Morning.

It’s day 4 and I’m still alive, thankfully. Today’s Saturday and everyone’s awake already. Bayo’s seriously cleaning the compound as is traditional for us to clean the house every Xmas period. Before Dad died, that responsibility fell on Tinu and I. It wasn’t mandatory but it was fun as we used that opportunity to play around and also cause more mess which we ended up cleaning up anyways, with Dad’s help of course. We would bring out all our old clothes, toys, books including stuffs we didn’t need anymore in the house and put them all in a bag for those that needed it on the streets. It wasn’t like we have so much but Mom said it was necessary to give even if we had little so, the tradition stuck.

Today, Bayo does that cleaning. I can’t see myself doing all of that wahala anymore so, I had suggested to Mom that instead of giving out the old stuff, we could just go shopping for new stuff and then take then to the motherless babies home so they too can experience a real Christmas where everything smelt and tasted brand new. Mom had been ecstatic and had completely owned the idea. So, like an alarm clock, every two days before Christmas, she would remind me of the “Charity Trip” as she called it. I detest going to the market which is why I employed a personal shopper that goes to the local market for my groceries but Mom would never hear of it. For her, if you want to do good, do it yourself and do it well.

So, as I walked into the kitchen all freshened up for breakfast, I met Tinu preparing her kids’s meal. She greeted me politely but turned back to focus on what she was doing or better still, ignore me. I answered her and went straight to the fridge to get some eggs. I felt like a heavy breakfast today because of the task ahead so I waited for her to finish before going ahead to prepare scrambled eggs filled with carrots, green pepper, spring onions, tomatoes and green peas to go with two slices of yam.

I was halfway through my meal when Mom walked in all dressed up as well with her note pad and pencil. She had eaten already thus she sat looking at me. I became uncomfortable and asked her,

“What Mami?”
“Lola, are you alright?”
“Yes of course. Why do you ask?”
She looked around her before replying “Well, Darey is here…”
“Oh…” I said feeling a sour taste in my mouth “ehn…I know” I answered keeping a straight face
“Lola, whatever Tinu said to you, ejor, ema binu. So ti gbo (please, don’t be angry. Did you hear me?)?” Mom said holding her breath
“Mo ti gbo Ma (I’ve heard you Ma)” I said as I stood up to drop my plate in the sink.
“Ese Ife mi. Oya, eje alo (Thanks my love. Come on, let’s go)” she said and started going out.

I picked up my car keys from the kitchen table, pondering on what she had said and then followed her out.

…………………….

Noon.

Boundary Market was crowded. It was like a convergence of the world’s population to shop for Christmas and that got me a lot of feet stepping, shoulder bumping and a lot of “Ah, sorry Aunty Oyinbo“. I was pissed and irritated  cos each time an “Alabaru” (human mule at local markets) was approaching with a heavy basin of goods, I would see myself being tossed aside like a leaf by Mom from the road so I don’t get crushed. The funny but annoying thing is, I don’t know how she did it but she was untouchable in the crowd. It was like her big bombom was a defender against the pushes from the crowd. I felt cheated all of a sudden. I’ve got ass too; the kind of J Lo’s ass that stays put forever but in this situation, it seemed useless. What a life!

All through, Mom kept complaining about the cost of everything; from the price of a bag of rice to a carton of noodles, oil, tomatoes, live goats, chickens, children’s wears, shoes, and toiletries. I wasn’t really bothered cos I haven’t been to a market in the last seven years, since I started work at Trans International. So, I usually budget a million naira for the shopping and then I give another one million in cash to the manager of the Home. I do this for three Homes every year so, I’m used to Mom’s complaint since the past four years we started.

Oops! I forgot to add, you see, Mom’s very superstitious and it cracks me up every time she reminds me of what I have to do this period. When I clocked thirty,  she started panicking that I was still single without kids so, she decided on three homes as the significance for three kids that she wanted me to bear like Tinu.  Oh! there’s another thing too! I have to kneel for all the kids at the Homes to lay hands on me and pray for me. She believes that the prayers of the children will usher in a good man that can tolerate my excesses. Seriously Mom? Oh lawd!

…………………….

Evening

I was terribly exhausted by the time we drove into the compound by 7: 30 pm. I was staggering, I felt stiff with aches all over and so leaned against my car to feel my legs while waiting for Bayo to offload the foodstuff we had bought for the festivities from the boot.  I locked up the car afterwards and as I was about moving, I hit my right foot against something. The pain was so intense, I let out a loud scream as my feet buckled to the ground. Everyone rushed out of the house and were talking all at once. I couldn’t hear them cos my major concern was if I had ruined my nails. I had and was bleeding. I looked at what I had hit and realized that it was the huge stone that Bayo usually used to wedge the gate after locking it. I became furious.

“Bayo! Se o fe lati pa mi? (do you want to kill me?)!”
Bayo looked like a scared cat as he stuttered in response “Ejo Aunty mi, ema binu. Epele Ma. Ema binu…(Aunty please don’t be angry. I’m sorry)” he kept saying over and over again
“Gbe nu e dake jare! (shut up!)” I shouted in pain

Mom was shouting at Bayo to roll the stone away before someone else got hit, Tinu was saying “Epele” over and over again as she led the startled kids into the house while Darey was at my side helping me to my feet. I felt uncomfortable and hopped precariously as he led me into the house. Mom had quickly gone into the kitchen to mix hot water which coincidentally, was on the cooker boiling, with some disinfectant and  a towel . She was about kneeling and massaging my leg when Darey told her that he would do it instead. Mom argued a bit as usual but he had his way.

“You really need to rest Mami. Please, let me handle this okay?”
“Okay. Ese oko mi (thanks my husband)” she said and left

That left Darey and I in the kitchen alone. I was quiet as he busied himself with massaging the spot which was swollen and had turned an angry red now. Darey is a doctor so he knew what he was doing as he focused on the swollen area with an ointment I hadn’t noticed he carried.

“You’ll be alright now Lola. The balm will reduce the swell before morning. It will hurt till tomorrow but you’ll be able to walk properly again by Christmas day”. He finished but he was looking intently at me as if expecting me to say something else but I kept a poker face and nodded.

“Thanks Darey. I appreciate your help.” then I got up and made to leave for my room but he quickly stood and held my arm but I cringed from him as I said,

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” I limped away
“Lola, let me help you. Please…” his look of pity strengthened my resolve and I answered over my shoulder
“Nobody can help me Darey. Good night”

…………………..

Jeff didn’t call again today but I wasn’t bothered. I knew he was travelling today to  Dubai to meet with a client whom he had wanted to put on hold till the new year so he could spend Christmas with me but since I refused, he had rescheduled the meeting. Oh well, another eventful day it’s been. Oh God, please tone it down. I don’t even know what to expect anymore…

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