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Friday, September 29, 2017

The Boss (1)



Abu paced up and down the living room, thinking again about how he was going to confront his wife about the matter on his mind.

 He had been putting it off for a while, but the repeated jests of his friends were beginning to wear thin, and he decided that now was the time to deal with the issue once and for all.

He remembered when he first met Halima at university. What had immediately impressed him about her was how smart and confident he was. He had noticed how during their lectures, she would politely but firmly ask questions which would tease apart some point that the lecturer had made, and which would create a lively discussion. But he wasn’t quite sure whether she would think that he was in her league.

“Abeg, go for it, jo”, Sammy, his waggish friend said. Sammy operated on a ‘take-no-prisoners’ principle, so it was just the advice Abu would have expected of him.

“But Sammy, she’s different from the other girls I’ve liked in the past. What if she’s not interested in me because I’m not good enough for her?”

“How will you know if you don’t try? Look, if you are not interested, just point her out to me so that I too can try my luck!’

That was all Abu needed to spur him on, as he knew that Sammy would definitely carry out his threat. So after the end of the next lecture, he caught up with her as she was leaving the lecture room.

“Hello”, he said, smiling at her.

“Hello”, she replied curtly as she carried on walking briskly.

Abu struggled to catch up. “I really like the way you ask those your questions in class. I found it funny today when you had the lecturer fumbling and scrambling for an answer.”

Halima stopped and turned to face him. “I don’t ask questions to purposely embarass the lecturer… that would be very petty. I ask because I really want to understand the topic.”

“Oh, no, that is not what I meant. I found it funny, but I also admire your courage in asking questions. Most people would just keep quiet either because they would not want to be made to look like a fool or because they would want to stay on the good side of the lecturer.”

She softened towards him. “Well, I suppose that I am a bit of a radical. I always like to ask why things are the way they are, and why they cannot be better.”

Abu grinned. “That’s interesting, because I am something of a radical myself. I ask myself the same kinds of questions – ‘Why should I be content with the way things are with me and you now, when we could go and have lunch together and get to know each other better?'”

Halima laughed, and allowed Abu to gently steer her in the direction of the cafeteria.

Abu smiled as he remembered how the relationship grew from there to the point where they were almost inseparable; he continued to be fascinated and charmed by her intelligence and her down-to-earth nature, and it was not surprising to their friends and family when they were married at a Nikah ceremony five years after their first meeting.

At first, things were fine. Halima worked as a teacher, but this didn’t hinder her from organising their home into a model of efficiency where everything was in its right place and they never lacked for anything because she was careful about managing money. Abu marvelled at how it all seemed to happen like clockwork, but then he gradually became used to it, and anyway he was so busy establishing himself in his career as an accountant that he was content to let Halima take charge of everything.

But after a while, he began to notice the comments.

“Abu, was that your wife on the phone again?” asked Jide, a friend of his who he had met up with one evening for a social night out.

“Oh yes. She just wanted me to get something for her on the way back.”

Jide shook his head. “Hmm… na wa o.”

Abu was puzzled. “What’s the problem?”

Jide carried on shaking his head. “Should you be accepting orders from your wife like that? After a while, she will start thinking that she is the boss in your house.”

“But she didn’t order me… she just asked me to do this.”

“That’s how it starts. Today she asks, tomorrow she will expect it as her birthright. And by that time, you will be so used to obeying orders that you won’t even know that you’ve been enslaved.”

Abu laughed and waved Jide’s remarks away. “My friend, you are what feminists would call a male chauvinist pig. Don’t you know that we are now in the era of equal rights?”

“Equal rights my foot”, Jide scoffed. “How can you have equal rights for unequal people? Women and men are not the same!”


Then there was the time when he was entertaining Sammy at home, and they had been talking for hours and hours. Halima called him into the kitchen and gently reminded him that they had an outing to attend in an hour, and should he perhaps not wind up his time with Sammy?

Abu emerged from the kitchen and told Sammy “Oya, time up. Halima just reminded me about a prior engagement we have elsewhere, and we don’t want to be late.”

Sammy shrugged his shoulders. “Well, there’s always next time”, he said. But as they walked through the door towards the street, Sammy went on. “That your wife… hm.”

“What about my wife?”

“Well, should she be interrupting what you’re doing, enjoying yourself? So what if you have a prior engagement? Is it the first time in the history of the universe that someone will be late for an engagement? In fact, it is practically expected that people will be late – so why is she making such a song and dance about it?”

“Well, I personally don’t like being late. Honestly, Sammy, you are making too much of this issue.”

Sammy shrugged again. “Well, I’m just saying my own… Halima is a good woman, but sometimes I think that this her I-too-know is too much. You are supposed to be the head of the family, now – you should be telling her what to do.”

Abu thought back to this incident and other ones like it where people commented or joked about what they saw as Halima’s ordering him around. He hadn’t been unhappy with Halima personally, but he had begun to get very uncomfortable with the situation. He got tired of pacing and sat down, still ruminating.

After a while, Halima entered, carrying some shopping. “Hello dear”, she called out to Abu. “Can you please help me with this shopping?”

Aha, Abu said to himself. She is at it again. “Halima, please leave the shopping by the door. There’s something very important that we have to talk about.”

“OK, OK, enough of your ranting. Let’s carry on from where we were before Halima called. Ehen, you were talking about how you were chasing this girl with this big bakassi …"

***

Then there was the time when he was entertaining Sammy at home, and they had been talking for hours and hours. Halima called him into the kitchen and gently reminded him that they had an outing to attend in an hour, and should he perhaps not wind up his time with Sammy?

Abu emerged from the kitchen and told Sammy “Oya, time up. Halima just reminded me about a prior engagement we have elsewhere, and we don’t want to be late.”

Sammy shrugged his shoulders. “Well, there’s always next time”, he said. But as they walked through the door towards the street, Sammy went on. “That your wife… hm.”

“What about my wife?”

“Well, should she be interrupting what you’re doing, enjoying yourself? So what if you have a prior engagement? Is it the first time in the history of the universe that someone will be late for an engagement? In fact, it is practically expected that people will be late – so why is she making such a song and dance about it?”

“Well, I personally don’t like being late. Honestly, Sammy, you are making too much of this issue.”

Sammy shrugged again. “Well, I’m just saying my own… Halima is a good woman, but sometimes I think that this her I-too-know is too much. You are supposed to be the head of the family, now – you should be telling her what to do.”


To be continued

Contributed by Tola Odejayi (courtesy naijastories. com)

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