In Ignorant Bliss

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Like a Toad in Broad Daylight

“Fellow woman!”

Nwayinma let the hail from across her compound’s dwarf wall pass unheeded. Ever since her husband’s death many moons ago, she had assumed responsibility for the space it automatically bequeathed her like a man come of age would. Thus she wanted who it was that was calling her not to take her reply for granted. It was at her discretion, she reasoned, to do whatever she wanted – reply, keep mum or even reprimand whomsoever.

These ranged to headier matters like whom she would give her daughter in marriage to, let alone despicable matters like answering hails from across the wall. More so when she was fully aware of whose voice had thrown the wager. Everyone in the entire town, she could vow, was bound to do like she had on account of the antecedents of its owner. Answer the hail, she reasoned, and the rest of her morning chores are sacrificed at the altar of gossip.

“It is me greeting, my husband’s wife.”

It was true to character. Nwanyinma knew this was inevitable. The supposed greeter had made it round the wall to the front gate of the compound, startling the reluctant host from barely two feet away.

“Ugonma, can’t you see that I am busy?”

“So the busy cannot even hear greeting?”

“Did I tell you that I didn’t hear you?”

“So the busy no longer reply to greetings?”

“What are you looking for this early morning Ugonma?”

“Please don’t let your anger stretch too far. Imagine me thinking you are not even at home.”

“Ugonma I am at home. What is it that has propped up that won’t let you allow me thresh my melons?”

“Please pardon my intrusion busy woman who is only threshing her melons now. Is this the time for threshing melons?”

“As if you don’t know that I have been away at my daughter’s?”

“Really? And you do not know that it is why I did not expect to meet you. Why are you home already?”

“Are you not already complaining about my melons? Or you want me to stay there and let my things go to rot.”

“Nwanyinma you and the things of the world; is that why you are not aware that your brothers are sharing their father’s property today, head-daughter like you?”

This took Nwanyinma unawares. There and then, abandoning visitor, threshing stone and melons, she made off straight for her paternal home about half a kilometer away, half-naked.

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