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BY FRANK ANOZIE
Mr. Benson Ikedi, Manager at DewLuck Nigeria Limited, woke up and began to dress up for work as usual. By 6.30am he was ready for work. Before leaving however, he took his time to sort out some papers. It was obvious that the papers had something to do with his work, perhaps he was meant to make use of them in the office. It was almost 7am when he locked up his suit case and left the bedroom.
His wife, Mrs. Ifeoma Ikedi was still sleeping when he closed the room door behind him. He didn’t even bother to let her know he was off to work. Not that she was expecting him to; this had been the case for the past 5 or 6years. Ifeoma was a proud owner of one of the biggest boutiques in town. Since she owned her own business, she usually went, got to work at her own time.
Getting to, Upon getting to the sitting room, he walked straight to the exit door,and realized that the door was still locked.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, giving himself a mental knock for being so forgetful. He then walked straight to the dining table where the exit door key was usually kept but it wasn’t there. Slightly frustrated and angry, he began to search all over the sitting room for the key.
It was nowhere to be found.
He dropped his suitcase on a chair and angrily walked back into the bedroom where his wife was still sleeping.
“Where on earth would someone keep the key to the main door if not in the sitting room?” he said to Ifeoma who was already half awake.
She moaned, and said slowly, “Not everyone wakes up as early as you do, you know?”
“This is almost 7am and it’s not early. I just need to know where the key is so that I can go to work; I have to attend a very important meeting at the office this morning.”
“It should be in the sitting room, I think I kept it there after I locked up last night,” she said as she slowly[repetition: how about- drearily, carefully etc] got up from the bed.
“You think?” he stared at her in disbelief and made a sarcastic gesture with his hands, “Where you drunk last night?”
She ignored him, stood up from the bed and walked out of the bedroom, into the sitting room with a piece of wrapper tied across her chest. Beneath the wrapper that reached down to her legs was her light blue night gown.
He followed her.
She began to search the whole sitting room, while her husband watched her in anger. But she didn’t find the key.
“Where else would this key be if not here?” she said, more to herself as she looked around helplessly. “I am really sure I kept it here.”
Benson impatiently looked at his wrist watch, “Oh my God, 7.10am… what is the meaning of all this?”
John, their first and only son, walked into the sitting room. He was already in his school uniform. He was a 15years old SS1 student at Wisdom Child Academy.
Mr. Ikedi might be a huge income earner, but his son never looked it. His dressing was always shabby and most times he preferred flying his shirt with his sandals dirty. Sadly, his parents were not observant enough to notice it and say something about it. Of course his dad was never around to notice and his mum hardly bothered herself with such issues.
“Good morning mum, Good morning dad,” he said and walked towards the kitchen.
“Did you see the exit door key?” Benson Ikedi asked without responding to his salutation.
John stopped, staring at them in confusion; he was never comfortable around them. They had a way of intimidating him and this made him somehow act guilty around them. One could easily think he was guilty of anything because of the way he acted around them.
“Key?” he asked in confusion.
“Young man, do you have idea where the exit door key is? Don’t you know the meaning of key again?” his father insolently rephrased the question.
“No dad, I wasn’t the last person to go to bed last night and I have no idea where the key is.”
Mr. Benson continued to look around the sitting room like John was never there in the first place. Then he looked up at the wall clock in the sitting room and spat, “Just imagine, I should be on my way to the office by now. What nonsense is this?”
At the other end of the sitting room, Ifeoma Ikedi was still busy searching while muttered some things to herself, though inaudible. She was sure she had kept the key on the dining table after she locked up last night.
“Woman, what exactly do you want me to do right now? Just try and remember where you kept this key so that I can go to my office and get ready for the meeting,” her husband angrily said to her.
“I am very sure I kept the key here. Yes, I remember opening the door for you when you came home last night. I locked it immediately and dropped it on the dining table before going to sleep. Linda was doing her home work on the table while Ada was playing with her cell phone on the long seat here.” She said thoughtfully pointing to the black leather seat in the sitting room as she concluded.
Linda and Ada were her two daughters. Ada was the first daughter, an elder sister to John, while Linda was her 9 year old daughter.
“Linda!!” her father called out, almost cutting into his wife’s explanatory speech.
The fact was that the Ikedi family hardly had their dad at home. But the few times he was around were periods when everyone had to act carefully. They all tried to avoid him which wasn’t difficult since he mostly spent his few hours at home in his study and came into the sitting room only when he entertained visitors on Sundays.
But if Mr. Benson called any of them the way he was calling Linda now, they knew there was trouble and trouble with Dad was hell. When angry with anybody in the house, he would use very derogatory words ensuring that his victim looked and felt as foolish as ever. He would attack their self esteem and make them despise themselves.
Unfortunately, Ifeoma his wife, took a large chunk of his constant outbursts.
Linda was putting on her socks when her dad called.
“Yes dad!” she re[p]lied and quickly came out of her room to meet him, wondering what wrong she had done this morning. Her dad hardly interacted with anyone in the morning, especially on week days.
“Where is the exit door key?” he asked immediately she came out.
“I don’t know where it is,’ the little girl replied defensively, feeling that he was asking like he was sure she was with it.
“You were doing your homework on the dining last night when your mum dropped the key, didn’t you see it?”
“No dad,” she replied as he immediately shifted his attention back to his wife who was still looking around confused.
18 year old Ada came out from her room; she had not yet had her bath. She wasn’t having an early lecture this Monday morning. This usually got Linda wondering what sort of school she attended. She didn’t wear a school uniform like her and John. She sometimes came home very early or even stayed at home without going to school for a whole day. Linda thought she was lucky because she didn’t have her type of headmaster who wouldn’t tolerate late coming or absenteeism.
Nobody could explain the difference between being a student in a higher institution and being a primary school student to the naive girl. Her siblings hardly gave her the time of day.
The fact was that Ada was a 100 level student at the state university and was yet to properly adjust to the new life style and challenges that came along with the system.
“Ada, do you happen to know where the exit door key is?” Ifeoma spoke up this time around.
“Isn’t it on the dining table?”
“If it were on the dining table, would we be looking for it?.” Her dad interjected sarcastically. He raised his hands helplessly. “Can somebody locate
this key so that I can leave this house? What sort of joke is this?”
Ada and her mother started to search all corners of the sitting room all over again.
John came out from the kitchen and walked into his room, he didn’t want to be around his father. Linda also left them and got back into her room to finish dressing up for school. The little girl didn’t think the key was missing. She was almost sure that the key would be found; her Dads irritating mood was only making it look bad.
The time was almost 7.30am; Linda hoped the key would be found soon, so that she would not miss the school bus. Nobody was even talking about breakfast; well her mum would bring her lunch box to school later. She would drop it at the school gate and the school guard would take it to her.