This is how they met: a plump lady is walking out of the STI Clinic with a cellophane bag as a dapper doctor in an over-sized white coat is walking in.
They meet at the door. At the same instant, they stop for each other. Then they move towards the door together. Then they both step aside. Then they laugh.
He waits. She wriggles out of the door; the door’s diameter is her exact waist size. He watches the sinuous movement of her one-piece brown plaid gown. He looks at her fair face, into her deep brown eyes.
He is lost in thought as to what illness brought her, so that even after she leaves the door vacant for his use, he is still buried in his thoughts.
Something grips him and he changes his footsteps to walk briskly in her direction. He taps her shoulder and smiles again.
“You again,” she says, turning, amused.
“Yes. Me. Again,” he sports a boyish smile even though he looks quite funny in that oversized white coat.
“Are you a doctor?”
“Are you a patient?”
She laughs again. “I came to get my drugs,” she shows off her opaque cellophane bag.
“I am a doctor. I work here. What is your name, how old are you, are you married,” he spews out questions.
She smiles. “Which one do I answer first now? I am actually rushing to keep an appointment.”
“That is too bad. I guess I will run into you again, at a good time.”
He does, later that evening. He is heading to his favourite beer spot when he spots that same brown plaid gown. She is surprised when he taps her shoulder.
“See. I told you,” he smiles cheekily as he cajoles her into accompanying him for a plate of pepper soup.
“Go to the market and prepare his favourite meal,” says her mother.
Those are the exact instructions that Alice intends to carry out to the letter.
She goes to the evening market on her return from her mother’s place. The market is in full swing and the prices that soared high all morning and afternoon have begun their nose-dive.
She stops at the meat section where butchers in dirty singlets sharpen cleavers absent-mindedly. She buys the cartilaginous chunk of a female cow’s back. She moves to the fish stall and buys a huge, smooth-skinned frozen mackerel. She goes to the vegetable section and picks three bundles that she requests to be shredded. Then she walks to the stall of the wrinkled women selling locust beans.
She buys dried fish; she hesitates when she sees dried stock-fish, but decides against it; Olo does not have a stomach for them. She picks fresh red peppers and a handful of tomatoes to suck in some of their raw hotness. The vegetables will suck in the rest, she thinks. She buys some grey mushrooms beside the yam stall where she picks a slender tuber of yam.
On her way out, she retrieves her shredded vegetables, and just as she steps out of the market, she sees a coiled stretch of brown ponmo, the brittle kind that gives when bitten into. She buys it.
Upon arrival back home, she knocks on the door twice before retrieving her keys from her handbag. She finds her husband watching television.
“What are you doing at home,” she asks as she drops her perishables on the dining table.
“What were you doing outside?” he answers. “Today when I decide to stay at home, you are nowhere to be found.”
“I went to see Bisi. She lost her mother yesterday evening.”
“Eyah. A pity. What happened?”
“She died after her evening meal. She was old enough to go. She had seen her grandchildren and her first great grandchild is on the way. She might as well be on her way back.”
Olo laughs. Alice laughs. And for a moment, it seems all their marital angst dissipates. She yawns.
“Let me fetch you cold water; you must be tired. Grief saps energy. So do condolences.” He disappears behind the white curtains.
She drinks to her fill and smiles. “If only you can stay this way. Be here every time I need you.”
“If only you can be patient.”
She looks at him admirably. “Even patience runs thin sometimes.”
She leaves her seat and sits on his lap. She begins to toy with his chest hair. He rids her of her headgear. And in very small purposeful actions, their clothes come off.
What do you think? Leave a comment below and I’d send you the next part, the final part.