THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT…..(18+)…..Part 7


Florence was used to having fairly busy weekends. It was the only time she got a chance to stock up on the spices and foodstuff she used for her side business of stewed meat and cow hide. Saturday mornings found her squeezing her way through the abattoir close to where she lived, chasing away flies and jumping overbloody puddles as she searched for the freshest of cuts from the slaughtered cows. Her fairly adequate Hausa and pleasant nature had endeared her to some of the mallams who sweated over the cow carcasses; she always got a good bargain.After a little over two hours, she happily sweated her way home, a young boy pushing a wheelbarrow laden with her purchases in front of her.She was lucky to be living in an area of Gbagada where the electric power was fairly steady, and had invested the first of her savings in a good freezer and, just to be safe, a small generating set powerful enough to keep her wares frozen till she needed them.But immediately she got home to find there was no electric power, heaped her freezer with her purchases and cranked onher generator, the usual Saturday drama started. “Sister Florence, you dey house? Na me o.” Florence sighed from the chair where she had only just settled into. The self-contained room she shared with her friend, Felicia, was hot from being locked up all morning and she had just stripped down to her undies and positioned herself under the ceiling fan. The last thing she wanted was company, and from the soundof it, that of someone she didn’t particularly like. “Who is that?” she asked, twining a wrapper around her chest. “Na me, Beno.” The voice confirmed her suspicions. “Abeg, I wan just charge phonesmall.” Florence sighed to herself and slowly stood up, groaning. Ben had a room two doors down from hers, which he shared with a heavily pregnant live-in girlfriend. Apart from the fact that he was loud and tactless, he was also a letch. Florence didn’t think she could bear to fend off his advances nicely on such a hot morning. “Hold on.” she called out, pulling on a shirtover the wrapper. Still, when she eventually opened the door, his eyes immediately rested on the front of her t-shirt. “Ah, Sister Florence. Looking takeaway as always.” He grinned, eyes still lowered. Florence wondered how he knew she looked pretty if he hadn’t bothered to look at her face. “I hear your gen o, say make I come charge…”“No problem.” Florence cut in with a forcedsmile, stretching out a hand. The hand obstructed his view of her chest and ben looked u, blinking. “Just give me the phone, let me charge it.” Ben handed the phone over, grinning. “Youno play film this morning? I for come watch small.”“No o.” Florence said hastily. “I was just about to take a nap.”“Ehen? Hmm, you dey enjoy o. But fine sister like you no suppose dey sleep alone na, you understand.” Ben grinned, discoloured teeth flashing.Florence inwardly shuddered at the smell emanating from the man. He smelled worse than the men at the abattoir had. Heopened his mouth to continue speaking and she cut in. “My brother, this bad economy is too tight for anything but sleeping alone. Em, I will charge the phone. My regards to your madam.” Not waiting for a response, she gave him a small wave, and hastily shut the door in his face. “Jesus didn’t die for me to suffer body odour this Saturday morning abeg.” she muttered to herself as she plugged her neighbour’s phone into an extension socket and resumed her seat beneath the ceiling fan, sighing as she slid off the t-shirt.She planned to have a very restful Saturday afternoon.And then her plans were cut short by a phone call five minutes after she had just begun to doze.She ignored the first few rings as her phone vibrated on a nearby stool, and thenshe groaned and sat up, grabbing it. “Hello? Yes? Oh! Good afternoon.” Her face worked as she debated between turning down the offer on the other end of the phone and taking her pocket into account. Her pocket won- she could not afford to miss a valid business opportunity.Her face fell as she pouted. There went herrestful Saturday afternoon- another casualty of a bad economy. “Alright, I’ll be there. Thank you.”** ** Jide changed his mind about going to Anita’s birthday party three times before he finally reached a decision.A day that started unpleasantly only grew worse, no thanks to his wife.

After their first quarrel of the day- which started just twenty minutes after they woke up from sleep- Jide spent most of the day broodingover the state of his marriage.Why did he have to be the one who alwaystried to bridge the gap that had developed between him and Patricia, Jide wondered? He could not remember the last time she had approached him to apologize or start a conversation that could lead to the resolution of whatever problem they were having at that time. It was always he who waved a white flag, and always he who got rebuffed.Jide watched his wife in the kitchen, labouring over a meal that was bound to be delicious, but no doubt missing the key ingredient that he was craved- some simple affection.
Despite his recent thoughts, he sighed and approached Patricia as she stood over the gas cooker, stirring a bubbling pot filled with vegetables. “Hmm. You never call me to taste the meatin your soup again, you know.” Jide said conversationally, leaning against the counter beside his wife. “I used to be the official tester o. it’s not fair.” Patricia threw him a side glance, but said nothing.Jide sighed.
“Hey. Pat. Look, I know thingsare tense and these days, we always seemto be knocking heads but things weren’t always like this. We need to go back to how we used to be.” Patricia turned off the gas cooker and closed the pot of soup with a clang, then walked over to the kitchen sink, where she washed her hands quietly.Jide followed. “Tell me what I need to do to make that happen.” He continued, eyes earnest. She shrugged and he touched her arm. “Please,Pat. I’m ready to listen.” She turned to face him and for a moment, hope surged in his chest. Her face had softened and there was a thoughtful look on her face. “We’re not going through stuff other people haven’t weathered.” Jide continued. “Couples get bored of each other; they fight; stop being intimate…” Patricia’s face tightened and she scoffed. “Oh. Is that what this is about, Jide? S-x?” Jide stared at her, mouth open. “You meanout of everything I said, that’s what you got?” Patricia hissed and turned away. “Mbok, when you’re ready to eat, let me know. Before you go and tell people I am starvingyou.” But you are!Jide thought bitterly, as he stalked away.Starving me of love.He didn’t see when Patricia turned around to watch him go, a sad look on her face.It was just another typical Saturday at the Babalola’s. Full of hurt and sadness, and bound to end on a worse note


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