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We never realize, how our seemingly low expectations can actually be quite high. We hope sometimes that we do not wake up to find the landlord on our door because we owe him six months’ rent. Or that the little we have will somehow be enough to last us another day. Well, we even forget that we have to hope that we wake up first.
And so I went home that day after I had survived Yomi’s parody, bracing myself to face Nike. I can’t describe Nike as a full-time housewife. Although she wasn’t employed, somehow she is able to get money for the housekeeping that I didn’t or rather couldn’t give her. It perplexed me because for some reason, there was always someone to ‘dash’ her money. I had come up with the conclusions that either she was very lucky or there was something brutally wrong. Being a jobless and therefore insecure man, I suspected she was cheating. Therefore, thoughts that she had left me immediately as I got into what was supposed to be my house didn’t bolt out of the blues.
I knocked on the door even though I had my copy of the keys safe in my breast pocket… no response…leaving me with no other choice than to do myself the honour of opening the door. Once in, dead silence greeted me; the type of silence in Nollywood movies when the suspense gets to a crescendo and they begin to play a daunting background tone. I swear I could hear it almost as loud as my thumping heartbeat. I called out “Nike”. Still no response.
Our wee apartment was humble indeed and was just enough to contain our tiny family. It consisted of the living room, a tiny kitchen, the bathroom and our bedroom. However, Nike was not to be found in any of the rooms. My quest for food led me to the news preserved for me in ink. Nike had written a note, describing the itinerary of the food. I had developed a dislike for letters, especially since my retrenchment letter but at that moment my stomach growled, reminding me of its need to be filled.
I brought out my phone, it was a little past nine o’clock. My meal of Amala and Ewedu had long digested. “Abi Nike is not coming home today?” I wondered. “Where could she have gone?” I had already dialed her number with the hope of flashing her, but her phone was switched off. The twenty-eight-year-old woman who bore my surname had long changed from being the sweetheart that I fell in love with. I could tell she was in pain. Well who in her, no, our condition wouldn’t be depressed? Perhaps we had married too early, I catch myself thinking sometimes.
This was the sixth year of our marriage, and my joblessness was not the only thing that Nike had a problem with. At times, it was as if the gods have decided to plague us for sins we knew nothing of.
I watched my Nike, an unrepentant child love denied continuously of the chance to nurse her own. I watched her drift far away into soliloquy, talking of things only found in Elysium. She had become somewhat delusional and unstable. I remembered Buchi Emecheta’s “Joys of motherhood”, when Nnu ego ran off to end it all and I couldn’t help but wonder if my wife had decided to do same.
I had suddenly grown anxious and called Tricia, Nike’s best friend who claimed to know nothing about my wife’s disappearance. I called Esther, her leader in church. I even called pastor Briggs, man whom I had unflinching hatred for. To my dismay, they all knew nothing about her whereabouts and instead became nosy about why I could not find my wife.
Even after I had decided to sleep, sleep eluded me. I checked again and it was ten minutes past midnight. Suddenly, I heard fast raps on my door. “Who on earth could be knocking at this time of the night?” I asked myself. Well there was only one way to find out. Rushing out of bed with the speed of a Jamaican sprinter, I headed for the door wondering why the person couldn’t wait till morning… and if it was Nike she had better be coming with armed escorts, cause if not, I’ll kill her today.