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Image source: pixgood.com “I don’t like having all your relatives in the house!!!” Maryanne y...

Image source: pixgood.com

“I don’t like having all your relatives in the house!!!” Maryanne yelled at the top of her voice. “What is the problem with you? It is my brothers and sisters you are talking about,” her husband, Ikemfuna fired back at her. “So what? Before where did they stay? Why do they all have to live with us? What about your older brothers who care about nothing except themselves? I need some space in my husband’s house; my house!” Maryanne continued her caustic tirade. Ikemefuna got in the car and drove away. When he returned at night he slept in the guest room. He was too angry to be around his wife. “Who told you to touch that soup?” He heard Maryanne yelling at someone in the kitchen in the morning. He covered his ears with a pillow but Maryanne’s piercing voice went right through the pillow barricade and pummeled his poor ears. He grudgingly walked into the kitchen to find out who was on the receiving end of Maryanne’s anger this time. “What is the problem now?” He asked. “It is your stupid brother Kelechi. Look at him. He had the effrontery to touch our soup. They have their own soup in that container but he left it and touched ours,” Maryanne complained. “But honey I have told you to stop making a separate soup for them!” Ikemefuna recalled. Maryanne had the unruly habit of compounding a watery, tasteless soup that was devoid of meat or fish for her husband’s relatives living with them, while she made a more sumptuous pot of soup for herself, her husband and her children. 

“This is my kitchen. I do what I want here!” She yelled. “These people you are treating like animals were the ones who were there for me before I met you. I did not fall from the sky you know. I had a family that looked after me all my life, and it is not bad if I do the same for them now that I am able to do that.” “This is too much. Five of them living with us?” “You would not complain if they were your family. When your brothers and sisters are here, you feed them our soup, but my own siblings, you feed chaff. Enough!!!”  Ikemefuna shouted. He was visibly infuriated. “Kelechi!” “Yes brother.” “Take the soup and eat as much as you want,” he ordered. “Thank you brother,” Kelechi thanked him, ignoring Maryanne. “Get out of the kitchen now if you don’t want me to send you back to your parents Maryanne. Enough of this inhuman treatment to my siblings and cousins.” Maryanne walked out in anger. She talked as she left. “I knew you preferred your family over me. I knew it!”

Slowly, Ikemefuna’s brothers and cousins began to leave. They could no longer stand Maryanne’s harsh behavior toward them. Ikemefuna tried to convince them to stay, but they would not hear of it. “This is my house. I decide what happens here. You are not returning to the village,” he said to Kelechi, but his mind was made up. “Sorry brother. I know you have a good heart, but it is time for me to go.” “You will leave the trade you are learning and return to nothing in the village?” “There will be something for me there or elsewhere eventually. I could use the peace of mind.” The next few days, it was John. He was Ikemefuna’s cousin, whose father helped pay Ikemefuna’s tuition in university. He was studying at ESUT, so living in Ikemefuna’s house saved him a lot of money on rent. Maryanne made sure the house was a living hell for him and the rest of the gang. “I have found a new place to stay in town brother,” he informed Ikemefuna.” “I don’t want you to leave, but if you insist, there is nothing I can do about it. I understand that my house is no longer conducive for anyone to live in including myself.” John did not reply to that. “The next morning, Ikemefuna handed him forty five thousand Naira and he left.

“How much have you given him? That is how you throw money around like mumu (fool). They all come and grab as if it were theirs,” Maryanne yelled at him just before he left for work. “If I had seen this side to you, I would never have married you. I gave your younger brother at UNN a hundred thousand naira some weeks ago. That does not make me a mumu right? But giving it to the boy whose father paid my tuition in university makes me a fool. What has your brother or family done for me? This marriage will soon be over the way you are going.” Shortly, the big house was left for Maryanne and Ikemefuna, their son, Chizuru and their daughter, Ozioma.  “You are happy now aren’t you?” Ikemefuna asked Maryanne. “You have driven everyone away. You can swallow the big house now if you wish.” She ignored him, walked into the kitchen and brought him his dinner. He left it on the dining table and went to sleep in the guest room. He had already eaten outside. It had been over a week since he tasted her food. Maryanne pretended she did not care, but she knew Ikemefuna was serious this time.

Several days later, he returned from work to find her lying on the couch. She was groaning in pain. Immediately, Ikemefuna assumed it was a gimmick to get his attention. He ignored her and went into the guest room. He opened up his laptop and logged onto the internet to read his emails. Anything that distracted him from his wife was a welcome development. Then, there was a knock on the door. Chizuru was banging as hard as his eight-year-old hands could go. “What is it? Who is that?” “Daddy mommy is sick,” he shouted. He opened the door and walked casually to the living room. Chizuru ran as fast as he could ahead of his father. “What is wrong with you?” He asked her nonchalantly. Their house maid ran out of the kitchen with a glass of water. She had sent Chizuru to call Ikemefuna while she fetched a glass of water for Maryanne. “I have pains in my stomach. I have been throwing up. It is worse on the sides,” she said pointing to the sides of her abdomen. “Ikemefuna sensed she might be in serious pain. He ran into the bedroom, got dressed and carried her into the car. She was admitted in the hospital overnight. By morning, the doctor announced that something seemed wrong with her kidney. A battery of tests some days later confirmed the doctor’s initial hunch. Maryanne had suffered kidney failure and she had very little time to live if they could not find a donor for her.

Her parents and siblings were the first to test for a possible match with Maryanne, but no one in her family was a good match to donate a spare kidney to her. He legs began to swell. She suffered serious seizures and complained of drowsiness. Her condition deteriorated rapidly. One evening, her mother walked into the hospital room to find her mumbling in an esoteric language. She was confused. She yelled incoherent phrases. She called to the nurses who came and after about an hour of serious work, they managed to stabilize her. Ikemefuna was tested, his friends and work colleagues and friends of Maryanne even came in and got tested, yet there was no match for her. One evening, Ikemefuna sat outside her hospital room wondering how he’d cope with the kids without her. Despite their differences, he was willing to pay whatever it would take to save her. He pleaded with his siblings, but they were too crossed at Maryanne to volunteer for the test. “It will be alright my child,” his mother said. She had just arrived from the village. When she saw Maryanne, she broke into tears. 

Almost instantly, she forgot her brash and mean nature. She volunteered for the test, but she was not a match either. She called Kelechi afterwards. “Kele, you have to come to Enugu,” she pleaded with him. “This is not time to hold grudges. Your brother’s wife will die if they don’t find this organ for her,” she explained the best she could as she could not describe kidney. “Please do this for Ikemefuna your brother. You know he has a good heart. Do it for God.” Kelechi reluctantly travelled to Enugu with her sister Uzoamaka and two friends, Ozor and Alor. First, they tested Kelechi and Uzoamaka. As they awaited the results of the test, Kelechi, Uzoamaka and Kelechi’s friends watched Maryanne with pity. The queen of her husband’s castle had rapidly degenerated into a vegetable state. Her breath was deep and long. She said very little. When she opened her eyes and saw them, she looked away in shame. “Aunty Maryanne we all pray you get well soon,” Kelechi told her. She looked at him and nodded. “Kelechi and Uzoamaka have been tested. We are awaiting the outcome of the test,” Ikemefuna explained to her. “We are doing all we can. His friends here have volunteered to be tested too, if neither Kele nor Uzo are a match,” he continued. “Thank you,” she said. Her voice had shrunk into a whisper. The next morning, they were informed that neither of them were a match for Maryanne. The room was filled with despair. They were squarely faced with the possibility of losing Maryanne. Alor and Ozor willingly gave in to the test, but they too turned out negative. 

Story Continues…

This story was written by:

Victor Chinoo

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