The Dinning Room
‘What’s wrong with you?’ Kene said, irritated.
She got up and walked over to her Okey. Chief looked amused; Sarah shook her head while Jude’s eyes remained glued to the TV. Kene tried to pick her husband from the ground.
‘You drink too much these days,’ she scolded.
She stood over Okey, blocking me from his view as he rolled off his back to his knees and hands. Kene righted the chair.
‘You are now a father. You should act more responsibly.’
I was suddenly filled with anger. I hated the way she touched him but more importantly, I was offended by the words she said to him, calling him a father. I stretched out my hand and struck her plate which was filled with unripe plantain and vegetable, off the table.
Jude jumped. ‘What just happened?’
‘Okey fell of his chair,’ his sister replied as she walked back to her seat.
‘No, I mean your plate. It fell off the table.’
She stood looking at her smashed plate and the spilled food for a few seconds. The floor here was black marble, just like in the hallway.
‘What are you waiting for?’ She snapped at the hovering manservant. ‘Clear this mess and get me another plate.’
Okey was still on all fours. He was facing the chest of drawers, his butt to me.
‘What are you still doing on the floor? Get up and eat your food. You need food to soak up all the alcohol you have consumed this evening,’ Chief said.
Okey got up slowly to his feet, his back still towards me and shook his head to clear it.
‘Look at me, Okey,’ I called to him. ‘Look at me and see what I have become.’
‘No,’ I heard him whisper.
‘What is wrong with you, man?’ Jude snapped. ‘Sit down and eat your food. Look at the idiot you married,’ he said to his sister before fixing his eyes back on the TV in disgust. Kene gave him a murderous glare.
‘Okey, stop embarrassing yourself and sit down,’ she yelled at her husband.
‘No,’ he said.
‘What do you mean no?’ She rose to her feet. ‘Sit down now, you drunkard.’
‘Okey, look at me,’ I said again.
‘No,’ he roared. Without turning, he said, ‘I’m going upstairs I need to lie down.’
He started to shuffle sideways around the back of his father-in-law’s chair. I was waiting for him in front of the steps leading down to the living room. One look at me and he jumped backwards, stumbling into Chief’s chair.
‘Look at me, eh,’ Chief called out as he struggled to get out of the chair. But he was too late. Okey fell against Chief, knocking him to the ground. Everyone at the table shot to their feet.
Sarah screamed at Okey, ‘What is wrong with you?’
‘Look at this man,’ Jude snapped but remained standing at his seat while his mother and sister rushed to his father.
‘I’m fine,’ Chief said as Sarah and Kene helped him to his feet. ‘What is wrong with you?’ he asked Okey who was now lying prone on the floor, his face buried in the marble tiles. His whole body was trembling.
Jude hissed as he sat down again.
‘You are a fool, a big fool,’ he called out to Okey. ‘Look at the idiot you married,’ he told his sister again. This time, she went to him and started to hit him across the head.
‘Shut up,’ she screamed repeatedly.
‘Stop it.’ Chief and his wife pulled Kene off her brother.
I sat on Okey’s back, clasped his forehead with both hands and tried to pull it off the floor. He screamed in terror. ‘Help. Get her off me.’
Kene rushed to him and struck him continuously on his back and head. ‘Get up. What is wrong with you? Get up. Stop disgracing me.’
Okey was screaming and trashing his legs and arms. I pushed Kene away from him. She toppled backwards, landed hard on her backside and hit her head on her father’s fallen chair. She seemed even more dazed than ever as she gaped at her husband. Chief had had enough. He grabbed a ladle and rushed towards Okey but Sarah held him back.
‘Stop, there is something really wrong with him.’
The whole family stood and watched as Okey trashed around, trying to get me off his back. His neck was stretched taut as I pulled it up towards me but his eyes remained firmly shut. He was groaning through gritted teeth
‘If you don’t look at me, I will snap your neck,’ I threatened. He relaxed. He was sweating profusely.
‘Please, stop,’ he begged.
‘Will you look at me?’
He was silent.
I put both hands under his jaw.
‘Yes,’ he yelled.
I got off him. His head dropped to the tiles with a dull thud. I stood in front of him. ‘Get up. Look at me.’
He buried his head in the tiles again. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, shaking with sobs.
‘Look at me,’ I yelled and stamped my left foot on the ground. The tile cracked.
‘I think we should call a doctor,’ Kene told her family.
‘A doctor,’ Jude scoffed. ‘The drunkard is just hallucinating.’
The family went back to watching Okey again. I grabbed him by his afro and jerked him up to his hands and knees. For a moment, I was taken aback by my own strength.
‘Okey, if you don’t get up, I will kick you to death,’ I said.
He was weeping. ‘I’m sorry.’
Kene got on her knees and stretched out her right hand to touch her husband’s lowered head. Her hand passed through my right knee. It felt so odd. I looked down at my knee but my head struck Okey’s causing him to slam his face into the tiles. The Iwedimpas stared at him as he lay spread-eagled, face down on the tiles, unconscious. A bemused Kene gently turned him over. Her family stood on the other side of the table watching, her father’s chair separating her from them.
‘What just happened?’ she murmured as she tentatively touched the rapidly swelling bump on her husband’s forehead.
‘I happened,’ I said to the room.
‘Daddy, can we call Dr. Igwe?’
Her father sighed as he whipped out his smart-phone.
‘There’s nothing wrong with him,’ Jude said. ‘He’s just a useless drunk. Take him upstairs and let him sleep it off.’
‘This was not just caused by drink,’ his mother countered. Her eyes were wild and her hands, which she held to her chest, shook.
Jude sneered. ‘You don’t need me to spell it out for you, do you? Of course, it’s not just drink. He’s probably on some cheap drugs too.’
‘Linus,’ Kene called.
The manservant, who had witnessed the whole incident, rushed to her. He went around the other side of the dinning table, away from the Iwedimpas.
‘Call Anatole. The two of you should come and take Oga upstairs to his room.’
Upstairs. The baby. I headed that way.