I asked my wife about our neighbor, Mr. Gbade as I settled down to a plate of spaghetti and egg. She said she hasn’t heard anything from behind that door all day.
My wife Ngozi loves Zeeworld too. She was watching a show about a girl who’s been chased by four men, classic Zeeworld stuff. Reverse harem stuff. Not my kind of stuff. I’m the gbas gbos type of guy. The James bond, Jason Statham and Liam Neeson explosion type.
I continued eating.
My daughter Rachel screwed her face in her homework. She is a composite of me and Ngozi. She has my large eyes, but they look better on her. All the more eye to tell senseless boys from afar, I always say. She has Ngozi’s dimples and her round hairline.
I asked her, “How was school today, are you still having trouble with that boy?”
“I saw daddy this morning.”
My daughter is like a lot of Nigerian kids; nosy. And like most first daughters; bossy. And when they have a mother like my wife who is beautiful, there self-confidence triples in Fahrenheit.
I know you want me to tell you more about my wife but I won’t. I can’t be investigating both people’s spouses and mine. But my daughter —I’m thinking her bride price will be a little bit high.
She pointed at the door.
I leaned in and whispered, “What did you see?”
Her eyes brightened, “I think Daddy has a visitor.”
My daughter calls Mr. Gbade daddy, I have to ask her sometimes if she means me or him, depending on what we were talking about. I used to tell her ‘daddy’ was for me alone, it is my special property. My wife reminds her instead that I’m not to be minded, every man my age is a daddy. But I’m still in my early thirties, my hairline is receding fast. My wife wants me to have a big stomach before I’m forty. I’m not having it. I glanced at my wife, she was smiling at the TV.
“Did you tell mummy?”
“But your mummy said she did not hear anything— “
“She said I should not tell you, that you don’t use to mind your business.”
Ouch, that hurts. I’m going to divorce your mother and marry my secretary, I thought. I whispered, “If I mind my business we would not have any money, baby.”
“Mummy says minding our business is good for business,” said her with a questioning frown.
I split my egg in two with a fork, I separated the yolk like I have done since I was a small kid growing in Enugu. I made an elaborate show of putting the yolk in my mouth. Rachel turned to see if her mother was looking.
She said, “Daddy give me.”
“No, baby. This yolk is my business.”
She pouted. I gave in.
We finished the egg. Her excuse is I need more carbs than protein simply because she was still growing but I’m not.
“So tell me what you saw, Rachel.”
The show on Zeeworld was coming to an anxious but musical end, my wife had drawn her knees up and her head is bent to the side, like a teenager being carried on by her first romance novel.
How women manage to sustain this flight of fancy with idyllic shows, I don’t know.
Rachel grabbed her pencil with both hands, she blinked large eyes. Those eyes will put boys in trouble.
She whispered, “The man is tall, he looks like daddy. He has plenty of beards, like uncle Emeka— “ Emeka is my younger brother, he goes to UNILAG. “But I did not see mama.”
My daughter turned to her mother.
“Have you finished your homework?”
“What are you doing then?”
I said, “We are eating my egg.”
My wife looked from me to Rachel and back again. I’m a bad influence for my daughter, she might say. Or that I should not tell her stories about other people’s ailing marriages. But she went back to Zeeworld. Another show was beginning. Your Love is Best, was the title. So run-of-the-mill and quotidian.
My daughter beamed at me. She wanted to do more gossip.
“Baby, do your homework.”
That daddy was for me. I’m a daddy too.
I’m curious about daddy Mr. Gbade.