“What is wrong with Nifemi?” Aunt Remi asked in concern, closely followed by her husband and Folabi and their younger child, Bolu. I tapped the screen of my phone and handed it to her without a word. “Oh my God!” Aunt Remi exclaimed in a teary whisper as her handbag dropped with a thud and she sank unto the rugged floor. Her husband snatched the phone out of her lifeless fingers and stared at the picture with an expressionless face. He turned round and gave Folabi a resounding slap that rocked the young boy backward. He reeled backward with a shocked expression on his face and stumbled on his feet.
“Uncle, what did I do?” Folabi asked with angry tears rapidly forming in his eyes as he held his ringing ear and my uncle shoved the phone under his nose. “Who is this? What were you doing to my daughter? Is this how you will repay me for what I have been doing for you and your wretched family? “My Uncle shouted in rage, punctuating each question with a blow to any part of his body. “It’s the devil, Uncle. I swear, I don’t know what enter into me and this is the first time it happened. I promised it won’t happen again, I am begging you in the name of God. Please don’t send me back home.” Folabi rolled around on the floor, his voice hoarse with fear and tears. “It is not the first time, daddy.” Bolu spoke clearly for the first time and every eyes turned to him. “Why didn’t you or your sister tell me, Bolu? “Their father asked in a defeated voice. “He said he will poison our food if we do and the day we tried to tell mum, she said she was tired, that we should discuss it in the morning.” Bolu said with a shrug and a sad look at his sister. Aunt Remi covered her face and cried as if her heart would break. “Thank God that Aunt Jummy came because Uncle Folabi couldn’t do much since she arrived as she was always watching his movement. He said he didn’t like Aunt Jummy. ”Bolu gave me an apologetic smile and moved to touch his sister’s cheek. “Remi the business woman, can you see your life now? Money is more important to you than your children.” Her husband with a scornful look. “It runs in the family.” I mumbled under my voice and leaned over to kiss Bolu’s cheek. “Your family will pick you up from the police station in the morning.” Uncle said as he made a phone call on his way out of the room and Folabi’s pleas fell on deaf ears.
It became a very serious family issue and the folabi’s mother insisted his son was under spiritual attack but it was the last time he ever stayed in my Aunt’s house. My Aunt started dropping her kids off in school by herself and the school bus dropped them off at her shop after which they would go home together in the evening.
The Easter holiday fell within my vacation and I decided to spend my last few days with my mother.
As I was driving out of the compound one afternoon, a car was blocking the entrance and I pressed the horn several times because I knew it belonged to just one tenant as the others were already at work. Caroline Adebayo was a full house-wife and she was almost always at home with her last child who was 2 years old unless she went to the market or went to pick her older children in school. Eventually, I got down from the car angrily and matched to her door with the intention of rapping loudly on it but I nearly stumbled over her prone figure that was lying in the sitting room doorway on the floor. I froze in shock as all the anger drained out of me in a whoosh and I bent down to feel her pulse. It was beating, though a bit faster than normal and her skin was warm. I stepped over her body into her sitting room and could see her toddler was sleeping peacefully in a corner, oblivious to the fact that her mother was in danger. I ran to the bathroom and wet some towel, then came back with it and a bowl of water to place it on her face.
Fortunately, her phone was lying beside her and I picked it up to call her husband. He picked after 4 rings just when I was about to drop the phone and concentrate on the woman, lying at my feet. “Hello. I have told you not to call me in the middle of a work-day again. It is distracting.” Her husband’s angry voice came on the line and I was silent for a moment. “This is Jumoke Davies, the landlady’s daughter. I am using her phone to call because she has fainted and I think you should come home right away.” I said quietly and it was his turn to stay silent. “Sir, are you still there?” I asked impatiently. “Yes, I am. I am in the middle of a very important meeting when your call came in and it will take me sometimes before I can get home. I will send you our family doctor’s number and name. Please help me get in touch with him and I will be very grateful. “He said sincerely, even though I could still hear traces of anger in his voice. “I will keep you updated sir.” I clicked off and bent down beside the woman that was starting to stir .I sprinkled some water on her face and the eyes opened slowly. They were red-rimmed and looked very tired.
“I heard your horn and was coming out to move the car when everything just went blank.” She said in a slightly slurring voice as she tried to keep her eyes open. “What happened to you, madam? What is wrong? Thank God you didn’t hit your head on the floor on your way down.” I said in concern as I sat down on the floor and moped her brow with the cold cloth. “Thank you, Aunt Jummy. I have been under lots of stress lately. I was up half of the night with my last born having catarrh and cold and having truckloads of laundry to sort out. I am just so tired.” She said with a sigh as she closed her eyes. “Please call me Jummy. Don’t you think you should get a housemaid? Dealing with 3 kids continuously on a daily basis is not a walk in the park, not to talk of chores in the house.” I said with a frown as I glanced around the neat, spacious 3-bedroom apartment and she gave a brittle laugh. “Do call me carol then. My husband will not even hear of it, he insisted he doesn’t want an outsider in my home and since I am not working, he said there is no big deal in what I am doing. I have complained so many times and he doesn’t understand I am dying inside gradually. “She said sadly as tears filled her eyes. “You know what, Caroline? Let’s get you to the hospital first and we will take it from there.” I said quietly, trying to pull her up and she moved sluggishly into a sitting position. “I just needed to rest. There is nothing wrong with me and there will be no one to pick my children up.” She said slowly, holding her head in her arms. “How would you rest if you continue to stay in this house with the kids around you? If you slump again the way you did this afternoon and there is no one around to help, what do you think will happen to you? What will become the fates of the children you are fretting about now? Do you think your husband will stay unmarried forever?” I snapped at her angrily as I got to my feet and she looked up at me. “Thank you. You are right. Please help me to my feet so I can go and dress up.” She struggled to her feet and I led her to her bedroom. At the end, I helped with the dressing and packing a few stuffs for her children because she was too weak to stay on her feet. I took her last child to my mother and drove her to their family hospital. She was put on instant admission and put to sleep immediately. I postponed my outing and went to pick her kids in school after she has spoken to the school authority. I dropped them off with my mother as well and went back to the hospital to cook my plan with the young, very attractive family doctor.
I was with the doctor in the evening when her husband came to visit and I excused myself to hurry to Caroline’s side. “Your husband is around and you are going to be on bedrest for the next four weeks.” I said in a hushed voice and she bit her lips nervously. “Do you think the doctor would be able to convince him? Will the kids be okay without me?” She asked with a worried look and I squeezed her hand reassuringly. “They need you to be alive and kicking, not to be buried in a 6 feet grave, so relax and be sure I will be coming around to take you out. As for your family doctor, he is just a man and I have handled him.” I said with a coy smile and she laughed out loud, then sobered up immediately we heard footsteps approaching the private ward. The next few days was a very interesting one indeed!