Being an Accountant fueled Ifueko’s suspicious nature.
Every figure in each spreadsheet had a place, and every pen on her desk was arranged meticulously in colour order: red, blue, black.
She loved order and was a creature of habit, and so when she walked into her pristine kitchen that Saturday morning, she knew immediately that something was amiss.
The pot of Egusi soup which she had left ajar was now fully closed, there was a drop of palm oil on the kitchen counter and the large spoon which she had cooked with and placed facing upwards in a saucer now faced downwards.
She frowned. This couldn’t be happening, she thought. She opened the pot, and just as she had expected, there was a slight indentation in the soup where a piece of meat had been removed.
‘Boys! Come in here. Now!’
She had a criminal in her household.
Ifueko’s 8-year old twin sons stared up at her with big eyes, wondering what on earth their mother had torn them away from their viewing of Ben-10 for.
‘Yes Mummy’, they both replied.
Ifueko looked closely at each of their faces, annoyed that sometimes even she couldn’t tell them apart.
‘I won’t be angry and I promise not to beat you (she was lying; she was livid at this point). ‘Tell me who took a piece of meat from the pot’. Despite the time and the fact that the windows were open, Ifueko found that she was sweating in the Abuja heat.
There was an expectant silence in the kitchen as she watched each boy’s face for clues of a master criminal in the making.
‘We didn’t take any meat, Mummy’ said Odion, the older twin. Omo simply looked baffled.
Ifueko sighed. ‘Boys, I am asking again. Tell me the truth. Who took the meat from the soup?’
The boys looked at each other, and looked up at her. ‘It’s not us, Mummy’. It was Omo who spoke this time; he was less confident than his twin and couldn’t maintain steady eye contact under Ifueko’s stern gaze.
Impatiently, she looked at her watch: 9.45am. She wanted to buy some items from the nearby supermarket and this interrogation was taking longer than she had expected.
‘Get me the cane’. The boys, in their matching Spiderman T-shirts and Shorts now looked petrified.
‘Mummy please’, Omo started to sniffle. Odion simply looked dazed. Neither of them made a move to retrieve the cane from its location behind the cupboard near the front door.
‘What’s going on?’
Ifueko shrieked, the deep voice startling her.
Her Husband, Osayi, stood at the kitchen’s entrance, wearing a blue checkered shirt, blue jeans and a puzzled expression on his face.
‘Daddy!’ The boys ran to their Father as Ifueko stared at him, noticing his bare feet.
‘I don’t…when did you get home?’
‘About an hour ago. The boys said you were taking your bath. I told them not to tell you I was home; that I wanted to surprise you. We hid my luggage in the guest room’.
‘I caught an earlier flight from London; decided not to stay for the last day of the conference’.
The boys clung to their Father, looking at Ifueko warily.
‘Babe. Are you okay?’
Ifueko snapped out of her daze and smiled.
‘I’m sorry Love. You surprised me, that’s all’.
He shook his head and pulled her into a hug. He smelled very nice, like cologne and…something else…
‘Did you eat when you got home?’
‘Oh, yes. I took a piece of meat from the Egusi soup. It’s very tasty by the way’.
Ifueko giggled and shook her head.
‘Thank you, Love’.
She stepped back from him.
‘Thanks, Babe’ They kissed briefly, and she looked down at the twins. ‘I’m so sorry boys’. They mumbled something in response and fled back to the sitting room.
‘I need to get to the supermarket’. Luckily it was located in the shopping complex within their Estate, less than a minute’s walk from their house. ‘I also need to buy the boys some Ice cream’.
‘Ice cream? What’s the occasion?’
Ifueko smiled. ‘It’s a long story, Love. I’ll explain when I get home’.
Osayi shrugged, looking amused. ‘Okay, see you when you get back’.
Ifueko picked up her bag from where it lay by the staircase, smoothed down her denim dress and went towards the front door.
She paused, turned and made her way to the sitting room where Osayi was supervising the twins as they picked up their toys. She tapped his shoulder, and he looked at her, brows raised.
Ifueko whispered, ‘I want to tell you something’. She gestured for him to lean closer, and he obliged.
‘Remember the day before you travelled when you asked me to pay the Water bill? Well, I was looking for the last bill we paid and I found your Passport-you know, the one with your valid UK Visa-in your bottom drawer. So…think about what you will tell me when I ask you where you have been for the last two weeks’.
Ifueko squeezed his shoulder with a little more force than was necessary, told the twins she would be home soon and left the house, happy that she had at least solved one mystery that day.
Ivie M. Eke 2020