Lilian could barely control the tingling in her chest as she pulled her luggage behind the couple. This was the first time she was going to take a flight. She wanted to take pictures, only the stern look on the face of the bodyguard that followed them stopped her from doing so. Mr, Apham pushed his wife into a wheelchair, and she could see the looks of sympathy other people were giving them. She imagined what was going on in Mrs. Ijeoma’s mind. Before they had left, the couple had argued over taking a wheelchair. Mrs. Ijeoma didn’t want to, she said it made her look worse for wear, made her look crippled. Lilian was certain that was what was going on in the minds of other people, well some people, she thought as she caught two young girls ogling Mr. Apham. They were probably wondering what a fine man like him was doing with a cripple. Lilian was half-tempted to march up to them and poke their eyes. They reminded her of the girl that had made her parent’s marriage so miserable until her mother upped and left the house.
They joined a line for the checking counter. Lilian used the opportunity to whip off her phone from her purse and start taking selfies. She half-listened to what Mrs. Ijeoma and her husband were saying.
“Honey, I’m okay. There is no need to go with a wheelchair,” Ijeoma pleaded. “I don’t like sitting down on this thing.”
“You’re not strong enough, babe. The doctor said so, but don’t worry as soon as we check in I will let them take the chair back, but if I notice anything I will have to get you one as soon as we drop down in Abuja.” Apham ran his hand through her large braids.
Lilian admired the hair that even though was a bit untidy, still brought out the oval face of the young woman. She had made the hair for her that afternoon when she got to their home. She was proud of her braiding skills, though when she had started weaving the hair, Mrs. Ijeoma had complained that it was too tight so she had to make it a little lose.
It wasn’t long before they were heading towards the terminal, from where they would board their flight. Lilian clutched her boarding pass tightly in her hand. She had already sent a picture of it to her boyfriend along with other selfies she had taken.
She met him at home when she had gone to pack her things. When he saw the guard that followed her, the expression on his face had changed to an ugly one, before she could explain he said, “What is going on? Who is he? Are you cheating on me?” The questions came at her with the speed of a flying missile, one she could hardly dodge.
“It is my madam’s bodyguard. I don’t know him,” her tongue clung to the top of her mouth distastefully as she spoke. He was so quick to judge her as though he had contemplated the possibility and then jumped on what looked like evidence to back it up.
“Madam? Are you not working in a hospital? Where did madam come from?” He glared at her.
She handed him the letter and marched inside to start packing her things. He followed her inside reading the contents of the letter. “Is it the woman you were telling me about?”
“Yes.” She brought down a small box from the top of the wardrobe, wrinkling her nose at the dust that had gathered on it. She emptied the contents on the bed and went to the bathroom. “They are going to Abuja so I have to go with them.”
He eyed her as she picked up a brush and soaked it in water. “Why are you using my shoe brush? The material of that bag is too harsh, it will spoil it.”
Lilian continued using the brush, rubbing it hard against the black box. “Your shoe and my bag, which one is harsher?”
He pinched his nose. “Why didn’t you tell me about it yesterday or even this morning before you left for work?”
“If I knew, will I be brushing my bag by this time? The flight is by 6pm and I just got to know about it like an hour ago. Don’t blame me.” She sighed with satisfaction when the box returned to its original color. “This should be manageable. If I come back, I have to buy a new box in case this happens again.”
“Is it a permanent job?” He followed her out of the bathroom and watched as she pulled clothes from the wardrobe and folded it into her box.
“No.” Lilian laughed. “She is not going to be sick forever, right? Two weeks at most, and I am back to my normal post.” The thought didn’t make her happy though.
A swift person that she was, she finished packing her things in a short time and even had time to take her bath and put on a little make-up. Her boyfriend kept on hovering around her.
“There is no soup again in the fridge,” he finally said when Lilian carried her bag to leave the room.
“Eh?” Lilian looked at him in surprise. “I cooked soup during the weekend, two types of soup. How come it is finished?”
“Erm…er… my friends came to visit and… In fact why are you asking? Is it not my money that you use to prepare the soup?” Lilian reeled back at his sharp tone.
“Well, I will call Esther and tell her to bring soup for you. Which soup do you want?” Her voice was calm as she asked.
“Anyone is okay, but let it not be that Igbo bitter soup. I don’t like it,” he murmured.
“Okay.” Lilian said and pulled her box without saying anything to him.
Thinking about it now, she felt anger rising up in her chest. It was not the first time she was returning home to meet the plates she had used to put the soup in the fridge empty and unwashed on the sink. She understood that most of the money for food came from him, but she had spent her time and energy making it. When she thought that she wouldn’t have to cook for at least two weeks, it ended up being just four days. He would always find a way to finish it before the week ran out.
A harsh tap brought her out of her thoughts. She looked up to meet the stone face of the bodyguard. He made a ‘lets go’ gesture. Lilian looked to see the couple already heading in a direction. She stood up and hurried behind them, tucking away thoughts of her boyfriend for the meantime.