Tales From The Wife Next Door – Part 1

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Agunwanyi Tales From The Wife Next Door - Part 1

My name is Mrs. Nwokekoro but everyone calls me Agunwanyi, the lioness. I live at flat 6, No 14 Hilltop Road. I have lived here for eleven years. In between my daily housewifely duties of taking care of my husband and two children—a boy and a girl, I take immense pleasure in minding all my neighbours’ businesses.

Right now, I am enjoying the early evening breeze on the balcony while waiting for the children who have gone for their after-class lessons and my husband who will pick them up on his way back from work to return. Dinner—a pot of yam porridge is already simmering on the stove in the kitchen. I am also waiting for Mrs. Sawyer my neighbour from flat 3 to walk her ‘visitor’ to his car. I have purposed in my heart to attach a face to the Range Rover that is always parked just outside the gate everyday between 1pm- 6pm whenever Mr. Sawyer goes on a trip, as it is the proper neighbourly thing to do.

Eheh. Please, pick up a wet handkerchief and wipe that judgmental look off your face. We are all allowed some excesses and this happens to be mine so that chief judge look on your face will not be tolerated here. Let me remind you that I am not called Agunwanyi for nothing; forward all your doubts to Mama Benson from the grocery store down the road; the scratches I deposited on her face are loud testament to my capabilities. I am Agunwanyi, never forget that. Mtcheeeeeew.

Besides, if I don’t channel my antennas to capture the activities of the skeletons in my neighbours’ wardrobes or the stench of the dirty linens beneath their beds, how will I be able to air out the wardrobes or wash the dirty linens for your entertainment? How else will I be able to tell you about Chief with his child bride in flat 2, those silly girls with their loud music and numerous pot-bellied ‘Uncles’ in flat 8, boastful Johnson with his rented cars and never-ending stream of greedy girlfriends or Mrs. Coker with her lost-cause-of-a-son in flat 4; tell me, how? Ah ha! Why are your ears tingling? And are these your eyes widening? Oooho! So you like sweet stories too abi? Why all the pretence then? Hehehehehe, people of the world. You see, that is the reason why I like myself oh; I am who I am with pride. Biko, please relax, we are all here to enjoy ourselves, and if anyone asks who told you, tell them Mrs. Nwokekoro the one everyone calls Agunwanyi! Hehehehehehe.

Oya, gather round; let me tell you about the Ades next door…

The Ades moved in sometime in April right after the Okons had gathered their belongings to a cheaper part of town because Mr Okon, having lost his job at the bank, could not afford the rent at no. 14 Hilltop Road anymore. The newlyweds moved in after their honeymoon all excited, seemingly ready to start life as husband and wife. I remember it was on a Saturday, I had just come home from the women’s meeting in Church exhausted and nursing a hoarse voice from trying to impress my ideas for the Pastor’s wife’s birthday party upon the Women Leader’s opinionated skull all to no avail. The woman and her minions would not budge until I and the few wise ones left simply told them that we had no money to contribute towards the purchase of a car for the Pastor’s wife. First, she did not need one since the Church had bought his & hers SUVs for her and the Pastor just last Christmas, and secondly, because my suggestion that we throw her a party and sew asoebi ( which we could at least keep for subsequent reuse) for the occasion was not even allowed on the table for consideration… can you see how this Women’s Leader is making me veer off the topic, can you just see? Anyway, I have made up my mind that one of these fine days, I will serve it to her with red-hot tatashi! Ahah, she’s not even the Pastor’s Wife yet she hauls her shoulders with such pomposity as if she was the Pastor himself! Let me not just get distracted, today is all about the Ades but one of these days I will tell you all about Mrs. Onwuatuegwu.

Where was I? Ehen, I had just come home, and having noticed the car parked in the space allotted for flat 5, I knew that the owners had arrived. I quickly gathered some oranges into a bowl, and went over to say hello as the self-appointed-one-man welcoming committee of No 14 Hilltop road.

Was it not Mrs Ade who I had met first? Yes, she was the one who had come to the door when I rang; statuesque, dark-skinned and very beautiful; she looked to be in her twenties.

Mrs Ade

“Thank you very much, please come in” she had said after I had introduced myself and given her the bowl of oranges.

“Ah not today, I’m busy in the kitchen, perhaps some other time.”

“Honey, Honey come say hi to our neighbour”

My people, it had taken all my self-control not to allow my lower jaw to unhinge itself and hang loose when I saw the ‘Honey’. Mr. Ade; a squat, rotund man with a determinedly receding hairline and very shifty eyes set deep on a pockmarked face had said his hello and thank you with a handshake, and I had gone back to my family wondering what had motivated this paragon of beauty to take this risk with such a toad. Wait first, before you start your murmuring, I had and still have every right to wonder. Perhaps if you see this Mrs. Ade for yourselves you will understand better; the lady is very beautiful, honestly, and I couldn’t and still cannot comprehend how he had managed to woo much less convince her to marry him even if he had all the money in the world. Yes o my people, he’s that ugly!  Some women are just too strong ah ah!!! Imagine waking up to that face every blessed morning? Kissing and calling that face ‘Honey’? Could it be that she does not appreciate how unsightly her husband is? Choi! May God disarm the devil! Hehehehehe. Thank God my husband is a fine man; tall, chubby (not fat o) and light-skinned just the way I like; please allow me to boast a little, hehhhehhee.

Poor Mrs. Ade, her husband’s ugliness is not her only wahala. No, she has bigger worries than who their children will end up looking like because not only did she marry ugly, she also married a mother’s house wrapper. Yes, a mother’s wrapper, or how else do you want me to describe a full-grown man who allowed his mother to come into his matrimonial home and husband his wife for him? Barely three weeks after moving in, Mama Ade landed at their front door and never left. How can a mother who has her own home move into her son’s house and just take over as if she is in her own husband’s house? What am I even saying, how can a wife allow her Mother-in-Law to move into her matrimonial home and begin to treat her like the help? Biko kwa, this kind of thing chooses who and who it can happen to oh. I remember when my mother-in-law tried such nonsense right after I had my first son. My own mother is late, so my husband decided to ask his mother to come and do omugwo for me. I had wanted my elder sister to come instead but he insisted on his mother so I allowed peace to reign. My people, the woman had come and stayed for the required one month, then another month. By the second week of the third month, I took her shopping and when we got home told her that she will be traveling back to the village the next week. She reported me to her son who, knowing the kind of woman he had married, convinced her to go. She still visits but mostly for a week or two, those two and a half months were the longest she ever stayed in my home. Yes, no room for rubbish.

Clearly, not every woman has my kind of strong back bone that is why Mrs. Ade is right next door marrying both her husband and his mother. If I begin to divulge all the garbage that woman has been enduring eh, we will not leave here today. She cleans and cooks, and spends her Saturday mornings battling with the mountain of dirty laundry which are mostly her Mother-in-Law’s clothes while day in and day out, Mama Ade sits on her fat buttocks in front of the television watching African Magic TV, and cackling like a demented hen in between issuing orders spiced with invectives. There was even a time she locked Mrs. Ade out of the house! I’m telling you! The poor woman had rushed home from work desperate to use the bathroom but Mama Ade had left her standing there despite the urgency in her knocks and voice, even after I’d joined in the knocking. I had offered my guest bathroom, and can still picture her sitting on that couch over there looking so pitiable while we waited for her husband to come home. He must not have done much to caution his mother because last night she came to my door in tears; Mama Ade had slapped her and in her husband’s presence too. She had endured the heavy traffic and come home exhausted only for the woman to demand pounded yam and egusi soup for dinner.

“Mama please I’m very tired, you will just have to manage fried plantain with stew,” was all she said before Mama Ade descended on her with two hot slaps, one for each cheek.

“What did your husband do?”

“Nothing”

“Did you at least slap her back?”

“Ah, nooo”

“Ok” I handed her some Kleenex to wipe her tears and blow her nose, “Sorry you hear, pele” and allowed her sit in my sitting room until her husband came to beg her. Yes I like minding my neighbour’s business but I like doing it from afar;  it is not in my place to advise her to teach her Mother-in-Law a lesson. Everyone has a breaking limit and until Mrs. Ade reaches hers, she will continue to eat Mama Ade’s shit and I will continue to tell you all about it, hehehehehe. Kai, but I believe what Mama Ade needs is to live in my house for one day, let’s see if I don’t roar that madness out of her.

Range_Rover_front_20080331

Aha! My neighbour from flat 3 is walking her ‘visitor’ to his car now. I can’t see his face o, it’s already too dark. See how these two people are just romancing each other in the open o, Mrs. Sawyer where is your shame? Married woman, tufiakwa! May God disarm the devil. I could not see his face, and his car was parked at such an angle that even when he opened the door, and the inner lights came on, I still could not see him, now he’s gone. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and my middle name is patience, all I know is that I must put a face to that Range Rover, and the instant I do, you will be the first to know hehhehehehehehe. Please, let me go and see to my pot of yam before my husband and children get home. Hehehehehehhhee.

Nnenna Olike

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