Life’s Laboratory

Life never fails to pose a challenge as long as we remain in this world. However, our attitudes, decisions, and environments to a large extent determine the outcomes of the challenge. Meet three beautiful women and their husbands going through different circumstances.  Amidst all the drama in their lives, see how they work out their issues to live the best life they can.

Amaka carried her toddler on her hips like the typical African mama. She paced about the compound, her stiletto heels making clicking sounds as she moved on the concrete floor. Muna, her little girl, pulled on her jacket and rubbed goo from her sticky fingers onto it while sucking happily on her lollipop. On a typical day, Amaka would have shrieked and screamed; her expensive dry-clean only suits were not to be touched.

When the going was good, she would wear once and toss it for dry cleaning but these days she dressed delicately and wore her clothings in such a way that she could repeat another time before dry cleaning. Ada, her eldest daughter, ran out of the house to meet her mother in the compound.

“Easy, Ada. Don’t fall down. Ke kwanu? ”

“I’m fine Mummy. Welcome home. “Ada was gleeful that her mother was home.

“You came back early today.”

Amaka smiled, one that stopped at her face and didn’t reach her heart. Ada chatted on but Amaka was already lost in thought. Her recent searches for the type of job she wanted were not yielding fruit. She had reached out to many of her old colleagues in the field but they seemed to have forgotten her and moved on. The ones that took time to see her told her that she did not have any job experience. She argued about the few months of work she had done in a non-governmental organization and the brief stint on a contract but she was constantly reminded that the industry had moved ahead; there were new technologies, methodologies and modus operandi she knew nothing about.

Where was she to start from?  Amaka thought.

Getting a job was no longer the issue at the moment though. What occupied her mind all day was how she was going to break it to her beloved Chifunanya that she was two months pregnant. She panicked at the thought. Her job hunting was going to be in the parking lot. She had decided to go for her Masters program a few days ago. She believed that it would update her knowledge of the industry and get at par with the rest of her colleagues.

“And so, I told him that I was going to slap him if he touched my hair again.” Ada was saying. She had been responding with ‘Hmm’  and ‘Haa’ while her mind was elsewhere.

“Is that so?” Amaka said, trying to chat up with the gist her daughter was dishing out.

“Oh yes! I don’t have time for little boys.” Ada’s confidence at eight years amazed Amaka. She was happy that Ada had spunk as well as brains. Ada acted above her age.

Muna started fussing on her hip; she wanted Amaka to keep pacing about.

“Ada, carry Muna for me. Where is Noni? ”

“Noni is watching television.” She took Muna off my hip.

It was time to go in and face the Music, Amaka thought to herself. She ushered in Ada who had a cheerful Muna in her arms.

You said your daddy is upstairs?”  She asked Ada as she went in also and locked the door behind her.

 

Chifunanya was in the study sorting out financial papers. He was tired of scrimping and saving peanuts. Money was never enough. When he thought that he had made some extra cash, everything would just blow away as if his pocket was a leaking basket.

He decided to take the time to do a proper balance sheet indicating income, expenditure, assets and liability so that he could be certain of what was coming in and going out. He hoped that by the time he was done, he would be able to identify some quick win areas that would get him money quick. So far, he was upset by the results of his work. The savings he had could not take care of them for more than a year not to speak of crisis situations. He was writing the list of his liabilities when his wife, Amaka, came in.

“Honey, ke kwanu?” he greeted her. “Any progress today?” he asked about her job search. He had been pushing and clamouring for her to get a job to pitch in and take some of the stress off him.

“It was not successful but I’m still hopeful.” Amaka responded without any cheer.

Chifunanya saw that she looked unhappy. He scrutinized her face. Something was obviously not right.

“Oh Chif. What am I going to do?” Big fat tears roles down her face.

“Hey baby, don’t cry please. Things will get better. You will get one soon.” Chifunanya went to her, gave her a hug and rubbed her back with his large palms. Whenever she was feeling vulnerable, which was often these days, Chif consoled her in the way he knew best, kisses and sex if the house work load gave her time to attend to him.

“Chif, I am pregnant ” Amaka blurted out. Chif froze; his hands sliding down his wife’s behind stilled like Lot’s salt wife.

“What?” Chif’s shock turned to anger. “I told you before that I did not want any other baby. Why would you do this?” he shouted pushing her away from him. He paced around a bit before settling down on the chair he sat on before she came in.

“I didn’t want another one too. Why are you accusing me?” Amaka said, her voice hoarse and quivering in anger.

“So, you’ve been conniving with my mother. Don’t think I’ve not been hearing her discussions with you about conceiving a boy. You did this on purpose.” Chif shouted at her.

“Chif, why are you talking like this? Yes, I have been listening to your mother talk but you know that I have to listen to her and even agree with her or else she would concoct one scheme or the other.”

“I don’t know who told you people that I was dissatisfied with my three girls. They are enough for me. Did I pressure you for a boy? “Chif was very angry.

“You think I don’t want a career? I’ve been slaving away searching for jobs only to find out that I’m pregnant. Who will hire a pregnant woman? Besides, I did not have this baby by myself. Remember that.” Amaka walked out of the room slamming the door as she went out.

Chif held his head in his hands, his elbows supported by the table. Oh God. When will I build my house? When will I make enough money to support my children and relax at the same time? Another baby? What was she thinking?

He picked up his pen to carry on with his writing. In the liability column, he went to a new line and wrote ‘wife’.

 

Amaka was on the phone in her room talking to Yemisi. Her body ached from the tiredness of wearing heels day after day from Lagos Island to Abule Egba looking for a job. Perhaps, symptoms of early pregnancy were already affecting her because she felt a little nauseous and her breasts were tender. Amaka put the speaker on so that she could lie down and have her hands free.

“Amaka Ore mi, so congratulations are in order. ”

Amaka rolled her eyes.” congratulations? What are you saying? Haven’t you been listening to me? I said Chif is so upset about it.” she rubbed her chest trying to physically suppress nausea coming up.

“Abeg, is it not Chif? He will come round. It’s me telling you. That guy is a typical Ibo man, he would want a male child. ”

“Yemisi, you are starting to annoy me; two predictions in one sentence. Well done. ”

“I can only hope for the best. The best is what I wish you always so if I’m predicting then it’s because those are the outcomes I pray for.”

Amaka smiled a little and sighed. Yemisi was a very optimistic person. They met at Obafemi Awolowo University during their undergraduate studies. Yemisi was the light of any lecture hall and hostel; her cheerful exuberance was in everyone’s face but it wasn’t off-putting though. Amaka always watched her display her antics and would shake her head because it was all too much for her. On a particular day when Amaka had trouble with a lecturer who seemed to be subtly soliciting for sex to get her examination results, Yemisi came along and her royal loudness saved the day for Amaka. The lecturer dropped pursuit probably seeing it as bad business to have someone so loud, confident and a talker be friends with a student he was trying sleep it. He obviously chose his victims carefully as Amaka had come to observe after her experience. Yemisi became her friend that day; it blossomed into a strong relationship they both enjoyed and valued.

“Yemisi, he was even accusing me of causing the pregnancy. Imagine that. The same man that everything is about sex is the one accusing me of trapping him. I am so annoyed.” Amaka spewed, her anger evident.

Yemisi’s laughter vibrated through the phone. “Men, ehn! My husband should not try that with me. I will cut off his dingy. What bull crap.”

Amaka laughed. “Crazy woman. I know that you always do things to the extreme that was why God gave you the kind of husband you have; a level headed bald head to your wild self. ”

Yemisi laughed again, “Please o, leave my baldie alone. You’ve been beefing my husband’s bald head for a long time.”

“Yuk! I love my Chif’s bushy hair.” someone tried to open the door. This was followed by a knock. “Yemisi, you are going to put me in trouble. If that is Chif at the door, he is going to think my laughter means I’m excited and everything. Abeg, come and go.”

“I’m glad you are laughing at least. You can now think with a clear head. Apply emotional intelligence and everything you’ve been reading in all those your husband’s books. Talk to you later. ”

“Okay dear.  Emotional intelligence activated. Love you. ”

 

Amaka wiped the smile off her face and tried to look upset. Amaka knew that Chif had come to apologize for his behaviour and she was instantly glad that they could work it out together. When she opened the door she was upset to see Ada. She allowed her in and sat on the bed.

“Mummy, Aunty Nkem wants to go out. She said I should tell you that your food is ready. “Ada said while jumping on the bed. Nkem was a distant relative of my father from the village. A lifesaver is what Nkem was to Amaka. It was because Nkem was around that she could go out hunting for jobs while not worrying about school runs and taking care of Muna at home.

“Thanks dear. I will be out in a moment. Has your Daddy eaten? ”

“Aunty Nkem has dished it but he hasn’t come out yet.”

Amaka sighed.

She hoped that Chif would come to terms with the pregnancy quickly because she was rattled herself and she needed him. He was always her first confidant who helped her resolve issues and calmed her down when she was worried about any issues. Normally when they had a quarrel, they resolved it before the day was over.

Cecilia stared at the doctor in disbelief. “You mean that after all the money we spent, I am not pregnant?”

The doctor shrugged uncomfortably. “You knew the drill. The probability of success and failure was there. Look, it is an expensive way to go but eventually you could get what you want. You saw the woman that left here, her twins was her third trial.”

Cecilia shook her head and laughed,” third? We were barely able to get the money for this one that yielded no results. Short of selling everything we own, we cannot afford a second one. ”

The doctor sighed.” maybe we should pursue cheaper options; although this one is the best. ”

“Cheaper sha. Before I came to see you, I had already done the cheaper ones. You were my last big effort. “Cecilia closed her eyes, holding back the tears that threatened to fall.

She exchanged pleasantries with the doctor and left his office to go home.

At home, she sprawled on the rug in the living room and cried her eyes out. Osa, Her husband, had already given up on them getting pregnant. He had followed through on every treatment and every activity till he could not take them anymore.

Oh God!  She spoke in her mind to the one who created her. For 7 years i have been trying to conceive; not one pregnancy. Was that your intention? To leave me barren? Let me know now. I thought you said we should be fruitful and multiply. Am I excluded in those you spoke about? When you speak your words don’t come back empty so what happened to the words spoken about me? Did someone steal my goodies in the spirit realm? What type of fast do you want again? What type of faith do you want me to exhibit? I remember all those pillows I inserted in my clothes in faith? I even bought baby clothes and ironed them and I believed that my baby was going to come. I remember the thanksgiving I did in church for the gift of a child and lots of people followed me to the altar in support. Some could barely utter words to me as they danced with me to the altar. Some asked me why I was humiliating myself? Was I doing the faith thing the wrong way? Where you mocking me? If faith does not work every time you need to tell me. I have begged you countless times, made promises upon promises. I have dragged my husband into insurmountable debt because of this IVF that I just did. I give up now. I don’t have the resources to continue anyway. I am emotionally spent. Cecilia paused for a while to cry. She heaved with sorrow. I am done. She thought. As she lay on the floor, she closed her mind to every thought and sound. The silence made her spirit calm and she slept off.

 

Yemisi and her husband were on their way to visit Amaka and Chifunanya Okoye. Yemisi reclined the chair a bit so as not to obstruct the nanny from sitting comfortably behind her. Damilola and Juwon sat at the back paying games on their game pad. Her Sons were eight and six respectively. Their new school fees were at the front burner of their discussions these days. Yemisi was tired of having any dialogue with Yomi. This was because he disregarded her opinions and when she insisted, he would still go against her wishes. He did it all the time and sometimes she felt that he was doing it on purpose.

“Yemisi, you are very quiet. I asked you a question. Should we change their schools to a cheaper one? This new rate is ridiculous.”

Yemisi rolled her eyes after making that that Yomi was not watching her. “Are you sure you want my opinion? Because we end up arguing every time I tell you want I think we should do.”

“See this woman. So, you cannot have a simple discussion with me about your children’s education?” He asked, upset that she was acting nonchalantly.

“Yomi, I am not indifferent about this matter. It is important to me, but as always you call the shots.” Yemisi told him frankly.

Yomi was ten years older than Yemisi and Yemisi felt that the gap in age was causing issues in their marriage. She felt that Yomi put her down because he felt her opinions were not mature or realistic ones. He never told her this directly but she felt he implied it in statements he made and how he disregarded her suggestions.

Yemisi would never forget the day she got mad at him while at his one of his friend’s home. One of wives of his friend was ticked off that Yemisi called her by name and addressed her as a mate. The wife informed her husband who called Yomi out on this, asking him to control her and teach her to ‘respect her elders’.

Yemisi was returning from the rest room when she heard the conversation and Yomi’s response was “I would straighten her out.”

Yemisi went ballistic on him right there asking him what he meant.

“Yomi, how can you sit down here and let your friends talk this way about me. You want to straighten me out, Emi! Yemisi!” She had laughed out loud, clapped one hand or the other a couple of times before storming out.

The argument had continued at home. “How can you disrespect me in front of my friends?” Yomi had shouted at her.

“Your old school friends? You need better friends. Every other time we are around these people, we quarrel, what kind of friendship breeds such negativity?”

Yomi was angry at her, putting his finger in her face. “Look here, we are not mates so I do not expect you to understand certain things. It would come to you when you mature more.”

Yemisi had struggled to control her anger at his words, obviously spoken to rile her up. “Yomi, take your finger off my face and never, ever, ever do that again.” She shouted at him.

“And if I don’t, what do you want to do? You are all drama, noise and nothing else.”

Yemisi had felt a thousand emotions all at once. She would have loved to throw a flower vase or two at him, scratch his eyes out or biting him as he undermined her but she controlled her temper.

She had responded slowly in her calmest voice, closing the space between them and looking up into his eyes, “If you ever and I repeat it, ever do that again I will walk away. I will go back to my father’s house. My father obviously values me and my opinion more than you do. And that is a shame because it was you that I married. I did not ask you to be ten years older than I am. If it bothered you so much, why did you pursue me? Love, stupid love, brought us here and I chose to be by your side. You on the other hand just want to stump me down to the ground. You are the only person in my life, you and your so called friends, that want to break me. This is not the first time that this is happening but this is the last one I will accept. If you disrespect me in my own home or outside I will walk away. No shaking.” And she left him and slammed the door of their room.

Yemisi knew that he was shaken by her reaction that day and although they had not spoken about it, he was treated her better now. Yemisi blamed his background; his mother did not have a voice in their home. Yet, Yomi was responsible for his actions.

“I think we should take a day or two to think about it some more. We need to look at the other options to see if they are truly better. Perhaps tomorrow, we can both analyse this together after I get some information from the other school that you talked about.” Yemisi finally said and Yomi agreed.

The rest of the journey was in silence. Yemisi knew the answer she wanted to give about the school. The boys loved their school, the teachers were great, and the curriculum was great. The nearness to the house was even better. She knew that Yomi was interested in the other school because one of his friend’s wife ran the place and he might get a cheaper school fees but Yemisi was not excited by the facilities they had and it would be a problem when she starts to complain about certain things because the owner of the school belongs to the friend’s wife that called her out. The other option was not an option as far as she was concerned and if it got so bad, she would supplement the school fees for them to maintain their school.

 

 

 

Cecilia was looking through her lesson notes because she had a class due in the next hour and it hard been a while that she revised the notes. She wanted to include some recent research on post- harvest losses and food security in Africa. She had been so busy in the past two weeks completing a consultancy job. A consultancy she took because of the money involved. She was paid yesterday and the quickly transferred the money to her husband Osa to help offset the debts they had incurred on the in vitro fertilization she undertook three weeks back. She stood up, left her office and locked the door behind her.

“Professor Osaghele, good afternoon Ma. We have your class now Ma.” A tall male student was coming towards her.

“Yes, yes. I am on my way there. Are all the students settled in the class?” Cecilia asked.

“Hmm, not all but I am sure that by the time we get there, they will all be seated.”

When Cecilia got to the class, it was filled up. She reached the front and opened her lesson notes.

“Hello class. Today, we are going to look some recent research papers on food security. What I want you to do is to critique the papers. I hope that you all a copy of the papers I sent through your rep.” She peered at all of them from behind her spectacles. Some students nodded, some answered while some grumbled. A particular lady, chubby and pretty but looked much older than the others in the class muttered allowed.

“Is something the problem?” Cecilia asked her, her attention on the lady.

“Ma, some of us could not get access to the papers beforehand because of the distance from where we live to the campus. I suggest that we do the review another time.”

Cecilia was vexed. “If you do not have the papers please stand up.”

About five students stood up.

“You can leave the class. Thank you. Please note that these critiques will be graded.” She ordered them out of the class.

The chubby lady shouted, “That is not fair, Ma. I just tried to explain our situation. If you were a mother you would you understand.” Student gasped at the audacity of the student. It was common knowledge that Cecilia had no children. Cecilia was not perturbed by the student’s remark. She had gone through worse with her Sister-in-law and an Aunt of Osa. After all she had gone through, her skin got very thick like an elephant’s; very little things upset her now.

“Let us start with the one on post-harvest losses. Who can tell us in a nutshell what point the author was trying to make?” She asked.

To Be Continued!

 

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