Violet stretched lazily on the bed as she gradually came to full consciousness. The heavy patter of rain on the roof made coming down from the bed a hard decision. She rubbed her eyes sleepily, ignoring the snores coming from her left side. It was going to be a late morning for all of them, she thought as she reached for her phone blinking rapidly as the glare of the screen reached her eyes. 6:12 am. She’d overslept. With another loud yawn, she grudgingly sat up on the bed. This was the sort of morning that one could sleep in. She fumbled her feet around looking for her slippers and then got up and made her way to the bathroom. After she relieved herself, she came out of the room and headed downstairs.
On her way downstairs, she stopped to peek into the children’s room, heaving a sigh when she saw no signs of them stirring. It would be a long morning. As she went about preparing both breakfast and lunch, her mind remained on the weather outside. The rain showed no sign of stopping. Instead, it was increasing in intensity. Violet was a tad-bit gleeful about the rains. She wasn’t sure she wanted to go to school. The idea of seeing C-Jay after what he had said the previous day wasn’t appealing. His words plagued her the whole night, making her abandon the article she’d been writing for the school’s magazine. She wasn’t sure why she couldn’t make up her mind and tell him what she was supposed to: “No, it is not possible between us.” It should be easy, shouldn’t it? But why couldn’t she just do it? If talking to him face-to-face was difficult, she could send him a message.
The sound of the knife on the chopping board was loud in the kitchen, as though competing with the muffled sound of the rain. She worked angrily at the innocent carrots. Why were they too strong? She tossed the last chump in her mouth and crunch with the same strength as she had been using to chop them.
“What did the carrot do to you?”
She jumped, the knife falling off her hand. She moved her feet at the last minute to avoid the sharp edge of the falling knife. She turned to see Oyim standing beside the fridge, a glass of water in his hand. She retied her loose robe and composed herself. “You’ve woken up. Hope you slept well?” She picked up the knife and proceeded to rinse it at the sink.
“With all the noise you were making, I’m surprised none of the children woke up. Are you okay? What is making you angry this morning?” He placed the empty glass on the counter.
“Nothing. I’m not angry.” She forced a laugh.
“Really?” He opened the fridge and began rummaging through it. “Is it something I did? Tell me, don’t be keeping your face as if someone stole your money.”
She thinned her lips. Was he really going to be like this? “Seriously, I’m not angry. It’s just that I want to sleep more. Look at how the weather is, but we still have to go to school.”
He hummed in agreement. “You can go a little later. The rain would reduce before 9. I’m sure it will affect almost everybody. The rain is really heavy.”
“What are you looking for?” she asked when she noticed that he was still rummaging in the fridge.
He looked up. “The plantain moi-moi you made the day before yesterday, I didn’t finish it so I kept it in the fridge. I cannot find it now.”
Violet frowned. “What do you want to do with it? I thought you didn’t like it?” He had complained the other night when he had spooned the dish and noticed it was different from the beans moi-moi he had expected.
He closed the fridge and shrugged slightly. “I want to taste it again. I didn’t really taste it the other time.”
“After complaining and making me prepare eba for you? I’ve eaten it. And it has finished. I didn’t make a lot.” She returned to her cooking.
“Okay.” He continued lingering in the kitchen, opening cupboards and flipping through the containers.
At first, Violet ignored him. She wasn’t in the mood to make active conversation with him. The fact that he had broken his promise to her and was pretending as though nothing was wrong annoyed her. She had promised herself to wash her hands clean of the matter. She had done what she could—lost weight, become the woman she had always wanted to be, taken good care to liven up their intimate life, and the most important of all, prayed and fasted, yet to no avail. She didn’t want to waste any more effort on the matter.
It was when she wanted to reach for one of the seasonings in the cupboard and he handed her the wrong one, that she finally decided to say something. “This one you are playing kitchen help, is there anything on your mind?”
He sharply stood back and shook his head. “No. It’s just the celebration party for my business. I wanted to… will you…” he stuttered at the sentence.
Her fingers tightened around the container in her hand. “When is it?”
He brightened up. “On the 10th. It’s on Sunday.”
“I am not agreeing to cook or do anything. I will call one of those caterers to prepare the food. After what happened during the Easter celebrations, I’m not sure I want to handle anything like that again.” She had fallen sick after rushing around to cater to the visitors that kept on trooping into their home.
“Eh? Are you sure it is-”
“Which one is am I sure? Before nko? Biko, I cannot come and kill myself again. I will call the ones that cooked for Olisa’s wedding. You tasted the food at the wedding, right? It was good. And they won’t have to cook here. They can cook it in their restaurant and bring it in coolers. I and the other women will share it. There is no need to stress ourselves.”
“But I wanted you to cook that your chicken pepper-soup. The one you cooked with potatoes.”
“That one is for weight loss. Are you sure you want me to prepare it? Besides, it is not something for this kind of celebration.”
“Just for three or four people?” He gestured with his hands.
A tinge of suspicion rose in Violet’s chest. “Who and who?” It was difficult to imagine who would want to eat a ‘maggiless’ bland pepper-soup.
“My friends,” he added quickly.
“Oyim?” Violet called out. “How long did you think before I would find out? Don’t tell me this one is fat and she wants to slim down too?” She could hardly control the words as they came pouring out of her lips.
Violet shook her head slowly. “Don’t ‘asa’ me this time. Why will you make a promise that you cannot keep to me? Do you take me for a fool? You want me to cook for your girlfriend? Do you still have your conscience?” The pot she placed on the gas cooker was smoking. She paused to reduce the heat and pour groundnut oil into the pot. Oyim remained quiet.
“See, Oyim, I have tried everything I can. I am happy now. I don’t have to stay at home every day and be crying that my husband is cheating on me. If you want to cheat, cheat. I won’t say anything again. You won’t hear pim from my mouth.” She put the cut onions in the pot. “I cannot kill myself with depression because I married you. Mba, it will not happen. As you are going up and down with all those girls, just remember that you have a wife and children at home. That is all I am going to say.” She picked up the spoon with finality and stirred the contents of the pot.
Oyim remained standing for a while before he went out of the kitchen. As soon as he did, Violet let the tears run down her eyes.