to her, “Omo Ibo, no worry. I will go bring your clothes from up for you. Now go and leave my son’s house,” before pushing her aside and flying up the stairs like a raging wind. Nnafuka had fallen on the couch there, had broken down crying. Whe Iya came down she said to Nnafuka, “Oh, you are here? Crying. Heeey! Will crying bring child? Has crying brought child?”

Iya had not succeeded in pushing her out of the house then. But Nnafuka had considered leaving herself. She made her plans in the night for the morning. But morning had brought with it morning sickness. What followed were vomiting and drastic changes to her body. At the medical centre it was confirmed that she was with child.

Now that Funmilayo has asked her that heart-wrenching question she feels pressed to use the toilet.

“Excuse me.” She stands and moves out, her red bag clutched closely to her.

In the waiting hall she sees the girl carrying Funmilayo’s son. “Where is the toilet, please?” The girl points her down the hall. Then she puts the baby in his walker.

In the toilet Nnafuka does not urinate. She stares at the mirror for long, for too long. She looks at her bag, opens it. She does not know what she is looking for but she ends up bringing out her manicure set. She flips it open and looks at the pieces of metal in there, the reflection from the bulb on them. She singles out the scissors and holds it as though she wants to stab something.

Of course, she wants to stab something.

Funmilayo’s baby’s voice outside distracts her.

To Be Continue

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