Kachi was going to be late to church…again. She was always wary of Sundays and it was simply because her twins, her beautiful and intelligent but terribly mischievous four-year old daughters, always made the day such a chore. If someone wasn’t spilling milk on her dress, someone was refusing to brush her teeth, a shoe from a pair couldn’t be found or someone was smearing Ruby Woo on someone’s forehead. Those children clearly didn’t know the current cost of MAC lipsticks!
She always wondered why getting them ready on school days was usually such a breeze compared to Sunday mornings, which were, without question…nightmarish. She really was not a fan of Sundays and today was no different. Unfortunately, Nze, her husband, was away on a business trip for the weekend—not like his presence would’ve made any difference. He was even more hopeless than she was when it came to taming their girls. Those two had him wrapped around their tiny fingers.
That morning, she was at the dining area of their open-plan living room, her daughter Adaora seated before her on a low plastic stool as she redid the twists in her hair. The girl had decided to test the efficiency of a fork as a comb because her sister, Adaeze, who was the more mischievous of the two, had told her she could. The other twin in question watched a cartoon whose name Kachi didn’t know, while her mother fixed her sister’s hair.
“Benedicta,” Kachi called her live-in maid.
“Ma?” her maid replied from the kitchen before coming to her. The girl’s face permanently had the look of someone who was expectant—wide eyes, raised eyebrows and pursed lips.
“Please start putting the things in the car. I’ll soon be done with this madam’s hair.”
“Take the key,” Kachi told her, pointing to the car key on the dining table. “Don’t forget the cake. It’s on the microwave.”
“Yes ma,” Benedicta replied as she picked up the key.
At the sound of the word ‘cake’, Adaeze came alive. She turned around to look at her mother.
“Mummy when can we eat the cake?” she asked, kneeling on the sofa, her small hands clutching the back of the seat.
“When we get to Aunty Olla’s house,” Kachi replied. “Don’t you want to sing ‘happy birthday’ for her?”
“I want to sing for her.”
“Mummy, I want to sing for her too,” Adaora added as Kachi inserted a sparkly clip into her hair.
“You see,” Kachi continued, “that’s why we can’t eat the cake now. We will eat it when we sing for her and she has made a wish. I’m sure she’ll have ice cream for you people too.”
That seemed to satisfy them as Adaeze went back to watching TV.
It was Kachi’s sister, Olla’s birthday and they were all going to the celebrant’s home after church. The cake in question had been delivered by the baker earlier that morning—a gorgeous extended tiered chocolate cake, with a chocolate ganache filling. It was covered in red ombré buttercream and topped with a white chocolate drizzle, vanilla frosting swirls and fresh strawberries. Kachi had asked for the cake to be customised using some of her sister’s favourite things and she knew Olla would just die for it. It was absolutely perfect.
Kachi’s plan for the day had been simple—since her house was a bit far from Olla’s but very close to her church, she’d decided the best thing to do would be to first stop by Olla’s house to drop the cake, her gift and the ‘small chops’ she had ordered. From there, she would go to church and then be back to her sister’s afterwards for a mini party the family had organised. She had planned the day that way because of the cake—there was nowhere else for her to store it before the party and she couldn’t leave it in her car for the duration of the church service. She also didn’t want to have to come all the way back home and then go back for the party. It was the perfect plan…but only on paper. With the setback she’d already had, she wondered how she would be able to meet up.
She was finally done with Adaora’s hair and decided to send a WhatsApp message to Olla to find out if it would be possible for her to send her driver to pick up the things. The church Olla attended with her husband and children always began an hour after Kachi’s and it would make sense if the driver could come for the items. She checked the dining table for her phone but it wasn’t there, neither was it in her handbag, which was also on the table and she was sure she hadn’t taken it to the living room but she checked there anyway. By then, Adaora had joined her sister to watch TV. This time, SpongeBob and his yellow, squared head was on the screen.
“Does any of you have my phone?” she absently asked her daughters, lifting up throw pillows and seat cushions.
“No, mummy,” they chorused.
“Whooooo lives in the pineapple under the sea?” the pirate on TV asked in song.
“SpongeBob SquarePants!” her daughters replied excitedly.
At that time, Benedicta walked by carrying a plastic pack of canned Coca Cola to the car and Kachi asked her if she’d seen her phone.
“No, ma,” she told Kachi.
She realised she must have forgotten her phone in the bedroom so that was the next place she would check. She went in after unlocking the door, saw her phone on the dressing table and walked towards it. She caught sight of her reflection in the mirror, noticing a part of her maroon pearled turban that was askew. She quickly adjusted it, ran her hands down the floral-patterned silk of her iro and buba, picked up her phone and made her way out of the bedroom. Just as she locked the door, she heard a thud. Her hand stilled for a moment, but upon hearing nothing else, she pulled out her keys from the keyhole and proceeded to the living room.
At the bottom of the stairs, she froze. Her hands fell to her sides, her eyes and mouth agape as she took in the scene that welcomed her. Her daughters—her beautiful, restless, sometimes scream-inducing daughters—were covered in varying shades of red buttercream. Their faces, their clothes, their shoes, even Adaora’s hair…the hair that had taken her time to put back in order, was smeared with red frosting! And the cake? The cake! A smashed mess on the floor. Benedicta was nowhere in sight.
Kachi looked at her daughters incredulously. They stood before her, heads bowed, hands held together in front of them. Adaora’s lips already wobbled and her eyes were beginning to fill with unshed tears. Kachi thought they had never looked meeker and she would later mention this observation to Nze while narrating the story. They would both laugh hysterically at that but right then in the living room…right then, she was not a happy woman.
Benedicta emerged from the kitchen carrying a foil tray of samosas covered with clingfilm. She stopped dead in her tracks, a horrified look on her face at the sight before her.
“Hei…madam…” she whispered and slowly walked to the dining table to place the tray on it, right beside the gift basket Kachi had made for her sister. She alternated between shaking her hands and wringing them, her breaths coming out in short, panicked bursts. “Hei…madam…I just say make I…I say make I keep the cake for table, then I go bring out other things wey we go carry go Aunty Ollachi house. I no know say…I no know…say…”
By then, Benedicta’s voice had become shaky.
“Madam, no vex abeg,” she said to Kachi, rubbing her palms together, a gesture signifying pleading. She knelt beside the scattered remains of the cake, attempting to clean it up, still apologising profusely. “Madam, no vex.”
Kachi didn’t say a word, so many thoughts running through her head.
What kind of drama is this bikonu? What kind of day is this?
What in the world am I going to do now?
And this Benedicta girl! How can I get away with her murder?
In fact, I should just sacrifice her and these naughty girls to Amadioha!
She clenched and unclenched her fists and raised her eyes to the heavens, incoherently muttering words that didn’t make sense even to her. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply and bit her bottom lip to stop herself from yelling.
“Mummy,” Adaeze squeaked, “are you praying?”
‘No,’ she replied with clenched teeth before adding under her breath as she walked towards them, “I just want to have a little talk with Mr. Lionel Richie to find out what the heck he meant by ‘easy like Sunday morning’.”