One kain thing happen when I wake up this morning. There was small-small purple and red and different color circle dancing in front my eyes. Like the one I see as small pikin when I look at the light from a lamp for long time. I rub my eye, and e no go away. So I start to shout, “Blood of Jesus, Blood of Jesus”

That’s how Baba Muyi just jump out of the bed. He drag my wrapper from my body and tie on his waist

“Kilode! Mama Muyi!”

“My eye, my eye!”

He come close and touch my head as if he checking for malaria. “What happen?”

“I cannot see well well. Some funny funny thing is in my eye…”

“But you can see, shey?” I look around my room opening and closing my eyes. I tell him yes. I can see small-small.

“And you let fear catch me.”

He now went to the plastic chair near my door where he drop his cloth yesterday. He said my eye are spoiling as he wear his sokoto. “Maybe you should go to the hospital.”

“I reject it in Jesus name,” I said. The devil is a liar.

I know is the work of my enemy. My enemy want me blind, but it will not work. I know this enemy, and today is the day I will deal with her.

I am happy for a night with Baba Muyi. Not because he do it well. All he do is pound and pound and shout Yeeeee and then he fall asleep on top of me. I am sha happy because he was in my room and not in Iyawo room.

Wednesday night is my only night with him nowadays. Before, I would push him away, but now I hold him tight. Ah, see what loneliness have do me. It have be this way since Iyawo come oh. Iyawo thief my husband. But that not all she spoil. She have give me this kian sick sick feeling I feel every day. Hm, it is because of the smell of the fish she is always cooking my stomach is always turning and turning and I feel like faint. Sometime I just want to remove all my cloth and be free. On those kain day, I want to run away from the house, naked. But they’ll say it is craze. They will not understand. Most time, I prefer to sit in the toilet to enjoy the smell of my shit than stood by Iyawo and the smell of fish that is around her. I am sure down there, she smell like fish.

But why she cook only fish all the time? Don’t her mother teach her to make rice, semo, fufu, amala, egusi? What is her own sef? Haba. Even Christ have say that Man shall not be living by bread alone which can also be: man shall not live by fish alone. She make all type of fish, whether we can afford it or not oh, Iyawo buy it and make it. Catfish oh, croaker oh, tilapia oh, panla sef. There’s no fish Iyawo did not buy and make.

While she cook, she is singing the yamayama songs she listen to on the television—like that Godwin one—everything I do na god win—maybe to make me vex oh, I don’t know. Sometime she sing Shakitibobo, that song Tolu like. The day I catch Tolu sing along with her, mo fe la igi mo lori. Rubbish and Nonsense.

Her fish look delicious everytime, but I never eat it. My children do not eat it even though sometime they want to. I always tell them that ojukokoro is not good.

Before, I never think that Baba Muyi can take in a second wife. You see, Baba Muyi and I have marry for a very very long time. E don tey oh. I never think that one day, he will just wake up and feel like marrying another person. I born two strong children. Because I work as school cleaner and sell yam at the night market, I add to the family money. I cook good food. You cannot put my ila sepo and pounded yam and her fish in the same place, at all, at all. I spread my leg for him when he want—I even allow him put it inside me from the back, ahan. And after I am a good wife, he still go and marry another woman?

I never even think that a young girl can look at my husband two time with his grey-hair and big belly. He did not even do it well well like before before. So then, what does this girl want nitori olorun? Is it money? Baba Muyi do not have money na. If it is money ehen, there is Chief Ogedengbe and Barrister Uwaifo in this same area that she could have marry.

Iyawo is always send me up and down and Baba Muyi allow it. In fact, there is nothing Baba Muyi do not encourage when it come to Iyawo. When she play loud music as if we are in night club and is stretch her body out like rubber band, Baba Muyi would laugh and laugh. He do not complain about her short skirts or those blouse that show all her breast. But if Tolu should wear short skirt, we will not hear the end of it.

Last year, I was just wonder and wonder, maybe it is me that make Baba Muyi to take new wife. Maybe it is my big belly or because I drag my feet like pregnant woman when I walk or because I do not wear makeup. As good Christian mother, I cannot wear that demonic cloth Iyawo wear. Lai lai.

Before we marry, Baba Muyi do not seem to be that kind of man that will just marry a woman one day. I remember the wahala he go through before finally finally we marry. So nowadays, when I look my husband, I know he cannot be the same man I marry. The man I marry can never take in new wife. Any other thing is good pass choosing that this man that like eating fish is my real husband. My real husband can never ever stop eating good red meat for fish, laiye laiye. Even, if my real husband want to marry a new wife, he would not have taken pengele woman. He like big woman—with big boobie and big yansh like me. But this one ehn, lepashandi. No boobie, no yansh. Ah.

And do you know funny thing about this new husband? He can preach ehn, so tey, you will think he is pastor. The Baba Muyi that I know well do not like talk talk. But this one ehn, he will preach that fish can do this and that.

Yesterday night before dinner, he do it again..

“Don’t you know it helps to maintain a healthy heart? He ask. And number two: it aids a healthy brain function. Iya Muyi, you know that disease where person go forget everything.”

“Alzheimer’s disease,” Iyawo talk.

Oho. That disease, na fish go epp prevent am oh. He talk. He try and try to make us join him but the biggie biggie word never scared me at all.

Now you can see why Iyawo is enemy. So this morning when the strange thing happen that I cannot see well well, sharp sharp, I think that Iyawo is a winch that tie my husband life to her and want to kill me so she can take the house Baba Muyi manage to build. I think about it very well: the cloth she wear, how she stand, how she sleep, what she eat, how she talk, how she walk—after everything, I conclude, she is winch.

I am go to meet man of God on Menday Street—the one that preach every morning, not that one that give girl belle last year. I am go to ask him to help me remove Iyawo. I must protect my life and my children. I will tell man of God about my thinkings .That Iyawo wear her hair very long, like a winch is not ordinary chance, as Mummy Lala tell me last year when this all start.

She say that Oko mi, see the way your Iyawo do her hair very long to reach her buttocks. She is not an ordinary human being oh”

I did not answer her because she is like to be say all sort of foolish thing. She is always mention how she can see demon and know which woman on Menday Street attend the meeting in sky every night. Although all that one be like say she dey craze, I have decide to take her serious about Iyawo. Iyawo be winch. She no be ordinary human.

I not understand how anybody can live by fish if they are not winch. Some of fish she buy, I have not see them in market in Lagos. I have never even hear about them. The Omo Egbere should not worry, I will find her out today today. It is my fault. I have not take God and my marriage serious, if not, this woman would have disappear long time ago. How can strange woman just come in my home and make life so bakan bakan for me?

I know man of God will have answers. I have hear all about his miracle—the sign and wonder he have do. He make the blind man that used to beg on Abeokuta road to see. He make Baba Maria a millionaire. Iya Bomboy conceive after he touch her—now she have twins after fourteen year of marriage. Eh. That man must to help me.

I am retie my wrapper around my waist when I hear small sound like as if bird is whistle in the house. I hope the children have not leave the door open again for another bird to enter like they have do last week. The children have go to school and have not come till three. Baba Muyi take Iyawo “shopping”. Let me take bible and scarf and go and check the parlor. It smell of wax and fish as I open the door. I feel shaky like I want to fall, but I hold myself. There is not bird oh, just Iyawo sitting down, whistling.

Iyawo I say I think you go out with Baba Muyi.

I have a little headache, so I decided to come back home. she says, kindly. Her voice is always soft like as if she is singing. But if you see her voice well well, you will see it like as if she wants to bite. I am not imagine it.

Pele, shogbo? I say. What I’m really think is good for you. Omo egbere oshi. I am go to church. Later.

Wait. Can you help me buy Canola oil? I’ve run out.

I clap my hand together and say; Wonder shall never end. No. Am not your house girl. Haba. If you need house girl, ask Baba Muyi.

Ahan Iya Muyi, Iya Muyi. My senior wife…

Don’t call my name. What is it? I ask folding my arms across my chest. Look you this girl, if you was not careful, I will expose your secret. I will embarrass you. You think I do not know your secret? You think I do not know who you are?

Ehen ehen, I am think as I talk, I will change it for her today. Wo, she will see my true color now now. I not usually wicked to her. It is the strange thing that happen this morning that is making me so rude.

Iya Muyi… she start to say.

Just leave me. Am run late for Church.

Please do not expose my secret. Please ma. Her face is pale. She kneel down. Please Iya Muyi… she put her hand in front of her face, like as if she’s praying.

Why is she beg me, is she really saying she is winch? If she is, do she think I’ll keep her secret? She have to be joke oh. I must went now. I must tell Mummy Lala about it. Iyawo move near me, close to the entrance of the house and pull my wrapper.

“I knew my pretentious way of life could only last for a little while. I knew someone would find me out sooner or later.”

She sigh and stands up. She move back to the chair where she sit and bend her face in her hand. I squeeze my face, squeeze up my mouth. Am confuse. I look at her for more.

“If our husband finds out I don’t really like fish and have been pretending, he’ll detest me. You know, I secretly eat a lot of junk food when I’m not with Baba Muyi. I feel so bad. He’ll hate me. He’ll send me away. I will be a laughing stock. I just thought saying I liked fish so much would make me special. I don’t know, I’m so stupid,” Iyawo say.

When she begin to cry, I laugh. She is just talk nonsense but even am confuse if she still Winch status but how can small thing like that be make her to sad. Shey that is what is worrying this one? I clap my hand together. Young girl of nowadays! Look at the little little thing they worry about..

I open the door. Nothing spoil, I will still tell Mummy Lala.

Iya Muyi…iya muyi…come back, don’t tell on me…I’m sorry…She is talking, and I turn back to look at her, just to look at her oh. But she no more there. My mouth open. Am confuse again. My head is roll and roll. Have she go to the room. I rub my eye and there is purple, red and yellow spots in my eye. Jesus Christ, it is happening again! Are my eye really going bad like Baba Muyi say this morning? Is she still there, and I cannot see her?

“Iyawo,” I say small small. Too small.

“Iyawo,” I say again, loud small. There are no one at the dining table. I am sure about that. The door of the kitchen and inner room is close. If she had go to the kitchen, I would have hear. I look back at chair. Her purse is on chair. But that’s not all. There is something else! I can see clearly now. It is fish. It is shaking and shaking on top of my chair. Jesus.

The blood of Jesus, I shout.

The fish is exactly where Iyawo have been sitting.. Yeepa, Yeepa, Ti emi bami. I am say to myself. I start to move back to sliding door. The fish too is move towards me. It is cat fish. Those color color thing have come again in my eye again. The smell of fish is make me weak. Then I feel fainting. I want to shout help, but cannot talk.

Then I hear somebody or maybe is fish that say to be; Mama Muyi are you okay?



Post image by Rusty Clark – On the Air M-F 8am-noon via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - AdedejiOpe dreams about a lot of things but most especially about bridging the gender equality gap and working with the United Nations. If you do not find her writing, you would find her reading a novel.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

6 Responses to “Fish | Ope Adedeji | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Holister 2016/03/07 at 4:42 am #

    Wow. This post is really good. A long and good writeup in pidgin. I normally don’t finish long writeups but this one was very good

  2. Hannah 2016/03/07 at 5:16 am #

    Nicely done. Hilarious!

  3. Adriel 2016/03/07 at 8:16 am #

    Nice. I had my self a good laugh…

  4. chioma 2016/03/07 at 9:33 am #

    This is beautifully written and hilarious. You are very talented.

  5. L.Han 2016/03/07 at 11:24 am #

    Nice one. Funny. Keep writing.

  6. gee_dee 2016/07/23 at 11:18 am #

    I really really love this. The pidgin got me going. Thumbs up.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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