19 Aug More Than A Woman (Part 2)
Having been born and raised in her village and have never travelled before, she was easy prey. With nowhere to sleep, she spent the first night in the open where she was robbed of her money and possessions. The thieves would have done worse if not for a night watchman who had come to her aid forcing the thieves to flee. They fled taking everything she owned with them.
“Why are you outside at this time of the night?” the night watchman man had asked her in English.
She was lost because she didn’t understand. “What?” she replied in her mother tongue.
“Why are you out here all alone at this hour?” the man repeated in her language.
She explained her predicament telling him she just came from her village and she had nowhere to sleep. He asked her more questions about herself and she told him everything about her life. He felt sorry for her and told her to follow him. For her safety, she followed him around for the rest of the night as he did his rounds around the area he guards every hour.
Before it was dawn, she was already sleeping on her feet. She had travelled all day and had not slept all through the night. It was the first night she was spending outside her village, and also the first time she had been outside her village. To make matters worse, she was out in the open, she had been robbed and could have suffered worse at the hands of the robbers. But she ended up walking around with a night watchman for some twenty minutes every hour, giving her very little time to sleep.
When the night watchman’s job ended by 5.00 a.m. he took her to his home, a two room apartment which he shared with his wife and four children. He explained her situation to his wife. The woman smiled at them and asked to speak with her husband in the next room.
She could hear his wife berate him, accusing him of being insensitive. She asked him how he could be so callous as to bring a complete stranger into their home, an overcrowded one at that. Did he know if she’s a witch, a criminal, or if she’s possessed by an evil spirit or something? She called him foolish and much more derogatory terms.
ignoring the insults, he came to her defence and told her he couldn’t just leave her alone outside. He emphasized she wasn’t going to live with them for long because he is going to find her a job, and with time, she would be able to rent her own room. She berated him some more and they came out.
They both smiled at her, but she was very uncomfortable. She wanted to leave, but she had nowhere else to go. She didn’t want to be responsible for causing problems in their home. She was so tired she couldn’t think, or bring herself to tell them she wanted to leave. She fell asleep even before she was served food to eat. She had to be awaken to eat. She ate and fell right back to sleep.
Later that day, the night watchman went out to look for a job for her from one of his former employers, but couldn’t find any. He spent a week going out to look for a job for her, while she spent her time helping his wife at home with cleaning, washing, scrubbing and cooking. That was the least she could do for them as repayment for taking her in.
Her host’s wife was thankful for the help. At the beginning, she didn’t smile as it was clear she didn’t want her around. But with time she became grateful for the help and the company at home when the children had gone to school. She could relax while someone else cleaned, washed, cooked and did the other household chores.
But things changed for the worse when she fell ill after about three months. She was taken to a hospital where they found out she was pregnant. The friendly relationship which had formed between her and her host’s wife unraveled. The night watchman’s wife believed it was her husband’s child no matter how much they both denied that wasn’t the case.
His host’s wife insisted she must leave their home. She cried her eyes out because she was going to end up in the streets again. The night watchman couldn’t leave her like that even though he knew his wife didn’t want him to have anything to do with her. He took her to see a friend’s wife who owned a restaurant in a nearby town.
He explained to the woman she could cook and clean very well. But she would have to provide a place for her to stay. He also told her she was pregnant. The lady accepted his offer. She accepted the offer because she would be paying her far less than what she would normally pay anyone else for the job.
A place was provided for her behind the restaurant just next to the kitchen. The single room was made up of more wood and corrugated iron sheets than cement and bricks. Cartons were used as ceiling boards to lessen the heat, while the single window was covered with a roughly put together shutter. The floor was cemented, but had lots of gaping cracks, while the walls were not covered with mortar. The room got very hot during the day and the temperature during the night wasn’t much better. Yet she was very happy for it.
To be continued…
By Oluwaseyi Olusanya