DAUGHTERS by Basit Jamiu
The wife is knitting black wool; needle twists to create loops on another needle with her hand. She raises her head from the knitting when she hears the sound of the door. Her husband walks through the door.
She casts a glance, then another glance at his tired face. She hisses beneath her breath, her stomach churns and a sudden anger envelopes her, clouding her face first. She lowers her eyes back to her work, knitting faster; needle snakes through the wool to form intertwining yarns of connected loops.
The husband strides to the fridge. His countenance suddenly changes when he sees that the fridge-trays are all empty. His eyes catch the figure of his wife, as though he is just realizing her presence.
“I put water in this fridge before going out some hours ago.” His voice is cracky and mellow. He finds it hard to raise his voice even when angry.
“I have taken it,” she says calmly, not lifting her eyes.
“All of them? All the two bottles?”
“All of them.”
“Why? And you didn’t care to replace them?”
She doesn’t reply. Her eyes on the evolving wools; knitting needle goes through the completed yarns to create more loops on the edges.
Ten minutes is gone.
The room is quiet; the low humming of the fridge occupies the minutes of unspoken feelings, hodge-podge of thoughts running in both minds. But then the husband, Hadi, has taken another sofa to sit, facing his wife, Kamila.
She breaks the silence without raising her head from the knitting, “Who is that woman, Hadi?”
“Yes. That woman. The one you went to see at Nova street along Adebayo road. Who is she?”
“She is just a friend from my primary school days.” He covers his lie with a lowered voice.
“And friends get pregnant for each other now?”
Hadi’s face goes slack as though his brain has gone short-circuted and needs to be rebooted. He opens his mouth to speak. Snaps it shut. Empty with shock. Revelation sits above their heads, ready to descend in fitting arms- hatred or fight- as their eyes meet. Hadi’s eyes, growing with remorse sink lower when he can’t stand Kamila’s fiery gaze.
“Have you done the scan yet? Is it a boy or a girl, ehn?” she asks.
“I ask you, is it a boy or a girl?” she repeats, raising her voice in anger.
He doesn’t cough a word.
“I know you want a boy. I know you desperately need a son. I just want to know what for.” Her voice is breaking into teary abyss.
“It is just eight years, Hadi, just eight years. It is not too late yet,” she sobs.
Hadi catches the first tear that slips out from her left eye to stain her knitting and the thought of his mother rushes to his mind, leaving him conflicted. The next voices that come are their daughters’, Jemila and Hamida. They are back from school.
Hadi stands up and walks to the room, trying to evade his wife’s gaze which he knows is fixed on his back, not answering Jemila and Hamidat’s greetings.
Hours later, Hadi’s mother will call again to remind Hadi about how old she is becoming everyday, and how desperately she wants to see her grandson.
“Just get another wife, son. Get another wife!” she will say but Hadi will not be able to tell his mother that more beautiful daughters are on the way. The scan says it is a set of twins again. Daughters!