‘In this evening’s headlines, it has been 100 days since the President has been receiving treatment in London for an undisclosed illness…A former Minister of Health has been taken into custody by the EFCC for corruption offences…’ The radio presenter’s voice droned on from the cab’s radio as the driver drove badly through Abuja traffic.
Kunbi usually paid attention to news about the exploits of the political elite in Nigeria whilst silently judging them, but that evening, she was not interested at all.
She was tired.
The weather was cool that evening and the roads were busy with people returning home from work.
Her routine commute from Wuse Zone 5 to Wuse Market, and from there to Gwarinpa seemed to take forever, even though it was still the usual thirty-odd minutes. The talkative woman who sat directly behind her and the male passenger beside the woman who coughed throughout the car ride added to her fatigue. She was more than relieved when the cab finally stopped at the drop-off point.
As Kunbi exited the taxi, she could feel the cab driver’s leering glance wash over her as she bent to pick up the large carrier bag which she had put beside her feet in the front seat. She wasn’t exactly dressed fashionably; her hair was pulled back in a bun and she wore a purple t-shirt with blue jeans and black flat shoes, but it didn’t seem to matter to the cab driver.
‘Sister, you won’t smile at me?’ the cab driver asked with a toothy and discoloured smile, but Kunbi had already started walking determinedly away from him, making her way through the path in the middle of the shanty market which was behind the Federal Teacher’s Association Housing Estate. She was five feet five inches tall, and tended to walk briskly to match the strides of taller friends and family members.
Kunbi had her black handbag tucked firmly under one arm, and carried the large bag in her other arm as she manoeuvred her footsteps on the uneven path, deep in thought.
She greeted the elderly security man at the estate gate, and as she got to her parent’s house, number 42, Kunbi was thankful that she had made it home early from her Nanny job. It was just past 6pm.
‘Kunbi, is that you? You’re so early today!’ Her mother’s voice rang out from the kitchen. Kunbi had let herself into the house with her key, dropped her handbag on the centre table and carried the large bag to her mother in the kitchen.
Her mother was dressed in a patterned tunic and leggings, and with her cornrows, she could have passed for Kunbi’s older sister.
‘Mummy,Good Evening. Aunty Chidera gave me these clothes’. With some relief, Kunbi dropped the bag on the floor, exhausted. She hugged her mother and went to the fridge to get a bottle of water, while her mother peered into the bag; it contained several native ankara attires, skirt-and-blouse combos and dresses, about 10 in number.
‘Wonderful! That’s so generous of her!’ Her mother exclaimed. Kunbi nodded but said nothing; her mind was on something else that had happened earlier that day at her job. She wished that she had siblings or close friends to confide in, but she was an only child, and her friends were busy enjoying their free time since all Federal Universities were on a nationwide strike (again), which pushed forward the resumption date for the new academic session indefinitely. Kunbi’s phone often beeped with messages from numerous WhatsApp groups but she usually ignored them, choosing not to take part in the never-ending conversations.
The day had begun like any other day. Kunbi worked for Dr. and Mrs. Osifo as a Nanny for their children during the long school vacation. She arrived at their home during the week by 9am, just as the 7-year old twin girls, Gretchen and Margo were leaving for their summer lessons. Kunbi had been baffled by their names when she first met them but she had since learned that wealthy people could afford to be eccentric and kept her thoughts to herself.
Her job was to tidy up the girls’ room, run errands for Mrs Osifo (or Aunty Chidera), pick the children from school after their lessons with the Osifos’ driver, prepare lunch for them, ensure that they did their assignments and keep them entertained until one or both of their parents arrived home by 5pm.
Kunbi had been touched when she saw the bag of clothes which Aunty Chidera had left for her on the kitchen table along with a note. The clothes were made from beautiful ankara fabrics and Kunbi was grateful, but she knew that she would have to give a tailor to amend the length of the clothes. Aunty Chidera was a size 12 and was almost 6 feet tall. Kunbi was the same size, but much shorter, so she knew that she would be sweeping the floor with the dresses and skirts unless she got them shortened.
Kunbi had taken the job after her parents had informed her that could not afford her school fees for her last year at the University of Abuja where she was studying Economics. She had been sad but determined to do the best she could to save towards her fees, but with her current earnings from the few months since she started her Nanny job, things were not looking too good. Thankfully with the Universities on strike, she did not feel like she was losing out on her education-at least, not yet. She was turning 23 the following week, but birthday festivities seemed frivolous given her family’s current economic status.
She had been tidying up the children’s rooms when she heard a car pull up in front of the house at about 11:30am. Wondering who it was, Kunbi went to the sitting room and drew back the window’s curtain and was startled to see Dr. Osifo in the driver’s seat of the car, since he didn’t usually come home so early in the day.
What was even more surprising was that he was enthusiastically kissing a woman seated in the passenger seat, a fair-skinned lady with long braided hair.
A lady who was definitely not the dark-skinned and short-haired Mrs. Osifo.
Kunbi stood rooted to the spot in shock, and it was only when Dr. Osifo broke the kiss and spotted her standing at the window that she came back to her senses and did the only thing that came into her mind.
She dropped the curtain, turned and walked briskly back to the girls’ room.
***Part 2 will be up on the blog next week***
© Ivie M. Eke 2017.