Diary of a Fusspot(6)

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What do you do after your safe secure world has come crashing down?

Well, you get up and keep going. And that was what I had decided to do. Ike’s news was terrible and that first night I had a horrible nightmare that the police came to arrest him. He woke up and we prayed together. Our predicament was made even more real when for the first time in years I realized that Ike would not dress up to go to work.

“I’ve been suspended honey,” he said softly when I asked him why he wasn’t preparing to go out. Of course, silly me, I thought. It still seemed like I was living in a dream.

“Let’s try to look on the bright side of things honey. At least I would be able to spend more time with Anna.” He said trying to smile. Bright side? I thought. There is no bright side to this.

Then I realized this was harder for him than even for me. He was trying to stay positive. I needed to try too. “Yeah, Ok,” I said with a bright smile. “I’m putting you in charge of nappy duty.”

That was a stroke of genius on my part. Bright side for both me and him. What better way for father to bond with child than changing soiled nappies?

I found time to do other things since I didn’t constantly have to worry about the baby. I polished the floors till they shone. I washed my hair. Then I remembered that my flowers needed a little watering and that was when the trouble started.

As soon as I came out with my watering can I noticed that Christy was in front of her house watering her own flowers. For one spilt second I wanted to run inside but she had already spotted me. I could never allow her to find out that Ike wasn’t going to work. The whole neighborhood would hear in minutes.

“Hey,” she called out cheerily. “Looks like we’ve got the same idea.”

Oh why today of all days, I grumbled inwardly but managed a smile. “Sure does.”

“How come Ike’s car is in the driveway?” she said pointing to his Lexus. “Is he at home?”

For a spilt second I considered saying no and then thought better of it.

“Yes he is,” I said shortly. “He needs to rest.”

“Oh ok. Hope all is well,” Christy said with concern on her face.

“Everything is fine,” I replied. That was a declaration of faith.

To my relief, she didn’t press further but launched on to what was for her a more interesting topic.

“So have you seen Titi since that time?” she asked me.

I had all but forgotten about Titi in the wake of Ike’s news.

“No I haven’t,” I replied. Perhaps I should give her a call. Besides it would distract my mind from Ike’s horrors at work. I had managed to pry her number out of her when she came to my house. And it seemed like she still didn’t remember me from our undergraduate days.

“I hope she’s fine though,” Christy said with such warmth that I looked at her with some amazement. Had I been judging this woman too harshly? Was she less shallow than I had originally thought?

“I hope so too,” I said.

Once I got in I picked up my mobile phone and dialed.

“Hello,” I said when she picked the call.

“Please who is this?” The voice sounded groggy somewhat. Perhaps she had been taking a nap.

“It’s me Chinelo,” I said cheerily hoping she wouldn’t be annoyed that I woke her up.

“Oh Chinelo,” she said in recognition and then stopped in midsentence as I heard a loud clang and the sound of something breaking…like glass.

“Stop it, stop it,” Titi shouted then she realized she was still on the phone nwith me. “Sorry Chinelo, I have to go.”

“’Is everything all right?” I was saying when she cut me off.

I tried calling back after a few minutes but she wasn’t answering. Dear God, I hoped she was alright. What could be going on there?

I called several times and an hour later I got a text message that said:

“I am fine Chinelo. One of my boys just broke a set of dishes accidentally. Thanks so much for your call. See you soon.”

I didn’t believe it. It sounded like someone deliberately broke something. Something was definitely going on in her house and now more than ever I was determined to find out what it was. I wouldn’t wait another day.

 

Diary of a Fusspot(5)

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who saw Titi’s tear stained face the previous day. Apparently Christy had seen it too when Titi was walking back home because by midday the next day she was knocking on my door. Somehow that woman manages to see everything from her window. How she does that in between watching African magic and forever fixing her nails I’ll never know. Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little.

“So what was wrong with her?” Christy demanded to know.

Did she think I was a psychic?

“She told me she thinks it’s the stress of the move. That it affected her nerves,” I said flatly.

Christy laughed in disbelief. “Tell that to the birds my friend!”

“I told you since the first day I met her I knew she was hiding something. Maybe she’s in some financial trouble. Only politicians can afford that kind of house which I doubt she is. Or maybe she has a terminal illness like cancer. Or maybe her husband is cheating on her…”

“Christy stop, just stop speculating!” I said and raised a had attempting to halt the conversation.

“We should be praying for the woman not speculating about what is happening to her.”

“Yes, we should pray Chinelo. But is it not better to know what to pray about so our prayers would be focused? You should have asked her Chinelo. If I was here I would have got it from her.”

I’m sure you would, I thought dryly.

Aloud I said: “It doesn’t matter Christy. We can pray for her all the same.”

Then in an attempt to put an end to the subject, I put on the TV for her while I excused myself to change and feed the baby. While doing that, my mind kept reverting to something Christy had said about her husband. From the way Titi reacted it seemed plausible that the cause of her upset could stem from her marriage, because I had just mentioned her husband’s name before she burst into tears. Whatever it was, I had a strong hunch that it had something to do with her husband. How to find out the truth and how to help her I didn’t really have a clue.

Ike came back home the same way he left looking perplexed and bothered. My tall handsome muscular husband with a perpetually smiley face now having worry wrinkles on his forehead and a frown was not something I was used to. Still, he would not talk to me or reveal what the problem was. I wanted to force a showdown. Talk to me or else…

Then I thought better of it. It may only make things worse. He would talk in his own time. Then a thought crept into my brain. He better not be cheating on me or else…I could feel myself breaking into a sweat.

T got down on my knees and prayed. God was the revealer of secrets. He alone knew what was going on in Ike and Titi’s minds. Baby needed my attention and I was getting ready to feed her when Ike came into the nursery.

“’There’s been an investigation in the company Chinelo,” he said plopping down beside me. We had auditors come in and now I’m being accused of corruption. Myself and two other branch level managers.”

I nearly put the baby down as the icy hands of fear gripped my heart. No, this could not be happening.

Ike’s voice droned on. It seemed like it was coming from far away. “I have been suspended for two weeks until this issue is sorted out.”

His hands grip mine. “I don’t want you to worry Chinelo. We’re going to be fine.” I nod dumbly while I see flashbacks of the Louie Vitton bag he bought me for my birthday and our trip to Paris last year. It couldn’t be that it was true, could it? I knew Ike. He wouldn’t do a thing like that. Or would he?

I knew I was supposed to say something encouraging to him but I just nodded dumbly.

He answered my unspoken question. “I didn’t do it Chinelo,” he said softly.

I hugged him in relief. “Of course you didn’t,” I whispered in his ear. Nonetheless my safe secure world had come crashing down.

 

 

 

Diary Of A Fusspot. Episode 4

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I was nervous as I stood in front of the two story duplex. Christy loudly smacked on a wad of gum. I had written: “Welcome to the neighborhood,” in spidery letters across the top of the cake. Now as I held it, it looked like a childish scrawl. The last thing I would want is for Titi Lawrence to poke fun at my famous chocolate cake.

We knocked lightly then slightly louder. No answer. We waited and knocked again. Then suddenly a pale red rimmed face appeared at the door. I almost did not recognize her. It was Titi. What could be wrong with her? Would she recognize me?

“Hi, welcome to the neighborhood,” I said and offered her the cake.

She took it and smiled but her smile didn’t seem to quite reach her eyes.

“Thank you very much,” she said softly.

“I am Christy and she is Chinelo,” Christy offered in between smacks of chewing.

I saw something that looked like a flicker in Titi’s eyes. Was it recognition?

“My name is Titi. Titi Banjoko. It’s so nice to have such wonderful neighbors,” she said absently.

Beside me, Christy was nudging me to take note of something but I couldn’t see whatever it was she wanted me to see.

“Well we live over there,” I said pointing to my modest bungalow and Christy’s more opulent duplex.

“We’re very sociable here. Feel free to drop in anytime,” I said hoping she would invite me too.

“I’ll be sure to take note of that,” Titi said. “Thanks again Chinelo and Christy. My family truly appreciates this.” She made a move as if to close the door.

“I do not mean to be rude but I really must go now as I have some pressing matters to attend to.”

“Of course,” I mumbled. “Not a problem.”

“We understand,” Christy added and we backed away.

On the way back home Christy was full of chatter about Titi. About how red her eyes looked and how old her weave-on was and that it needed changing and how expensive her brocade material was.

I was concerned with only one thing.

Titi was sad for some reason. And I wanted to know why. I was fairly certain that to maintain her image in the community she would try to repay us with a culinary feat of her own. Perhaps when she did it, I would have my chance to talk with her.

The baby was soaked when I got home never mind that I had left her with her grandmother. But granny was interested in the intriguing characters on African magic. I was beginning to hate that station. The things it does to good women.

I had barely got the baby changed and dinner on the cooker when Ike arrived. He was earlier than usual and he did not look happy. It seemed he was trying to hide it from me because he tried to act as if nothing was amiss. I waited till after dinner to ask him but he wouldn’t say.

“It’s nothing dear. I’m just tired,” he said planting a kiss on my forehead. My internal radar told me that that wasn’t all. But I didn’t want to push. He did look tired. My brain was very active though wondering what it could be. It wasn’t that he was getting laid off work, was he? Did his business deal go sour? Would we have to move from this house? Perhaps I should find a job immediately. I managed to stop myself. Breathe, Chinelo breathe, I told myself. God’s got this, whatever it is.

Titi showed up sooner than I expected. I was rounding up some business online the next day when the doorbell rang. It was Titi with her culinary feat. She had made a batch of homemade cookies. She appeared brighter than the previous day and she said nothing about recognizing me from an earlier time. I was quick to invite her in and then I took one of the cookies she had made. It was absolutely scrumptious. I had expected nothing less. Titi at her competitive best.

“These cookies are amazing Titi. Your husband must be truly lucky to be able to enjoy such wonderful cooking,” I said as she sipped on a glass of lemonade.

To my shock and dismay, she suddenly burst into tears. She wept profusely fior about five minutes while I awkwardly put a hand on her shoulder and got her a tissue.

Then she dabbed at her eyes with a tissue and looked at me with a tearful smile. “I’m really sorry Chinelo. I’ve just been stressed a lot lately with the move and all and my nerves are not handling it very well.”’

I looked at her with concern. Her skin looked almost translucent. “Are you sure that’s all it is?”

“Yes. I’m fine.” She seemed embarrassed or standoffish and she got up to leave. “Thanks a lot Chinelo. See you around.”

I walked her to the door with many thoughts swirling through my mind. Clearly she was hiding something but what? And how could I find out?