She carries the full bucket with her right hand and her left is spread out to maintain balance. Of course she doesn’t know this but I do, its simple science – and her night gown hangs loosely on her enlarging frame. She had been slimmer, more sensual, better – though the Sun had not begun to set.”Good evening aunty.” I say.She makes a right turn and manages to squeeze her way through the narrow passage created on the left by the cement water tank stand andon the right by the wall of our room. I bend to keep washing the white lace of my shoes and I pause, even before the sound of the contents of her bucket enters the gutter behind my window the smell precedes it like an announcer carrying a bullhorn. The smell is choking andreminds me of Ammonia and something worse …She walks past me again and once again I try.”Gud’vin auntie.””Gud’vnin.” she responds. Finally.Why do I try? Yeah, I know why. Because I know, I know her story. How?…I wake up each morning and I see her, already dressed for work in her white and black, white on black or white with a touch of black attire.Always, never a day missed, except on midterm breaks, you see, she is a teacher.Recently, I think it’s been four months now, she gave birth to a child and she has been working constantly even just some weeks after thedelivery. She works hard, I can see it, she comes back well past four and brings her first daughter and second to the last child with her.Then I know her husband. I know what he does. He wakes in the morning and takes the first child, a son, to school and then he plays poollottery the whole day in PLANEX’s HOUSE opposite our junction.But he has a paralyzed mother who his wife has to clean up each day after work and keep polluting the gutter with buckets filled withdirt, faeces and sorrow of a woman waiting for death who somehow comes late in her case.This is why I try to at least greet her, maybe someday I’ll get her to smile. I know she doesn’t smile, not once have I seen her do it, I amreally observant. I think I know why. Her father in-law, our landlord, makes sure she doesn’t. I hear his voice constantly raised each time he talks to her and how she weeps, weeping is second nature to her. Even on those nights when I try to be a writer and keep beating myself up, deleting pages after pages of scribbles, I hear her, in the dead of the night, I listen, probably God does too because she keeps callinghis name. And father in-law/landlord comes and says:”When you were busy getting pregnant for my son without a wedding ring did you think of him?”I think he means God.And the next morning she is going to work and I am waking.And the husband is taking the son to school.And the mother in-law is still paralyzed.And the father in-law is still a bitter old man.When she returns, I am back, washing something probably dishes this time.The husband will probably be losing some money by then … And the faeces are waiting for her and she won’t still smile….”Gud’vin auntie” I try again.
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