Nnanna did not eat tonight, he was absent while the boys had played FIFA, still absent as they sat round the counter wolfing down the stewed jollof she had made with so much intensity. Atinuke’s eyes wore a confused glare as she watched them eat, perhaps to mask the sudden outrage which was unconsciously stirring within her. This burp of satisfaction did not belong to them, eyes gleaming with content was not theirs to have. If only they knew how much affection she had poured into the stew, how she had stirred continuously despite the pain in her elbow. The plate of love which they frantically washed with their tongue belonged not to them but Nnanna, he was to eat and appreciate how she felt for him. “Where’s Nnanna?” Atinuke looked up and asked as soon as she could muster enough courage to snap out of her reverie. “Since when do you care about Nnanna?” replied Kamsi his eyes gleaming with malicious intent. “Nnanna is not your mate but if you want we could send a message to his help on your behalf”. “Such disrespect” Atinuke muttered to herself, as they laughed, this was her cue to leave, to retire to the comfort of the basement before the boys began with their lewd remarks. Kamsi and Kaito were the most obnoxious set of people she had ever met. They had no regard for anyone nor did they think to filter the words that came out of their mouth, they were truly madam’s sons in every sense of the word. She began to move, slowly but steadily out of their way before they could think to ask her to do the dishes. It was a wonder why they did that anyway, the dish washer was in perfect working condition but the boys took utmost delight in watching Atinuke do it with her hand. It was the way she daintily scrubbed the china till the gleamed in the fluorescent light while muttering under her breath that she had other house hold chore to attend to that caught their fancy. They could never make out the words she said, yet they stayed in wonder at how fast her mouth would move. Kaito’s theory was that she was invoking the god of the dishes which was why hers always appeared so clean.
Kamsi’s voice was what stopped Atinuke in her tracks; she had not heard what he said but she knew she had heard her name. “Sir” Atinuke muttered. “Go get the door” repeated Kamsi. Atinuke increased her pace immediately, eager to get away from their presence irrespective of whatever reason it was for. The frame that lurked over the door when she opened it was far from what she had expected. “Uncle Nnanna” she said, fluttering her eyelids and smiling shyly. “Hey Tinuke” he said and wrapped her in a tight hug. The wave of tumultuous emotions that ran through Atinuke’s head in that moment, it was a wonder how she could still stand, not so surprising that she began to stumble over her next few words. “Emm emm the boys, they are… are” Nnanna gave her a knowing smile and walked to the parlour. For a moment Atinuke stood, trying to get herself together, still convalescent in the fact that Nnanna had just hugged her.
Her mind began to explore the different possible explanations for this behavior. Maybe he thought of her as much as she thought of him, maybe he was just shy to express his feelings so hugging her was the only way to reveal the pent up emotions. But how could she be sure. She would go back up to the living room. Offer to serve his some food then see if he winked back. If he did then, he was guilty of the same tumultuous emotions that kept her up at night.
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