Occasionally, Hilda takes the car out herself to the Supermarket, to get provisions. This happens on days when Baba Saliu- Her Elderly driver was on leave or called in sick.
“Chidinma, Please I beg you, watch that Egusi! Don’t put salt again, the one I put is enough” She instructed her help, just before leaving the house.
As she sat on the driver’s seat, it felt strange to her and she realized it’s been ages since she drove the car herself.
The distinguishing smell of Baba Saliu filled that part of the car- It Smelt faintly of a mixture of smoke, camphor and clothes that had stayed untouched in the wardrobe for a long time.
She did a quick run through and she was sure she was ready to go. Her husband would not be so happy she’s driving the car. And like he read her thoughts-miles away, a call came through and he was the one.
“Hello hubby. How is it going?” She grinned at the other end.
“It’s going pretty well.. The sun is not smiling at all oh” He tries to be sarcastic.
She laughed, “Sorry dear, Don’t forget to use Sunscreen, please”
“Wow! I forgot. My bad”
She chuckled at the other end. “You forgot or you were not interested?”
“Anyhow anyhow… There’s an echo from here, where are you?”
“Really?! I’m in the car, I want to get some things close by” she explained.
“Why are you driving? Where is Baba saliu?” his tone turned to that of concern immediately as he fired the questions at her.
“Dear, Baba saliu is ill, so I asked him to take the day off” she shrugged.
“You know it’s been a while you drove, Why don’t you take Uber instead?”
She laughed but said, “Mba!-No It’s not that far naw”
“Okay oh! Please be careful! I’d call later; I need to attend to something now”
“Okay talk to ya lerra” she said sarcastically and sighed after the call. She was right when she nursed the thought that he’d convince her to take a cab.
She pressed the horns then ignited the car. Few moments later, she was on the road.
Getting to the store, she realized they were a bit out of stock.
“This people don’t have the things I want, what will I do now?!.” She thought aloud as she walked to her car disappointed.
The nearest store was a bit far-but close to the house she had lived a few years before.
She loathed that area and above all, dreaded her Former lousy neighbors-The unrepentant womb watchers.
Since she didn’t have much of a choice and wanting not to come this far, just to go back without anything. She embraced the option.
The house was just by the road. A small building painted blue.
“I don’t miss this place at all” She said to herself in the car as she passed the house to the store.
After shopping, she realized traffic had built up on the road.
Agitation filled her. Although she was satisfied with the things she had gotten, she wasn’t ready to be stuck in traffic in this dreaded area.
She entered the car grudgingly and joined the line of cars.
As the cars moved slowly, she followed pace. When her car got to the front of her ‘former’ house, the cars stopped movement. She felt like screaming in the car.
What if she was sighted by one of the neighbors?!
Especially mama Gideon, the one always asking if they had visited the renowned gynecologist at Abuja, due to their failure to have a child after three years.
She looked long and hard at the house and many thoughts and memories poured in. She wondered who lived there now.
The balcony was empty. There were no chairs or flowers to decorate the place and make it homely, like she had done when she lived there.
She tried to resist the urge to drive into the opposite street that led to the house.
At that moment a call came through from her husband but she ignored. She didn’t want him to know where she was. After several rings, a message came through.
“Are you home already? Please call when you see this message.”
He was worried, she knew, but she wanted to satisfy her curiosity.
She brought out her scarf from the bag, wrapped it around her head, took her dark sunshades and put it on.
As she was about to drive into the street, the traffic eased and cars began to move again.
“Too late.” She said to herself as she drove into the street.
Hilda parked the car near the drainage close to the house and walked carefully into the house like a visitor that she was.
Everywhere was quiet but she could hear the sound of characters speaking on Televisions, families were probably passing time in front of their screens.
She took the staircase she was familiar with. The one she took every day for years when she lived in this house.
The staircase was dark and she held unto the railing for a bit as memories poured in. There and then, She remembered one time when Emeka-her husband pushed her away in anger on this same staircase.
Those days he was always angry,Like he was under a spell.
The thought of that made pain squeeze her. She sat on the stair and wept. More memories poured in.
One time, mama rissi- a Cameroon immigrant, had knocked on the door asking for a box of matches and after Hilda had given her what she asked for, she called Hilda aside and started making suggestions.
“See, my daughter, there’s one baba I know- He has done charm for many people to have Baby, I can take you to him” She suggested in her thick Cameroon accent as Hilda concentrated on the sweat on her forehead, while trying to ignore the pungent smell of curry seasoning that filled the air.
Hilda had looked at her that day in surprise; she tried her best to hide her disgust not only at the woman’s words but her mannerisms and fake show of care.
“Thank you ma!” She had said that day as she closed the door.
She knew she was the talk of the whole street those days.
They’d say she had been promiscuous- that’s why she could not bear just one child.
Another memory came again as she laid on the staircase, ignoring the dirt.
That day, her husband came back from work smelling of Alcohol.
She came closer to him, to welcome him but he shouted at her.
“This woman, you need to start working.”
The Emeka she knew and fell in love with, never tasted alcohol or said mean things to her, that day she felt like a shadow of herself.
This same house, Emeka was poisoned and almost died.
Many more happened. Too much to mention.
This House at no 54 Jedijedi street, caused so much pain for her.
As she dived deeper into pain, a call came through from her husband again. She ignored after three calls.
When he called the last time ,she picked it lazily.
“What?” She answered slowly.
“Babe. Did you get my message?” he sounded worried.
“I’m almost home”
“Where are you?”
“Our house at Jedijedi street! “She had exposed herself before she realized and closed her mouth
“What?! Why? Hilda! Are you joking right now?! ”
He called her by her name ‘Hilda‘ when he was getting serious.
“Yes? ” She answered.
“What in heaven’s name are you doing there and who are you looking for?”
“I don’t know”
“You don’t know? That’s not our house anymore, God has given us a new house and you know it, you know how much pain that place caused us! That place is not good for you.”
“Hilda! Please get out of there.”
He kept pleading. if he was not her husband, she knew he would have called her ‘Stupid‘.
She didn’t know the force that carried her but she found herself walking out of the compound towards her car.
When she got into the car, she felt a dark shadow lifted as she came to her senses.
“What came over me?!”She said to herself as she drove out of the street and came out into the road. The traffic was long resolved.
She tried to make sense of all that happened. She had everything she needed. Her husband loved her and cared for her. They had a beautiful baby, Their own house and many more. And still, there was hope for much more to come.
Why did she allow that place get to her?
She felt angry for allowing the pains of the past pierce and sting her.
What was she thinking?!
She’d never stop at that house ever again.
Few weeks ago, thoughts of the past came pouring in. Many of which I wasn’t proud of at all. Maybe you’re like me too.
I’m here to tell you this – The past is past.
Dear reader, The past is what it is- Past! Long gone! Behind! Over and done with! Previous! By gone! History!
Do you know what the past will do to you if you keep visiting it?
It will sting!
It causes stagnancy!
Do not keep dwelling on the past.
Pick up your bag and move forward.
As a Christian you should know that God has made provisions for you! So many goodies.
He has made you new! Your past is not part of you.
You are not your past. You’re brand new dear.
You are a new creature! Begotten of the father! Blood bought.
Walk in your heritage! Move forward. Shalom