She brought in two cups of coffee on a tray, set it down on the table in front of the two light skinned women sitting on the couch, genuflected and left.
The morning sun streamed in through the open window enveloping the women in a surreal glow. They looked like sisters except the taller one had a chiseled look and the shorter one had a round face.
Ngozi , the taller of the two turned to her friend Shade.
“Why do you allow her wear such clothes in your home?”
“You mean Yemi? What is wrong with her clothes?” Shade turned to look in the direction of the kitchen. She never bothered with what her maid wore.
“Where did you find her?” Ngozi asked.
“She is the daughter of some distant relative from my husband’s side.”
Ngozi looked in the direction of the kitchen. “Maids! You have to watch them very closely.”
“Here you go again, suspicious of an innocent girl.”
“Have you looked at her?That is not the body of a girl. That’s a woman.”
Shade lowered her cup. “Ngozi, she’s barely 21.”
“My friend, I think your bank job has blinded your eyes. Look again.”
Shade sat forward in her chair. “So, what are you saying exactly?”
“Do you trust this maid of yours?”
“Are you suggesting that Gbenga could be attracted to her? My husband cannot stand dark skinned ladies. She’s definitely not his type.” Shade said with some doubt in her voice.
“My friend, don’t you know that a man’s sexual desire is colour blind?A man’s libido makes no distinctions on the basis of the colour of a woman’s skin as long as he satisfies his lust.”
The aroma of fried eggs wafted through the room.
“She cooks his meals, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, and so what?” Shade challenged her friend.
Ngozi shook her head. “Shade, you really don’t get it, do you?”
Shade looked perplexed. “Get what?”
The maid brought in scrambled eggs, toast and more coffee.
Both women watched her walk back into the kitchen.
This time Shade noticed that her jeans skirt was short and tight. Her blouse revealed some cleavage. How come she never noticed this before?
“The way to a man’s loins is his stomach,” Ngozi bit into a piece of buttered toast.
“Are you suggesting that my maid has designs for my husband?”
Ngozi lowered her voice in a conspiratorial tone. “The woman who satisfies a man’s stomach, owns him.”
“Hmmm,”Shade lowered her head and exhaled.
She was glad that her husband and her 8 year old daughter Tola had gone out to the mall. How would she have handled her emotions before her husband?
Shade recalled the discussion she had with her mother-in law four years ago.
“We are expecting you to give us a heir, a grandson. It is taking too long,” the old woman complained.
“We are trying ma,” Shade said, not knowing how to tell the woman that her daughter, Tola, was going to be the only heir she would produce. After trying to conceive for a few years Shade had given up hope of ever bearing another child. Tola was not Gbenga’s child but he loved her like his own. The doctors said Gbenga was fertile. Shade was the one with the health challenge. Her husband told her not to stop believing, but she didn’t share his faith.
The old woman paused in thought for a few seconds.
“If you can’t get pregnant, maybe we should find someone who can. A young girl. Untouched. A virgin.” The old woman said with spite, referring to the fact that Shade already had a child before she got married to her son, Gbenga. She had been against the marriage from the very beginning but her weak son had been blinded by his love for the light skinned seductress from Ibadan.
“What are you saying ma?” Shade stammered.
“Gbenga is entitled to as many wives as he wants. He comes from a royal family and after him, his son would be the next in line to the throne.”
Shade’s face fell. She stood up in anger, ran into her room and wept. When Gbenga returned from his round of Saturday golf, she told him what had transpired. He was furious.
“Mom, don’t you ever talk to my wife like that again!” He screamed into the phone, but the damage was already done. After that incident, Shade felt like a fake, an interloper who didn’t belong in the family. She felt empty. Barren.
Ngozi saw the look on her friend’s face and stood up.”Will you be attending the women’s meeting this morning?”
“I will try to join you later in church. I want to give my maid some instructions first.”
Shade walked her to her car.
“Thanks for being such a good friend.” Shade said.
“You know I always try to help,” Ngozi smiled and drove out of the house.
Shade entered the kitchen, not really knowing what she wanted to do. She opened the fridge, stared into it for a few seconds then finally brought out a bottle of water.
Yemi stopped doing the dishes. “Madam, there is something I want to tell you.”
Shade poured the water into a cup and ignored her.
“What is it? Can’t I drink some water in peace?” Shade snapped.
The maid almost dropped the plate she held. Her madam never raised her voice at her.
“Madam, when you travelled last month, your friend Ngozi was here.”
“And is it any of your business if my friends come to my house?”
“Madam, she stayed…”
“Shut your mouth before I give you a slap!”
“Madam, she was alone in the house with…”
“Shut up and get out of my sight!”
“I haven’t finished doing the dishes.”
“Just get out!” Shade pointed at the door.
Yemi took two steps, put her right hand over her mouth and ran out of the kitchen.
Shade put the cup she was holding on the kitchen table and quickly followed her. The maid ran into the visitor’s toilet. Shade stood in front of the door not knowing what to do. She could hear the maid throwing up in the toilet. She took a deep breath, pushed the door with her left hand and watched it swing open slowly to reveal the maid kneeling on the floor and retching into the toilet. Thick sweat covered her face. Some of the foul smelling vomit was on her blouse and on the floor. She was breathing hard.
“Yemi, what is going on?”Shade asked with trepidation.
The maid was silent. She tried to stand to her feet but her knees failed her and she crashed to the floor.
“Yemi, answer me!” Shade shouted but she didn’t want to hear the answer.
“I am sorry ma,” the maid said.
“Sorry for what?” Shade asked.
“He promised to take care of me,”Yemi whispered.
“What are you talking about?” Shade asked perplexed.
Yemi covered her face and burst into tears.
Shade slowly backed out of the toilet not believing the unfolding drama before her eyes. She knelt in the middle of the living room and put both hands on her head. This was a bad dream and she wanted to wake up from it.
“Gbenga, what have you done, what have you done to me?”she cried in anguish.
To be continued.