She realized her mistake immediately he turned his back and walk away, she closed the car and leaned on it, wishing he could look back so she could get the chance to apologize. He didn’t look back, she saw him entered the car and drove off, not even a glance at her. ‘tai!’ she slapped her fore-head “Eliza this your mouth eh…what is wrong with you?” she hissed and turned around to enter her car,
“Ehem…Elizabeth I want to talk to you” Henry stopped her. She rolled her eyes and ducked her neck
“Dear music director, what have I done this time?” she asked rolling her keys round her finger
“the choir will no longer condole your complaisant attitudes and your none-seriousness in the things of God and the music department in this church…”
Elizabeth balanced her weight from one leg to the other and crossed her legs,
“What are you trying to say?” she asked
“You are an embarrassment to the department Elizabeth, you are not in good talking terms with many people in the church… you come whenever you want, you don’t comport yourself like a child of God who should be a role model to the younger ladies in the choir…”
“Now let me tell you what embarrassment is Henry, inviting those younger ladies to your house for private music lessons is an embarrassment, having THOSE younger ladies in the choir to fight over you is an embarrassment…” Henry looked so flushed and embarrassed, he regretted heeding Mama G.O’s Advice to caution this woman with a tongue of a cobra
Elizabeth looked both sides to make sure no one was within earshot “…Embarrassment is when you Bleep Mitchel every weekend and have her leave your house early hours of Sunday morning to come and sing on the Alter of God…” she said in a hush tones
“Shi…shi…shiii…” Henry meant to cover her mouth with his mouth
“If you touch me with that filthy fingers of your…”
Henry looked around before he asked “Who told you those lies?”
“So they are lies eh? Should I tell Pastor so you can deny it before him?” The pastor’s wife walked towards them. Elizabeth saw the plea on her music director’s eyes
“Brother Henry, the pastor wants to see you before you leave” she gave Elizabeth a stern look “And you Lizzy, I cannot tell the demon that has possessed you these days, you were a good girl when you were growing up” Elizabeth looked away “If you continue like this you will end up an old maid with no man to even ask you out…nobody attracts a man with a tongue and an attitude as repulsive as yours”
The Pastor’s wife pulled a chuckling Henry by the shoulder and meant to walk back to the pastor’s office “It is bad enough that you cannot shed some of those fats, don’t include rudeness to yourself”
She stood there, rooted at a spot for more than five minutes, the words from the pastor’s wife hovered around her even when the woman was out of sight
“I will not cry… no no no no …” she fumbled with her car key until she opened the car and sat down, filling her lungs with air, she threw her head backward and closed her eyes “Lord please, I know I have not been a good girl…but please don’t let me cry now… they will laugh at me if they see my tears…no God…the tears are coming out now…” she sniffed and allowed the tears to flow. It has been a bad day so far.
She moved the gear, removed her leg from the brake pedal and drove out of church compound, determining not to come back to the church again.
He has seen women, more beautiful and curvier than she was, why would he give her the chance to insult him the way she did, with no reason…
“Is she always like that?” He asked Mark
“The girl that did the praise and worship in church today”
“Oh Eliza…that frustrated old woman?”
Ebube drove in silence for a while “Why do you call her that?”
“She is no longer a child, I heard she is almost thirty-five yet no hu…not to talk of Band”
“Thirty-five is not that old Mark, not every woman is meant to get married early… besides, who told you she even wants to get married?”
“Which woman doesn’t want to marry?”
“Some women don’t want to…”
“Forget that thing Officer, they are only pretending, they all want to have men…”
Ebube didn’t agree with him but didn’t want to argue “So this girl… is she always angry with everyone?”
“I have never seen anyone whom she is in a laughing terms with except children and that her friend, what’s that her name again…Amaka…”
Ebube honked, and navigated towards ‘woji junction’ from first Artillery
“…I thing she is frustrated with herself…probably because of her weight” Mark was saying
“But there is nothing wrong with her weight…She is just tick and curvy” Ebube parked beside the celestial church and beckoned on a boy hawking Bananas. He bought four-hundred-naira worth of bananas and gave Mark half of it before they continued
“for me o, I don’t like fat women, I will be looking for my lekpa self in bed when both of us are in bed” Mark laughed with his mouth full
“Well, one Man’s food they say…”
“Not this one Officer, you wan die?”
They got to the Naval base ‘Woji’ Mark got down and waved to his new friend before crossing to the other side.
“Morn sir!” the boys at the gate saluted as he drove in.
The lady fascinated him, though with the temper of a mother hen, and a tongue as deadly as the venom of a viper. Something told him to stay away but curiosity wanted him to search for her and listen to her rant. He chuckled as he remembered what she did to him in church earlier
“Who says f*ck you in church” he said to himself and took a bite from a finger of banana.
He read human psychology before going into the navy, he has studied enough to know that this lady had a reason for putting up those attitudes, she had built walls around her that were as thick as city walls. The more he thought about it the more he desired not only her body but to break those walls and set her free.
He didn’t know how long he would be in Port Harcourt, but with the little time he had, he would not let go of her.
“You were not like this when you were growing up” Pastor’s wife had said to her
She was once a happy chubby girl who knew nothing about getting fit until she realized she always drew wrong attentions and mockery laughter from her peers and some of their parents. Songs were made up with her name and kids danced with them, clapping their hands and glaring their teeth like foxes;
“Iburibu onye ga alu gi Okuko…
Okuko Onye ga alugi Iburibu ” was one of the popular songs for her then;
Meaning: “Fat girl who will marry you? Rooster…”
By the time she got to secondary school the taunting became unbearable, she was nicknamed ‘Yokozuna’ because of her size
“Mama, is something wrong with me?” she had asked on her eleventh birthday when Bridget’s mother scolded her for eating so much cake even with her size.
“Mba nwam , you are just beautiful the way you are…” Her mother had answered after sending the woman out of her house
“But why are they all laughing at me?”
“They are not child…”
“But they are! They call me ‘ fatibombom’ why can’t I be as slim as Bridget?”
“Because you are not meant to be like Bridget, you are you and that makes you beautiful…besides, you will outgrow this fat, you will still slim down by the time you get to boarding school and into the University”
She has not only finished her University education, she was done with her master’s degree, now managing her own fish farm, yet the she felt like a bloated hippopotamus.
“you are not fat…you are big and curvy” Amaka would say to her
“What is the difference? Please stop making me feel good about these timbers I have in place of thighs” she once responded.
She sniffed in the mucus that was threatening to run down her nose into her mouth, and shook her head as if she was shaking out bad memories. She was closed to Waterlines now, she didn’t tell her mother she would come visiting, but she had to, at least to save herself from being queried why she didn’t pick mum’s call earlier that day.
‘Pupuuuu puuupuuu !’ she honked angrily at a bus driver who stopped at the center of the road to carry passengers.
“Madam you buy new horn?” came the angry responds from the offensive driver
“Idiot! Comot that bus for road” she shouted, bringing out her head from her window and pointing angry fingers at the driver
“waka there Ashawo…Oya come comot the moto na…na so una go carry una husband car dey disturb person for road, if no be your husband way dash you moto, you fit buy tire?”
“Oga driver dey go kwa nu, leave woman alone haba…” some of his passengers were becoming impatience
“I be her husband? Na me dey marry her? Why she go dey insult a whole man like me? If she dey beat her husband for house eh, me I go break her with this her big body…see liability way get mouth dey talk to a man like me”
Her home training of “do not ever lay your hands on anyone” was thinning out, she was tapping her toes on the car rug, and drumming her fingers on the steering wheel,
It has been from one quarrel to another since she woke up, as if spiritual beings had ganged up against her to make her day miserable, “God you know I don’t look for trouble…I told you I will be minding my business oh, but this one has decided to carry out the devil’s assignment” she silently prayed
“Madam you can move now; the road is free” someone rasped on her windscreen. She wanted to scream “I am not a madam! I am a lady!” but rather “Thank you” she said with her teeth clinched
“Ola…you remember Ola…that my friend’s last daughter that was your Junior in secondary school…”
“Hmm” she nodded, her mouth full with a ball of garri coated with Okra soup
“Ehen… that Ola, she is getting married next Saturday, and her mother want me to do Aso-ebi for her”
Elizabeth swallowed “Ehe… that is good o, make sure you snap enough pictures”
She pretended she didn’t know what her mother was trying to do, Mrs Okafor has a subtle way of pushing her daughter’s unmarried statues to her daughter’s face,
“Mama Obiageli came back from Omugwo two days ago… she showed me the stuffs her inlaw gave her” Lizzy’s mother tried again
“Eiyaaa…I am so happy for her o”
“She gave me soap and salt, I used some of the salt to cook the soup you just finished”
“Hmnn! No wonder it tasted so different… Chai, Omugwo Salt” Lizzy said and gulped the water from the Picher
“How many times have I told you to stop drinking from the Jug, use the cup” her mother scolded while collecting the Picher from her
“Mum… I enjoy doing it”
“Not in my house”
Elizabeth straightened herself “Mum what is it, what are you being all cranky about this time?”
“Elizabeth, I am worried about you, I am worried that at your age, you cannot keep a man and make him stay”
“Mom today is my birthday; can we not just talk about this?”
“No girl we will talk about it, what happened to the men I heard you were once moving around with?”
“They left mom, they left…”
“That is my point, you have no charm. During my days, I was very graceful and beautiful, I know how to get men eat from my palm…”
“Yet you ended up with dad, a drunk…” Elizabeth blurted out
“What did you just say?”
“Mum look, I am tired, you think I don’t care about men leaving me after many years of dating? You think I don’t give them my all? You think I have not done enough to get a man stay with me? I have done enough Mama, including spending lots of my money to buy their hearts” she was on her feet, her body visibly shaking with anger and hot tears rolling down her cheeks
“…I have tried, but you know what they always say before leaving? ‘My mother say I should not marry a fat woman’, Mama they all call me fat, even those that did not say it loud, showed me by marrying broomsticks as wives…”
“Elizabeth I am…” Her mother realized her mistake and wanted to make things right
“No mama let me finish! Every day you berated me with marriage talks, you blame me for being single, you talk to me like I could give myself a ring. I have prayed, I have fasted I have gone to GYM, I have gone on dieting, I have starved just to keep a man Mama, but the reality is I AM FAT! No man wants to marry a fat woman” she continued
“You are just size sixteen my love, you are not that bad…”
“At least you just admitted that I am bad enough not to be married to a man”
When she was done unleashing her frustrations, she sank on the sofa, lean her head on the head rest and closed her eyes,
“I am so sorry my darling…I..I didn’t mean it this way…you are beautiful the way you are and any man who doesn’t see it, is a fool
She held her mother’s hand and sobbed “Mom I am tired… I feel like I am cursed, trapped in this ugly body…”
“No baby, you are beautiful, bold, God used up all his natural resources on you during creation”
Elizabeth chuckled “You have started mum, I am no longer a child so don’t try to deceive me”
They both Laughed. It would take some time before her mother would bring up the issue of marriage again.
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