March 2nd, 2013
We drove home in silence…well, except for my Mom’s heavy sighs. It was obvious everyone felt the way I did. Like we had just sold our souls to the devil.
I think we had all been too eager to reach an agreement, that we hadn’t quite thought things through before agreeing to pay the exorbitant amount. The realization that we were worse off now, than before we had even come for this so-called meeting, hit me in the stomach…hard!
It never ends, does it!
Getting home, I decided to go to Nwando’s flat, to confide in her, with the hope that she would console me, and give me the reassurance that, somehow, we had done the right thing.
If I was looking to feel better, I had come to the wrong place.
When I was done talking, Nwando burst into hysterical laughter.
“Chineke!!! Five Hundred whaaaat?!” more laughter “Unu afuogonu onye unu ga aghogbu! They don see mugu!” more annoying laughter “Mazi is going to use your money to build a mansion in the village oh. Christmas this year will be hot! Fa egbugolum ozu! See hammer!!!”
I felt my nostrils flare, as I watched her hysterical laughter. She was even adding to my annoyance.
“Chaiii! Five Hundred thousand a month, just like that! E easy?! In fact, why have I even been bothering myself, waking up at 5 o’clock, to go to work every day?! When I could have just opened my legs to earn some cool cash!!!”
“Nwando, if you are going to make a joke of this, I better leave now…”
“My friend, keep quiet!” she snapped, all humour vanishing. “It’s now your mouth can be sharp! When it comes to less important things, that’s how your mouth will be going chu chu chu chu! Why didn’t you talk today na? Why didn’t you talk when your family was being robbed by armed robbers, in broad daylight??! Armed robbers with no gun…only belle…” the last part turned on the humour again, and the hysterical laughter started again…but it ended just as quickly as it began, as she hissed loudly “Onye oshi! Thieves!!!”
Turning to me, she wagged her finger. “Faith, you people failed Phillip. In fact, it would have been better if he had gone alone! I thought you said your Mother is a no-nonsense woman! And didn’t you say you were going with your Uncle? Were you people hypnotized? Couldn’t you people talk?!”
I sighed deeply. This was the verbal confirmation of everything I was feeling. Truly, we had failed Patrick.
“You that you and your husband are both gainfully employed, but do you even spend up to five hundred thousand naira a month? Is she eating gold? Please, you guys need to undo this mess, and fast!”
Getting back to our apartment, Patrick and I talked, and I wasn’t surprised that he was feeling just as foolish as I was. His theory about Akunna’s father’s imposing presence, despite his small stature, being what had made us cower like lily livered chickens made a bit of sense to me. It’s like we all became mute, the minute he raised his voice.
Before my eyes closed, I saw a BBM message from my younger brother, Eteka.
Fii, WTF happened today?
I sighed deeply, instantly reminding myself of my mother.
My brother, I don’t know.
E be like say those people blow something for air!
I laughed, in spite of myself. How convenient an excuse that would be for us.
It was a fitful night, with me tossing and turning, revolving between nightmares and vivid recollections of the afternoon’s fiasco. Patrick was also tossing and turning. Neither of us was having a good night’s rest.
But apparently, another couple had an even more fitful night.
Having just fallen into some semblance of sleep by 6am, I was jolted by our doorbell ringing. Looking at my phone, I saw that it was just 7.00am. On another Sunday, I would have wondered who on earth would be disturbing my peace at this time, but I didn’t have to be a genie to have a good idea who it could be.
And I was right.
There they were. A hapless looking Phillip, and an infuriated Diana.
“Faith, I trusted you! I trusted you!” was the first thing she said, the minute they walked into the apartment.
“I’m sorry…but she insisted I bring her…” Phillip said, raising his hands up in defeat.
“Knowing that you were a part of that delegation made me rest easy. I thought there was no way Faith would allow them get away with any nonsense.” Diana continued ranting. “Only for Phillip to come home to tell me what you all ‘agreed’!!! Five hundred thousand naira a month?! Does she think we are made of money? How much do they think he earns? If he shells out five hundred thousand, what’s left for his family??! Did he rape her? What on earth is he paying for??!”
“Diana, I’m so sorry…I don’t even know what to say…”
Seeing my distress reduced the tempo of her anger, and she finally agreed to sit down.
“I have stayed away from this whole mess. I decided not to involve myself, and instead chose to give Phillip the space he needs to sort things out,” Diana said, her tone more cordial, but just as firm. “But I see that it’s time to step in now,” she looked at me “Faith, can I please have your phone?”
“Diana, don’t be ridiculous!” Phillip interjected. “There’s no need for that!”
Diana didn’t break her gaze from me, and woman-to-woman, I knew exactly what she wanted to do with my phone, and whom she wanted to talk to. And as a woman, or rather, as a wife, I supported her 100%.
So, I did one better. I didn’t just hand her the phone, I scrolled through for the phone number she wanted, and handed it to her.
She mouthed a ‘thank you’ as she took the phone from me, and dialed the number on her own phone.
It was the very least I could do, after my goof of yesterday.
“Hello, good morning. Is that Akunna? My name is Diana,” she said in that smooth-as-butter voice. “Yes, Phillip’s fiancé. Listen, this is about the meeting my in-laws had with your family yesterday….” she smiled “Yes, in-laws. I’m afraid there has been a misunderstanding. We will not be paying the amount your family has requested for….” she smiled again “Please…let me finish. We will be footing your medical bill 100%. In fact, we are ready to register you with any hospital of your choice. No matter what the bill comes to, we will pay it. But, your own allowance will be Fifty Thousand Naira. After the baby is born, we will buy all supplies needed…diapers, baby food…everything! We will also continue taking care of all the medical bills. And, because we are generous, your allowance will become One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira…” she smiled again “Yes, my dear. I am speaking on my husband’s behalf. This is my number. If you, or your family, have any further clarification, don’t hesitate to call.”
And with that, she terminated the call.
The four of us sat in stone cold silence for a few minutes, before exploding into hysterical, but relieved, laughter. The monkey was finally off our back. The goof from yesterday had been undone. I immediately called Nwando to come to our apartment, and she had happily joined in the high-fives and fist pumping.
But in all the celebration, we didn’t forget the most important thing…to call up a lawyer to draft the new agreement, which would be sent to Akunna a.s.a.p!
Yep, she won’t take this lightly, but we’re ready!