Mrs. Uzo’s sitting room is on fire. She and Mr. Uzo are tangled in physical combat. Angel stands crying by one side. Family portraits hang on the walls. After a few seconds of very rough fighting, Mrs. Eke rushes in with Suzie, sweating. She gets into the fight; trying to pull Mrs. Uzo away. She gets battered in her bid.
Paul Uzo Jr, eleven year old son of the Uzos stand to another side of the room, clenching and unclenching his fists.
Paul Uzo Jr, ten year old Jimmy and thirteen year old Goody, hang out together. It’s late in the evening, and in an abandoned building on the outskirts of Savanna Street.
Jimmy rolls up a piece of paper with grass in it, and gives Paul. Paul shakes his head. Jimmy shrugs, and gives the paper to Goody. Goody takes it. Jimmy begins to roll another one.
Back in Mrs. Uzo’s sitting room, there is some calm. She and Mrs. Eke are seated. Mrs. Uzo looks a bit beaten up but no serious damage. Her face is sweaty but no injury.
Mrs. Uzo hisses. “No more. No more.”
Mrs. Eke sighs. “What about your children?”
“What about them? Hmm.” Mrs. Uzo hisses. “Even Angel at six. She can take care of herself.”
“Oh! Mrs. Uzo, the kids need you both! What will a man do with three children?” Mrs. Eke says. “Consider, the effects…”
“What effects? Mma Pastor was saying the same thing. How it affects this and that! Has anyone considered how it affects me? Look at them—” She waves toward Suzie who is sobbing at the entrance of the sitting room. “They are all grown up.”
“No, Mrs. Uzo, this is the time these kids need you the most. How old is Suzie now, 15, 16? And Paul is 11 or what? No, please. For the sake of these…”
There is a loud knock on the front door and it opens without invitation. Middle-aged salon owner, and pastor’s wife fondly called Mma Pastor by everyone on the street, walks in.
Her brows are drawn together in worry. Mma Pastor walks to Mrs. Uzo. “Suzie left a message at the salon. Sorry I just came back from evening service.”
Mrs. Eke slaps her hands together. “Ha, Mma Pastor, thank God you’re here… Please talk to Mrs. Uzo o! She has to think about her children…”
Mrs. Uzo looks away and hisses. Mma Pastor shares looks between the two women. She sits next to Mrs. Uzo and drapes her hand over the other woman’s shoulders. “What happened again?”
Mrs. Uzo snaps. “What else, Mma? What else?”
Mma Pastor looks at Mrs. Eke for explanation. “Please what happened?”
Mrs. Eke sighs. “Suzie ran into my house saying I should come and help her parents. I returned to meet them in a wrestling match.”
Mma Pastor gasps. “Huh! Mrs. Uzo, you need to do something about this! At this stage in your life, neighbours should not be running in to settle your quarrels with…”
Mrs. Uzo nods. “It won’t happen again I assure you, Mma.”
Mrs. Eke groans. “She wants to pack out…”
Mma Pastor claps. “God forbid!”
Mrs. Eke shrugs. “My thought exactly.”
“It is not your portion in the name of Jesus. This mountain must be removed…”
“It has been removed already. The madman will never come back into this house again.” Mrs. Uzo leans back. “And if he does, I will leave for him.”
Mma Pastor clasps her hand over her mouth. “O Lord have mercy. This is the enemy at…”
“Please excuse me, I have a headache.” Mrs. Uzo stomps out of the sitting room and into another part of the house.
Her visitors gape after her.
Bukky, a sultry-looking woman in her early thirties is seated with Mrs. Eke in her bedroom, with lace materials on the bed. It’s late and Mrs. Eke checks the time.
Bukky picks a beautiful olive lace material. “I’m confused right now on what colour to pick. The colours are so beautiful.”
Mrs. Eke feels the material. “Hmm. These days people use bold colours. Have you thought of red?”
Bukky’s eyes widen. “Red! For aso-ebi? Wedding one?”
Mrs. Eke shrugs. “Yes. It will be lovely.”
Bukky shakes her head. “Ah, I think red is a bit harsh o.”
“That’s what you think. One day, someone will use black,” Mrs. Eke says.
Bukky laughs. “For wedding! Hey! Gina Eke.”
Mrs. Eke picks a baby blue lace and touches it tenderly. “I like the quality of this one but blues and greens are so common these days.”
Bukky smiles. “One of my friends called green with a hue of blue.”
They laugh. Just then, Mr. Eke walks in.
Mrs. Eke startles. “Welcome honey.”
Bukky bats her eyelids. “Hello sir. I asked after you.”
Mr. Eke looks at Bukky. “Oh, how are you? It’s been a while.”
Bukky shrugs. “I’m planning my wedding o. It’s been so hectic.”
Mr. Eke arches an eyebrow. “You didn’t tell me you’re getting married.”
Mrs. Eke nods. “At last my friend is getting married o.”
Bukky lifts her hands in the air. “God has answered prayers.”
Mr. Eke walks to the dresser and drops his laptop bag on the floor. He begins to pull off his shoes and tie and shirt and singlet and belt… The ladies get the message and quietly leave the room.
Far away in Akwa Ibom state, in the village of Ikot Urua, Ekpeyong, a man in his mid-fifties walk angrily out of his hut, chewing a stick in his mouth. His only clothing is an expensive ceremonial wrapper tied the traditional way. His wife, Ekaette who is about ten years younger than him, runs after him.
Ekaette sobs. “My husband, please, my lord. Don’t do this to me. Please ette mi, don’t do this to your family. I will get pregnant again.” She falls on her knees and grabs his feet. “If that is what you want, please. Don’t take another wife. One more chance, that’s all I ask. I beg you.”
Ekpenyong jerks free. “That’s enough, woman! Do you think I am alive to breed female children? Or I bought a wife only to make losses? You’ve had five already, three of them dead from diseases…”
Ekaette sniffs. “One more, ette mbok. He will not die. I beg you, just one more.”
“I will not stay here and listen to you.” He walks angrily toward the entrance of the hut. “Imoh! Imoh!”
Imoh shouts from within the hut. “Papa!”
Ekpenyong spits the stick out. “Bring my chieftaincy and walking stick.” He spits some more. “Quickly.”
Ekaette sobs loudly, and bends over on her knees. “Oh ette mi, ette o!
Imoh, a fifteen year old girl steps out with the items and hand them over to her father who dresses quickly and stomps away.
Imoh runs to her mother, and kneels beside her. “What is the matter, Mma? Where is he going?”
Ekaette sobs. “To negotiate for his new wife. Oh Imoh, your father wants to marry Mmayen, Etim’s daughter.”
Imoh screams. “God forbid!”
Ekaette sighs. “She’s only a few years older than your sister Koko. They say the oracles predict she will have eight sons for your father…”
Imoh gasps. “No, never! Oh Mma, this can’t be happening.”
Suzie is at the window where Angel normally stands. She looks out at the house where Betty stays, longingly though there’s no one in front of the house and no vehicle.