“Where is your mother?” Friday thought he heard his father’s voice ask.
Obiora stepped out of the cluttered room he shared with his wife and youngest son, and stumbled slowly into the adjoining living room, while bemoaning the heat in their small and cramped apartment. Being a father of five children meant there was no privacy or free space in his house, but he was used to the dynamics of his family.
He sat on the only fully leathered armchair in the room, running his tired eyes round the room, before finally settling his gaze on his two sons. They were lying down on the flat mattress they slept on every night, engrossed in crossword puzzles from the discarded newspapers he regularly brought home.
Obiora’s body was hot. His throat was sore, and the pressure he felt in his chest was heavy. Maybe I’m thinking too much, he thought to himself. Who would blame him though? Since the day he drove his Oga home from the airport upon Oga’s return from Italy, he had been out of a job. Oga had given him a little stipend and told him his services would not be required until the lockdown was lifted. Unfortunately, they already exhausted the money.
He was grateful for the little income his wife brought home daily from the sales of food in the market, though he had to admit his ego suffered a blow. Obiora had never felt so useless and hungry in his life. “Why are you not at work? You want your Oga to start shouting again abi?”
Friday, the eldest of his sons, raised his head to look at his father. “Tailors are not allowed to work sir. Our shops are also on lockdown.”
Obiora nodded and continued his soliloquy, while his youngest son stared at him.
“Papa is not going to work because of corona shey?” Emeka asked his older brother.
Friday merely nodded.
“But why? Is corona not for only rich people?”
“I wonder too oh”. Na dem e suppose catch as na dem dey travel out. Friday shrugged his shoulders while deep in thoughts. “Oya go and tell Nneka that papa is awake. He will need his food.”
“But the food will not be enough if Papa eats like he does, and I’m hungry too.”
Friday glared at his younger brother, and the latter scrambled for the front door immediately. Friday picked a newspaper to fan himself, as he cursed the power company in his mind. “Ordinary three months’ bill that we are owing, these people still cut our light.”
Obiora smiled at his eldest son’s rambling, although the words sounded so far away. He stared at his swollen hands and feet, before deciding to lie down and think of a way to break the news to his wife. He didn’t have the money to go to the hospital, but he was sure he knew what was wrong with him.
“Where is your mother?” Friday thought he heard his father ask once again.
© AKANNO RAYMOND, June 2020.