November 15th, 2008
OMG!!! One of our neighbours with the same house as us is selling his for 10-15,000 less than ours! They are purposely undercutting us for a fast sale! Gosh, some people are truly evil! I hope his plan fails!
Anyways, as soon as I sorted out breakfast, I set off for Croydon, and was able to get there before 11am, armed to the teeth with food I’d cooked and a few bits and bobs for Sols and Amara. I was a bit startled when Ugo opened the door, but had to quickly recompose myself.
“Hi Tayo,” he’d said casually, as if he hadn’t been text-stalking me for days.
I mumbled a reply as I made my way into the house, and was further taken aback by the sight of about 4 middle aged ladies, laughing and chatting in the living room. From the Ibo language they spoke, I reckoned they were Ugo’s people. They barely acknowledged my greeting and I wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination, or if they had looked at me in condescension.
I found Solape in the kitchen, washing baby bottles while at the same time cooking a pot of stew. I was shocked at how different she now looked. Gone was the glow she’d had the last time I saw her. This time, she looked harried and tired.
Her face had lit up when she’d seen me, and the way she hugged me, I could tell she had been dying for company.
“I’m so sorry I haven’t been around since…” I started, but she smiled and shushed me.
“Don’t be silly hun. I understand why you had to follow Javi. That sperm is very important oh!” she said with a weak laugh.
“Babes, are you okay?” I couldn’t help but ask, as she was a shadow of the woman I’d seen only a few weeks ago.
Glancing over my shoulder, she shut the kitchen door and exhaled deeply.
“Tayo! I have been in hell fire! Ever since Ugo’s mother arrived, it has been nothing but torment for me! Since the day she landed, she has been full of criticism about everything I do; how I carry Amara, how I feed her, how I cook for her son, how lazy I am. I can’t put a foot forward without her complaining!”
I frowned, hearing this. “But isn’t she supposed to be helping you? Isn’t that why she came?”
“Help, fire! I was way better off when it was just me here. Now, I am not only taking care of the baby, but also Ugo, his mother, and her sisters and cousins who show up here every single day! And on top of that, I’m the only one who caters to Amara at nights oh! Mama sleeps even deeper than me!”
I shook my head angrily. This wasn’t right. “And what is Ugo saying about this?”
Solape had exhaled deeply. “My dear, nothing at all! The one time I complained, he almost chewed me alive. His mother can do no wrong for him. I guess blood is truly thicker than water!”
That was it, I’d heard enough. I stormed out of the kitchen, walked to the living room and tapped Ugo on the shoulder.
“I need to speak with you!” I’d literally sneered, as I walked outside. It didn’t even matter that it was quite a chilly morning, or that I had intended to avoid him as best as I can. I just knew I had to find out why he was allowing this happen to Solape.
“Ugo, what the hell is going on? Why are you allowing your mother bully Solape?!” I’d demanded, my voice raised a decibel higher than it should have.
He’d frowned. “Bully? Is that what she said?”
“She didn’t even have to say anything. Walking into your house, I could feel the thick tension in the air! If your mother isn’t here to help, let her leave! How can she expect a nursing mother to pet and pamper her?! Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Isn’t that what your omugwo is about?!”
“Solape is just lazy! She doesn’t see the importance of doing certain things! How can she expect my mother to be serving her food? Is that how your people do things?”
“Not when she is taking care of a little baby, with no help!!!” I literally shouted. “Ugo, don’t forget all the stress you went through, just to get her back! Don’t forget that you actually went all the way in Nigeria to bring her back here!”
He frowned. “That’s what I’ve been trying to talk to you about, if only you had just replied my messages even once! It’s just not working out between us…”
I felt my heart crash to my feet as the reality of what he was saying dawned on me. “Ugo! This girl has given up everything for you! She gave up her family to be with you!”
“We were obviously too hasty, and we hadn’t gotten to know each other well enough. Now that I see her for what she really is…I don’t think she’s someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. My mother even thinks the same way!”
My mouth and opened and closed, but no words came out. I was speechless. This was the very last thing I expected to hear. I’d spun around and returned to the kitchen to meet Solape.
“Haaa, Tayo! You want to put me in trouble?! Abeg oh! Before my mother-in-law crucifies me today!”
I looked at her, as she busied herself with serving rice and stew on several plates, and all I could hear ringing in my head were Ugo’s words.
“How are things with Ugo?” I asked, wanting to hear things from her own perspective.
She’d looked pensive for a few minutes. “The truth? It’s not what it should be…but I’m hopeful. Maybe by the time his mother returns to Nigeria, things will return to normal.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t in my place to tell her what Ugo had told me, so all I could do was wish her luck. For the rest of the day, I tried to make sure she was rested, as I willingly undertook her chores. The more I worked, the more I marvelled that they had actually carved out so much for a nursing woman.
At about 5pm, I decided to begin my long journey home. Walking to the train station, I heard a voice call my name. Turning around, I saw Ugo running up to me.
“I’m sorry, but that’s what I was trying to tell you over lunch!” he said, when he caught up with me. “I just don’t love her anymore!”
“That’s the disadvantage with dating all these small boys!” I mumbled under my breath, but loud enough for him to hear, which he clearly did, if his frown was anything to go by.
“I beg your pardon…” he said, with indignation.
“My advice to you? Get your mother out of your house…and fast! After that, you and Solape can start figuring things out. I’m sure your feelings will return when you are back to your usual circumstances.”
“And what if they don’t return?”
“Then you exit her life very quickly. I’m not going to have you toy with her emotions. If you have checked out emotionally, she deserves to know!”
All the way home, I kept wondering how serious he was about either fixing the relationship or coming clean with Solape.
It’s a precarious situation!