Chapter 1 {Contd}

A few hours later – a little after twilight-sounds of a revving engine from across the road filled the air. Kenneth looked out of the canopy in the direction of the engine sound and saw Tammy alighting from a tricycle carrying a black briefcase, and heading for the crummy fence that encapsulated the grey bungalow; he could see his four children moving to swiftly encircle him, chanting their greetings. Without much ado, he quickly strolled over to join them.                                       Moments later, they had filed into their little living room and twitched their noses at the fowl air therein. The family’s living room directly adjoined a smaller room that served as the bedroom. Later in the evening, the couple would retire into the bedroom, while Kenneth and the four children would sleep on a raggedy mattress on the floor of the living room, and once they were all sound asleep, the whole lot would cling to one another like a ball of millipedes on a raffia palm. The living room, itself, had a set of old furniture that faced a cabinet compartmentalized to hold a 14-inch TV, a DVD player, a radio and array of dog-eared books. A refrigerator stood beside the cabinet while a red curtain hung over the two windows in the room. The four walls in the room held several bric-a-brac and portraits that captured the family’s special moments: anniversaries, weddings and christenings.                                                                                ‘’Welcome,’’ Kenneth said to Tammy once more.                                                                                           ‘’Yeah,’’ Tammy grunted. ’’How did it go?’’ he asked, slipping into a chair.                                                               ‘’It was a spoof, they’ve already given the job away, the manager told me so.’’                                                     Kenneth replied with a note of exasperation.                           ‘’So how about the interview?’’ Tammy said frankly, his sunken eyes on his cousin’s.                              ‘’That’s what I meant when I said it was all spoof, no interviews whatsoever were conducted,’’ Kenneth said dejectedly.                                                                                                 ‘’A pretty state of affairs,’’ Tammy said as he began to unbutton the yellow striped shirt he wore on the rickety chair on which he sat.                                                                                           The resemblance between the two was striking: both were around six-foot, slim and dark.  Their lanky frames carried oblong heads that had a mass of luscious dark hair. Kenneth however had a small pointed nose, unlike his uncle whose nose was as flat as a pancake.                                                               Kenneth grabbed a wooden stool and sat right opposite his uncle, his dark eyes gently explored Tammy’s sweaty face in his stained underwear while the children sat squat on the faded crimson carpet on the floor muttering to one another in excited tones.                                                                                         ‘’Give me cold water,’’ Tammy said to Patrick, his eldest son.                                                                                The boy looked up at the old refrigerator near the shelf rather disappointedly and said: ‘’There is no cold water, father, there hasn’t been light since morning.’’                                                                                  Tammy‘s face fell as he remembered the pathetic nature of electricity supply to the Gully. ‘’Then give me whatever water there is!’’ he bawled.                 Patrick quickly rose up and fetched a clean glass cup from a plastic tray on the shelf and walked out of the room with it. Then Fikayo stomped into the room, in the loose brown blouse that closely fitted her plump body and a matching wrapper, with a frown on her face and sparks of anger in her eyes which made her look like an ogre, she eyed Kenneth hatefully, and then turned to her husband: ‘’This has got to stop!’’ She shrieked, ‘’beating a child while asleep is a cruel act that can only be done repeatedly by a frustrated job-seeker!’’                   Kenneth became furious and shot her a fierce look.                                                                                  ‘’May I know what the present fuss is all about?’’ Tammy said to her, but rather than give a reply, Fikayo only tightened her dark round face the more, and irascibly pursed her lean lips.                            Tammy then turned to Kenneth, ‘’Yes, how about that incident?’’                                                              Kenneth eyed her revoltingly, and then turned to Tammy. ‘’Jerome messed up the mattress with urine during the night again. The foul odour aroused me, and in annoyance, I gave him a slap on his buttocks just to let him know what he did was nasty,’’ he replied.                                                                                      ‘’Did you hear that?!’’Fikayo flared, turning her glare from Kenneth to her husband. ‘’Beat a child while asleep just because of bed-wetting, what an unthinkable thing! This must stop, I can’t bear it anymore . . . !’’She whined as she spanked out of the room, and as she went out she kept shrilling so loud that her voice reverberated through the whole house.                                                        The screeches, for minutes, jarred Tammy’s nerves where he sat brooding in the living compelling him to reflect on the unending discord between Kenneth and his wife. It was not the first time that a heated argument would erupt between the two. In fact, he was getting sick of it. All the efforts he had made at making the two to have a wholesome relationship had sadly come to naught, which was one of the several things that always beleaguered his mind.                                                Patrick brought in the water and presented it, his father accepted it and drank heartily. After quenching his thirst, Tammy got up from his chair and as he made to leave the room he asked Kenneth to come out with him outside, to the veranda.                           On the veranda, the two gently sat on a bench and watched passers-by through the chinks in the wall and the gateposts which were unsecured by gates.                                                                                           A few minutes of quietude passed between them, then, Tammy began in a somber tone: ‘’the wreckage ball is already up street.’’                                               ‘’Yes I know,’’ Kenneth replied, ‘’I saw the demolishers earlier in the day.’’                                                        Another lengthy hush fell on the scene, then Tammy heaved a sigh then said: ‘’I’m not unmindful of the skirmishes in the home. It’s not healthy for any one, personally I don’t like it, and I’m sure you don’t like it either. Dealing with women requires lot of wisdom, patience and tolerance . . .’’



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