by Dawn Wilson.
She drove up to her gate tired and in a real hurry to just get in and lie down. Work had been a harrowing affair with clients screaming their requests which she hurried and struggled to fulfil with her boss on one side, breathing down her neck.
Customer service was the worst job ever she thought as she blared her horn for her help to come get the gate open. It took a while for the help to come out and, it was at times like these that she wished she has employed a much sharper house keeper. It would take 4 more blasts from her car horn to send the house help running to open the gate.
Screeching in, she parked the car, disembarked and began asking the help about the state of affairs of her home, catching movement from her peripheral vison of the flat upstairs, she glanced up to see Mimi, a neighbor who also happened to hail from the same state and village as she. Raising a hand in greeting, she was mildly embarrassed when Mimi abruptly turned as if not seeing her and went into her own house.
“Maybe she did not see me” thought Ada as she completed interrogating her help and entered her home. Her kids rushed to her side with excited cries of “mummy, mummy! What did you buy for me?!”
A bag filled with meat pies and sausage rolls appeared as if by magic which sent the children screaming in delight as they shared a rather healthy passion for meat just like their mother. Life as a single mother had its lows but seeing the joy on her children’s faces more than made up for it and the day passed rather uneventfully after that.
“You won’t believe it. These days she doesn’t return my greetings so I have stopped greeting her since I have no clue what I may or may not have done to offend her. She seems so bitter and the way she looks at me whenever I catch her staring makes me wonder what might be the matter.”
Stephany (that was how she liked it spelt) stared at Ada as she listened to the troubling story. “Are you sure you didn’t do or say anything because Ada, I know how you can get sometimes.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” flared Ada. “You see?!” returned Stephany “Just see as you wan comot my head for simply asking a question. That’s exactly what I mean.”
Ada blinked, quiet for a second then replied “I am sorry Steph but to answer your question, no, I haven’t had much of an interaction with her. The most we’ve had is when I greet her husband outside and she flies out like a bat to make sure I am not making too much of a conversation with her “prize.” You should see the way she hovers upstairs the second she becomes aware that I am also downstairs at the same moment as her husband. It is even in those moments that I have to say hello to her to be honest.”
“Hmmm sighed Stephany then, just ignore her. Whatever is biting her will soon manifest.” Truer words had never been spoken and life continued on in very much the same pattern for Ada after that. Work, home, kids and church. That was until her sister decided to come for a holiday then things really became quite interesting.
You see, Ada’s sister Oluma was a fire cracker with a fierce personality. Always the life of the party. There was literally never a dull moment with her and the kids simply adored her because she quite literally became a child whenever she was around them. Horsing around, screaming and running about like them. She was a child in an adult’s body however, when it came time to put on her big girl’s panties and show up, show up she did.
It was fun for Ada coming back to a lively home and some adult conversation without having to explain the meaning of this and that or the reason why something was. Nights were filled with drinking good wine, spicy chicken gizzards or some other delicacy as Oluma could cook circles round Jamie Oliver if she wanted to and it was on one of such nights that Ada told her sister about her neighbor’s odd behavior. Oluma knew little about Mimi having been introduced to her by Ada as someone who was also from the same village as they. Aside that, Oluma knew virtually nothing else especially as she was not a permanent fixture in Ada’s house.
“Mscheew, abegi jor, if she no wan greet you again kukuma lef her naaa, offered Oluma who wasn’t one for games. If she doesn’t like you or has something in her mind, it’s her business abeg, no face for rotten mango biko” and with that, she resumed chewing on the ishi-ewu (goat head) she had been feasting on clearly uninterested in anyone who did not have any role whatsoever in her life as is.
They soon turned to other topics of discourse with Mimi and her drama forgotten. Things however would come to a head one evening when Mimi returned rather early choosing to park her car by Ada’s living room window which wasn’t a big deal as the neighbors could park where they pleased regardless of who lived where. Mimi’s action barely registered with Oluma who was playing with her nieces and making such a raucous with them. A little later, Ada returned parking right behind Mimi and all was quiet as everyone in their various apartments busied themselves with whatever they pleased.
At about 9pm, Oluma heard a faint horn. It seemed that Mimi’s husband had also returned. Reading the kids a story from Harry and his bucketful of Dinosaurs a sudden blast from Mimi’s car horn brought her to the living room in annoyance. It was long, it was loud and it was intended to wake the dead. Oluma wondered whose attention Mimi had been trying to get by being that rude.
“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?” Mimi was now standing by Ada’s window which had been open but chose to pretend that she had not seen Oluma standing there. Finally, pretending to notice her, Mimi continued “please can you people move your car so that we can park well.” Oluma was already pissed off by her attitude but said nothing instead, she chose to get Ada’s car keys and move the car herself as Ada was taking a shower.
In Oluma’s mind, the two cars (Mimi’s and Ada’s) were keeping Mimi’s hubby from entering the compound but when she saw Mimi put her car in reverse, she realized the husband wanted to get in first. It wasn’t strange for the neighbors to re-park their cars especially when someone had an early morning and seeing as the compound had two exit gates, it seemed to Oluma that Mimi’s husband preferred parking first in order to drive out through the gate closest to him so as not to bother anyone later. Fair enough thought Oluma as she put the car in reverse and backed out of the compound giving husband and wife enough space to rearrange themselves so that she could drive back in but after Mimi’s husband had driven around his wife’s car and parked, Mimi refused to drive in leaving Oluma waiting for her.
“Ha, is this woman on her phone forgetting that she is keeping me waiting here?” Oluma thought out loud before pressing the horn to attract Mimi’s attention still, Mimi made no move to drive in. Another tap on the horn soon saw Mimi driving in. However, upon driving in, Mimi chose to stop just where the gate began. Effectively making sure that Oluma couldn’t drive in at all. She was stuck on the road outside.
“What is this woman doing?!” Oluma exclaimed when she reversed only to see that she could not even attempt to drive in. Rolling down the window, she heard Mimi screaming “let her stay outside!” as she stormed off to her apartment. “You will stay outside there!” she hollered again as her husband came out to find out what all the drama was about.
Oluma came down from the car in shock and wonder when she heard Mimi say to her husband “she will remain there oh!” Another neighbor came out wondering what the shouting was about and Oluma explained that she too has no clue what was going on. All she knew was that Ada had a 7am meeting the next day and Oluma not wanting to stress anyone decided to park last so that Ada would not have to bother Mimi when leaving.
“Oh, I see uttered the neighbor but Mimi goes out at about the same time as well.” Oluma looked at him incredulously before replying “and how was I to know this? What stopped her from coming to tell me that much so, we do not get our wires crossed after all, I do not live here.”
The neighbor had no answer to this logical line of thought and kept quiet. Upstairs, Mimi could be heard shouting and telling her husband that she was not moving any car and that Oluma should stand guard over Ada’s car for all she cared. It was at this point Oluma saw red and shouted out to Mimi.
“You are an uncivilized individual! Even if you were going out early, what stops you from explaining the situation to me?! If you are having issues with my sister, do I look like my sister that you feel you can treat me like you feed me or like I am your house help?! Mimi, I do not blame you at all or you feel that marriage accords you the right to treat people like dogs?!”
At this Mimi raced out choosing to scream from the relative safety of her verandah “it is you who is crazy!” Oluma reeled as if punched. Had she insulted this lady to be called crazy? Oh, I will show you crazy she wildly thought and unleashed the madness inside her.
“Look at this crazy cow…you f#*king monkey…how dare you?! You idiotic nama! Absolute moron! Come down here and let me show you the stuff I am made of! I will use you and sweep this compound if you feel you can talk to me anyhow! Do I look like your house maid you depraved goat! I will tear off your head if I lay my hands on you! Come down stairs and face me like a woman since you feel you have power! I will beat you like the dummy that you are, conk idiot!
By this time, Mimi’s husband had raced down to move the car while trying to placate Oluma. Ada heard the altercation and came out. “Oluma? What is the matter?!” With Ada outside, Mimi retreated to the safety of her house but was still clearly visible at her door. Oluma roared at Ada. “See this bush pig that calls herself Mimi. Ada, did Mimi call you to come out before blaring her horn like a donkey?!” Ada shook her head indicating a no. “Okay, so, I came out to help move the car and see what she did!”
Ada lost her mind after hearing the story and raced upstairs to Mimi who wasn’t fast enough in locking her door as her husband was still outside with the car. Shoving the gate aside Ada rushed Mimi’s door. Frightened, Mimi held the door from opening and began screaming “I don’t want trouble oh! I don’t want trouble oh! I am a woman of peace oh!”
“Woman of peace my ass screamed Oluma so blocking the gate was an act of what?! Mercy?!” Ada shoved the door as hard as she could so she could grab at Mimi but was held back when the husband of another neighbor rushed upstairs and grabbed hold of her. “You are so lucky screamed Ada. My sister?! My sister?! You feel you can disrespect my sister and get away with it?! I will kill you first before that happens!”
And through all of this, where was Mimi’s husband? Rooted inside the car. The embarrassment clearly too much for him to handle so he chose to hide till the storm passed with Mimi still screaming “I don’t want trouble! I don’t want trouble! I am a woman of peace oh!”
“OMG, what?!” burst out Stephany when she heard and she began laughing and mimicking Mimi. “I don’t want trouble, I don’t want trouble oooooooh. What did she think was going to happen? So, her prized husband couldn’t do squat to save her ehn? “Madam-I-am-married” Stephany laughed almost choking. “Oh, oh how I wish I had been there to see it happen for myself” she said as she continued laughing. We clinked our glasses reveling in the sweet taste of victory. “So, continued Stephany… how does she carry herself in the compound now?”
“Very carefully.” came Oluma’s smart mouthed reply.