MAJESTIC AND I —- by
I thought about it the rest of the day. It was what occupied my mind as I washed some clothes, stayed with me when I prepared dinner. Annoyingly, my husband wanted rice for dinner, after making a fuss about the rice I made in the afternoon. I was beginning to think the man was a basket case. It was that or his mission in life was to make me miserable. If it was the latter, then, he was succeeding tremendously. Lord, give the man a medal!
So, I boiled rice and heated the stew. Dinner was a strained affair. Nobody spoke to anybody. The silence was suffocating and uncomfortable. I fed Majestic after dinner. My husband watched with a frown on his face.
I dozed off on the sofa, after long minutes of trying unsuccessfully to follow a telenova on television. My mind kept wandering, while I stroked Majestic and tried to follow the programme.
When I slept, my thoughts crept into my dreams. I served him food. He took a spoonful of rice, chewed, swallowed. He started choking. He fell off his chair and started having some kind of seizure. I was cackling like a satisfied witch. He went still. Just, when I was beginning to think he was dead, he jumped to his feet and grabbed me. His hands went around my neck and he squeezed. There was pain. Suddenly breathing became impossible. It felt like the atmosphere was devoid of air, when in fact, I just couldn’t get it into me. My vision became a blur, it darkened gradually from the corners of my eyes. I was going to die.
I jerked awake. A glance at the wall clock told me it was six o’clock. I brushed my teeth and made breakfast. After which I prepared for work and rushed out of the house. Ikechi could serve himself when he was ready. Thoughts were swirling in my head. I wanted this life to end, but did I have the guts to end it? I liked to think I had guts. I didn’t like to think I was a coward. Even when I acted like one, I would convince myself that I was just biding my time.
By the time evening came and I closed the shop, I was convinced of what I would do, what I had to do. It was clear in my mind. It would end today.
I went home. As I stepped into the house, my husband jumped up from the sofa. Idly, I wondered what he was doing at home this early. It was just five p.m.
‘What happened?’ He wanted to know, his eyes wide and a bit crazed.
‘Huh?’ I couldn’t understand what he was talking about.
‘I have been calling you all day.’ He said, waving the phone in his left hand.
‘I left my phone at home.’ I told him. I had forgotten it in my rush to get out of the house. I greeted my mother-in-law, who was sitting on another sofa.
‘I told him you were probably busy but he insisted on fretting.’ My mother-in-law put in.
‘I was.’ I agreed. I wondered what he was fretting about. There was something in his eyes. It looked like worry. But, no, he couldn’t be worried. What did he have to be worried about?
‘I couldn’t find you when I finished preparing for work.’ He said.
‘I decided to head out, early. I had a lot of things to do.’ I replied, taking a seat on the nearest cushion.
‘Without serving my breakfast?’ He asked. His voice was louder now.
‘I made breakfast. Didn’t you see the note I left on the refrigerator?’ I inquired.
‘You left me a note to serve myself.’ He was downright yelling now. I was starting to get a headache now.
‘Bia, nwoke m, if you need someone to be waiting on you at every turn, hire a servant.’ I told him. I had had it with his bullshit.
‘Oge, what is it with you, lately. What is wrong with you?’ He looked genuinely perplexed.
I jumped off the sofa and rounded in on him.
‘What is wrong with me? You are what is wrong with me. You turned me into someone I don’t recognise. If I jump off the head bridge, it would be all your fault!’ I yelled. His jaw unlocked. His personal doormat had suddenly grown spikes.
‘Are you planning on killing yourself or something?’ He asked. His expression, his voice bore testament to his confusion.
‘And that’s the part you homed in on. You’re just so dense.’ I said, with a laugh that reeked of hysteria.
‘What do you want for dinner?’ I asked, in a voice that was suddenly calm. My mother-in-law turned and studied me, first in alarm, then in speculation.
‘We haven’t finished talking about this.’ He said.
‘I am done talking about it. What do you want for dinner?’ I asked, again. He was silent for a moment. A moment, during which he just watched me. Then, he said the most shocking thing.
‘What do you want for dinner? We can have whatever it is that you want.’ He replied. To say I was shocked, would be an understatement. My mouth opened, then, closed, and opened again. I was literally short of words. After some seconds, I found my voice.
‘It has always been about what you want, let’s not throw the script out of the window, now, please. I am yours to command.’ I told him. My smile was brittle. He wasn’t so dense that he could not see it, though. I could see him mentally backtracking.
‘Okay. Mama, what do you want for dinner?’ He asked, with what looked suspiciously like a plea in his eyes as he looked at his mother.
‘There’s soup in the fridge. We can just heat that up.’ She suggested.
‘That sounds perfect.’ Ikechi said, his relief was evident in his smile.
I picked my bag and went to the room to change. After which, I went to the kitchen and started on dinner. When I was done, I put the soup in three dishes, then I went to the store and got the bottle. My heartbeat was erratic, my breathing chopped, as I stood, looking at the plates of food with the bottle in my hand.
‘You can do this.’ I whispered to myself, repeatedly. My guts were starting to fail me. I was starting to wonder if I should do this.
‘You can do this.’ I told myself, one more time, then started to open the bottle. My hands were unsteady, as though I had Parkinson’s.
‘Are you done, making dinner?’ My mother-in-law’s voice rang out from the doorway. Startled, the bottle flew from my hand. It hit the edge of the kitchen counter, liquid splashing everywhere as it broke. Then, it hit the ground and shattered into a million pieces, with the remaining fluid splashing on the ground.
‘What was that?’ My mother-in-law wanted to know.