“Wow, I am really so happy for you. Let your father come home. There would be a grand celebration today,” I said tactlessly.
I knew my utterance was tactless because as soon as I said that, my face was besieged by eight expectant ears, all wanting to know what I had in mind and how the celebration was going to be and when.
“First, let us wait for your father’s return. He closes at five o’clock in the evening and arrives home later. You know that his is the only bank in this community.”
“It’s okay, mum. But tell your children, especially that blabbermouth called Teemah, that nobody should tell Dad about this admission before me,” Omar said.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“He promised to upgrade my torchlight phone to a smart android phone.”
“That’s not true, mum,” Teemah said. “There’s no way Daddy would promise him a smartphone while he leaves us with this torchlight phone!” Teemah’s protest elicited such laughter that for a moment I forgot what the bickering was about. “Mum, you see plain jealousy. Envy. That’s what’s stopping Teemah from growing tall.”
I allowed them to chastise one another a while before ruling that whatever their father’s decision would be, either on the celebration or on the purported phone purchase, would have to wait till the owner of the house arrived.
“All I asked is that nobody should rush to tell him beforehand,”
Omar repeated his request.
“Okay,” I said. “Nobody would be the one to tell him first. As soon as he arrives, you would go and tell him the good news yourself.”
“Thank you, mum.”
“You are welcome, Omar.”
The room was getting stuffy because we did not turn on the fan. What was I saying? We did not have light for two days now and the generator was in need of repairs.
“Let’s go outside and sit under the mango tree in the courtyard,” Jamila said, wrenching the words out of my mouth, “it is very hot in here.”
We trooped out and went to the courtyard. White plastic chairs were already there and Bint and Jamila began dusting them with an old piece of clothing.
“Yes, Bint. What is it?” “I want to drink zobo.”
“I can buy that for everybody,” Omar said. “Teemah, bring five bottles of zobo.”
“Bring the money first.”
Omar turned to look balefully at me. “You see, mum. Teemah does not even trust me.’ I just sat there smiling.
“When it comes to money, Omar,” Teemah said, “do you, even you, do you trust yourself?”
“I sure do.”
“How many times did you take my zobo without paying?”