From the first day Nurse Bianca set foot in the yellow-painted face-me-I-face-you apartment of No. 13 Adelabu Street, the women—Mama Osahon, Folashade and Mummy Chichi—knew she would be trouble. Nurse Bianca’s beauty was of the rarest kind: she had the height of a bamboo and the figure of an hourglass, her fair skin had the smoothness of a baby’s, her hair, copious and dark, cascaded down her shoulders like waterfalls when she set them free from her nurse cap, and she had a stylish one-step-at-a-time walk that always lent grace to her strides.
And she wasn’t married.
That bit worried the women most.
The women knew their husbands like eyes know tears. Mama Osahon’s husband couldn’t resist anything in a skirt. He had once put a distant relative of his wife who had lived with them as a maid in the family way, and Mama Osahon, embarrassed, had sent the teenage girl back to her parents in the village with a promise to send money for the upkeep of her unborn baby. Folashade’s husband always made mincemeat of her in bed. The last time she protested his pounding, saying it left her sore and aching down there, he had scoffed and said all he wanted was to make fertile her stubborn womb. He had then threatened to go out and help someone else if she wasn’t willing to let him help her. Folashade had conceded and would lie underneath him, wincing, while he thrust with intensity. Mummy Chichi’s husband had given up on her for a male child. They had five daughters. Rumour had it that he had two girls with different women.
To the women of No. 13, Nurse Bianca’s presence spelt the catalyst to their husband’s promiscuity, a completion of their husband’s mission and an end to their husband’s desperate search.
“I sure say she be ashawo.” That was Mama Osahon. The three women were huddled at the back of the compound, close to the soakaway pit partially covered by a cement slab. Out of the pit emitted a pungent stench that could wring the life out of any living being. But that hardly mattered to the women. Nurse Bianca’s matter, to them, was shitty enough.
“Shebi she be nurse?” Folashade said.
“Dat na wetin dem go talk,” said Mama Osahon. “I dey sure say na wetin she dey use cover her ashawo work.”
“You get am!” Mummy Chichi tapped Mama Osahon on the shoulder. “Na how dem dey do. E get one girl like dat for my former yard, she talk say she be banker. Every day she go wear fine suit comot from house go begin fuck fuck big men.”
“But why Oga Landlord go allow am enter dis compound?” Folashade asked.
Before Nurse Bianca, there had been two tenants, both bachelors. The men, I.K. and Friday, would, on weekends, subject the three families to the excited moans and yells of their girlfriends. The families had complained to the landlord who lived in Festac Town and he issued a warning to the two erring tenants to desist from their ways. But the men, hot-headed as they were, had persisted and the families kept complaining. Finally, the landlord ejected the men. And then decreed that his house would be strictly for married couples – not that married couples didn’t have sex, but it was believed they would be more discreet.
“Which kain question be dat?” Mama Osahon said to Folashade. “Abi you no know say Oga Landlord go dey fuck am too?”
“Yes na. Na true Mama Osahon talk,” Mummy Chichi chipped in.
“But Oga Landlord don marry na. And him be deacon for him church. So him wife never belleful am?”
“Deacon ko, deacon ni. Na yeye all men be,” Mama Osahon said. “Na their prick dey control dem.”
The women were quiet for a while. Then Folashade sniffed the air, screamed and rushed to the general kitchen. She had left her pot of beans boiling on the stove. Mama Osahon and Mummy Chichi dispersed too, each remembering one task or the other they had to do.
One evening, while Mummy Chichi was in their room feeding her youngest child, a toddler, she heard her husband and Nurse Bianca exchange pleasantries in the hallway, and then, silence. Mummy Chichi tossed the child who had now started to cry aside and rushed out of the room. The hallway was empty. She crept toward the exit. When she reached, she saw Nurse Bianca exiting through the compound gate. Her husband, unaware of his wife’s presence, had his gaze fixed on Nurse Bianca’s retreating back, a leer on his face, and his tongue sweeping across his lips.
“Wetin you dey do?”
Mummy Chichi’s voice made her husband jump. When he regained his composure, he turned to her and frowned. “Which kain question be dat?”
“I see you dey look Bianca yansh. Why you dey look her yansh?” The directness of her question struck him like a blow. Twice, he opened his mouth to talk but only air came forth.
Mummy Chichi shook her head at him and returned to their room.
The next day, just as they had gathered the other time, Mummy Chichi told the women what had happened with her husband.
“Shebi I talk am? Shebi I talk am say all men na yeye? I no talk am?” Mama Osahon stared at Mummy Chichi and Folashade for confirmation.
“Me I think dis Bianca matter don dey very serious,” Mama Osahon said. “De other day, na so my husband talk say e get wetin him smell from Bianca pot wey him come like. Him come tell me say make I go ask Bianca wetin be dat so I go cook de same thing for am. You hear dat kain yeye talk? Make me, Mama Osahon, cook for my husband wetin dat Bianca girl dey chop? God forbid!”
“We suppose do something about dis Bianca matter,” Mummy Chichi said. “And fast o!”
A few days later, a plan was hatched.
The next time Nurse Bianca saw the women, she’d greet them and they would respond with silence. When she tried inquiring why they chose to ignore her, they would feed her more silence. Soon Mama Osahon and Mummy Chichi told their children to ignore Nurse Bianca too. One morning, Chichi, a girl of thirteen, saw Nurse Bianca, hissed, and strutted past her. Nurse Bianca pulled the girl back, grabbed her by the ear and twisted it until she yelped, and asked her when they became age mates. Mummy Chichi heard her daughter’s cries and came running, and together with the other women, they rained curses and insults on Nurse Bianca.
When Nurse Bianca explained her dilemma to the husbands of the women, they promised to talk to their wives and children. And they did. But the women wouldn’t pay heed. Neither would the children. Tired, Nurse Bianca took the matter to the landlord. The landlord called a meeting to brook peace but the meeting fell apart: the women scowled and hissed and called Nurse Bianca a witch and a harlot and a home wrecker. The landlord gave up, beat off the dust on his backside and went home.
Soon Nurse Bianca succumbed to the pressure and moved out.
And peace returned to the women of No. 13.
And their husbands continued in their ways: chasing skirts, wreaking havoc down there and knocking up women outside their home.
Bio: Uzoma Ihejirika is an alumnus of the 2015 Writivism Creative Writing Workshop. He can be found on Twitter @WordlyPikin
Photo Credit: InspirationSeek