Mama counted the coins carefully and tied them in the old handkerchief which she always tucked into her thick cotton half-slip hidden under several layers of wrapper to keep them safe.
I sprinkled water on the freshly harvested pepper and pumpkin leaves, arranging them in the basket; their luscious healthy colour would attract the eyes of good buyers.
With ease, mama balanced the basket on her head, her headscarf formed a cradle and she set off to Orie Ozuda; she would walk tirelessly for miles and that basket would stay put.
‘Nwamaka my daughter, I hope today’s market day will be a good one and if I sell all my goods, tomorrow I will buy you that shoe for running that you’ve been asking for.’
‘Thank you, mama,‘ I replied with happiness ringing in my voice. I imagined my feet encased in the white canvas and I could hear the voices of my schoolmates cheering me on as I raced to the finish line; they always say that I run like 440.
Tomorrow never came. Mama never made it back. Her crushed body was brought back to the compound with her coins still carefully tucked under her half-slip. Nwamadi’s 440 car killed mama. I never ran again.
Tara hated herself for what she was doing, but her clogged mind just couldn’t think of any other way out of her problems.
Her meagre earnings were stretched beyond its capacity that to eat one meal a day was now a hurdle.
Sending money back home to the Philippines to assist her folks with the younger siblings and her dad’s medication took virtually everything.
With a pounding heart, she prayed for forgiveness in the silence of her heart, cast furtive looks around and quickly dipped her hands into the offering bag; the small clutch of cash felt like burning coals in her palm.
John Paul saw her through the CCTV and smiled to himself; what a golden opportunity, he had her where he wanted her.
Stumbling across details of his secret family – a mistress and two sons, twelve and seven-year-old boys ensconced in a nice town house downtown, whilst she played Martha Stewart at home – had been beyond a rude shock.
Cecilia was still dumbfounded at the turn of things.
How did she not see the tell-tale signs, a consistent barrage of questions raced back and forth in her mind.
Her emotions were all over the place as she struggled to reconcile with the enormity of Tom’s treachery and how he had managed to live a lie for so long.
Their twenty-five-year-old marriage was now confined to a file in a divorce lawyers office.
Scalding hot tears spilt out of Ifueko’s swollen eyes mingling with the salty dribble from her nostrils into her mouth.
She wailed in reckless abandon, her swaying form gathered into itself as she interjected her pitiful cries with grief-lade idioms ‘Chi mu o, ewu ata mu igu n’isi – My God, the goat has eaten palm fronds off the top of my head’.
‘Why? Chukwu Okike. Why has such calamity befallen me, she asked her God of creation.
The repeated echos of ‘ndo, sorry’ and other words of commiseration from the growing gathering of neighbours and friends fell on deaf ears.
Her five young ones surrounded her on the bare ground of their uncompleted home, their young minds unable to comprehend the gravity of their situation as the men of the compound struggled to bring out their father’s body from the well.