“ Who is pouring that water, I asked who is pouring that water?” Mrs. Grace demanded in anger.
Her husband came out of their tiny shop and peeked upwards and went back inside the shop.
“It’s Mazi Okoro's house maid. If it were to be done by another person, the wife would have called for emergency meeting to seek for an explanation” he said and went back to his work.
“ Some people for sure are not qualified to live in the city. If you can’t keep common communal rule, go back to your village. You simple not qualified to live in the city” she said.
She continued murmuring for about twenty minutes while her husband continued throwing ' it is enough' glance her way but she was totally lost in her murmuring.
The maid was cleaning their frontage veranda and the water was dripping on top of the tarpaulin Mrs. Grace used in covering the tiny shop she has in front of their building and some of the dripping waters are touching the customers in her shop. She manages a shop where they deal in all manners of paper related things: phone recharge cards, money remitting POS to electric and water bills invoicing.
People that can’t go to the main office of the firms go to her for quick transaction for a commission. The business suits the nature of that city’s dwellers. They don’t have Patience to wait in the firms office to pay normal charge and Mrs. Grace don’t have mercy on charging them. You pay in full you commission or no business. From that business, she was able to building a six room apartment in her village, feed her family for her husband's business had ran kaput. They shared a flat with a bachelor in that building.
Mr. Okoro ran an old car part business in a market not far from their building. The parts business is oversaturated in that state. There are about four of that market in existence in the state alone and traders found it difficult to compete. Competition is fierce and Mazi Okoro is a show up kind of person. He doesn’t know how to leave his yesterday’s life for today’s. He found it difficult to cut his coats according to his clothes.
He found adjustment a difficult task to accomplish. He refused to share a flat with someone as suggested by his landlord when he found paying rent difficult task to accomplish. To him, it’s a sign of failure.
Before he got married, his business had been performing well. He thought that feeding a mouth is the same thing as feeding three or four mouths especially woman and kid. He believed that what he had in bank accounts is money until he got married and gave birth. He was living as he was as a bachelor while married. To cut expenses to suit his current status as married man, he found difficult to do.
He, married but still hangs his hands where he used to as a bachelor. He got married to a high maintenance girl who believed that things would still be flowing as it did while she was being courted. On getting married to Clifford Okoro as Mazi Okoro is known, she came with a maid from her village to help her ran the house to her taste.
When the business wasn’t progressing as it used to while the man was single, he refused to adjust to his current reality and the deposit in the bank continued to go down hills at an alarming rate. Mazi needed to maintain the old façade. He needed to maintain his old buddies, maintain his status both in the market, residential place and church were he worships.
All these maintenance are money consuming for respect doesn’t come easy in that city. He had been borrowing from friends to meet up at times. He engaged in borrowing from Peter to pay back Paul and from James to settle Peter type of living. He was 35 years.
The wife had been full time house wife who found it difficult to realised when rhythm changes in a song she is a dancer. She couldn’t believe it when into a year and half a marriage, she started hearing tales she expects to hear at least twenty years into marriage.
“ How do you mean I should start looking for work, what type of work do you want me to look for without certificate?”
“ At least, you can start this type of business Mrs. Grace is into or you can start restaurant business. Things are really getting difficult these days for me” Mazi told her one late night they retired for the day.
“ Restaurant?, Christ. You made me to drop out of the school when you’re jealous that other guys are interested in me, now all my mates are into government works and you wants me to join all these illiterate dirty women to hassle for customers in a restaurant business. Please, say something respectful”
“ Something respectful like what? I don’t get you, Mrs. Grace had built a house from that her business and even feeding her husband and family. Is it not money we are after?”
“ What exactly are you saying, you speaks a lot in proverbs. What are you implying really. Say it plainly, I wants to understand you”
“ I mean I can talk to Mrs. Grace’s husband and you can be going there to learn the trade from her at least for three months by then I will get enough money to get the license and those tiny machines she use there and pay for a shop too”
“Mrs. Grace? You mean you have not noticed how jealous she is of me since I moved into this building. She felt we are in competition together. Please say something else”
“ Competing for what? What is she jealous of. They’re far ahead of us”
“ I have told you my observation. If you care to know more, go and ask her. I am not entering that shop for all the knowledge in this world”
“ Then I can find another person in that line of business for you but it’s tantamount to spending thrice monthly. I have to pay for your learning, set aside money for your transportation and feeding throughout your learning period there. Why can’t we save that money for the equipments and rent you need to start yours”
“ Why do you want to waste my life in this manner. I am not sure you deserve me. I would have gotten a degree and found an honorable work like my friends. Why are you demeaning me?”
“ Demeaning? Why didn’t you refused to drop out when I suggested that. You jumped at the idea and now, I don’t deserve you. Let forget the past and face the present. Have you talked to all those your friends you kept referring to, maybe they can help you secure salaried work if that is what you want. There are guys there too”
“ Salary work like what, without degree. How much would I be earning?”
“ But little, little is far better than at all, at all”
“ I really don’t like this your line of talk. It’s insulting. I am far better than your suggestions. I want to sleep please”
“ I am finding it difficult to sleep since eight months now. The pressure had been too much for me to handle and that is reason I am making these suggestions”
The wife had turned around backing him and refused to reply. Mazi lay awake for better part of that night mopping at the ceiling. Their trend of discussion on the issue followed the same pattern for few months.
Their home town has a well known masquerade festival they celebrate every fourth month of the year. Mazi had targeted that festival as his escape route to freedom. He had plotted to send the wife and her entourage back to the village since she is bigger than everything than every work in the city. He can’t continue to deceive himself. It is time to cut this coat according to his size.
He rented a room not far from where they live without the wife’s knowledge, he had not paid rent for three months knowing that the landlord would for sure act at the end of the month. He told her he was going for the festival and left money for three weeks feeding.
A week into the festival, his phone kept ringing nonstop and the wife Kept reminding him that the landlord wants to throw them out of the building.
“ why didn’t you tell me we are owning for three months. Are you crazy?”
“ We? Well, I don’t have money to pay. We had been feeding on the rent money. Don’t worry. I will talk to the man and call you back”
For two weeks, his line wasn’t reachable. One afternoon, he was in the family house picking his teeth when a bus carrying his wife and her entourage entered. After thirty minutes of shouting match, the driver was paid off and properties sent into the house.
It was later he heard from a friend how the landlord seized some of their properties to recover his money. He thanked God inwardly. Spent another two weeks with them to help them settled and tricked her into staying put for a while while he returned to the city to hustle.