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Yellow Tales of a Nigerian Housemaid by Marian Onukwufor

Chapter Six

The main idea of the letter wasn’t to implicate her in terms of keeping a sexual relationship with another man, its main idea was to ensure her husband finds out she doesn’t write them herself.

And my idea  worked.

All I could remember afterwards was mama sitting on my head, her big buttocks enveloping every part of it.  I struggled so hard to breathe as she kept repeating the question “Why did you do it?” Uncle Ugonna was back and kept blaming aunt Agnes for giving me such a task,  he insisted she should have waited for him.

Aunty on her own was in tears, she cried profusely with mucus dripping freely from her nose. Her bulging eye balls were as red as fire and her heart, beating rhythmically above her chest. She has lost the strength to beat me and therefore looked on helplessly as I struggled to catch some breaths. My lungs were shutting down and for a second I thought I was going to die. I could hear aunt Oby’s distant voice begging mama to kill me. At that moment all I desired was to see my dad’s face just one last time, to ask him why I was hated and tell him how much I craved for his love. I instantly began imagining meeting my late mum,  how she would welcome me gladly in the world beyond,  pamper me like a princess and promise never to leave my side. At this point I became happy, I was glad to die. At least my pains will die with me. I would be happy forever and would never be tormented again.

But in a flash, I felt a cold splash on my face. I jerked up and for a second was lost without an idea of what happened

Uncle Ugonna drew a now fully conscious me aside and began questioning me.

“Why did you do that?”he asked calmly but I remained mute. “I am very sure you don’t understand the gravity of what you have done! Her husband is so angry and has cancelled his trip, he is no longer interested in the house being rented” On hearing this I was glad, but I wasn’t ready for the next thing he said.

“Their wedding is also off, or atleast has been put on hold!” he added

“Wedding? Was there going to be a wedding?” I asked and he nodded.

“It was supposed to happen in five weeks time in a very low key. This wedding is your aunt’s only chance of joining her husband, and this was simply why it was kept secret from all. It was supposed to be just between both families, no visitors.”

“But he shouldn’t have cancelled the wedding because of this little issue” I cried. I was hurt,  I felt bad. This wasn’t who I was, I was a better person than she will ever be. Uncle Ugonna saw the remorse in my eyes and explained further.

“He isn’t angry because of the letter,  of course it could pass off as a mistake.  He is only angry that she compelled you to write it. He believes you are so young to be exposed to such sexual language. He also feels bad that your aunt had been fooling him for a while now with great letters which where edited and rewritten by me. She confessed to him. He isn’t happy at all, in fact you have committed the greatest atrocity against this family.” He said, stood up and left.

I cried bitterly on learning the truth behind mama’s rage.

Maybe mama was right to punish me that way. Everyone in the house was vibrating with anger,  I just counted my steps around them. I went upstairs to talk to uncle Ugonna, to maybe explain to him my reasons. But while still on the staircase I heard him admonishing his sister

“You actually behaved like a fool. After slapping and beating her every second, denying her food at will, you expect her not to retaliate?” he asked. “It’s just like owing and maltreating your cook for long and still expect her to make a great meal for you! It doesn’t work that way!  What were you expecting? A great letter? Why didn’t you wait for me? Eh?” he kept asking.

I could still hear her sob uncontrollably and my heart went out to her. I regretted my little prank. I know I had considered many optional consequences but calling off a wedding, that wasn’t even considered at all. I had no idea, none at all.

As I was still wallowing in my thoughts I felt a resounding slap on my right ear. For a second I felt and saw hot flashes of tiny stars rotating before me. I looked up and saw aunt Oby, her lips were moving rapidly with her index finger shaking and pointing at me. I couldn’t make out the words she was saying because I had instantly fell deaf. Before I could reach out to my ear for a massage, I felt another slap and a strong push. Thankfully, the rail served as a wedge as I held onto it, slightly escaping rolling down the stairs. I staggered and with difficulty saw her jumping to me, I immediately flew down the stairs in fours or maybe fives. Within seconds I was safely outside the house, with my ears still numb. I was scared I had been deformed, I kept rubbing and pulling it as I prayed silently to hear a sound again, even if it’s  the voice of my angry aunt.

At this moment,  I wouldn’t mind…

For over six hours I was tucked away outside. I was so scared of going into the house as I didn’t know what awaited me. After sometime, mama called me in. I was scared I know, but I didn’t want to be in another’s black book. I walked in quietly to her and she sent me to buy her a recharge card. I was glad I could hear again, I was so glad. Like a thunder, I was back in a flash and I could say she was impressed. She still asked me to stay outside until they were ready to call me. I walked down the stairs quietly and didn’t realise I had left the door ajar. Then I heard mama’s voice, it appeared she was on call. I ran to close the door but her words caught me. She was apparently on call with her in-law, pleading on behalf of my aunt. She kept explaining ready-made details while trying to make him understand that whosoever my aunt did was to please him. Their conversation lasted for over 45minutes but from her tone and expression I could sense that he didn’t buy her story. Then aunt Oby spoke.

“Now look at what that witch caused,  and you all are saying I should take it easy”.

Right now my heart was beating really fast because I know if she descends on me again, I might truly be deformed this time around. While I was thinking of where to run to safety, mama’s phone rang again. From the excitement erupting upstairs, I knew it was aunt’s husband. The call didn’t last for few seconds, then there were shouts of excitement. I didn’t actually know what it was but I was glad they were happy.

Whatever it was, must be good news.

Then the phone rang again and they spoke for few seconds and I heard mama tell aunt Agnes that he wanted to speak with her. I could hear her walk into her room and the door slammed after her. Then mama called me. I ran upstairs and came face to face with aunt Oby, I instinctively went to a corner.

“Better let her be biko, remember we are managing the situation” mama admonished. She stood there staring at me,  her eyes like a bullet waiting to be fired. I knew she really wanted to beat me but something stronger was holding her back. Mama can’t achieve this force because she never listens to her. Whatsoever it was, was stronger than her.

Just then the door flung open and aunt Agnes walked out. She shot me a devilish look but also surprisingly restrained herself.

“get out of my way! ” she screamed,

I didn’t realize when I jumped to a corner. She zoomed past me with her sister following behind. It was quite unusual and I was sure something was going on. Mama told me what I needed to do and I proceeded with the chores. She followed her daughters almost immediately with my uncle trotting behind. Afterwards I went downstairs and overheard mama saying

“Let her be for now. Your husband has spoken better forget it. If he gets to hear that you laid your hands on her, you will definitely lose another opportunity to see him home”. Mama advised.

Obviously aunt Oby wasn’t having it.

“How would he know eh? That girl deserves punishment. By the way,  she is preparing for the holidays, we can deal with her and send her home before his arrival. He wouldn’t get to see her or even know we punished her” she suggested.

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