Blossom walked into the kitchen behind my ten-year old daughter, Gift, with a scowl on her face. They had both just returned from the morning market on Saturday. Gift carried a huge sack on her neck, the load making her sag. Blossom, a thirty year old, held a small nylon bag in her hand and nothing more.
My daughter went on her knees and lowered the sack to the floor.
“If you break anything in that sack, I’ll break your head!” Blossom said between her teeth. My Gift looked up at her and shook her head. She then proceeded to unload the sack, putting things away.
Blossom caught her by the arm and flung her toward the entrance. “What about the other sack?”
“I’m sorry,” Gift mumbled and ran to bring yet another heavy sack.
I never knew my daughter had so much strength. Blossom opened the refrigerator and removed a chilled bottle of sparkling water. She uncorked it and swallowed a healthy gulp, rather in an unladylike manner.
Blossom belched. “When you are through, call me!”
Gift proceeded to unload the sacks. She brought out yams, onions, potatoes, and arranged them neatly on the floor, the way I had taught her. She washed the fruits and refrigerated them. Plucked pepper… Oh my God. I had not yet allowed her to pluck pepper…
Gift was humming gently to herself the song, ‘more of you, more of you.’ She washed some of the onions and tomatoes and put them in a large bowl. Then she rubbed her eyes, and let out a scream! Her hand was definitely still peppery!
Blossom rushed in and screamed at her for screaming.
“Pepper in my eyes, aunty!” Gift rubbed both eyes now frantically.
Blossom dealt her a dirty slap and her frail body staggered. “Are you stupid or something? Come on, go and wash your eyes!” She hissed elaborately. “And finish up here before I go crazy for you!” She turned round and bumped into my five-year-old son, Paul. He must have been woken from sleep by all the noise. He was drowsy and rubbing his eyes.
Blossom pushed him out of the way with such force, he fell hard on his bum, and burst into tears. My last baby, three-year-old Sharon walked up too, and Blossom scooped her up. Sharon had always been Blossom’s favourite of my children and she never hid it. I couldn’t fault her. Sharon was so cute, everyone simply loved her.
Blossom turned to Paul and yelled. “Ger up and sharrap! Stupid boy!”
My boy went completely still. Blossom hissed and stomped out of the room. I looked at Gift who seemed to have put herself together and continued to work in the kitchen. When she was sure Blossom was gone, she turned to Paul and hugged him. She peeled a banana for him and the boy smiled in appreciation, and a smile involuntarily touched my lips.
The rest of the morning was painful to watch. Blossom hit out and lashed out at my two older children without provocation, and petted the youngest most unnecessarily. They missed breakfast because Blossom was busy…
My husband, Steve, left for his morning jog and came back late, took a glass of fresh juice, took his bath, and left the house. He had spared the children about thirty minutes altogether when he came for the juice.
Blossom was extra sweet with my husband. She poured him the juice, caught up on events from the previous night; she even touched his forehead, and rubbed his back as he sat to drink the juice. The children loved Steve and crooned around him. Sharon climbed on his laps and took a sip from his juice. He gave Paul a sip as well.
Blossom called Gift out of the kitchen, chiding her lovingly for always wanting to be alone when the family was together. My daughter smiled shyly but her stance was stiff. Since they left for the market at about 7a.m, she had been working. This was eleven! She stood awkwardly beside her father’s seat and smiled at him with her lips but not her eyes.
Steve finished his juice, asked the children how they were and told them to keep praying for mummy. Then he stood up. Blossom pulled him into a hug, and he left the house.
My children had lunch at about three in the afternoon. Blossom had cooked and dished the plain noodles for them. Paul asked for more but didn’t get. Sharon passed her plate to him. As he dug into the food, Blossom snatched it away, and scolded Sharon for feeding her brother’s greed.
“I’m full, aunty,” Sharon said softly.
“Even though,” Blossom said. She took the plate of food to the kitchen and emptied it in the trash.
She had cooked a pot of soup as well. She dished a healthy portion for herself, made eba, and ate.
Later in the evening, she would dish from that same soup for Steve.
When my husband got home in the evening, at about 8p.m, my children had not had dinner but Blossom told him they had, and were already in bed.
What she had done was to flog the two older ones, give Sharon some ice cream and sent them all to bed. Then went to sit in the parlour and wait for Steve to return.
He looked tired and frustrated.
Blossom was all sweet and concerned. She served him semovita with the sumptuous-looking soup, and sat with him while he ate.
Afterward, she cleared up and as she washed the plates, he stood with her in the kitchen.
“How is Samantha?” Blossom asked.
Steve shrugged and sighed heavily. “Nothing has changed. She’s still unconscious.”
“Oh my!” She turned and looked at him. “That must be so hard for you. Have they told you what it is?”
“Stress. Shock… I don’t know. Threatened cardiac. And her blood pressure was very high…” He covered his face and sobbed. “I can’t lose her! God, please.”
I hugged my arms to my body.
The night before, I had slumped. My husband had rushed me to the hospital, and I was admitted in intensive care unit. I was unconscious. I was half-dead, half-alive.
Blossom turned to him and pulled him into her arms. She said soothing words to him. “You’ll be fine. You’ll be just fine. You have nothing to worry about. I’ll take care of you. You’ll be just fine…” She cooed on and on and on. Then she started to press her body closer, and pulled his face down to her. And tried to kiss him.
Steve jerked backwards and took a long deep breathe. “I’m sorry.”
She didn’t fuss. “You don’t have to be.”
“I’ll just check in now. It’s been a long day.”
Blossom nodded. “Yeah. You do that.”
“Thanks, Blossom. Especially for looking after the kids for me.”
Blossom smiled. “You don’t ever have to worry about them.”
He took another deep breathe, and went into our bedroom.
Blossom was my friend who had divorced her husband in Port Harcourt, and needing a change of lifestyle, moved to Abuja to start over. They had been married for two years only, and didn’t have any children. She was a successful property broker, but had not yet found a suitable accommodation for herself, though her business was thriving. I had offered to accommodate her in my house. That was eight months earlier.
Tears shimmered in my eyes. I want to come home, God. I must come home if not tonight, tomorrow morning, first light. I need to be back to send Blossom out of my house and my life. She’s evil.
I died for one day and Blossom took over my life. No way. Lord, I have work to do in my home. My children need me. My husband needs me. My life needs me. Lord, help me, please. Save me. For the sake of those lovely children you blessed me with, save me. Help me, O Lord! I want to be with you but my family needs me right now. Save me. I don’t want to die. I want to live. I want to live. I want to live.
“There are tears in her eyes!” A female voice shrieked.
Footsteps followed all over and soon my ICU room was filled up.
“Water…” I whispered. Someone put a few drops on my lips. “Husba…”
“Call her husband!”
I was discharged first thing the following morning. My healing was a miracle. I don’t know if all I saw had happened for real or it was my unconsciousness dream. My children never mentioned it though I tried to make them tell me all that happened ‘while mummy was in the hospital.’
Blossom was very sweet to me.
But I refused to be fooled. Why would she still be in my house after eight months, when she could afford any accommodation she liked anywhere in Abuja… Yeah, she was that rich.
I would not wait for my dream to become real. I gave Blossom a week to find somewhere else to live.
Steve never objected.
By Sinmisola Ogúnyinka