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                                                           “LADIES!!!! You are not a SEXUAL OBJECT! - not a PUNCHING BAG _ no...


“LADIES!!!! You are not a SEXUAL OBJECT! - not a PUNCHING BAG _ not a target for EMOTIONAL ABUSE! You are worth more than that! You were created by God to be a Partner to MEN and not a SLAVE, to provide Strength and support to them not to be used and manipulated by them, to submit to them not to become fools in that process. You have your Dignity and Self Worth. Never sacrifice those!” ― Bolanle John

After prolonged persuasion, Martha agreed to go. “Don’t bother to call honey. Just relax and have fun.” “I will try, even though I know I will be worried about you all the entire time.” “Daddy has all this covered. Just go my love.” Martha checked into Hotel Presidential. Her best friend, Titilayo had agreed to join her for the weekend. Soon after checking in, she called to make sure everything was fine at home. “I told you not to call honey. We are good. Are we doing good kids?” He asked the children loudly. “Yes!!!!” They echoed. Martha could hear them. What she could not hear or see was the mess on the floor and the walls of the kitchen. Anuli had spilled a can of oil on the kitchen floor, while Chidimma left a deep stain on the living room wall with crayon. With the help of the house help, Okoro went about salvaging the situation as soon as he hung up.  Just when he thought he had finished cleaning things up, he heard a loud thud upstairs. It was followed by a loud shriek. “What is happening?” He asked as he made a mad dash upstairs.

Arinze had climbed her parents’ bed from where he tumbled down, landing with his head. He was trying to mimic the wrestling moves he had seen on TV, except, he was not prepared for the ensuing pain. By noon, Martha was on the phone again. At this point, Okoro had just finished pulling Anuli out of their electrical cloth dryer. She went into the dryer while Arinze turned the machine on, spinning her sister like a pile of fabric. If the house girl had not come in on time, the situation could have been worse. “Are you sure everything is fine?” Martha asked. Okoro nearly said, “Please come home darling.” He took a deep breath and said, “All is well my love,” instead. He was sweating profusely. He ran to the kitchen and quickly made rice and sauce which he served the children. They did not like it. “It is not as good as mom’s,” Chidimma said. “Yes, mom’s food tastes better, daddy,” Okoro Jr. added. “Where is mom?” Anuli asked. “I want to see mom,” she continued, smacking the dining table as she spoke. “It is okay honey. Mom will be back tomorrow. If you keep smacking the table, you will not come to the zoo with us tomorrow after church,” Okoro tried to coax her out of hysteria. “Will we see lions there?” She asked with her eyes wide open with instant excitement. “Yes, and elephants too.” “Elephants? “Won’t they attack us?” “Hahaha!!!” Okoro Jr. and Chidimma laughed. They are held in a big cage, so they cannot attack people,” Okoro explained to her.

At the zoo, the children continued to move in the opposite direction from their father and the house help. “Come here Okoro,” he shouted at his first son. “What are you doing there Chidimma?” It was a herculean task controlling the children. He was happy to be back home afterwards. He had the house girl watch over the children momentarily while he went to the bedroom and lay down on the bed. He was gasping for air as he lay there. Then, his phone rang. “Honey how are the kids doing?” Martha asked. “Oh!! They are doing great. Everyone is fine,” he enthused. His eyes were almost shutting as he spoke to her. As if on cue, he heard a loud shriek downstairs. It was Arinze again. He pretended he had not heard it. Thankfully, Martha could not pick it up over the phone. “Are you having fun honey?” He asked her. “I am doing just fine, but I can’t stop wondering how you are coping with the children.” “I am doing well. Amaka (the house girl) is very helpful. Don’t worry about us. Just have fun!!!” As soon as Martha dropped, he placed the phone beside him and dozed off. It was not up to ten minutes before he was woken up.

Anuli banged on the door, forcing him out of bed. “What is it sweetheart?” He asked her on opening the door. “I want to ‘poop’ daddy.” “Why don’t you go and ask Amaka to help you?” “She is already helping Arinze daddy.” “Okay, I will help you,” he said groggily. “You said you were going to play my TV game with me daddy. I have been waiting for you. Were you sleeping?” Okoro Jr. asked. “I will be downstairs shortly!” He answered. His eyes barely stayed open while he played the game with Okoro Jr. “You are passing out daddy. Focus!!!” “I am focused.” “No you are not. I saw your eyes close.” “I was just thinking…I was strategizing on how to beat you,” he lied. “It is a lie daddy. I know sleep when I see it,” Chidimma shot back at their father. Soon, there was a knock on the door. Amaka answered the door and Martha walked in. “Welcome mommy!!!” The children yelled as they ran to her. She hugged them tightly, looking each of them over. “Welcome madam!!!” Amaka said. “Welcome honey,” Okoro said as well. He was still sitting on the couch. He looked exhausted.

“Did you all behave yourselves children?” She asked them. Yes!!!” They shouted jubilantly. ‘Terrible little liars’, Okoro thought, but he was sure not to say it out loud. “You look like you need a big hug too, honey,” Martha said as she walked to him and put her arms around him. You have no idea how much I need a hug…and some sleep, Okoro thought. “It is good to see you darling. Hope you had fun?” “I did. It was awesome. Titilayo and I went shopping. I bought you all something each.” “Can we have it now?” The children asked. “Not yet; soon.” “No now!” Anuli insisted. “Be quiet or you will not get a thing,” she ordered her. “So, as I was saying, we went swimming too. I had a two-hour long massage. It was amazing. I felt very relaxed…” Martha had been facing the children as she spoke with her husband sitting beside her. Okoro Jr. pointed in the direction of their father. Martha turned and looked at him. Okoro’s eyes were firmly shut and his head was tilted to the side. A thunderous wave of sleep had taken over his exhausted body. “Poor you sweetheart,” Martha said. “Go upstairs and sleep honey. I can see that the children wore you out,” Martha said touching him gently. Okoro got up and walked quietly upstairs. He dropped into bed and dozed off immediately.

“Children, it looks like you have worn your father out,” Martha remarked. “Mom, dad was tired all the time. He slept while playing TV game with Okoro,” Chidimma answered. “And the rice and sauce he made tasted like sand,” Okoro Jr. remarked. “It was terrible, mom. Are you going to make us something decent to eat?” Arinze asked. “You should all be thankful to your father. He made efforts to cook for you and look after you while I was gone,” she admonished them. “We are mommy, but now can you cook something that will not make me ‘poop’?” Anuli answered, drawing a raucous laughter from even Martha who was trying to look serious in order to teach them the value of thankfulness. Okoro woke up late at night and set his alarm clock for 5:00AM. As soon as his alarm went off, he dashed downstairs and made his way to the kitchen. Martha was downstairs shortly afterwards, but he ushered her back to the bedroom. “I am in charge of the kitchen this morning. Sleep, honey, I will make breakfast.” “Let me help you!!!” Martha pleaded. She was worried that the product of his cooking may cause a rampage among their children. “No, I am in control of this,” Okoro insisted.

At the breakfast table, he said grace before everyone dug into the fried egg and tea with slices of bread. “Mom, this egg is not firm. It is all over the place like small balls running around on a football pitch,” Okoro Jr. pointed out. “And it does not have any tomatoes or onion in it as you always make it, mom,” Chidimma added. “Mom can I just eat my bread and leave the egg? You have never made it so bad before.” “I am sorry children. I guess I am still in holiday mood. I will do a better job tomorrow,” she promised before her husband could answer. She looked at him and winked. He smiled and said, “I think it is great honey.” “Thanks my sweetheart. The only one who shows appreciation for mom’s work and effort this morning,” Martha enthused. “You are welcome.” “Okay, I will eat it mom…thanks for providing for us!” Chidimma said. “Thanks mom and dad,” the rest of the children echoed. “Thanks to mom. This is for you; for all that you do for us. When we are asleep, you are busy working. Your office is open twenty four hours a day. When you children are sick, mom goes to work. When you fall and throw things, mom gets busy. When we are hungry, mom’s daily restaurant opens its doors to us. When our clothes are dirty, which is all the time, mom’s laundry opens up for service? When you lot need to ‘poop’, mom’s toilet opens for business no matter the time.” “It was the rice and sauce that made Arinze and I to ‘poop’ a lot,” Anuli pointed out. Everyone at the table laughed hard. “I am sorry about that honey, but that was more because mom’s restaurant was not in service at the weekend. Dad’s restaurant services are not very good, as we all know now. So, let us say a big thank you to mom.” “Thank you mom!!!” The children echoed. Okoro walked over to her and placed an elegant bangle on her wrist, an earring on her ears and a watch around her other wrist. “Thanks sweetheart,” Martha said. “No, thanks to you darling,” Okoro replied with a smile. He leaned over and gave her a peck.  “Why do you always do that with mom?” Arinze asked. Okoro Jr. and Chidimma giggled blushingly.


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