Societal Happenings by Chidera Onyebuchi

Ama stood in the bathtub and watched red liquid flow down her legs to the white tub and down the drain. She wanted to cry, wanted to talk to someone, anyone. They did not have to talk about the situation she was in. The movement of her phone from left to right on the sink as it rang. She carefully moved to take it as if any move she made would cause more blood to spill. It was her mum. She picked it and tried to sound like she did not just have her eighth miscarriage. Since she found out she was pregnant, she had been going around her daily life like she was walking on eggshells. She did not know when the blood would come flowing down her legs and she did not want it to happen in public again. It was like a normal event to her which left her wondering why she even bothered to try to get pregnant again. Her mother asked how she was and how the baby was doing. Ama could not lie and she could not say anything either but her mother knew.
“This your husband’s people are really out to get you. I think it’s time we left church and fight fire with fire” Ama did not say anything. She knew there was fire in church too but she was not interested anymore. She did not care that her mother in law would call or visit to bring up her inability to give her a grandchild then later try to convince her son to get another wife. She knew the pressure Nze was under and she appreciated him for not turning his back on her. She did not know how to encourage him this time. After she lost a child, she would cook him an amazing meal or take him out to dinner or buy him a gift. She did that normally but she always went all out after a miscarriage. She would pay him a surprise visit then take him somewhere really nice to relax or eat and buy a flower if she knew where those were sold. She decided she would pick from the little garden that had come with the house.
Ama quickly cleaned up and decided to take a shower instead. She did not steer her head away from the shower to prevent it from touching her hair as she normally did. Instead she let the water flow from her hair, through her hair and down her body. She dressed up in her finest clothing, shoes and accessories. She blow dried her hair, made a few cornrows on her hair by herself and put on her most expensive wig alongside the two perfumes of hers bthat Nze loved. She went and began plucking the flowers hoping the landlady did not see her and made sure to cut them so they were long enough to be tied.
Nze was a lecturer at a University and owned a tutorial centre for students. Ama was acquainted with a few of his colleagues and exchanged pleasantries with them before finally going to Nze’s office. His office was at the far end of the hallway that held about fifteen office. She stopped to take in a deep breath hoping that her eyes did not look as heavy as it felt. She stopped when she heard the sound of two people moaning and the sound of one person’s moaning was oddly familiar. She strained her ear away from the door to know which office the noise was coming from but her other ear, the one close to Nze’s office door reported that it was from his. She wanted to turn away because it was probably one of his friends but she knew the sound of Nze. She knew that she should turn away and act like she saw nothing then move on with her marriage to Nze. It was probably the first time. Three girls walked towards her laughing and talking. They stopped in front of the office and their loud talks turned to whispers but she heard them loud and clear. 
“I wonder if Nenye is inside?”
“I still don’t know how she lets that man touch her?” Ama did not know what happened but suddenly she found herself pushing the door open and there Nze was, facing a girl with both of them half naked.
“You could have locked the door at least” she said and stomped out. As she walked down the hallway, she did not hear the clacking of her heels on the floor like when she was coming. All she could hear was the sound Nze and the girl made. She knew that some of the lecturers were talking to her as she left but she heard no words. They probably even knew what Nze had been up to and who was that girl anyway? Nenye, chinenye. Why would she do that to her?. She opened the door of the car and got in, Nze came in with her. Why did she even stress herself to come all the way? Oh she knew why. To make sure Nze did not leave her. To give him something to hold onto.
Ama drove as fast as she could, fully aware of Nze adjusting his trousers beside her. The traffic in Lagos would not let her drive as fast she wanted, as fast her heart was racing. Nze was trying to calm her, telling her to drive slowly so they could at the least get home safely. Did she want to get home safely? What was there to get home to? A cheating husband? An incomplete life? The reality of another pregnancy that led to a miscarriage? A frustrating mother in law? Ill talks about her from people?. The only problem with having an accident is that she might not die. She might lose a leg or damage something and she would spend lots of money and have to live with the pain. A voice in her head told her she could take the easy way out. She could stop at Festac bridge and jump into it, that the water looked fit for death and it would not be that painful. No she wanted a situation where she could die immediately.
“Look out!” Nze shouted and held her hand to steer the steering wheel away from the road. “Let me drive please” Ama got down from the car quietly and let Nze drive because almost crashing into a fuel tanker hit her sense of realization. She could have died and she really was not ready. Her phone beeped and it was a picture from her friend Nody short form for Nodebe. It was a goofy picture of her that made her smile. Another voice in her head told her she had Nody to get home to and she looked in her bag for the flowers she was going to give Nze and decided to give it to her. The ride home was filled with a mix of anger and Nze’s plea. She wanted to scream at him and hit him. She had even thought of pushing him out of the car during the ride.
“You know you can’t leave. What will people say? Where would you even go to? How would your parent’s feel about it? Ama, we can work this out. That’s what they’ll say to you so please give me another chance. I don’t even know what came over me” Nze was saying to her as she packed her things. He was right. She was already a laughing stock and she could not worsen matters. Nobody would say she left. They would say her husband left her because she could not give him a child or they would say he cheated on her because she could not give him a child. The least she could do for Nze after all the years of him sticking with her was forgive him. She knew it was on the tip of his mouth to ask her which other man would stay with her for this long. She oddly wanted to hear him say it but she knew him, always very careful with words.
“How long?”
“That should not be the problem now, let’s put it all in the past and focus on” she cut him short and pushed him away from her.
“I said how long Nze?!” she screamed.
“I can’t remember”
“She’s a student” She said forcefully turning his face so that he could look her in the eye “Are you doing it for marks?”
“No totally not”
“There has to be something in it for her” he did not say anything “God. Nze you disgust me!” she shoved him aside, took her hand bag and left the house to see Nody.
Nody and Ama had become friends when Ama had stood up for her at a salon. Nody did not have the complete amount for the services she had been rendered. She had offered to transfer the money but the woman did not do transfers and she would not let Nody leave anything with her so she could go to the Automated teller machine to withdraw money. They had gotten into an arguement and the woman kept calling her an “ashewo” and a “prostitute”. She accused her of sleeping with people’s husbands, boyfriends and fiancée. She said she was sure she was infected with all the diseases that came with engaging in sexual intercourse with lots of men. She had begun pulling Nody’s hair and cloth when Ama stepped in. She paid and warned the hairdresser about the kind of words she used on Nody and forced her to apologise. She knew the woman only apologised because of how good Ama had been to her and the girls. How she had helped pay the woman’s rent the previous year. She had driven to the ATM to get the money for Ama and they talked for a while and met at a few places coincidentally. Ama knew what it was like to be talked about without knowing one’s story. Everyone in Agboju knew Nody, they even had different versions of her life story. Ama was one of the few people who knew the real story.
Nody had lost her parents in a fuel tank explosion. Her brother had been beaten and burnt alive after been accused of stealing two tyres from a man who sold spare parts of cars. She knew she had to step up for her sister and sleeping with men was her only hope. It was the fact that she slept with white men that made her become a famous call girl. She had lost her last family member, her sister, to a clash between cultists. People had twisted the story and accused her late sister of being part of the cultists. Nody had ever since then not bothered what anyone had to think. Her popularity amongst the street members rose when she bought the most expensive house that had just being built in the street. A lot of people had waited for the finishing of the house to know if they could rent a part of the building or the house itself, but the price had been ridiculous, not to Nody. She had people who did her dishes, her laundry, cleaned the house. After they were done she would give them money and tell them to go and gossip about her because she knew they did, sometimes she even joined in their gossip. She was dancing to one of Psquare’s songs when Ama came in and as if she knew she ran to enclose her in a hug.
“Chetachi is dead” Ama said in between sobs with her head on Nody’s chest. Chetachi was the name they had given the unborn child. She told her about Nze’s cheating and Nody went on a cursing spree. She had never met anybody with a heart like Ama’s. Sometimes she thought she was too good for the world. Nody bought her things every chance she got, she had even promised herself to protect her at all cost like the children Nody was not going to have. Later that night after they had both gone to the hospital to see that Ama was okay. They ran from one end of the street to the other then got home to dance and drink wine while dancing to Psquare’s songs
Months later and Ama had given her eggs to Nody who had surprisingly been excited about it. She did not care that it would bring a huge change to the kind of life she was used to. She had enough money saved up and watched what she ate and how she handled her body. Nze had left home one day and had not come home since but Ama knew. She knew he was living in one of the houses he had built with Nenye. She would go to the location of the house and watch both of them laugh over something. She would silently hope that they have an arguement and he would run into her waiting arms. She decided to run for the post of the House of rep for her local government with support from Nody. Everyone knew she was going to win including her opponent Mariam. Mariam was not having it, she was not going to lose to an Igbo woman. She did not care that Ama deserved the post and the people wanted her. None of her family members had failed and she was not going to be the first. She told her mother who said they were going to meet a friend. That friend happened to be an old woman who lived in an abandoned area. She asked them to bring a couple of things and a huge amount of money. The old woman said Ama was not going to win and Mariam hoped it was not the way her family handled their opponents. They either threatened them into stepping down or staged accidents, ran mad or died. She would rather threaten a person into stepping down but Ama was not going to.
It was a sunny afternoon when Nody finally woke up and went to the veranda. She liked to look over the small houses and shops. The naked children running around. The sound of the cobblers and cloth menders. The sound of the man hawking puff puff while hitting his fork on the showglass that held them. School children returning from school in large crowds. sometimes two different schools got into fights she enjoyed. That day was different. The entrance to the gate of Ama’s house was crowded which was never so and she heard wailing. She wondered if to call Ama and tell her about the situation of her house. Did the landlady die? Nody held her growing tummy as she walked down the stairs and out of the gate, towards Ama’s house. Why were people parting the way for her and looking at her sympathetically. She walked into Ama’s house and found her lying still and swollen up while people prayed. A tear dropped from Nody’s eyes as she moved backward, not another person she loved. Not again, Not the mother of the child she was carrying. Memories of her brother lighting up in flames and rolling on the floor shouting and pleading for mercy then her sister in the coffin. She could not do it, she could not watch her bestfriend in the state she was in. She was distracted by a woman asking where Ama would be buried. Nody could not believe her ears. They were thinking of how it was an abomination to bury Ama in her father’s house because they had given her out in marriage and how they could not bury her in her husband’s house because they were no longer together. The way Nody’s aunt had been buried outside her husband’s compound in the village because she had not given them a child. Some people were saying Ama was probably killed in her dream or had a heart attack but Nody knew it was the dirty game of politics. Ama would have fought, she would have woken up from whatever dream she was having. The prayers of the pastor would have woken her up. The wailings of the people there would have woken her up. She did not know what came over her as she went to pick up Ama’s car keys and she drove straight to a building that made her feel like she had been there. She walked into the building, touching every furniture. She stopped in front of a door and looked through the peep hole. Why did she feel like she had done this before. She saw Ama’s husband in bed with another woman who looked strangely familiar. The sounds they made too. She pushed the door and they both turned to look at her startled
“Do you have a problem with locking the door while doing this thing?” she asked
“Nody? Why are you here?”
“Nody” she said and gave a short laugh then tears dropped from her eyes “Just doing the usual except a different routine this time” she said and shot both of them then as if Nody had come to her senses she moved back. When had she taken the gun? What was she doing in a room with two dead people. She recognized one of them as Nze. Nze?. She ran out of the house and she felt pieces of the puzzle coming together as she saw Ama’s car sitted outside the house. 
“Ama” she breathed out and looked around. If she could at least see her alive, smiling one last time but all she got was her name being called from a distance then it ceased. Nody ran to the car and drove as fast she could to her house. 
Months passed after the death of Ama and Nody could still hear whispers about her death especially from her staff. She stood on the veranda staring at Ama’s house as she had been doing for the past month. She would talk to thin air as if Ama were there. She rubbed her potrudging belly with one hand and a cup of lipton in her other hand. She turned and saw a newspaper in the corner. The one with the picture of Nze and his girlfriend with the headline about how they were found dead. The police were fast to blame it on her anger at the death of Ama but she was fast to deny everything because she really had no idea of what had happened and they had no proof. The gun was somewhere in the lagoon she had thrown it in. All she could think of was Ama had a gun. How? What had been going through her head? She had seemed so happy.
“We would be happy for your mum. It’s you and I against the world, Munachi. Just like your mama and I”.