‘Aunty Bodun good afternoon’
Are the words that make her realize she is home, as though her mind had wandered into different spheres, her feet who were familiar with the path had led her home.
She raises her gaze up to the verandah above and sees CJ the only son of her landlord. He was a sight for sore eyes.
CJ is a 5 year old handsome but spoilt child, spoilt because he is the testimony of his mother who had 3 girls before him and was losing the love of her Igbo husband who believes a male child is what validates a woman.
CJ had grown to respect Bodun mostly out of fear because she was the only neighbor who didn’t mindlessly dot over him and also because there was an unexplainable bond between them.
“Next time you see someone older than you, make sure you greet!” were one of the few words along with a stern face that Bodun used to straighten CJ up.
She was not his mother but she would do her best to make sure this boy didn’t turn out like the rest of the egocentric men in the society
When did I get home? Bodun asks herself as she takes off the headset handing from her neck.
‘Aunty Bodun, I said good…’
‘Good afternoon CJ’ she interrupts quickly with the fastest smile she could muster.
‘How are you?’
‘Tomorrow is my birthday!’
Bodun’s smile quickly turns to a frown that CJ understands
She raises her right eyebrow and he quickly corrects himself
‘I’m fine ma’
‘Good, so you were saying?’ She smirks
Almost as excited as he was the first time
‘Tomorrow is my birthday and my daddy is coming home and I’m going to have a party here in the compound’
“That’s good CJ, happy birthday in advance darling”
She sets her gaze down and is about to leave, When his sad voice stops her,
“Are you not going to come?”
She hides her smile from him and looks at him again “do you want me to come?”
A sharp glance from Bodun and he calms down, composes himself and says
“Yes Aunty Bodun, I want you to come and I know you are not going to work tomorrow because tomorrow is Saturday’
She smirks and says “Alright then, I’ll try”
“Thank you ma”, with emphasis on ‘ma’
Barely controlling his excitement, he scurries off into the house as his “Yes!” echoes in the quiet compound.
Bodun amused walks to her apartment, lost in the tiny bit of happiness that CJ had just infected her with. A reality check happens the moment she opens her door and steps into the apartment.
The humming of the A.C. the flashes of bright colors from the cartoon showing on the muted television set, the untouched plate of yam and egg with a cup of already lukewarm sobo, her eyes taking in details as if a first time. She notices a cobweb at the edge of the wall where the A.C. is and thinks to herself ‘I need to clean that up tomorrow’.
Taking off each footwear with the help of the other leg, Her wandering eyes finally find rest on a pile of document, the documents that remind her of everything she was trying to forget and as swift as a thunder Bolt, all the anger and frustration from the ‘okadaman’ to the tiny bit of happiness she got from CJ become extinct as all the emotions she initially tried to run away from, find their way out through the floodgates of her eyes.
Her head feels too light, her weakened feet caving in to the pull of gravity… she curls up like a rabbit and cries her heart out. Tears of sadness, of joy, uncertainty, depression, frustration, It was undefined pain and Bodun was in no place to define it. She cried till she had a headache and her tears dried up.
Left with no strength to lift her heavy eyelids, she falls asleep. She would do the needful another day, for now she just wanted to drown in her pain.