Walking outside the premises of his house. Usen was in deep thought. He was in sorrow of the heart. He considered several options but none was revealing the promises of changing the situation.
He had not told anyone of his current predicament, but he was sure her younger sister Uduak was aware. Recently, She had stayed with them for a short while before returning to school. His mother-in-law had often asked him of her daughter every Sunday when he visited.
However, he did not want Elder Akpan to be angry with her for everyone knows how principled and Family conscious the elder was. So, Usen would always say that her job is very demanding.
But the job was not the reason for her rude utterance and belittling expressions. She had suddenly become too ”big ” to be reasonable.
”Oga is everything okay? ” Okon the security guard manning the gate asked as Usen did not realize he was sitting on the ground beside his pots of flowers in his compound. His hand was on his head. ”Okon i am fine ” He told the guard pitifully.
As the guard walked into his house, Usen did what he was taught to do as a child when things go wrong. He prayed in his language. ”Abasi Mbok nwam mi ” (God please help me).
The next day being Saturday, Usen had scheduled to take the elder for his routine medical check-up. He was hoping to go with his wife.
However, on waking up, he discovered Eno had left the house. She had scribbled a note on the dinning table.
”I went out to discuss important business with clients. I will be back by noon. Food has finished so we need to restock ”.
The first thought was to crush the piece of paper in his hand but he didn . He knew this was a trial of his faith and resolve to live righteously and in peace. He picked up his phone and called his wife. After the second call, she picked.
”Hello Baby, how are you and how was your night? ”
”Usen what is this? I left a note that i had an important business to handle and that meant a busy day. Why are you calling with such frivolities? ” Eno sounded annoyed.
”I am sorry if i crashed into your important meeting. Do have a great day. ” He ended the call abruptly because suddenly he lacked what to say.
The lack of courtesy from Eno was becoming overwhelming. He turned on the music player in the living room and he began to whistle and dance. He did a few cardio exercises and proceeded to make breakfast for himself which was just a cup of tea. He was sure he would eat at his in-laws house. Usen left the house cheerfully trusting God to touch Enos new character.
At the senators Longue Eno sat quietly, fuming at her husbands brief call. She was invited to present sustainable ventures that the politicians could invest in at the bank. She also gave a presentation on business branding. Her two other colleagues Jessica and Julie were there. Jessica was a 36 year old divorcee and Julie was a single mother at 34.
However, another banker from one of their other branches was there and it annoyed her. She was a young and single, flirting with the senators aid. Enos boss had earlier assured her that her pitch was the most preferred but she was still not pleased with the presence of that single girl. After an hour of waiting and chatting with her friends. The senator Kola and his friends, alongside Enos MD approached them.
”Mrs Eno the master strategist!! ” Senator Kola hailed and everyone laughed. ”I liked your brief more than anyones else and i have decided to go along with it to full implementation. But like i told your boss, i don travel with married women. So i will take Elena here. ”
He referred to the flirtatious banker. Eno was furious but she smiled nonetheless. This means she would still get paid but someone else will be implementing her work. She suddenly wished she was not married. She would be the one travelling with the Senator and his friends. What a huge opportunity that would have meant for her. But she was trapped! Married! Jessica and Julie consoled her as they drove to their favourite restaurant close to the bank. They ordered some food and Eno paid for the three of them as they sat down to eat.
”I wish i was as intelligent as you are when i was your age. The way men would have been falling at my feet eh ” Jessica said.
”I also say that too. Eno that was a great pitch. You would see, very soon Senator kola will tell everyone how much of a brand builder you are. ” Julie added.
”I just hope so. Elena is just reaping where she did not sow ”. Eno spat out still fuming ”
”Come to think of it. You should have insisted that you are available to travel. But then again, your husband may not like it ” Jessica inserted.
”If he was the one that a Senator approves his contract, wont he pack his bag and run off? This is a mans world and it is so unfair to us women. Thank God am free, such opportunity comes, and i am off ” Julie added and this pained Eno the more.
As they ate, her mother called. Reluctantly, she picked after the second ring. ”I called yesterday and you did not pick up nor deemed it fit to return my call. ”
”Mummy good afternoon. I was busy ” Eno defended.
”You are always too busy for everyone except your job ” Mrs Itoro said.
”Mummy i don understand you. I have to work. ”
”No one is saying you should not Work Eno Obong. I am saying prioritize your family. ”
”Please…..please…..mummy. I have heard you. I don want a lecture today Saturday. ”
”Yes you can call it a lecture but what an elder see lying down, you young folks can never see it even if you climb the highest mountain ” Mrs Itoro explained.
”I said I have heard you mummy. ” ”Anyways i hope you check up on your sister. You are my eldest child. Happy marriage anniversary ”
”Mummy please my marriage anniversary is not today. ”
”Oh i know it was yesterday. I was calling. Hoping to pray with you since we have done that with your husband. But you ignored both your fathers call and mine. And you never returned it ”
Eno was speechless. How did She forget their marriage anniversary? ” ”Eno?!!! ” her mother called repeatedly but she was too dazed to respond quickly. Why did Usen not remind her? ” ”Yes mummy ”
”Eno change your ways and be a good wife ”
”Oh spare me mummy. Who is a good wife? You? What is your definition of a good wife? ”
”I did not call you to argue with you my child. But you see this path you are threading on, it is dangerous. It will consume you and leave you empty ”
”Mummy which path am i threading on? Is it a crime to be young and successful? If it is, then i want to be a criminal. I don want to end up as a mediocre of a wife, retired school headmistress with miserable pension and nothing else. I want more ”
Eno realized too late that she had insulted her mother.
”I may be a mediocre to you but my husband and i trained you and your sister. We built our home and we have lived together for 43 years in peace. If death did not take away my first two sons, i would have been so full of children and grand children. Nonetheless my husband and i are happy, fulfilled and blessed. Do have a great day ” Her mother ended the call.
Eno wondered what had taken over her that she opened an old wound of her mother. Her parents got married in their early 20s and her dad left for the war front soon. Her elder brothers were killed as toddlers during a village raid and that made her parents move to the city. Even after her father retired from the army, he still mourned his late sons. It took them 15 years after the death of their sons to have Eno and her younger sister Uduak. Then their parents were already been married for 28 years.