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Sleeping With Yesterday (Episode 9)

Posted by on September 9, 2016.

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That night, Dayo does not enter their room early. He sits in the sitting room, on the dining table eating the garri and egusi soup which Nnafuka had presented. With the coming of the food, gathered like a chess game on the tray, Dayo first felt that there was need to be careful in dealing with his wife, taking things from her hand now that a new kind of insanity has overtaken her. But he felt something else before this thought could complete itself, and that was the tug of love which they have both had, the travails of childlessness which they have both endured from the day they exchanged vows at St. Pauls. He casted his mind to what Nnafuka said to him the morning he saw her whipping herself in the bathroom, he thought how hard it would be on her, the woman, that she bore a child after seven years and lost same. Surely something must have gone from her with the going of the baby. It was in a bid to show his wife that he was by her side that he cast off all suspicions and dug into the food.

That was about four hours ago. Now, he is done with the food. He sits there, licking his teeth, trying to suck out the bit of meat stuck there somewhere. When he sucks it out, he goes ahead to chew the morsel again. He leans to his side to look up the staircase, wondering what Nnafuka is doing.

Nnafuka is in their bedroom, seated by the window which overlooks the road and leads one’s eyes to fall on the buildings of the Federal Medical Centre. The buildings look to her like fat women in a rush, some rushing towards something, others rushing from the same thing, as some have their entrance facing her while others show her their backs. The moon is slowly opening shop in the sky, amidst the bright noise of the stars. She casts her glance on it and thinks of a lullaby which her late mother would sing to them when they were in the village. The song talks about the moon being the mother of everything while the stars are her children. Sometime when she was about seven years old, Nnafuka remembers asking her mother, “What then is the sun, Mama?” Mama had laughed and said that the sun was the father of the sky. Nnafuka tries to remember the tune. She hums with uncertainty, pauses at places where she is not certain, mentioning “onwa, onwa” where she is sure the words occur in the lullaby.

When Seun was still a few hours old, in her bed in the hospital she had thought of an Igbo name for her. In fact, what she thought of was giving her child an Igbo name which she had often had in her head even before she met Dayo in school. She had decided that if it would be a boy, she would give him her late father’s name “Ogbonnaya.” If it turns out a girl, the name would be “Irudikaonwa”. After the birth and subsequent naming of her daughter, Oluwaseun, she found herself lost for some days in the thought of people not calling her daughter Irudika. When Iya’s first letter had come one day after the birth of the child instructing that she be called Oluwasuen, Dayo had walked into her ward, the letter in his hand and a deep smile which bore two dimples on his face, had shown her the letter and said, “This might be our way of getting mama to finally accept you.”

“Why do you call her mama when we talk about her, but when she is around you call her Iya?” These words had come from her out of the slight irritation she felt in giving up her own dream, her own right to choose her own baby’s name to a woman whose time for childbearing had passed, even though she was her husband’s mother. Dayo had said nothing. She had sighed and kept quiet.

The next day when Dayo came with a flask of food, stood at the door and peeped in. “Hello?” She had removed the baby’s mouth from her breast and had said, “Hey, Seun, daddy is here.”

Dayo had rushed in and, still holding the flask, hugged her tightly, slightly touching the baby’s head with the flask. Amidst the outburst of cry from the newborn Dayo had said to Nnafuka, “Thanks for doing this, honey. I promise you, our second is going to be named by you.”

“For now promise me you’ll make her stop crying.” Nnafuka had pushed Seun into his arms then and had collected the flask to see what was inside.

Now, in their room, it is 9 pm. She wraps her arms around herself as the air conditioner takes deeper hold of her. Something makes her turn to the corner of the room where the bags she packed Seun’s toys are lying. She looks away again outside only to hear a voice that sounds like it is impatient for not being heard at first. The voice says, “Irudika.”

To Be Continue



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