The sky was blue when you came back from the streets after hours of walking here and there, from office building to office building, sweating under the scorching afternoon sun as you steeled yourself against the variations of no vacancy that welcomed you at the gates.
The sky was no longer blue when your stern-faced landlord threw the last of your things outside, your mattress, your wet clothes hurriedly removed from the line, and bags and stuff from the kitchen packed in a jute bag.
Your wife looked into your eyes, the eyeballs that had inspired you to write poetry and love songs now seemed to be accusing you, taunting you for being a loser in this dysfunctional African state where the loser eats dust and gets no mercy.
Three years ago when you moved to this house you just got a job in a bank, and you had a place behind one of the shiny desks where men and women in well-tailored suits would welcome customers into the air-conditioned banking hall with practiced smiles.
You were winning, you knew the rules of the marketplace even though many would swear there were no rules, you knew your way where there seemed to be no way, you knew the difference between the regulations meant to keep up appearances and the things that matter in the apparent lawlessness.
Your wife walked into your life one afternoon after four months of working at the bank. You would never forget her walk to your desk, like a model walking on a runway, she had white short-sleeved shirt, gray skirt and black heels, she had an Afro, and she was your real introduction to a fully formed idea of a home. She was on holiday and was planning to go back to school in the US, she came to process a transaction, she was a final year student at the University of Texas who wanted to pay her fees.
You got the official part out of the way and were shocked at your eloquence when it was time to tell her your dreams about her and how you felt for her.
She came back to Nigeria for National Service after her final year and promised to marry you, but her family united against the idea like an army of haters, it started when you invited her to see your father and she offered him a handshake. You blamed yourself for not telling her the dos and don’ts when it comes to relationship between Yoruba adults and Igbo youths. Your father thought she was badly bright up and the rest of your family shared the sentiment.
According to them she was from the wrong tribe, the wrong religion, the wrong region, and her mother smokes like white people, what kind of daughter will that kind of woman raise?
So on your wedding day it was just you and your lover, and two of your cousins, and one of her siblings, and one of your colleagues from the bank. Six of you sat in the courtroom, dressed in your best clothes and smiled as much as you could for the camera.
“So, what’s your plan?”
Her question brought you back to reality. You didn’t have a plan, you didn’t have an answer, you were hoping she would understand but she has been understanding for the past two years, she has been patient from the day you lost your job because you decided to report a deposit into the account of a suspected fraudster, a man you’ve helped with his dirty money for months before your so-called encounter with the Lord. It was what the books said to do, but no one at the bank follows the books and you knew this from your first day at work.
“Femi, I’m talking to you. There is nothing left to sell and now we are homeless.”
You have been living on her salary for months, and the reason for this forceful ejection was your foolishness when you attended a church program where the invited minister talked about a seed and how a seed could bring about supernatural harvest that could stun you. You wanted an end to your search for a job, you were desperate for a miracle.
All you had during the program was the rent she had transferred from her account the previous day, her last stretch of hope that things would turn around for you, but now the money is in the bank account of the sleek-talking prosperity preacher, and you are here, looking for answers to your wife’s question in the gray cloudy sky.
“I knew this marriage is cursed when our parents ignored our invitation.”
“No, sweetheart,” you reached for her hand but she shrugged it off. “We are blessed, not cursed.”
“You should have just applied wisdom when that man got the money into his account. Who told you the government or the bank is interested in prosecuting fraudsters? Who the hell did you think you were? The FBI? The equalizer? I’ve tried my best for you, dear, I’m not going to be homeless with you.”