“Hello babe, sleep okay?”
“My heart,” and as always this made me smile, “I am good. You nko?” Cynthia asked.
“I did too. How is Bobo doing?”
“He’s here beside me, sleeping. Mumsi thinks I should wake him up to bathe, but I am happy to let him wake up by himself. Meanwhile, you are now proud abi?”
“What did I do this time?” I asked.
“You didn’t let me know when you got to work. Is that the new one now?”
“Go jor,” I said. “I didn’t want to disturb you ni.”
“Ehn, you could have sent me a message.” She wasn’t going to let me off so easily.
“Oya don’t cry, I will not do like that again. You said we need help, kilode?”
“I woke up in a bit of a panic,” she said, “and thought of how time is going. Small time now I will be returning to work and we can’t keep mumsi here indefinitely. We should get someone soon so that they can learn what needs to be done and the transition will be seamless when mumsi leaves.”
“Oh that?” I finally relaxed.
“Yes, what did you think it was?”
“I dunno, just…” I pinched the bridge of my nose, something I did lately to help me gather my thoughts. “We’ve talked about this help situation nau, I’m game. Do you know anyone we can ask?”
“I’ve spoken with a few people and the stories I have heard both frighten and amuse me.”
She told me about a friend of hers who recently let her help go. The girl asked for a stove, set of pots and extra money because she didn’t eat pasta and some other food they cooked, plus they didn’t cook with iru the way she liked it so she felt her request was in order.
“Wait,” I said when I was done laughing. “Stove to put where? In the same kitchen, or to cook in her room?”
“She’s crazy ni. They just told her okay, and helped her pack her things the next day.”
“Na you know. I’ll get the number for the agent sha and give her a call.”
“Okay then babe…”
“Your son is up. Let me take him to mumsi. Talk with you later babe. Love you.”
“I love you too.”
The next week Cynthia called to say she was meeting with someone the agent brought.
“Okay hun,” I said. “Let me know how it goes, okay?”
One hour later I checked my phone to see messages from Cynthia. The interview went well and they were on their way to a primary health center to run some tests. She’d keep me posted.
The next time we spoke she told me the lady was a 23yr-old from Jos with basic education, enough to work with and develop if she felt inclined to do so. She was expected to resume by the next week.
Resumption date came and went and there was no sign of the lady. She didn’t call to say she wasn’t coming or anything like that. Cynthia gave her two days before calling the agent who apologized and promised to bring somebody else. The girl finally called two days later – four days after she was due to resume – with some story. Cynthia was over her.
Three days later she called me and was really excited. She had just interviewed a new girl, 21yrs and from the east. She had just completed her SSCE but her family couldn’t afford university so she wanted to work and earn some money to eventually pay for university. She checked all the boxes and Cynthia. Was. Excited. They were at the health center awaiting her test results.
When my phone rang again and I picked it, I could hear the dejection and disappointment with the first words she said. “Babe, we’re just leaving the hospital and I am just tired.”
“What happened?” I didn’t realise how much I had bought into her excitement until the emptiness hit my stomach.
“Wo, she’s pregnant jare.”
“I’m just imagining how mumsi will feel when she hears. She was already acting like the girl was her second daughter. Let me call you when I get home.”
“Okay babe, drive safe. I love you.”