Thursday, 15 January 2015

Of Nagging Wives and Drunken Husbands

I wrote this story about a year ago. It was published somewhere, I think greenbiro, I miss those guys. Anyway, it was slightly reworked and published again this week on Oya Mag. I think it's a pretty decent story even though as it was last year, it read like a last year, but take a look:

Chinaza, the next door neighbour, the one that wore skimpy dresses and went out every night, the one whose face was once dark like the back of cocoyam but was now as light as a foreigner’s, had once told her that she owned a type of drink that made babies disappear from the womb of the drinker. She would meet Chinaza in the morning for that drink, she thought.

She looked at the wall clock that hung on the wall next to her husband’s police cap: 1:20A.M. it read. She thought about him. He had not shown up in three days and the last time he came, he didn’t stay the night, he left immediately after he had given her a dose of beating, after she had insulted him and asked to know where he was coming from, drunk, at that time of the night. She wished she had hauled more vitriolic abuses at him that night. The children were asleep. They had not heard her when she threatened to leave him and his children and make the best use of her beauty before her hay days wound down, when she called him a bastard and a drunk and a good for nothing woman because to her, he was a woman. They had not heard him when he said she could do whatever she liked after all she was more or less useless. They had not heard how she shouted at him as he left.

The green mat lay idly on the ground, she could no longer sleep, she was submerged by the thoughts of meeting Chinaza in the morning, by the irresponsibility and stupidity of her husband, by the poverty that was ravaging their lives, destroying them. She went towards the mirror and observed herself carefully, as if the mirror had the solutions to all her problems. She saw that she still looked pretty. She could easily do the kind of work that Chinaza was doing, maybe even better.

She looked around the one room apartment: the door of the small kitchen that was permanently ajar because it no longer had a handle, and so creaked mystically every time the weather became slightly windy; the dusty white ceiling fan that only rolled lazily when NEPA ‘brought high current’; the black water pot that was meant to be in the kitchen but was not because there was no space in the kitchen; and then their framed wedding picture, her husband looked good with his full afro hair and his black suit, the way he held her hand in his as if he would never let go, his smile, the one that lost depth and happiness as his years with her went by.

She felt angry as she focused on that framed photograph, on her husband’s smile, on herself – how happy she looked that she was getting married to the envy of all women, a man that had prospects, a man that had dreams. If someone had told her that ten years down the line, that bubbling man with all his dreams and prospects would become an inebriate that languished in retrogressive incompetence, she would have laughed at the person.


There he was alone at the beer parlour. Everyone else had left. His head moving back and forth as his eyes struggled to remain open. He was dozing. He wanted to sleep. He wished he could go home and sleep. He wished his wife was the same woman he’d married years ago, the one that encouraged him, the one that laughed with him and cried with him. He wished he did not lose his police job, maybe she would not have changed so drastically from the loving woman she used to be to the nagging woman she is now. It was after the police retrenched their staff and he was unlucky to be a part of the retrenched staff that she became this nagging monster. Now, all she did was scream and call him names, and look for corrosive words to haul at him, as if that would put food on the table. She was the reason he slipped into drunkenness, into redundancy. He blamed her. Other people’s wives were supportive and helped their husbands make challenges become stepping stones, but not his. His wife wanted it good all the time; he would have loved to keep it good for her, he would have loved it – but it wasn’t up to him.

He thought about his children, his four lovely children. He hated that he couldn’t provide three meals in a day for them, that he couldn’t provide their school fees. He hated that he was unemployed, he hated that he was at a beer palour instead of at his home, but he could not blame himself; his wife had made his home unlivable for him.
He got up from the seat, and headed home anyway.

His wife was still awake, sitting on a stool, hand to cheek when he arrived home. ‘Where are you coming from?’ She screamed.
He said nothing and made his way towards another mat that stood folded next to the water pot.
Idiot,’ she started. ‘You are not sleeping here today o. You had better go back to where you are coming from. Foolish man. Drunkard. Good for nothing.
He did not want the children to wake up. He had lost his temper the last time he came home and had beaten her up. He did not want that to be repeated, but she was screaming so loud. He said nothing, still. He just spread the mat next to hers. He was about to lay down when her shouting got even louder.
‘Idiot. Good for nothing. Disgrace. Jobless man.’
He looked at her. One of the children on the bed readjusted as if disturbed, he would awake if the shouting did not stop, so to stop the woman from shouting, he excused himself after shaking his head in disappointment at her.

He was outside, on his way to nowhere when he saw Chinaza, the next door neighbour coming in the opposite direction, with her skimpy dress that stopped just below her waist and her full breast. They had a short conversation during which he explained to her that he had nowhere to spend the night and then she invited him over to spend the night at her place. He could have declined. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.

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