Life! With Habika… ~Ep 4


 

The loud knocks on the door sounded like a sledgehammer and a gong frolicking in the snow.(In that moment, I wished I could stuff snow down Nathan’s throat. Don’t blame me, he’s the arrogant one!)

After five more minutes of patient teeth grinding and irreverent smiles from NJ (why he was enjoying this I had no idea), I stomped to the door and yanked it open.

“WHAT?” I screamed. Really, I screamed.

NJ promptly burst into tears and Nathan looked at me like I had gone completely bonkers.

“Look what you did,” Nathan murmured, staring at NJ, fright reflecting in his eyes.

“Wh..what I…” I stuttered, “Ooh you’ve got nerves Nathan!”

“Make him stop!”

“If you get out of my face, I will.”

“Fine. I’ll give you ten minutes.” With that, Nathan did an abrupt about turn and headed for his apartment.

I stood there, mouth open in wonder at his arrogance and presumptuousness. It was NJ’s weepy, cheek-grabbing antics that snapped me out of it and I slammed the door shut again (I could almost hear the hinges grimly protesting the abuse.)

Wise man that he is, Nathan didn’t dare return after ten minutes as he promised.

Few hours later, just as I was about to turn in for the night, I went to double check the locks on the front door when I saw a folded paper on the floor.
As I bent down to pick it up, I already knew it was from Nathan.

I apologise.

I haven’t been the most courteous human being since all this happened.

I’m sorry.
It is required that the baby be present at the burial ceremony. I know it’s asking for much more than you signed up for. But can you come with him? I believe he’s adjusted to you now. It would be pointless to have anyone else handle him.
Nathan.

I shook my head as I read the letter, even as a small smile tugged at the edge of my lips. 

So formal. So straight to the point. Nathan certainly had no grey areas.

Fine.

Since you asked so nicely, I’ll come.

PS: You’ll find attached the bill for items purchased for NJ (if you refer to him as ‘the baby’ again, I’ll dump all his dirty, yucky diapers on the hood of your car.) Please refund cash to written account details ASAP.

And I slipped the letter beneath his front door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Less than two weeks later, the mass burial was over. It was one of the most heart breaking moments of my life. There was no dry eye to be found. 

Well, except for one. 

Nathan.

Through all the preparations and rushed calls and overnight travels, he remained stoic. In his brother-in-laws’ hometown, he seemed to simply go through the motions, accepting the pats on the back and wailing sympathies with cold kindness. 

It was there, through the morbid grapevine, that I discovered Nathan was an orphan. Father and mother had both died under mysterious circumstances when he was a teenager.

My heart ached for the man who had apparently lost the last anchor he loved.

Everyone exclaimed at the striking resemblance between uncle and nephew. And after several vain attempts to explain that I was neither Nathan’s fiancée nor wife, I resigned myself to simply smiling and nodding my head solemnly to the exclamations of “Ndo Nwunyem” (Sorry, my wife), at the same time fielding cross examinations into my family lineage.

(Have I mentioned? My knowledge of my native language is depressingly sparse. Again, don’t ask, won’t tell. Let’s just say I have weird parents.)

The day after the bodies were buried, I returned to the city.

After nothing but a few stolen, rushed moments of checking in on me and the baby during our stay in the village, Nathan sent a message to me in the early hours of that morning, saying he thought it’d be best we returned that day, that he had made arrangements for a car to drive us straight home (Us being Nathan and I only).



As I ran around, hurriedly putting our stuff together, I had to keep telling myself “Just stay calm. He’s under a lot of pressure right now”. 

We arrived at my block of apartments few minutes past six o’clock that evening. The driver, suddenly irritable for some unknown reason, had threatened to drop me off at the gate of the estate, not minding that I carried a child and lots of luggage. Not until I threatened to slash his tires and have him arrested to boot did he reluctantly drive in and dump me and my belongings unceremoniously at the front gate. 

He was lucky NJ was awake just then, so I had to swallow the retorts bubbling up inside and settle for staring daggers at the retreating car.

The security officer for our building saw me looking helplessly at the luggage, and thankfully rushed out to assist me.

To my surprise, as I walked towards my apartment, the lights were on. As scatterbrained as I can be sometimes, I’d never leave the lights on when I know I’ll be gone for an extended amount of time. (One time, in the one room apartment I’d lived in previously, I had forgotten to turn off the lights and went to work. The power company restored power in my absence and the surge was so strong and unstable. I came home to meet my front door broken down and the walls of my kitchen turned black. Thank God for good neighbours who had saved me from losing everything in an inferno.)

I halted mid step. 

Was that music I heard streaming out from my living room? 

The security officer noticed my hesitation and asked;

“Madam, were you not expecting visitors?”

“No, none that I recall.” I responded, something in his question alerting me that I was about to be rudely surprised.

Just then, the front door burst open, and there stood my brother, Baraka, second in line to the throne of the Gabriel clan. (Don’t you just love my parents? Let me explain. They took a fancy to naming each one of us with an indigenous name of every country they’d visited together. Most people call Baraka ‘Obama’ as a joke.) 

His sheer bulk filled up every available space in the doorway, and a silly grin split his handsome face.

“Habibi!” He exclaimed, arms spread wide, expecting I’d walk into his bone crushing embrace. 

As if…

“Someone please tell me I’m imagining things…” I whispered, feeling a weight suddenly settle upon me. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with at the moment.

“Why the long face? Aren’t you happy to see us? We brought Nutella!”

Us! 

I stood on tiptoe and looked over his shoulder. Indeed, the third in line was present. There was Arjana, strolling towards us with a spoon stuck in his mouth (it’s almost impossible to see him without his mouth crunching down on some snack. He is always hungry, and still managed to remain fit! So unfair…)

But back to reality, I lifted my gaze to the sky and wondered what forces had connived to make this month a stressful one for me.

Then I remembered. 

My Mom had instituted a ridiculous law that mandated that one or two of my brothers check in on their baby sister and upset her ‘mundane’ schedule for a minimum of two days monthly. They actually placed bets to decide who had to go. I had managed to avert these visitations for the past two months. But alas, no more…

Arjana (Arji for short) was the first to notice NJ.

“Hello! Who do we have here?” Arji asked, pushing past Barak’s bulk with arms stretched out to carry NJ. 

Surprisingly, NJ responded with a wide, toothless smile (He had refused for anyone to so much as tickle his cheeks in the village. That’s why I felt so physically tired from having to carry him all the time.)

“He’s as cute as I was as a child,” Barak declared with all the assurance of a pleased peacock. 

Nobody could accuse him of being too modest.

“You wish!” Arji retorted, throwing NJ high up in the air and catching him deftly (I almost fainted at that, but quickly recovered to avoid being endlessly ribbed for having no spine.)

The little traitor simply let out a cackle of heartfelt delight at the rough handling.

“How did you get in?” I asked, knowing I had kept no spare key they could find.

“Odiong here told us you were out of town,” replied Baraka, giving the now trembling security officer beside me a big smile. “We convinced him you were expecting us and simply forgot to drop the spare keys. Then Arji jimmied the lock.”

I gave Odiong a withering look, to which he promptly went down on one knee;

“Madam, I swear, if I know say you no know, I for no allow…”

“Stop. Just go.” I cut him off, not in the mood for his accented groveling.

“C’mon Habibi, don’t be like that. He knows us and just thought it’d be okay. Here, Odiong, take this for your trouble.” Arji handed over several thousand Naira notes to him, not bothering to count it. 

Show off. 

“Thank you sir! God bless you sir. I’m still sorry Madam,”chanted Odiong as he fairly danced back to his quarters.

Traitors everywhere.

I looked at NJ, happily pulling on Arji’s beard; at Barak, now rifling through the contents of my duffel bag and made up my mind on the best course of action.

“I’m going to bed!” I announced, marching past them and heading for my bedroom.
“Please bring in my luggage. His name is NJ. If he starts crying, his cereal is in the blue carryall. Two spoons of milk only please. And he probably needs a bath and a change of diaper too.”

I got to the door of my bedroom and turned around to give them one last instruction;

“No one knocks on this door until after two hours.”

I clicked the door shut. 

Truth is, I wasn’t worried that they couldn’t handle NJ on their own. My brothers (especially Arji) were quite good with kids too. Unlike certain men I could mention…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next forty-eight hours comprised of me being thoroughly interrogated on why I was caring for a strange child. Once they had established that NJ wasn’t one of my babysitting charges, they pressed in with the questions until I had spilled out everything…and then some (I might have painted Nathan black a bit too strongly, but I was still pissed at him).

By the second day, I just ignored their questions. Mostly because it turned annoying. Barak in particular, kept asking if Nathan was going to make an honest woman out of me.

Like seriously? 

I knew he asked just to get a rise out of me, so I obliged every time by hauling the nearest object I could find at him. 

Seriously! My brothers are a breed like no other. 

But if I must be truthful, then I’ll admit that having them around was a Godsend.  NJ was in love, barely giving me a second glance once any of my brothers were present in a room. He particularly adored tugging on Arji’s beard, and always found reasons to throw up on Barak’s shirt. 

Basically, I finally rested.

Three days after our return from the village, my already drama filled life was given another episode.

I was dozing in my room, having just returned from a shopping spree with my brothers (one thing my brothers excel at is having a good time). Through the haze of a gradual emergence from deep sleep, I heard the muffled sound of scuffles and raised voices. I finally pried my eyes open and realised the noise came from my living room.

I threw on a robe, splashed some water on my face and stumbled out of my room. 

The sight that greeted me was Barak and Arji standing intimidatingly over Nathan, who was seated on a chair in front of them, his back to me. NJ was in his high chair, hitting the table top with his fists in excitement and making happy, gurgling noises.

“Nathan? What’s going on?” I asked, sensing something was amiss, just not sure what it was.

When Nathan turned around to look at me, I gasped in shock and outrage. He was nursing a black eye and a swollen upper lip. He still managed to give me a smile, more of a grimace actually, and said; 
“Hello Habika. I’m guessing these are your infamous brothers.”

Through my shock at the condition of his face, I noticed the mean, but guilty looks on the faces of my brothers.

It really can’t be too much for me to ask for a week of no drama, can it?

Photo credit: Black Art @Pinterest; @shutterstock

#OLD #babies #LifeWithHabika #unexpecteddad #ourlittledarlingss #Momforhire #LOL

This is Episode 4 of

Life! With Habika…

{Sorry it took so long. Drama everywhere! Still, I excitedly await your comments, likes and shares.}

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16 thoughts on “Life! With Habika… ~Ep 4

  1. Haha, yeah!
    Oh I wish you could see my face as I read Nathan turning back with a black eye, swollen lip and still smiling, he probably also lost a tooth or two. Damn! Her brothers gave him a treat; and what was NJ doing? Was he like “Get on with it guys, paint the oda eye, make his teeth like mine, and play some hard metal while you’re at it”. I’m beginning to get ideas already. I’m furthering my studies in animation and this will definitely be my project. Thanks Spledoura! I hope I have your permission to go on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why does Habika remind me of three persons I know. She’s a combination of all three!!!
    The story is getting intense and I’m thrilled, only that I wish it will just continue till the end.
    Kudos ma’am

    Like

  3. oh! this story gets sweeter by day. I grinned through this episode. sweet fear gripped me with the entrance of Habika’s siblings into the story, ghen ghen! But I like Arji… love maybe. For he’s good with kids. lol.

    Ride on Splendoura! you’re very loved.

    Liked by 1 person

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