“Why do you make that snake sound when you sip your tea?” Chima asked.
Nkoli took a deep breath, reached for her glass of tea and took a long noisy drag, placed it back and then turned to Chima.
“I didn’t get you, what did you say?” she asked lazily.
“Why do you make those annoying snake sounds when you sip your tea and why is your tea in a wine glass for christ’s sake?” he said, with an air of disgust.
“Now you’re confusing yourself, which one do you want to know? Why I sip my tea like a snake or why my tea is in a glass?”
“Do snakes sip tea or are you just always this daft? The sound is very irritating and I think you should stop”
“You mean I should stop drinking my tea?”
“My goodness! Stop drinking the tea if that’s the only way you can stop being disgusting!” he said, stifling a good amount of annoyance.
“Hmm, should I now starve?”
There was silence between the two for a few minutes, Chima flipped through a book without actually reading as he tapped his foot repeatedly on the floor. You could tell that flipping through those pages was his way of breathing, his yoga.
“Okay, I want to know. Is there a way to drink very hot tea without making sounds?”
“How about you let the tea cool down?” he responded sharply.
“Why would anyone drink cold tea if the idea of drinking tea in the first place is for the hotness?”
Chima was quiet and he didn’t look Nkoli’s way either.
“And as for the glass, do you have any other cup in your cupboard? I didn’t find any other one. This was all I could find. Wine glass o, water glass o, juice glass o, as long as it holds the milk and milo, I don’t care”
“Of course you don’t”
“Peradventure you go to somebody’s house, and you don’t find their tea glass…”
“What in God’s name is peradventure? And what is a tea glass?”
“Okay it is no longer my snake sounds or wine glass, it is now my grammar abi? See, Chima, I didn’t beg you to bring me here please. I like our new house, ngwa can we now go back home?”
“I’m going downstairs to warm the car. I don’t want to wait for you”
“I will come down, but let me finish my tea first. It cannot waste just like that,” Nkoli said, as she took a long drag from her glass, irritating Chima the more.
Nkoli got in the car, to the blaring sound of Oliver d’coke’s music. She was visibly uncomfortable with the loud sounds because she covered her left ear with her palm. Chima looked her way and ignored her, smiling mischievously from the corner of his mouth. As they journeyed back home, Nkoli moved from one side of the seat to the other, till she could no longer take it.
“Chima, is it that you cannot listen to this music quietly? Does it have to be this loud?” she asked.
“Are you saying I should stop listening to music?” he asked without looking at her.
“I haven’t said that. Just reduce it, I have a headache already” she said as she made to turn down the volume. Chima held her wrist before she reached it, and gently placed it back on her lap.
“Please leave my music alone. Seatbelt,” Chima said.
“Won’t I even sit down properly before putting on the belt?” she said as she clicked the seatbelt buckle.
Nkoli turned to look at Chima, and she didn’t stop for about five minutes. Chima kept a straight face, nodding to the music and whistling every now and then.
“Are you trying to get back to me for the way I drank my tea?” she asked.
“At” Chima corrected.
“It’s at, not to. Get back at implies revenge, get back to has to do with reply or response”
“English teacher, thank you sir. Please reduce the volume of the music”
“Turn down would be more correct”
Nkoli ignored him and forcefully turned down the volume and there was silence again. Nkoli picked up a summer camp flyer she was given at Ebeano Supermarket earlier in the day and began to fan herself with it. She had argued with Chima about Nigerians organizing summer camps during the rainy season.
“Summer camp kwa? Do we have summer in Nigeria?”
“It’s mostly organized for children who are used to summer. And there’s usually a holiday during the period” Chima responded.
“Does it matter? Would they organize harmattan camp for children who are used to it in America?”
“That’s because they don’t know about harmattan”
“Nigerians didn’t always know about summer, they made efforts to find out. I’m sure whoever designed this stupid flyer has never crossed the Nigerian border, she said, waving it in Chima’s face. Summer camp, hia! I pity them. Until they have dry, rainy and harmattan camps, I have no business with their stupid camp.”
“They don’t need you, they’re probably fully booked now sef” Chima said as they got out of the car and into their new house.
The silence was beginning to get to her as they approached their garage because she stopped fanning herself abruptly, squeezed the flyer into a ball, threw it at Chima and he ducked.
“I was wondering why you fanned yourself with the AC on high, or was there summer on your own side of the car? Chima joked.
“Please let me come down before you drive into the garage. Lock the gate o, because I wont come out to double check, I am tired” she said. That was Nkoli’s way of indirectly announcing to Chima that he wasn’t getting some tonight. She knew he cracked that joke about summer because they had gotten home. He was nice at night; cheerful and loving, humble even. Nothing ever upsets Chima once it’s past 8:00pm. He would do anything for some, anything.
“Okay baby, I’ll lock it,” he answered.
She went into the house, lay on the couch and proceeded to checking her Facebook page. Once she heard Chima opening the front door, she tossed her phone under the couch and pretended to be asleep. Chima shut the door and knelt beside her.
“Baby, are you okay? Do you need me to get you something?” he asked.
Nkoli opened her eyes a little, squinting in a rather exaggerated manner.
“Chima please leave me alone, I am tired. Go to bed please” she said, stretching.
“Won’t you have your bath?”
“I am too tired to boil water”
“I’ll boil it for you”
He stood up and went into the kitchen. Utensils began to rattle and fall. Nkoli picked up her phone and continued from where she stopped. The whistling sound from the kettle had Nkoli flinging her phone again and getting back into character. Chima took the kettle to the bathroom, emptied it in a bucket and diluted it with cold water. He added drops of dettol into it and went back to the sitting room.
“Baby, baby” he said, nudging Nkoli gently.
“Yes, leave me alone now. I want to sleep,” she said quietly.
“Come and have your bath, I’ve fixed the hot water” he said, helping her stand up.
She walked into the bedroom they shared, even though there were two empty rooms in the flat.
“Please don’t follow me,” she said, clearly aware he followed her into the room.
She undressed, and slowly walked to the bathroom. She walked so slow one might think she was giving him some time to approach her. She actually was. He hugged her gently from behind, held her hand and played a little with her wedding ring. She tried to resist but he held on to her tightly.
“I asked you not to follow me. Leave me alone, I want to have my bath,” she said.
“Should I join you?” he asked.
There was silence between the two for a while, but this time, he wasn’t flipping through a book he wasn’t reading and she wasn’t fanning herself with the AC on high, they were standing, holding each other, breathing.
“If you like,” she answered.
Post and feature image by Bengin Ahmad via flickr
About the Author:
Uzoamaka Doris Aniunoh is an Igbo writer and reality blogger who was was born and raised in Onitsha. She is mostly inspired by real life experiences, her childhood and personal experiences in general. Her goal as a writer is to tell relatable stories that mirror ignored society. She fears not being able to influence another human being, not being able to touch lives, not mattering. She blogs at dorisaniunoh.blogspot.com