Evelyn hated waiting. She was late to every occasion for that reason. She would rather be waited for or upon than wait for anyone or anything. Her impatience was like no other’s, it was her trademark. She did everything with a harried pace and left anyone who tried to catch up to her feeling like a hamster running on a wheel spinning too quickly; losing and out of breath. People told her to come twenty minutes or more after events were supposed to start because she was notorious for leaving when the events took too long to begin. You can understand then why I was surprised to hear her say ‘the patient dog gets the fattest bone’. I blinked. Twice. And then I continued to stir my egusi soup. Evelyn had said she was dating a married man and she was waiting for him to leave his wife. It was the first thing she had ever been patient about in her entire life. She wanted the fattest bone, which in this case was Chief Nwokorie. Evelyn is saying she didn’t know he was married when they met. She wouldn’t have fallen for him, wouldn’t have even ‘given him face sef’. But she did not know and now she loves him. He will divorce his wife of twenty years so she and he can get married and live happily ever after. His children, teenagers will live through the horror of their father leaving their mother who from the sound of talk from the grapevine dotes on him and keeps his ego inflated. It all sounds so distant. Distant and familiar.
‘Mum, why won’t you ask daddy about what aunty Bose told you?’
‘My daughter. One thing you need to know is that he’s a man. All men cheat, it’s what they do. It doesn’t matter, I’m the wife. Legally married. She can only have him until he’s tired and when that happens, I’ll be here. Waiting’
‘What’s the point of getting married if every man cheats?’
‘Marriage is a sacrifice. The woman is the helper. Her husband is her crown. Without a man, her head is naked; open and exposed’
‘Are you the helper or the lamb for sacrifice?’ Silence. ‘Go and prepare dinner. Your dad may be home early today’
‘What if you were his wife? Or his daughter? How would you feel?’ ‘I’m not. And maybe I would even take better care of my husband’ Evelyn was saying in an assertive voice. I turn off my cooker and sit on a stool in the kitchen. ‘It’s wrong, Evelyn and you know it. He’s not for you. What happened to Tonye? Why can’t you marry him instead?’ ‘Please leave that church rat out of this!’ You see, ‘this church rat’ or as I like to call him, Tonye began to date Evelyn when they were in secondary school. His family isn’t wealthy as Evelyn has so eloquently stated, but there was hardly ever anything she needed or wanted that Tonye didn’t give her, emotionally and materially. I know that Tonye is not going to be a ‘church rat’ forever because he is an intelligent, educated young man whose future looks very bright and promising. Fast forward two months later when in a strange twist of events, I am again cooking egusi soup (I really like egusi soup), Evelyn again visits. ‘Miss Tee! How far you? I’ve brought my wedding card o!’ she says shoving a white scented envelope into my palm oiled hands. I place the envelope on the counter, wash my hands and open the envelope. She’s marrying him. The Chief. It’s like history repeating, except I’m on the other side this time.
‘Mummy, what happened?’
‘Your father divorced me’
‘How? Didn’t you say you wouldn’t give him a divorce?’
‘He forged my signature’
‘I can’t come, it’s wrong’ ‘Saint Tola! Okay o! The party shall go on anyway!’ I thought of serving her my egusi soup and adding the rat poison I bought the other day and letting her die like the rat she is but I decided having the blood of my father on my hands is enough. I fought my own battle already. Someone else would have to fight this one. Instead, I sit on my kitchen stool and swallow balls of eba dipped in soup. Silence.