The clang of the bell was like seeing a spring of water in a desert for Violet. Students screaming and the bang of lockers echoed the happiness in her heart. The day was finally over. The day had been one of the worse days she had in a while. It was a Monday, the beginning of the week. If her Monday was this horrible, how would the rest of the week be?
She quickly wiped the board and dismissed the already restless students. She packed up her books and walked out of the class.
Oyim had returned late the last night. By that time, the children had slept off in the parlour while watching movies and waiting for him to come back. She spent the time evading their questions about the whereabouts of their father. When he did, he came back with a black nylon filled with suya and grilled fish that had gone cold. The contents were now in the fridge. She would warm it up for the children later in the evening. The fish and suya was the least of her worries. What bothered her was that Oyim now had a new girlfriend. The whole day as she went through her classes, she had been thinking up ways to deal with it. But her head remained blank.
“Mrs. Violet, Mrs. Violet,” the stringy voice pulled her out of her thoughts.
She turned to see Enita rushing towards her. “Hope nothing is wrong?”
Enita breathed heavily as she stopped beside her. “Mrs. Violet, good afternoon.”
Violet looked at her suspiciously. What new product was she selling this time around? “Are you alright.”
Enita nodded her head. “The new teachers have arrived. They are now in the staffroom.”
“Oh!” Violet resumed walking. “I thought it was something important. Are they adjusting table positions. I like my current position.”
“Well, not exactly. They just added two new tables. One of them is near you sha. The Geography teacher. You should see him, he’s already getting along with almost all the other teachers.”
“When did they come?” Violet could care less about the new teachers. She had more important things to worry about.
“They’ve been in the principal’s office for a while now, filling all those forms and other things. They came out during the last period.”
“What of the other teacher?”
“Oh, the history guy. He’s much older than the other one. He’s sitting close to Mr. Kenneth.”
They arrived at the staffroom, met by a cackle of loud laughter. Around her table, a small crowd of four teachers had formed. She frowned. Enita hurried towards the group and inserted herself between them.
Violet peeked through a small space left at her table. A muscular man was seating on the table. She frowned again. Who sits on their table with so much recklessness?
“Excuse me,” she said to the one of the teachers and sat down behind her desk.
“Mrs. Violet, have you met Mr. C-Jay?” The teacher beside her asked, parting to make way for her to see the new teacher.
“No, just call me C-Jay. All these Mr. and Mrs. is not me. Hello, Violet. I can just call you that right?” A hand snaked through the small space to stop in front of her.
Violet took the hand offered to her. “Nice to meet you.” She looked up at the face that belonged to the hand. She gasped. “C-Jay?”
“Wow, it’s you.” He gently pushed the other teachers aside and boldly pulled her into a hug. “Vi-vi, I can’t believe it’s you. Of all people.”
Violet put her hands around him. It took a while before they finally separated. C-Jay held her away and looked at her. “Wow, you’re really looking good.”
“Mrs. Violet is one of the finest teachers we have in this school,” someone put in.
“Evidently so.” C-Jay pulled her into another hug.
By the time the hugs were over, the other teachers had dispersed leaving them alone. “Wow, I still can’t believe it’s you.” C-Jay pulled his chair closer and sat down. Violet sat down as well, turning her chair so that she could face him.
“So you’re the new geography teacher? I should have know when I saw your full-name on the roster. How have you been?” Violet took a good look at him. C-Jay was still as vibrant as he had been back in her university days. He was one of the ‘ghost coursemates’ that missed classes and only attended school during exams and tests. He had been the male ‘Face of the Department’ for a year. He was still as handsome as he had been, his lips in that smirk that was familiar on his face.
“I’ve been good, but obviously not as good as you. Look at you, glowing and giving off positive vibes. You are married eh? Marriage looks good on you.”
Violet chuckled self-consciously. “If you had seen me three years ago, you will not say this. But we thank God. Things have been good.”
He nodded. “And to think that they placed us together. It’s like they already knew we were classmates before.”
“Of course, Mr. Joseph would put us together. That man…” She shook her head slowly. “But seriously, I’m so glad to see. It’s really been a while.”
“School is already over. I wish we could talk longer.” C-Jay looked around the now empty staffroom.
“Don’t worry. You’re just starting. We’ll have more time to catch up.” She started packing up her things in her bag. “I still have to go home. My children will be waiting for me.”
“How many kids?” He stood up, returning his chair to it’s position.
“Three. A girl and twins.”
“Wow! Twins. They must be really beautiful.” He followed behind her as they left the staffroom.
The school was almost empty with only a sprinkle of students still loitering around. “Oh, they are. They are most dearest to my heart.”
“That’s beautiful. I can’t wait to meet them.”
“One day, you will.” Only she wasn’t sure when.
“And your husband?”
Violet forced a smile and said flippantly, “Oh, he’s fine.”
They had gotten to her car, a blue Camry. C-Jay hummed in admiration then pointed at another car parked some distance away. It was also a blue car, a Toyota.
Violet shrugged at the coincidence. She got into her car. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said before she closed the door. C-Jay waved at her.
It was evening. Violet was laying on the sofa in the parlour, scrolling through Instagram. Nma and Sochi had their eyes on the movie playing on the TV screen. Chike was sitting on the floor in front of her with a book in his hand. Every so often, his small hand would touch her as he asked her a question. The sound of a car honing in front of the gate had them looking at each other.
“It is not daddy’s car,” Sochi proclaimed after the sound came again.
“Go and check who is at the gate. Tell the person to park outside otherwise there will be no space for your father to park his own when he comes back.” Sochi was already heading out of the parlour. “And make sure that he doesn’t block the road o.”
“Yes mummy.” Sochi’s voice echoed through the house as she ran out of the house. “I’m coming,” she screamed when the sound continued.
A man’s voice boomed through the house. “Sochi-Sochi! How are you?”
“Fine, Uncle Obi.”
Violet frowned. Not him. Obiora followed Sochi into the parlour.
“Uncle Obi, Uncle Obi,” Nma got up and rushed towards him. She was caught in strong arms, squealing as she was thrown in the air. Strong arms caught her and repeated the action.
Violet eyed the man that was currently flinging her child in the air. She had enough troubles to start dealing with the arrogant man.
“Oga Obi, this one you remembered us today, hope all is well?” She sat up on the sofa. “Sochi, go and bring a bottle of Star from the fridge. Sochi went out of the parlour.
Obiora took a seat on one of the smaller sofas. Nma sat on his laps, pulling at his ears. “I was passing, I just said let me come and greet our wife.” Sochi returned with a bottle of Star and placed it on a small stool in front of him.
Our wife, Violet scoffed inwardly. He was really taking the appellation literally. She smiled at him “How is Ogechi? It’s been long since I saw her.” She remembered the small woman, a warm feeling spread through her chest. She should go visit her one of these days.
“Ogechi is fine. She and the children went for a program in the church.” Obiora gulped down the drink, stretching out his hand when Nma reached for the bottle. He put her on the ground. “Oya go and play with your brother.”
She pouted but she moved over to Violet. Violet pulled her up and tucked her in between her legs. “Hope everything is okay?” she asked again, still suspicious of his sudden visit.
He shook his head. “I just came to see you. When is your husband coming back?”
“Very soon.” As if she was blind. The look on his face was blatant. It was hard not to see the true essence of his visit.
He downed the remnants of the drink. He kept the empty bottle on the stool with a loud belch. Standing up, he stretched. “Let me start going o.”
Violet stood up as well, adjusting Nma on her waist. “So fast. Oyim will soon come back, you can stay and wait for him.”
“No, no problem.” He waited for her to lead the way, following behind her as they walked out of the house.
Violet could feel his eyes on her back. She shook her head. This was her husband’s best friend and the way he was looking at her. She often told Oyim, albeit subtly that she was not always comfortable in the presence of Obiora. The feeling had only gotten worse when she lost weight and changed her wardrobe. Oyim was simply blind, she had concluded, not to see the covetous look on the face of the man he called a friend.
As they were closing the gate to the unexpected visitor, the sound of another car nearing the gate reached their ears. “Daddy, daddy.” Nma jumped. Violet placed her on the ground and moved to open the gate. She wasn’t certain if she was happy that he was back.