Fuseinu rolls over on his mat and puffs out the single candle illuminating the tiny security outpost, his home. He turns to face his lover – a tiny shadow next to him, and plants a warm kiss on her forehead.
“Tell me about your day”
Today I spat in the evening meal. It was a long, green, slimy one, coughed out from the pits of my stinking throat. I dug the ladle inside the pot and I stirred till I was sure every grain of jollof rice carried a piece of me with it. Then I covered the pot, meticulously washed and shelved the ladle, and waited for Madam to come home.
As usual, the woman was screaming my name even before she came through the door; but today, I did not frown, I did not complain. I smiled at her and I kept my hands at my back, just the way she likes it. To everything, I responded, “Yes Madam. No Madam. I will do it immediately Madam.” I am sure she was surprised. My people have a saying, the lion that will kill you does not announce that it is coming.
Alhadji came in not long after with the little demons: Isah and Sadik. Oh, the twats did not waste any time. They immediately set their sights on destroying all of my hard work. They left muddy footprints with their dirty shoes, took off and left their clothes in the middle of the hall, threw around the couch cushions, spilled juice all over the carpet; But today I was not mad, my heart did not break at all. I waited for them to reach exhaustion, and then I cleaned and put everything in its proper place.
Madam kept looking at me with a side eye. Was she surprised? Has she been waiting for me to break, all this while, so she has an excuse to send me back to my mother in the village? Well, not today.
As always, I “had” my dinner in the kitchen while they ate at the dinning table. I poured the rice into a polythene bag and hid it inside the storage room, where we keep the foodstuffs. In the evening, while they all slept, I would dump it outside. I sat on my stool, chin in palms, listening to the clinks of their spoons against the plates. Today, the sound did not annoy me. It did not bring me resentment, it did not bring painful memories, nor did it remind me that I am a wet polythene bag, coiled around a pole, too beat up to ever fly away. It brought me peace. A satisfying feeling spread through my chest and settled warmly inside my stomach.
Tomorrow, I will spit in their food again.
Art Credit: Irma Stern – Young Arab.