A MILLION WAYS TO DIE

Double Wahala for dead body.

I hum along with the song playing on the car radio. It is my way of escape from the heated debate going on in the cab. Since when did Yoruba men and women decide that the last day of the year is the best time to debate such a topic on an interstate expressway?

And if you are new in the game, make you go pay your tithe.

I am singing now.

“Madam, what do you think?”

The woman behind me nudges me. I think the nudge is a bit too enthusiastic as her thin elbow prods my ribs. It hurts a bit.

“What?” I manage not to frown as I ask.

“Han han! So, you’ve not been listening to our discussion!” It is the driver.

“Eh, don’t mind me o. I have a lot on my mind; my mind is so far away. I think you have been discussing about the video that man sitting beside the driver showed us. It is the question about what I think that I do not understand.”

That is not true. I understand the question so well, but how do you answer such a question on the last day of the year, especially when your driver is eating up asphalt like a fayawo* driver on an expressway filled me so much potholes? He’s obviously trying to make as many trips as possible today.

“Ok, the question is this: what is the best way to die?”

I miss no heartbeat.

“We will die in this car! Maybe we should all choose the best posture instead!”

There is a graveyard silence.

“God forbid.” The young lady to my left says after about a minute. Her prayer/protest is weak. She must be a student. Her contribution to the morbid discuss has been about how cultists blew a student’s brains off and how they gang-raped another before slashing her throat.

I am quiet. Everyone is quiet. The driver is driving a bit slower.

No come near me Mr. TalkuTalku

“See madam, nobody is praying to die now. And Insha Allah, nobody will die now. Ameen.“

It is the man whose video began the discussion. He had shown fellow passengers a man’s body cut into parts after being stuck with his motorbike under a Dangote Cement trailer that had dragged him for a few minutes before anyone became aware. I have heard the story too, but have not seen the video until today. Contributions had erupted after the video. People have morbid tales!

“I have no problem with you, oga. Telling about people dying is one thing, going ahead to ask people the best way to die is another thing. You all have chosen how you want to die, abi? You have said drowning is the best way to go. Madam here said dying while sleeping. This my sister thinks after a brief old-age illness is the best. And the driver said he thinks there’s no death that is not good. I had refused to contribute, until you brought it to my face. So, bros, there’s no need to make me feel bad. I also gave my own contribution, because you asked. Lobatan*. There’s no fight there.”

That ends the morbid camaraderie in the vehicle.

The remainder of the trip seems slower with the silence and the more responsible driving.

We’ll all be home soon and everybody with a lesson learned.

Home. The one place I should not be heading today. There’s so much business to be done today, so much last-day, last-minute buys from my store. I pray for the umpteenth time that Chinwe doesn’t leave the store to go and meet his laptop repairer boyfriend. Her number hasn’t been connecting. The expressway network has been very bad.

Business first, then every other thing follows. Even family. But not today. Today, I will catch my husband pants-down.

My stomach turns at that phrase: “pants-down”.

God punish that man for me! I will handle the woman myself!

My neighbor, Mama Patrick, had called me yesterday night that my husband had brought a woman home. He had introduced it to them as his sister from Akure. My husband is an only child.

I had called him in the guise of checking on him. I had heard surprise in his voice. He had said he was fine and the workday had been so stressful. A part of me tells me I would be surprised at the call if I was my husband too. I do not call him. I do not call anyone except on business. My husband is family. I speak with family when we see or when they call. Well, I do flash. Sometimes.

But, it has only been three weeks. I have spent much longer away from home before. Why now? Yes, he has always calls to say he misses me and all that. He tells me about the new couples’ lovemaking techniques his friends at work tell him which he thinks will be exciting.  I will jokingly tell him he needs Jesus and remind him subtly of his heart condition. Then I will tell him we will see when I return home. I know I am never home for more than two days after my weeks away. He should understand. I had made it clear to him before we married that I won’t be an housewife, that I will keep my wine and grocery store businesses in Lagos open and since he can’t stay in Lagos because of his bank work in Ife, I’ll be a travelling wife. Besides, he is a man. Talks of missing someone should be from the woman.

Maybe I should allow us have that baby he has been clamoring for. Two years is not a long time to wait. We have to settle down properly to have a child. But, this talk of another woman – a sister he mentioned nothing about is a different matter. I am beginning to hate him already. There’s no justification for this unfaithfulness. I may be neglecting him – a little, but I am faithful. There is just no excuse for this.

It had better not be true. I will show him the Ijebu woman in me.

The sound of doors opening interrupts my thoughts. We are in Ife travelers’ motor park.

I pick up my light bag as I flag down a cab.

“Bishop’s Court. Mayfair.”

*             *             *

I enter through the open gates – which is an odd thing. Our apartment’s compound gate is never open. I hear voices like argument coming from one of the flats upstairs. Ours.

My heart races. What is the matter? Are my husband and his ‘sister’ fighting? But the voices are female voices and they are loud.

I race to the stairwell that leads to the flats above.

I think they are screaming. Whatever it is, it is bad.

I open the door, my heart in my mouth. I take one look at the neighbors gathering in the living room, the women having their hands on their heads.

I know what has happened.

My husband has a weak heart that cannot take too much exertion.

“Where is she?” There is death in my voice.

Mama Pat points to our bathroom. I make it to the bathroom door in a trance. I know what has happened there before I open the door. My husband has been practicing the techniques he was told by his friends with his sister. The Bathroom Love as he had called it over the phone. And as I have told him it is not good for his heart, it had turn out so.

I open the door and she’s there sitting on the tub edge, my white bathrobe on her. I cannot hear her sobs but I see rivulets on her face. My eyes are on my husband. The water is still chest-level as he had described on phone, but the body in it is stone dead. There’s a smile on his face.

“You smug bastard!”

The woman jumped to the bathroom wall as I lunged for my husband’s neck.

Photo credits:

flickrhivemind.net

*Fayawo: A professional trans-border smuggler.

*Lobatan: A quip meaning ‘enough said’.

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