The endless downpour that came with its entourage–the splashes on the window, the brisk wind with its fierce cold that pierces the skin and made one shiver and the worst of them all, the annoying wetness; there was no doubt the raining season was here in full force. In Rivers State, it was as though the cloud was constantly leaking with no form of control like a loose tap. The only explanation most people gave for this was the fact that the state is a rain forest terrain but Nnedimma didn’t care. Some days she wished she could block the pores in the sky or suck up the waters in the cloud, anything, to stop the rain.
With the daily rain, the place Nnedimma dreaded most was home. Only the thought of unlocking the door as she did right now nauseated her. She could perceive from the door that the place would be a mess, but she had no other choice but to face her fears. The first thing that meets her eyes when she opened the door was the spot on the roof dripping water close to the side her and Gozie’s framed picture hung on the white wall. The stench in the sitting room also informed her that the rug was already soaked. They had stopped receiving visitors because of this.
Gozie always promised, in his usual bragging style, a new home that would be nothing compared to this current one. But then as Nnedimma stepped into the damp and smelly kitchen caused by the leaking roof, the bugging question, “when?” overshadowed her thinking. At every turn, there was something irritating to sight; the sections with big holes on the roof whose colour has long changed from white to brown with the wood poking out, the flooded floor with pieces of wood mixed with dirt floating around, the peeling wall, the black wavy stain on the wall caused by the flames from the stove they only used whenever the gas finished and the big rats that ran across the roof.
It took everything in her to hold back from snapping, nagging or starting a quarrel. Some days she bit her tongue whenever she wanted to remind him of her friends’ houses that had lots of luxuries but more importantly, they had refreshing atmosphere. She wanted to make him understand that the reason was because their husbands put in much effort towards their comfort. But she didn’t because she couldn’t. She was always stopped by the strong echoes of her mother’s words, “Sometimes it is best not to say certain things especially when you know it would hurt the next person because you end up hurting yourself as well”. Still, she didn’t want him to feel too comfortable with her silence else he ignores the fact that the place was unliveable and should be abandoned. In fact, she decided firmly, she would tell him her mind tonight and wouldn’t mind if the roof should fall, after all, it only falls once. If they survive this teardown, fine! And if they didn’t, life would always go on.
While still trying to construct her word and imagine the chain of actions and reactions, she heard Gozie’s knock on the door. She could tell because he was the only one who knocked that way. He had once told her his style of knocking was her name divided into three syllables– Nne-di-mma. She stood up and walked towards the door, still fuming quietly. “He would get a piece of my mind today,” she said to herself. As the door swung open, she found a drenched Gozie with a broad smile on his face. “Hey babes, hope your day went well. Today, the rain showed me pepper.”
Barely waiting for a reply from her, he rushed straight to the room to have a change of clothes while she sat on the dining table thinking of the best approach to confront him. When he came out a few minutes later, creeping up behind her, but she wasn’t startled. He squeezed her in a hug and kissed her forehead.
“Babes, what’s for dinner,” he asked.
“The Kitchen is flooded. Who cooks in such a kitchen?” she replied.
He opened the kitchen door to see the damage for himself. “Oh, not again!” he exclaimed. She wanted to start spilling out all she had rehearsed but from the look in his eyes, she could tell he knew her disposition. “Honey, I’m so sorry you have to go through this every time it rains,” he said. He stared hard in the kitchen and took a deep breath. He looked stressed too. “Don’t worry, I’ll clean it and make dinner,” he said and went in search for a packer to scoop out the water from the ground.
Nnedimma felt some pounds of guilt rushing through her as she watched him cleaning up the kitchen. He did it so cheerfully and talked about his day especially his crazy boss. This was the part of Gozie that made her hold on and just trust. He always knew how to make up for things even without her complaining about them. It was the funny way he meticulously threw the ingredients in the pot at the wrong time and the food burns even before it gets cooked; it was his deep baritone voice that sent chills through her being whenever he spoke; it was the way he pulled her up to dance with him to Ed Sheeran’s Kiss Me; it was the way he complimented her whenever she wore a dress; or maybe it was the way he celebrated her small victories in her career; he was literally the life wire of their marriage. Gozie proved Aunty Ezinne’s theory wrong. Aunty Ezinne had always said women were the ones saddled with the responsibility of sustaining their marriages. Well not in Nnedimma’s case. Nnedimma was now ashamed she had thought of being insensitive and thanked her stars she didn’t utter any of the words she had planned to dish out tonight.
That night, as she watched him sleep soundly, she realised her mother was right; most times what is not said, saves not just the next person who decodes the message but also the one who encodes it. She knew right then that her peace in this chaotic house came from staring at Gozie sleep softly. She walked towards the window, sliding it a bit to let in some cold fresh breeze, and then returned to the bed, switched off her reading lamp, shifted closer to Gozie’s warmth and continued to listen to the sound of rain. Whether the sun comes out tomorrow or not, Nnedimma was assured everything would be fine.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
…sometimes what is not said saves not just the next person but you as well…
IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER!