Holding his wife, and her face still buried against him, he felt powerless, unable to erase her suffering. Namdi could tell she had fallen asleep from the rhythmic rise and fall of her breast against his chest. Her tears had come to an end for some time now. Still, he did not move. In front of him was the plate of eba and vegetable no one had eaten. He looked at each cut piece of the processed cassava, a conflicting smile appearing on his face. I miss old school eba, Namdi thought. He had always felt it tasted different, no, better, when he used his hand to dig into a big ball of swallow, working his fingers to knead the lump he had excavated into a round smooth ball before dipping it into a bowl of vegetable soup with a light flourish. There was something in the ritual that couldn't be captured when a fork was used to spear already cut portions. He would never tell Zainab this. She wouldn't even use her hand to eat a hamburger. A small price to pay, Namdi whispered to himself.
Planting his feet firmly on the ground, he stood up, the sleeping Zainab a feather in his arms. She stirred a bit but did not break away from the land of dreams she had deeply lost herself in. With measured steps he made his way out the dinning to the stairs leading to their bedroom. She nuzzled deeper into him, purrs of content coming from her throat as he climbed the stairs. The room was dark save for the moonlight coming in from the bay windows. Laying her down on the bed, Namdi undressed her, each article of clothing neatly folded and placed at the foot of the bed. Moonlight bathed her skin in its white glow. His heart quickened, blood boiling in his veins. Tamping down on his budding desires, he got a slip from the the armoire.
Taking his time, he managed to dress her in the lace and satin night wear without disturbing her slumber. It barely hid the delicacies she possessed. Planting a kiss on her cheek, he tucked her in and returned to the dining. An hour later, Namdi sat at the table with a glass of wine in one hand, the large windows behind him. The kitchen and dining room had been cleaned, the uneaten meal packed into Tupperware and safely stored in the fridge. The only thing that remained on the table was the decanter of wine.
Namdi refilled the glass from a now half-filled decanter. He gulped rather than sipped. On the table in front of him was the card his father in law had dropped on his lap. Glass after glass, he drank but the words on the card did not change.
After nearly polishing off the bottle of wine, his words came out in a mangled mess. His thoughts meshed together, brain becoming mired in a quagmire of intoxication. Grabbing the now half full glass of wine, he made to throw it against the unblemished white walls but stopped, a keen sense of self preservation keeping him from such an extreme. With two big gulps, he drained the liquid instead. On unsteady legs he made his way up the stairs to the bedroom they shared.
A full Redeem choir pounded out heavy chords in Namdi's head. He woke up with a groan, a dull pain wherever skin stretched. Opening his eyes, he saw he had missed the bed by a few feet, a night spent on the carpeted floor. His clothes from last night were still on him. Reaching into his pocket, he brought out his phone. It wasn't yet seven. Ignoring the headache, he softly called out.
"Zainab are you awake? How you feeling?"
Hearing nothing, he picked himself off the floor only to see an empty bed. She must have gone downstairs, he thought. With tentative steps, he made his way to the adjoining bathroom. It was a large bathroom, easily three times the size of what he was used to before he met Zainab. In the center was a bath suspended above the floor by four golden paws. He had never used it to bath, at least not alone. He preferred the shower at the far corner of the bathroom. Even that was a testament to extravagance having multiple nozzles that could give quite a massage. Namdi's first stop was the medicine cabinet. Finding the pain killers he had been prescribed, he ignored the written dosage and popped four of them.
Stripping his clothes from his skin, he looked into the mirror noting his bandaged ribs. They were stained a dull red, having spent a night soaking up the wine that had spilled on his shirt. He reeked of a mid-quality winery. Impatiently, he unwrapped the bandages, letting them fall to the floor. Naked as the day he was born, he stepped into the shower, hoping the water would wash away all that happened the past couple days. A false hope!
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