Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
Phillip sent me a very polite text to ‘apologise for not being in touch’. He said work with the foundation has begun in earnest and he just couldn’t get away. I sent him an understanding reply and wish him all the best. And of course, I offer to help if he needs me. He has not replied. I guess that’s that. I got an unexpected text from my second youngest sibling. She wanted to come and see me. I reply her, of course. Was there any time she had come to see me that I didn’t grant her audience? She knows where to find me if she wants to see me. I don’t really appreciate such fake politeness. She should know better. Sister mine…
I can’t sleep. I got a job to work at a pastry shop. Apparently, one of their staff is going on maternity leave and her space has to be filled. So it is a temporary arrangement and It is okay really. I just have gotten used to sleeping and waking up without doing any other thing. And my friends really ask every now and then, I give them an evasive answer. I can’t deal. I roll restlessly over my bed. After several minutes pass, I sit up and support my back with my pillow. I get up from the bed and help myself to the dregs of the Bailey bottle beside my bed. Bailey at room temperature is bad for the health. I grimace as I down the bottle and heave a sigh as I settle back in bed. I pick up the remote and change the channel to African Magic Yoruba. My mind goes to Phillip working on his NGO. I think of Abigail at work, Enkay at her boutique, Fifunmi at some audition and I press the off button on the remote. This is definitely not the life.
A knock on the door interrupts my thoughts. I go to open up and invite the person in. On the other side of the door is my model and ex-beauty queen sister looking like a million dollars, and smelling like one million more. My body just won’t move. When she tries to hug me, my body stiffens. It is involuntary. I didn’t see it coming. She is embarrassed. I rub her arm awkwardly. She keeps standing. I don’t tell her to sit. The forced politeness is getting on my nerves. Should I be telling my own sister when to sit in my house? I move to the kitchen to get some water.
‘I have some ogbono soup, and some jollof rice. I also have garri and wheat. Whatever you feel like having please feel free to help yourself.’
I take my seat. She is still standing. I relax in the chair, and pour myself a glass of water. She drops her bag beside my chair, goes to the kitchen to get herself a glass. She empties the other satchet of pure water into it. She takes her seat. After draining the glass, she turns to me.
‘Aunty Abebi.’ I wince. My siblings refuse to address me as Mario. I am tempted to ignore her.
‘Promise has asked me to marry him.’ I say nothing. I want to tell her that I didn’t even know there was a Promise to begin with.
‘I said yes. He wants to come and see you.’ I help myself to the remainder of the water in my glass.
‘And if I say no?’ She is taken aback. She doesn’t reply. I get up from my chair. ‘I don’t want this fake respect and politeness you are trying to give me. I don’t want any of it. Even if I say no, what will it change? When you started dating him, did I have any idea? So now things have gotten serious and you want my blessing?’
She gets up from the chair. ‘Aunty mi Abebi, it is not like that. ‘
I cut her short. ‘I really don’t want to know how it is, Ireti. I don’t. When Promise is ready to come, bring him. You know where to find me.’ I place my palm on my forehead. Ireti gives me this huge headache all the time.
She is stunned into silence. ‘That’s it? That’s all? You don’t even want to know how we met? You don’t want to ask me questions like whether I am ready for this?’
I laugh long and hard. ‘Do you know you are a bastard? Yes. Omo ale jati jati ni e (You are a useless bastard).’ She interrupts me. ‘Aunty Abebi, I didn’t come here for you to insult me. I came here to talk to you. Like my elder sister.’ She picks up her bag. ‘I think I made a mistake.’ I watch her strut gracefully outside my apartment. My head begins to throb. I am already sniffing too. I don’t know if that’s the last time I will ever see her. I begin to cry harder. What have I done?
I pick my phone to call Abigail. She doesn’t pick up. Before I can stop myself, I am calling Phillip. He cuts the call and sends a text that he will call immediately he is out of the meeting he is in. That snaps me out of the haze I am in. I call Ireti. She doesn’t pick as well. I drop my phone on the table. I tried my best. I move into the bedroom. I am definitely going to cry myself to sleep.
I don’t really like talking about my sister. There was a time I used to be jealous of her. You know how you have that one sibling that is just different from the rest of you. Both of us were different from the rest. My immediate younger brother (Damola) and my youngest sister (Tanwa) look alike. You could tell that they came from the same loins. Ireti looked like them but she got the best of my parents genes. She got my mother’s clear complexion and this reddish brown hair with freckles. And she is really beautiful. Beauty and the brains, my sister. She was easily one of the best during her secondary school days. I later found out that she finished as the third in her class in the University. Then there is me. I am dark, and really not the most beautiful child. My mother started me out on toning creams early in life. She didn’t fancy being black at all. But I can’t begrudge my mother. When I grew up, I had the option of stopping, but I didn’t. But that’s not the story.
Things got out of hand financially. Father died. My mother got sick. I had three children to raise, and bills to pay. Ireti wanted to help out. She got some cash from winning the beauty pageant held in her hostel on campus. I told her to keep the money for education, and maybe apply for a visa, or some international organization internship. She was smart, with the necessary exposure, she could make a better life. She didn’t listen. She took part in modeling jobs and ushering jobs and more pageants. By her final year, she had travelled for a lot of fashion events and pageants. She won one miss world university or something of the sort and was quite popular. She was good at what she was doing, but she was also sleeping with men along the side. The amount of money she got was insane. If she was a supermodel for some big brand, I would not have raised an eyebrow. When she began to bring money home, my mother refused to touch it. My mother even warned me that she would commit suicide if I used Ireti’s money to try to treat her. We could use the money, but not at the expense of Ireti’s dignity. So I put my foot down. You know what happens when a poor person suddenly gets into money? It’s like being exposed to a buffet after fasting for days. You gorge yourself. We had a big fight. She had secured a really nice three bedroom flat in an upper middle class area. We didn’t have to pay rent. I was amazed. I said no. Mother stopped talking to Ireti. Mother’s Silent Treatment is one of a kind. It can drive you insane. It drove my father mad. He won’t come home for weeks when she got into one of her moods. She was that bad. So Ireti moved out. She would stop by once in a while, but she soon stopped coming. And that’s that.
Ireti is missing the point. I don’t hate her. My mother tried to tell her female children that life without men could make sense. She always said to make a life for yourself and not get carried away by some man’s promise to build you a kingdom. She regretted her marriage to my dad everyday of her life, but I also understood that she didn’t give up on him till he died. She believe that he would make good on his promise to her. I guess the lesson got lost on Ireti. She felt she was using men, squeezing them dry. Or maybe not. I would never know why she turned out that way. I wasn’t there for her. I guess I was too busy being a mother instead of a sister. I will call her again…