"You shouldn't have slapped her," Obidiegwu told his wife as he entered their bedroom. "You know she will never stop raising hell until she gets her pound of flesh."
It pained her deeply that the first meaningful conversation she would have with her husband since the birth of their new child was about her cantankerous neighbour.
How she had imagined their make-up scene: It would be on one of those cold lonely nights when all the children had gone to bed. Then he would sneakily lock the door and drew the window curtains before joining her in bed. She would of course feign sleep even when he presses his manhood on her rear. After a while he will turn her and plant himself on top of her.
She will struggle and push him away but he will not relent. He will try as much as he can to pin her down. Yet she will escape his grasp and knowingly allow her wrapper to fall off as she stands up from the bed. The sight of her soft white buttocks will leave him vulnerable.
In a flash he will be on his knees, begging her with promises that he will regret later.
"Nne, please forgive me. In whatsoever I have done, forgive me and give yourself to me. Ask me of anything, I will give you. Do you want that plain George in Mama Gloria's shop? I will buy it for you."
Facing the blue walls of her room, Ugomma will ignore him. Then he will stand up to hold her but she will pull back.
"Please Nne, I beg you. Don't deny me of your sweet soft body. You know how much I love this body of yours. You know it sets me on fire." His hands will caress her body as he talks and in a few minutes, her body will respond to his touch. Before both of them will realise, they will be sweating on the carpeted floor, panting as they ride each other to climax.
Nowadays, Ugomma loved being on top. It made her feel so in control as she sets the rhythm for their lovemaking. Often times, she found herself staring at the reflection of her beautiful back and the rise and fall of her fine rounded buttocks in the standing mirror near the window. How adorable she looked. She was lucky to have such an appealing body with her tiny waist and full breasts.
After three children, her breasts were yet to lose their firmness. They were still full and rounded like ripe apples. When she gets too excited, she changes position and enjoy the full view of herself in the mirror.
But none of that would be happening tonight. Mama Charity had shattered any form of Shangri-la her bedroom provided. Since their ordeal this evening. She had not stopped knocking on their door, seeking entrance. Chisa had ensured that all the children were inside and waited patiently by the door side with a pestle.
"If she dares break this door Aunty, I swear I will break her head with this pestle," she boasted to Ugomma.
Ugomma often wondered where her 14 year-old cousin got her boldness from. The other day, Mama Ndubuisi came to report that she broke the nose of her cousin, a 17 year-old boy.
If it were other times, she would have barked her down but tonight, she didn't say a word.
Obidiegwu on the other hand didn't have a good day. His day seemed to have started with trouble. Waiting for him at his business place before he arrived was Okon. The young man looked defeated and tensed in his neat but worn-out white shirt and black trousers. On his feet were a pair of rubber flip-flops.
He was the last person Okon expected to see that early in the morning. Well, not that early. It was already past 10am. After their first encounter at the bar, they have never crossed each other paths again.
"Is all well Okon? How did you locate my shop?" He asked Okon who sat on a long bench outside the shop.
The poor man quickly sprang to his feet.
"Forgive me my friend. It is very unlikely of me to come to your shop uninvited but I really need your help."
If anyone needed help, thought Obidiegwu, it was him. His conscience had been pricking him since his wife came back from the hospital. He was yet to garner the courage to look at his newborn or even speak to his wife. He knew she was hurting. He knew she needed him more now. But he was scared of her rejection.
And Ugomma was terrific at rejection. He knew how many times he had to beg for her body. She knew her body was his weakness and usually tormented him with that. But even now, he can't have her. He has to wait for a month or two. How he longed to make love to her. Maybe this time, he will implant the male seed into her.
Snapping out of his wild thoughts, he turned to Okon who looked very miserable. His eyes were red and swollen. There were whiskers all over his face and Obidiegwu wondered the last time the man had a clean shave. Although there was a small patch of sweat underneath his armpit, Obidiegwu didn't catch a whiff of body odour. The man was very clean, Obidiegwu concluded. It was a peculiar trait of the Ibibio people.
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He quickly opened his shop only to find the place in disarray. Drawers were left open, some broken, pieces of paper littered his table, few empty cartons of dairy products were scattered on the floor. On his thermocool fridge were empty bottles of coke and Tandi Guarana.
"What?" he asked no one in particular.
Both men looked around aghast.
"Do you think you've been burgled?" asked Okon
"Apparently, but how did they enter?"
At that moment, they both looked up and saw that the roof had been ripped apart.
"I hope you don't keep money here?" asked Okon.
At the mention of money, Obidiegwu ran to his table like a possessed being. All the four drawers on his table were emptied but Obidiegwu searched through the heap frantically until he came across a brown envelope. He heaved a big sigh when he saw that the content was still intact.
"Thank God!" sighed Okon.
Together, he helped Obidiegwu rearranged his shop, even offered to fix the ceiling. It was past mid-day when Obidiegwu stopped him.
"No, my dear friend. You have done enough. This wasn't what you came here for. Come, let's have a drink and then you tell me your problem."
Okon in his cool demeanor accepted his offer.
"My wife is due today or tomorrow and I have no kobo on me to foot the hospital bills. If you can just borrow me 200 naira to pay bills and see to her immediate needs, I will appreciate."
Obidiegwu scratched his head. 200 naira was the exact amount in the brown envelope which the thieves missed. He wanted to give it to Ugomma to use for her Teachers College registration. His plan was to use the money as a peace token. But Okon needed that money badly. His nagging wife will apparently not give him a peace of mind. And he was such a nice man who deserves better treatment. In that instant, he made up his mind to help Okon.
"Obi, thank you. God bless you. I will never forget this," said Okon effusively.
Okon had barely left when the tax council officers arrived. Luckily for him, he has paid all his dues. Shortly, his landlord, Pa Odus, a short wiry old man came in.
"I heard your shop was burgled," said Pa Odus.
"Yes it was."
"This is the exact reason I didn't want to rent my shop to you. Your kind of business attracts criminals to my compound."
Infuriated by his comments, Obidiegwu managed to keep his calm. He was used to the old man's inflammatory remarks.
"Did they steal anything?"
"Yes they did. Some of my goods and some cash," Obidiegwu lied.
"Why would you keep your cash here. Don't you have a bank account? All you Igbo men sef."
Obidiegwu said nothing.
After a while, Pa Odus walked away. He came back shortly
"Errm, do you have any bottle for your landlord?" Groaning inwardly, Obidiegwu handed him a bottle of Star Lager.
He was barely recovering from that brief encounter when Mama Ndubuisi came to tell him that his wife slapped Mama Charity.
"Please lock your shop and go home because that woman is ready to tear our beautiful Ugomma into pieces."
That was how Obidiegwu found himself facing the wrath of his belligerent neighbour. Immediately she sighted him, she had grabbed his shirt.
"Your wife dared slapped me. Both of you must beat me today."
It took some pleading from Ochara before she let go of Obidiegwu. Moreover, she has no bone to pick with him. However, he had barely settled down when she began to knock on the door loudly. She had been at it for more than hour, disturbing the sleep of his baby and the peace of his household.
The baby started crying again as soon as Mama Charity began banging on the door. Ugomma glanced at her beautiful baby girl who was yet to enjoy her father's love with pitiable eyes. As she stood up to scoop her from the cradle, Obidiegwu held her back. She watched with so much love and admiration as he stared at the baby with loving eyes before lifting her in his arms.
"Shhh, stop crying my diamond. Daddy is here," he cooed. Instantly, the baby stopped crying. He looked at Ugomma and smiled.
"She is very beautiful."
"Yes" was all Ugomma could mutter as she was overwhelmed with emotions.
He held the baby up and smiled at her.
"I am your daddy Onyinye. Do you hear me? You are my Onyinye and I am your daddy."
The baby seemed to digest this piece of news with excitement. She giggled and tried to touch Obidiegwu's face. He rested her on his shoulders and within minutes, she slipped into Morpheus's arms. Gently, he laid her back in the cradle to turn to his wife whose eyes were so misty.
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"I swear if not that Nwanyi Olu Agu is in her element today, and I am still sore down there, I would have made wicked love to you," she told him as he hugged her.
"She doesn't have to stop us," he whispered in her ears as he gently began to unzip her blouse.
Ugomma shuddered at his feather touches.
"I'm still bleeding."
"We will do it the other way."
An hour later, Ugomma said,
"Listen!" They were lying on the bed naked except for the black cotton pant on Ugomma.
She loosely tied her wrapper round her body, unlocked the bedroom door and tiptoed to the children's room. Chisa laid close to the door,fast asleep but with the pestle close to her chest. She shook her head at the sight.
"Chisa, the pestle handler," Obidiegwu remarked behind her. She turned and grinned at him.
"It seemed Nwanyi Olu Agu is tired of banging."
"Maybe her knuckles bled her to death. Do you think her dead body is outside there?"
"Obi!" exclaimed Ugomma. "Don't say such a thing."
He pinched her bottom wickedly.
"Aw!" She screamed.
"Don't scream, you will wake the children," he told her as he took her hand and headed for the bedroom.
"You should have thought of that before pinching me," she retorted.
They were almost at their bedroom when Obidiegwu stepped back into the children's room. He walked to the baby's cradle and kissed her forehead.
"Where did you learn that from?" Ugomma asked as he walked back to the room, her heart swelling with so much joy and pride.
"From Readers Digest," he winked at her. "Where was I before I went to check on my diamond?"
She didn't answer but ran into his arms.
Written by Vay Sylver.