At the door a couple waited, unmasked impatience on the face of one. On their persons were attires matching in fabric, but very different in their design.
"Namdi, how many times must I tell you to call me mummy."
A look of longing appeared on Namdi's features for a fleeting moment as he heard this. Her hands went to her tapered waist in a posture of disapproval, her lithe body bouncing on the ball of her foot. Framing her softly made-up face with long wavy dark hair. She was still a pretty woman, even with her approaching 50th birthday a little over a week away. One could easily see where Zainab's beauty came from.
"Yes my son! Now come here."
Namdi took a step, walking into her open arms, now glad he had taken the painkillers. Her perfume drifted to him with each breath, subtle and pleasant. The top of her head was easily visible. He still could not tell where her natural hair ended and the long locks of Virgin Peruvian began. Zainab had said her mother had Peruvian ancestry but she would never be able to finish the sentence with a straight face, breaking into laughter each time. How could this woman be over 40, Namdi thought, his knees slightly bent so he did not tower over her.
"Please come in, mummy... you should find Zainab in the kitchen."
Stepping back from her embrace, Namdi moved to the side for them to enter.
"That daughter of mine is in the kitchen. What happened to the chef?"
"On vacation. Should be back in a couple weeks."
"I better hurry up before what we eat becomes less food and more..."
Namdi did not hear the rest of it, her voice far enough away. Turning, he saw his father-in-law staring intently at him, still outside the house.
Feeling uncomfortable under Mr. Shagari's scrutiny, Namdi's fingers began to fidget. Not wanting the older man to see them, he quickly put his hands behind his back, involuntarily standing straighter. The man had not said a word, merely standing there like a boulder in a flowing stream, unaware of the passage of time. An unseen pressure came on him that Namdi felt the full brunt off. He never could explain it, but each time he met Zainab's father, he felt less a man and more an object the man had obtained at great expense to his wishes.
"This door does not suit this house."
Namdi felt stupid with how he seemed to only have the ability to say 'sir' to this man. Determined not to be reduced to single word sentences, he began to speak again.
Mr. Shagari walked past him into the house, ignoring the next words out of Namdi's mouth. Namdi's speech ground to a halt. He did not let his current emotion see the light of day. Swallowing the insult, he followed behind Mr. Shagari as they made their way to the balcony, walking past floating kitchen gossip.
"This my daughter, can't you see the vegetable should have been steamed for longer. And the meat on this high heat? They've already killed the animal, are you trying to kill it again?"
"You don't have to be here."
"Then where should I be?"
"The house is big; there are plenty places for you to go to."
"My own daughter is chasing me away after I..."
"Yes, yes you spent 18 hours giving birth to me. How many times will you play that card."
Zainab threw the sponge in her hands into the left sink half-filled with water, splashing her apron with a healthy dose of soapy liquid. Her mother walked up beside her, picking up the sponge and handing it back to Zainab. Rolling her sleeves up, she began to help her daughter rinse dishes, her mouth still working though dropping in volume.
"So you know now?"
"Know what again?"
"Zainab, why are you pretending to your mother? That your husband is cheating on you."
Continued on next page...
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