Read Chapter IX here.
Bisi kept glancing at the clock every ten minutes, hoping the seconds would speed away like lightning. She was restless, tapping her feet and drumming her nails on her desk. She wished she could go over to Fii’s office and give him one hell of a showdown that he’d never forget. Motherhood had tamed her dramatic side a bit but now would be a perfect time to bring it down. Causing a scene would not change anything, she knew that; but at least she’d feel better after displacing her anger and frustration at him and ruining his day just as he has done hers. She took her phone to call the driver but she thought against it and put it down. She was in no good mood to drive. She didn’t want to render her girls orphans. How dare he?!
Her boiling blood had lowered to a simmer by the late afternoon thanks to distraction of work but she felt the anger rising in her chest when she received a text from you-know-who.
About leaving the office to pick up the girls. Will you be done soon?
Don’t bother passing by. I’ll find my way home, she texted back and dropped the phone on the desk with a thud.
Fiifi sat back when Bisi’s message came up. She sounded angry. Was she still angry about their argument in the car? He realized he crossed the line and he planned to apologize at home. But Bisi wasn’t the type to hold in anger for that long, a trait Ewuresi picked. So for her to still be angry meant he was in trouble. What could he do to appease her? A bouquet of flowers with a sweet note? A sincere apology on his knees? Well, it depended on how angry she was.
By the time he arrived home with the kids, he had decided on what to do to quell her anger.
“Kuks dear, could you keep an eye on Nhyira for me? I’m going to cook us dinner.”
“Daddy is going to cook?” Ewuresi asked, excitement ringing in her voice.
“Yep; want to help?”
“Is mummy angry with you?” Kukuaa asked.
“Why would you ask that?”
“Because the last time you cooked, you two had had a fight. Mummy told me you cook to say you’re sorry.”
“Is that true, daddy? Is that how daddies say ‘I’m sorry’ to mummies?” Ewuresi asked.
“Well, it’s one of the ways I say sorry to mummy. So, what should I prepare?”
“Spaghetti!” Ewuresi screamed.
“Spaghetti it is!”
“But spaghetti is too easy to prepare. If you really want to say sorry, you should prepare something more…difficult.”
“Like?” Fiifi dreaded the answer.
“Oh no, that would take a lot of time. Mummy will soon be home and I want it to be ready by the time she arrives.”
“If you really want to prove that you’re sorry, you have to do more than spaghetti, daddy. Even I can cook that.”
“Yeah, I want to eat fried rice,” Ewuresi said which made Fiifi sigh.
“Well, it depends if we have vegetables…”
“Oh we do. I’m sure,” Kukuaa said and went to open the fridge and took out a bowl of chopped vegetables.
“Oh, they are already chopped. That would make my work easier.”
“Yeah, lucky you.”
“Well, I’ll see…”
“Mummy has some frozen ones.”
“Mum will be impressed.”
“Go and change and do your homework. Keep an eye out for Nhyira.”
The girls went to their room.
“Maybe this wasn’t a good idea,” he said to himself. But the thought of Bisi coming home angry made him put his hesitations aside and got straight to work.
His eyes teared as he chopped the onions. Gosh, he has never enjoyed eating them much less chopping them. He wiped the tears away with a napkin and sniffed. He heard the door open and close with a loud slam.
“Who is that?” He asked himself.
“Yes honey; I’m in the kitchen.” He heard sharp heeled movements approaching.
“Welcome home, babe. I’m preparing…”
“What is wrong with you? How could you sabotage me like that?”
“Sabotage? What are you talking about?”
“Oh don’t play dumb with me, Fii. The stunt you pulled today was top-class cruel. Using the baby to arrest my promotion, that was below the belt, Fiifi.”
“Hold it. What exactly did I do to arrest your promotion?”
“Are you still playing dumb or am I just realizing how dumb you really are?” Bisi spat at him. The words hit hard at Fiifi making his drop the chopping knife and sigh.
“Is that mummy?” Kukuaa asked.
“She sounds angry.”
“Let’s go.” They quickly left their room.
“Okay, you’re obviously peeved about something. Can you just calm down and tell me what I did?”
“Blabbing to my boss about the baby cost me my promotion and don’t you dare tell me you didn’t realize that would happen.” Fiifi blinked hard.
“What? It was an innocent remark. I just told him I was holding on to your phone because we were having a baby conversation. How was I supposed to know that your company was against having babies?”
“Don’t you dare spin the bottle, Fii.”
“Maybe I should. I think I remember having to argue at length about when to start a family with you always using your job as an excuse.”
“Now that’s unfair.”
“Is it? What is unfair is having to find a way to get you pregnant without your consent…”
“Oh, so you’re admitting that now, huh?”
“I’m not saying I deny that, B. Look, we have two amazing daughters.”
“And you had to top that up with a baby from outside! As if that wasn’t enough trauma, you had to interrupt my promotion so I can come home and babysit your golden boy!”
“I didn’t interrupt anything. I thought that would be a perfect excuse for you not answering your phone.”
“What a timely conveniently innocent remark to make! You knew they would reconsider giving me the promotion if you brought him up.”
“I’m sorry, B. I can call back and clarify…”
“No, no, no; please don’t make matters worse for me by getting me fired. From now on, stay away from my work life, okay?”
“What happened to your promotion, mummy?” They both turned to find the girls looking at them.
“Go back to your room,” Fiifi ordered.
“Don’t talk to my girls like that,” Bisi cautioned, casting him a stern look.
“Your girls? They are ours, B. I have every right as much as you do to…” They heard Nhyira crying.
“Now, that’s your boy. Go get him. Let’s go, girls.”
Bisi stormed off with Kukuaa right behind her.
Fiifi took the knife and resumed chopping. He let out a loud “ouch” when he cut his index finger. He dropped the knife and turned to the sink. He opened the tap.
“Are you okay, daddy?” Ewuresi was beside him.
“Yes, dear.” Just a little cut. Please get me the first aid box.” She nodded and went to get it.
Ewuresi looked on quietly whiles her dad dressed it and covered it with plaster.
“Why is mummy so angry?”
“I told her boss that we had a new baby and because of that, they didn’t give her the promotion she was promised.”
“Oh, why? Is the baby a problem?”
“They think she can’t work very well because of the baby.”
“Is it true that you can’t work well when you have a baby?”
“You can; it’s just that taking care of a baby takes a lot of time.”
“So was she working when she gave birth to us?”
“Yes, she was.”
“So why do they think she can’t do it this time?”
“I don’t know.” Ewuresi glanced at the chopping board.
“Will the food get ready soon? I’m getting hungry.”
“Sure; why don’t I just prepare salad so we eat with rice and stew? That would be faster.”
Kukuaa watched her mother as she sobbed.
“Your father is so selfish! All he thinks about is himself and his baby!”
“So you’re not going to get the promotion?” She shook her head.
“Are they giving it to someone else?”
“I don’t know. I have been looking forward to this promotion for more than a year and it took him just one statement to take it away from me. I have done all I can to be a good wife to him and a good mother to his children. Why can’t he let me pursue my career goals?”
“Are you sure he did so intentionally? Maybe it was innocently said; didn’t think they would take it that seriously,” Kukuaa said.
“Oh, he knew. He so knew. I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for that.”
“Calm down, mother.” Kukuaa rubbed her back.
“Are you going to talk to mum?” Ewuresi asked.
“She’s too angry to talk. Maybe I should wait for her to calm down. I think the rice is ready. Let me warm up the stew. Go and call your sister to come set the table.”
“Yes, daddy.” She ran upstairs.
“Kuks? Dad says come and let’s set the table.” Kukuaa turned to face her mother.
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, go.” They left the room.
A few minutes later, the door to the bedroom opened and Fiifi entered.
“Honey, I’m really sorry. I know I messed up your day with the things I said in the morning and now this…Please don’t stay mad at me. I’m sure we can get through this.”
“I’m beginning to feel suffocated in this marriage, Fii.”
“You may not have realized it but my life has turned upside down since you brought in that baby. Since we got married, I’ve been giving all that I am and have to keep us going and you keep taking more from me. You are sucking me dry and soon, I’ll be out of any reserve strength to deal with you.”
“I guess I didn’t realize how much this promotion meant to you. I’m really sorry.” He knelt before her.
“Please don’t give up on me, on us. I know I’m demanding a little too much with Nhyira and I promise to shoulder more of the responsibility.”
“You know what, you may have gotten your dream son, but you just might have lost me and ruined this family in the process.”
“Don’t touch me!” She got up and entered the bathroom, slamming the door shut.
Fiifi sighed. The door opened.
“Can we have dinner now?” Ewuresi asked.
“Sure, love. Let’s go.”
Bisi stared at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were sore red from crying.
“God, I’m not strong enough to do this. If this is a dream, please I want to wake up because it’s turning into a nightmare. Take the baby away and let things get to the way they used to be. I need my life back, my family back. This baby has invaded my life and causing more harm than good. Wherever the mother is, cause her to come back for him so I don’t ever have to see him again!”
The baby cried out again.
“I’ll go for him,” Fiifi said and started up the stairs.
Bisi, having had enough of it all, opened the bedroom door and screamed, “Can someone please tell the baby to shut up?!” Fiifi froze as she saw Bisi angry like never before. She was trembling with fury. When their eyes met, she said with clenched fists, “Shut him up before I do something regrettable.” She slammed the door behind her.
Fiifi quickly went for the baby and tried to calm him down.
“I know; mummy is angry. Don’t worry, she’ll be okay by tomorrow. You just need to be quiet, okay?”
“Mummy is very angry,” Ewuresi said quietly.
“I know; I haven’t seen her like this before. I hope she calms down soon,” Kukuaa said, sadness evident in her voice.
The Pratt household was not in its usual cheerful mood. Something had changed.
Josephine Amoako (c) 2016
Read Chapter XI here.