What actually led Caro to stop attending school was, back in her Primary School days, she was very poor in Maths and English. During the exams, She usually scored between 2% and 8%. The results used to be announced sequentially, that is, from the lowest to the highest marks. So, Caro would always be the first or second to be called out and flogged. One day, the math results were announced and her name wasn’t among the first to be called out. The teacher got to 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% and 70%, still her paper had not been called out. Everyone in the class kept looking at her asking,
Student: “Caro what’s up? How did you pass this exam?”
Caro: “Na God oo.”
By the time the teacher got to 80%, Caro was already grinning in excitement. When the teacher got to 90%, he had only one paper remaining. Caro was feeling anxious and happy too. She believed her dreams and prayers have been answered. The whole class was amazed as everyone kept looking at her. It was unbelievable. Finally the teacher looked up and said:
Teacher: “One Silly student here did not write her name on the paper and she scored 0%. Who hasn’t received her paper yet?” The teacher asked with anger
Class: “Caro! Caro!! Caro!!!” The whole class echoed.
Since then, Caro with shame refused attending school. When asked by her peers why she had made the decision, she would reply with “Oyibo childlens no dey go school and dem still dey make am, how many of una brothers wey go school don leach moon come back? Abeg flee me joor!”
Kalu was up the next day as Caro fed him with Pap and Akara. He regained consciousness at midnight, when he woke up, he was just screaming, “Caro! Where’s Caro!” it was his scream that woke her up. She was the only one with him, he had gone home to be back the next day, Precious, Ene, Pastor and his wife had visited that night too. Pastor had prayed for him and even poured oil on his forehead. Caro was somewhat annoyed at Pastor, who seemed to be praying in a strange language on top of his head, shaking the head Mama Chinedu referred to as “Alligator’s pepper head!” the nurses had to keep him in check for the sake of other patients.
Caro was worried to death; she thought Kalu was going to die, before she dozed off, she was crying and praying,
Caro: “Papa weydey heaven, weydeymaik Sun, moon an star shine without quarreling come down an heal Kalumy Rova! Heal emabeg. Na him I wan marry. Don’t take my fine bobo leave me o!”
She loved Kalu so much and he loved her too, despite her educational background. She remembered the time she was ill, her appendix had been surgically removed, she became depressed, thinking it was the end of her life; Kalu was the only one who brought her back to normalcy. On her way to the theatre the day the surgery was done, she had made a very long speech, apologizing and confessing her sins; Kalu and the nurses had laughed at her, knowing too well that she was being ignorant.
Kalu could not explain how he landed in the hospital. All he could remember was the incidence in the bus, how he had jumped in between the lady and arrogant conductor and how she sent out a punch, he couldn’t remember anything else. It was later; he found out that it was the lady’s punch that sent him into the hands of oblivion. Caro wouldn’t know about that if not she would laugh and taunt with him that, she would be like “ordinary woman make you faint” she would then let out that annoying laughter of hers. But she knew that he became unconscious as a result of trying to stop a quarrel. There was a heavy bandage covering his left eyes, the punch landed close to that area,
Caro: “I have terring you dis peace keeping missionary will rand you in wahala! Shey, until you making me a widow girlfriend” Please biko don’t make me like my fellow widows.” She pleaded. She was scolding and feeding him at once, most of the patients and their visitors could hear their conversation, he could feel eyes feeding on them.
Kalu: “Widow,girlfriend kwa?”Embarrassed he spoke to her in Igbo, “let’s talk in our language!” he whispered.
Caro: “What dat?” she hissed loudly.
Caro hated to converse in Igbo especially when they were in public but Kalu wasn’t comfortable with her English in public either,
“You embarrassing for me?” she asked
Kalu: “Ah!” he didn’t if to chuckle or getting piqued, “How can I be ashamed of you now!”She acted pissed, “Sorry na Omalichawam! My YoriYori!” he tried touching her but she shrugged,
Caro: “Be leaving me ooo! Left me! That’s how you will be doing and shaming for me anyhow!” she lamented in a crying tone, he didn’t know how to pacify her but he knew if he pretended that he was in pains she’d come running, he pretended that the eye was paining him, it was but he exaggerated the pain, “Ah, e pain you?” he nodded, frowning, “Or are you pretention?”
Kalu: “Why would I pretend about pains na. Can’t you see my condition?”with a sullen face she petted him.
Shortly after the doctor leaves the ward after morning check up, he tells them Kalu is fine but he wouldn’t be discharged until evening, so they’d be sure he is now okay, then IyaKpati showed up with a Ghana-Must-Go bag with blue and white stripes, Caro and Kalu welcomed her, dropped the things she brought and sat down,
IyaKpati: “Kalu,Kalu!” she sat, “You make us feared oo. When we hear you have admission here! We wondering what happun? We tink say you don kpai”
Caro looked at her giggling, obviously she was laughing at her English and accent, Iya Kpati couldn’t have noticed for Caro’s head was down as she served Kalu the fruits Iya Kpati had brought for him. Iya Kpati didn’t put a full stop to her blabbing she continued giving Kalu, as if he were interested the latest happening in the compound, “Kalu, strange things are happen in our compound oo since day break. Two girls they have complaining of missing brown (bra) and panti (pants),” she clapped her hands.
Kalu, didn’t know if he was to laugh or frown, he just sighed showing no interest to continue the gist but she continued, “Ene, is one of the persons and dat lepa, kristy, is di oda person! Dey come an bi souting, eh ooo, who stealing ma kpataoo! Ene have starting and cursing Precious! But, wen Kiristina starting souting we now know dat is a serious sometin o!”
Kalu: “This is serious! But why would Ene be accusing Presh, she doesn’t steal!”
IyaKpati: “Eh, it is only ashewo work she haff do!”
Kalu: “Ah,ah! Iya!”
IyaKpati: “Ah, o ga o! it is no a hiding sometin na! eferi bodi knoo! Di tu both of dem with Ene! Is just dat Precious is a gud person!” Kalu’s showed discomfort as the pain returned, Iya Kpati noticed,”Sorry,Kalu! Maik I allow you rest! Me and Mama Chinedu come see you but she fex as she look for money wey hide fo ‘ouze, e bi laik say na Papa Chinedu go carry em play dat tin oo,” she snapped her finger trying to recall “ehen, naira beti!”
Papa Chinedu was an addict of betting, it used to be Baba Ijebu but with the popularization of European club football and the introduction of sports betting bodies in Nigeria; he ported to one of them, Naira Bet.
Kalu and Caro laughed at the story for they weren’t oblivious of the everyday quarrel between Mama and Papa Chinedu; it was a competition in the compound; the day Iya Kpati and husband fought, Mama and Papa Chinedu would go on break that day.
Iya Kpati: “No bi small fight today!”she said twitching her mouth.
They had discharged Kalu, the doctor told him they he should come after four days for the plaster to be taken off. When they got home Mama Chinedu grumpily was seated outside waiting for her husband who was yet to return. Caro had given him medication so he was fast asleep.
Papa Chinedu was contemplating how to return home. In his mind, he was cursing Arsene Wenger. Two thousand naira was what he used for the bet.
Papa Chinedu: “I swear abi no know wetin I dey tink! Arsene Wenger e no go beta for you! To win premier, no! win Champions league,mbanu! Ordinary Monaco nko? E hard you! God go punish you anywhere you dey! Your fada!!”
He had wanted to play Arsenal versus Monaco, both team to score but following history, Arsenal had, had a better head to head count and with the fact that he was an Arsenal fan, he damned whatever people were saying and gave Arsenal straight win but no, Arsenal went ahead to lose the match three goals to none. If they had won, he would have being a millionaire, smiling on his way to the bank. But see him frowning and contemplating if he should take himself home to be beaten by that disrespectful wife of his. He wondered where she got strength from, he believed there must be demons inside her for he cannot understand someone who is petit but with the strength of Goliath, “I am the man of the house. She go fit do nothing!” he inhaled the snuff in his hand.
By the time he was close to the house, he wore a frown, maybe that would scare his wife, he thought. Before entering the zinc-fenced compound he peeped through a small hole to check if his wife was outside, he saw some neighbours playing chess, he heard footsteps coming towards the gate, he rushed to the gate,it was no one but a chicken roaming around, his heart beat had increased, it seemed like he was going to vomit it out. He summoned courage and went into the compound, he greeted those outside and gently opened the door, Mama Chinedu had gone next door to see how Kalu was fairing when she heard their door creak, she ran out knowing who it was,
Mama Chinedu: “Useless man! I tink say you no go come house today!” she ran towards him. he stood thinking of the next thing to do, the brain was working at a double rate.
Papa Chinedu: “Ehen? Is that how to welcome a hardworking husband? You disrespectful woman! When my father said, ‘Go and marry virgin’, I refused. Now see what I am going through here” he dramatized with his two hands
Before he could say another word, she had dazed him with two slaps, he managed to push her as he was about to run, he stepped on a slippery spot and fell, she pounced on him unleashing some fierce punches but as she noticed that he wasn’t moving not to talk of retaliating she stopped. He had stopped breathing; she placed her ears on his chest and noticed,
Mama Chinedu: “Chi moooo! Make una come o! Mmpa Chinedu,” she called shaking him with vigour, in no time the compound was filled up, the scream had travelled into the ears of the next compound. People rushed in, young, old, men, and women and even crippled.
The noise of Mama Chinedu woke Kalu up who had managed to find sleep, as her voice echoed the pains he experienced increased; it was unbearable, tears dripped down from the healthy eye. There was fire in his head, Caro was confused not knowing what to do; Kalu was rolling from one end of the bed to the other, moaning.
Kalu: “I don’t think I can make it!” he concluded in his mind.
Caro kept praying and crying as Kalu’s groaning was unending.
QUESTION: Was Kalu going to survive the night? What should Caro do?
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