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THE BENSON’S RESIDENCE
This is real!
This is me!!
I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be now
Gonna let the light shine on me, now I’ve found,
Who I am, there’s no way to hold it in
No more hiding who I wanna be
This is me!
Zoe sang Camp Rock’s ‘This is me’ so beautifully with her chubby right ‘paw’ as the microphone coupled with correct and thrilling gesticulations.
Few minutes ago, I had hurt my finger with the cabinet door in a bid to hurriedly prepare my mother-in-law’s pounded yam.
I screamed in pain as I felt the pain deeply in my bones, quickly applied first aid before settling down in the sitting room to allow the air condition calm my sudden perspiration down.
Feeling my pain as if it was hers, Zoe decided to mimic Demi Lovato in that high school musical to entertain me and I really enjoyed watching her sing without mincing words forgetting my pain for some minutes.
‘But for goodness’ sake, where is mama? She said she was at the bus stop already and its past two hours now. Na wa o’ I thought to myself as I blew air on the hurt finger.
‘Mummy, lemme quickly rush in, have a forty winks, then I will be back. I need to calm this brain. Its overworked and I still have more essays to write today’ she said, pecked me on the forehead and scurried inside as if being pursued.
‘I wish I could just have one more child but what about my unfortunate husband’s low sperm count?’ I thought allowed and hissed very loudly despising my husband the more.
As I started drifting into sleep, the honking of his car woke me up. I heard the gate opened and his car drove in as the ‘Welcome Oga’ greeting from Yakubu rang loud and clear.
I adjusted on the settee again, clutching the pillows to myself and pretending to be asleep. The door opened and I heard his footsteps. I slightly opened the windows of my eyes as I beheld him. I shook my head with great sadness as he knelt down before the centre table to pray.
‘Filthy prayers. Foolish unfortunate man’ I muttered.
Many people had told me to stop cursing or insulting this miserable being but I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried.
It got worse and worse!
He stood up from his kneeling position, glanced over me briefly and he glided over to the dining room. I heard him pull the chair, sit down and opening the dishes before I sprung up suddenly.
‘You can’t touch that food’ I shouted as I walked with speed to the dining room to prevent him.
‘I thought you were sleeping’ he said, laughing mischievously
‘That’s your cup of tea! You cannot eat this food and that is final!’ I screamed and he started washing his hands in preparation to start eating.
‘Zack, are you deaf? What exactly is your problem? You cant eat this food because…’
‘You made it for my mother’ he said in a very confident way that I felt like killing him!
‘Can someone tell me what this mean please?’ I asked no one in particular.
‘I realised that you fear your mother-in-law more than your husband and since I have missed home-made food made by my proud and haughty wife, I told the person you feared to help me scare you into preparing the food for me. So, it’s mine, not anybody’s’ he said, scoffing and my sight went blur.
I took some steps backward and fell into the chair and stared at the man before me as he swallowed the pounded yam.
What accursed mother and son!
Cursed be the day our paths crossed !
You both played this prank and allowed me hurt my finger?
What kind of revenge can I give to this man so that he would know that I might be a Christian but I know my right and I fight for it.
Suggestions started flowing
Strangle his neck so that the pounded yam in his throat would come out through his nose
Just slap him and leave him with a starry vision and a hot feeling
Lock up his shirt and start a fight
Drag the dish from his presence and break in on the floor.
And I said yes to the latter proposal because immediately, as if controlled by some forces, I carried the dishes at the same time and down they went, shattering to pieces.
‘You are a fool to ever think that I would just stay back and not fight back. Stupid fool!’ I exclaimed, giving him a dangerous look. His eyes, nose and mouth were widened as he was so shocked.
Even I was shocked at my behaviour.
I didn’t love him nor respect him but one thing I couldn’t do was look into his face when he argued with me, insulted me or even beat me. I always respected God! But no more!
‘I am awaken!’ I exclaimed very weirdly, looking for a broken piece of the dish on the floor. Zack saw that and hurriedly shifted his chair and off he ran out of the house.
I took few deep breaths before I sat on one of the chairs and cried bitterly.
‘Mum, you just said ‘yes’ to the devil’s proposal’ Zoe’s voice came but I could not look into her face because ‘yes’ was what I was determined to continue saying for a while.
But I cried on bitterly yet!
Zoe was beautifully clad in a floral A-shaped gown. Her hair was combed and plaited into a pony tail. She looked expectant as she fumbled with her Barbie doll.
‘Are you scared?’ I asked her. She smiled and shook her head
‘No mum. Scared? Not at all’ she emphasised and that alone confirmed that my baby girl was scared or shy!
‘You said his mum would be bringing him?’ I asked and she nodded.
I sighed and shook my head.
‘God knows what kind of parents we have these days. Coming to drop your son at a girl’s place just because he likes her. Nawa o’ I thought.
I stood up as I heard the gate opened and a car drove in.
‘Wow! It’s a huge jeep’ I exclaimed loudly and looked across to my daughter who was really blushing. I went to sit down, looking at her with her ‘Better comport yourself’ look.
She shook her head and stretched.
‘I am okay mum’ she said trying to tell me her mind was at rest.
‘Peace be unto this house!’ a very familiar voice announced from outside. I looked at my daughter with a knowing look.
‘Who could that be? The voice sounds so so familiar’ I told no one in particular.
‘Yeah please come in’ I replied and the door opened widely. A boy entered the room, neatly clad in white and blue denim shirt and trousers. He flashed me a very beautiful set of teeth and I smiled
‘No wonder!’ I muttered.
‘Good day ma.’ He greeted, genuflecting respectfully.
‘How are you my dear?’ I asked in a cool way, looking across my daughter’s face but she was suddenly engrossed in the magazine on the table.
But my gaze shifted away from them too soon when the familiar voice sounded again.
‘I said it! C’mon, I knew it!’ she exclaimed and I stood up as I beheld Liz Anjolaoluwa in front of me. She was looking really radiant in her very long glossy white gown that had a gold veil on the neck.
‘Liz!’ I exclaimed and she laughed happily as she came to hug me. She had really grown big and more beautiful.
She has a happy family! She married Dave at least! I thought to myself, not too happy to see Liz, at least not in this state.
‘Yes o my dear sister. Its Liz.’ She said as we watched on. I had to save this situation so I laughed.
‘Wow! I can see Dave is really taking good care of you’ I said and she smiled happily
‘It’s vice versa. I am taking good care of him too. You are not looking bad o my friend. You look very rich and tush. See your gigantic building sef’ she whined me on.
The day I passed in front of their newest house in Lekki, I almost sank in the ground. It looked really mighty so saying my house is beautiful is an exaggeration.
‘How is Zack?’ she asked and I hissed
‘Lets leave that for now Liz. So its your son, Sam that loves my daughter?’ I asked and Liz laughed heartily.
I really envied her. See her beautiful fresh neck!
‘Or lets say what has your daughter done to my son?’ she joked and we laughed.
‘I came here out of curiosity. He had been saying Zoe Zoe Zoe for many days now. I asked him fully about Zoe and he said she is a Fulani-Yoruba girl, she is beautiful, she just came back from France, her surname is Al-Makura. I just concluded it was someone related to you if it wasn’t you. See, Nita, I have really really missed you. I had wanted to see you so badly’ she said on and I only smiled.
‘Thank you’ I whispered and she held my hands, looking into my face intently
‘Is everything ok with you?’ she asked, lovingly and I blinked intermittently to avoid my tears from falling.
‘Zoe, could you take Sam round your compound? He is your guest today’ she said and the duo left the room shyly.
‘Nita, what is the problem? Are you crying?’ she asked and I turned away from her.
‘Yes I am crying. Liz, I am not happy to see you’ I blurted out and Liz stood up, sat on the chair facing me and looked shocked.
‘Really! Why?’ she asked
‘I had longed planned to marry Dave but the way God worked it out, you were the one chosen. I could do nothing about it.’ I said foolishly
‘It is God’s handiwork. It is unchangeable. But after about six months, you also came to say that you have prayed through. I counselled you then not to hurry but you said you were very sure he was the one. Aren’t you enjoying Zack?’ she asked and I broke down in tears
‘There are many things I can’t tell you now Liz but I was only in a hurry to get married and show you that you are not the best woman on earth though Dave chose you’ I said again. I was so surprised at how blunt I was but Liz smiled
‘Really!’ she exclaimed
‘Yes. I went to Nasarawa state, to the Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa to be precise to cover a unique news. After the programme, I went through some villages. When I got to Toto, I saw a crowd wailing. I parked and saw a woman convulsing with her son crying beside her, speaking very good English’ I narrated the saddest occasion of my life to my greatest rival who never competed with me but whom I had competed with all my life.
‘So, what happened?’ she asked me with concerned
‘I helped them to the hospital and took care of the mother. Then, listening to how they had glided from grace to grass, I was moved with pity. After some weeks of being attached to them, I proposed to Zack. He agreed and I bought the ring which he used for the formal proposal’ I revealed my ugly secret and Lizzy could not close her mouth.
‘Are you very serious right now?’ she asked and I nodded sheepishly
‘I was in a hurry, in competition with you and I was blinded by pity for Zack and his mum. Those were the reasons why I married Zack. And now, its hell!’ I cried out and Liz looked on, bewildered the more.
‘Hell? Are you for real?’
‘Really for real! Why? I will tell you. I met some really unfortunate people who advised me to be submissive to Zack and therefore change the ownership of my properties to his’ I said again, shaking my heads and cursing my district pastor for misleading me.
‘God! It’s a good thing to do but you could have been more patient’ Liz said painfully.
‘Patience? My pastor told me it must be instant. My landed properties, my shares, my media company, everything is in his name now.’
‘Ok?’ she asked me for more and I continued digging.
‘It was time to get pregnant. You gave to Blossom and I wasn’t even pregnant. I was really monitoring you o. Then, I secretly conducted fertility test on him and realised he was infertile. Low sperm count.’
‘Jesus!’ she exclaimed, her arms folded in great attention.
‘I went outside and got pregnant’ I burst out and Liz jumped up, her hands on her head. I went on.
‘I didn’t regret it though. There are many baby companies outside now. I paid one of the men, got pregnant and had Zoe!’
‘My great father!’ Liz exclaimed further sinking into her chair. I went on.
‘One day, we had a big fight and I confessed he was impotent and that Zoe wasn’t his. He was mad at me and when I told him to pack out of my house, he did obediently. Little did I know I had bounded myself by the transfer of my properties? I was locked out of all of my properties o!’ I cried out in anguish the more.
‘Wow! Jesus Christ! This is seriously serious!’ Lizzy exclaimed, somewhat heart broken
‘I had to beg him to move back in. What I do in this marriage now is endurance. The person I picked from inside the gutters?! I really made a mistake. A huge one at that!’ I sobbed until my heart could take it no more.
‘What a faulty foundation!’ she exclaimed
‘My sister, in this situation of yours, you need to tread softly. These days, people are just killing one another. Don’t let this be heard of you. Let me lend you what Sam says to me when I am probably doing something contrary. He would say ‘Mum, that’s the devil’s proposal. Don’t say yes’ and I would be calm and think!’ I laughed loudly and sniffed wetly
‘I taught Zoe and Zoe must have taught him. I know the truth my sister. I can preach the truth but the practical, I don’t think I can do it anymore. If I am let alone with him in this house, I will kill him!’ I said and didn’t regret it. My heart was hardened.
‘Stop that in Jesus’ name. Going against God’s will brings about frustration but my sister, its your cross. You have to bear it diligently if perhaps he might be saved through you. Don’t give up yet’
‘I never bargained for enduring my marriage. I want to only enjoy it. This is the opposite. If he dies, I will gain my properties once again, have the free chance to get married and then live well again with my daughter.’
‘The devil is talking to you against God’s will. I really need to do something about this. Thank God for this childish desires of our kids. I have to get going now. I will be back’ she said, came close to me, gave me a comforting hug which didn’t have effect on my stony heart. She shook her head and off she went.
After a while, Zoe came in and saw my swollen face.
‘Mum, what happened to you? Why is she going that fast?’ she asked and I shot her a quick, steadfast look. She was shocked
‘You have been crying?’ she asked but I didn’t respond.
She went away and came back with an ice pack.
‘Use this on your face mum. You need it’ she said and I collected it from her, forced a smile and pressed it against my face.
‘Mum, you didn’t ask about my talk with Sam’ she said and I felt guilty. I extended my hands to her but they were so weak
‘Tell me, what did you discuss?’ I asked faintly
‘To cut the long story short, we have decided to cut the crap of boyfriend girlfriend thing. We will be very good friends though. We want to fight and say ‘no’ to the devil’s proposal.’ Her little mouth went on and on.
My heart raced on as I sighed over and over again.
Here was a little girl with a strong determination to say no to the devil. What about me? Am I not going to do the same?