Why does she allow this place to stink so much? Auntie Nayi thought to herself as the tat tat tat of her walking stick broke the monotony of the sounds on the compound.
She paused to take a critical look it. It was well swept except for the fertilizer sack overflowing with plastic bottles. She made a mental note to remind her older sister who owned exactly half of the house they both owned to always sell off the bottles on time or provide a second sack to avoid such spill overs. She hated to see anything out of place on the compound. Their tenants knew it. She hated her sister giving them reasons to follow her lead and also litter the compound.
She turned to the window she was standing behind and wrinkled her nose. The toilet stank badly like a KVIP. A stench which had been there for 15 days and one she hated. Being an asthmatic had given her a keen sense of smell which made her hate anything powering like the stench from the window closest to her balcony.
She was fed up with this new tenant. She hadn’t touched the new rent. Maybe she had to pay it back and get someone else to move in. Someone who will keep her bathroom clean.
She tapped her stick on the door and waited for a moment. No response. She tapped it again and heard muffled sounds from within. A few moments later, she heard the sound of several locks being opened.
How many locks do these people have on their door? She asked under her breath.
The door finally opened and Auntie Nayi found herself staring into the dead eyes of her new tenant. She tried to remember the name. Yes, Boakyewaa.
“Yes ma. Please is there anything the matter?” Boakyewaa asked quietly hoping her husband wouldn’t wake up. She was scared what he’ll do after that.
“Yes. Your toilet has been stinking ever since you and your husband moved here,” Auntie Nayi said.
No! Boakyewaa mentally screamed and casting a furtive look inside, quickly stepped outside and closed the door gently after her.
“Please Auntie, I’ll do it. Forgive me for it but please I promise you I’ll do it.”
Auntie Nayi was satisfied with that but there was something off about this lady’s behavior.
“Is everything alright?” she asked.
She finally saw another emotion on those eyes. Pain, which was quickly camouflaged. There was something definitely wrong here.
“Yes ma. Nothing is wrong please,” Boakyewaa quickly replied.
Auntie Nayi stared at her for a moment. Those words sounded like something she’d been repeating to herself for a long time. They sounded rehearsed as if coached to give that same response if someone asked her.
Boakyewaa knew that any moment she spent outside meant her husband waking up.
“Thanks ma. Please I’ll take care of the stench right away,” she turned to open the door and met hit a human wall, her husband. Her stomach turned over with dread.
“Is everything ok here?” her husband asked politely but there was a steel edge behind it. A warning to her to hope he wouldn’t get angry.
“Oh nothing,” auntie Nayi quickly responded. She’d seen the look of desperation Boakyewaa had before she turned. That hadn’t been the only thing she’d seen. There was the faint but black hand print on her cheek. Looking into the eyes of her male tenant made her realise that if the man didn’t like anything she said, his wife will be punished for it.
“I only came to tell your lovely wife here to take care of the toilet. Because it’s close to my balcony, I can smell the stench all the way there,” she said.
“Oh auntie sorry about that,” he leveled a glare at his wife. “My wife here will take care of it right away, won’t she?”
Boakyewaa groaned silently. She was still in pain from the slap he gave her when she didn’t dilute his hot water the way he wanted.
“Yes please. Right away,” she said and walking past his bulky build, quickly ran to the bathroom. Her husband was diabetic and his condition and medicine made his urine rancid. The stench could be overwhelming but managed only if he would flash the toilet but he wouldn’t. he urinated a lot but wouldn’t flush because according to him, since it was only urine, they’d end up running the water bill.
She used to complain about it in their old house and would be slapped if she nagged too much. She hadn’t said anything about it since they moved in here but was wondering if he would think she went told the landlady that it’s his fault why the bathroom stank. She didn’t have to wonder for long as the first slap lifted her from where she was standing pouring water from a pail into a bucket onto the edge of the kitchen island.
“What did you tell her?” he thundered.
“I didn’t tell her anything,” she cried out in pain grabbing her left side. She couldn’t breathe through the pain and suspected that he’d broken one of her ribs.
“You’re lying!” he bellowed.
“I didn’t tell her anything, I swear,” she wheezed. She couldn’t breathe. She felt something liquid on her fingers and lifted it up to see what it was. It was her blood. She turned wildly to look at the island where the sharp edge had dug into her side.
She felt dizzy but tried to get up. She couldn’t. she felt like she was blacking out. She heard the sound of loud thundering but didn’t know where it was coming. She hoped he wasn’t going for his cane. She hated being caned. She rolled onto her stomach and lifted her head, trying to see where he was. She had to hide. She looked at the island. If she could get to the other side of it, maybe he wouldn’t see her. Maybe he would stop hitting her. She had to hide…she said as she dragged herself slowly towards the island but shouted in pain when he grabbed her hair and used it to pull her up.
She could see black spots coming together to form a black circle. A circle that soon turned to white as she fainted. She was still unconscious when her husband let go of her head making it hit floor. She didn’t know that Auntie Nayi had called some of the tenants in the house to come and help her with the situation she’d heard clearly from outside the door. She ran as fast as her old legs could carry her and grabbed the spare keys. She opened the door and her male tenants entered it in time to see the man causing his wife’s head to hit the floor. She watched with not a small satisfaction as they beat the coward. She went to Boakyewaa and called her but the young lady was unresponsive.
An hour later, Boakyewaa came to and she was in a strange place. She looked around in fear. Where was she? She saw women sleeping in beds near her and relaxed. She was in a hospital. She tensed. Was her husband the one who brought her?
“Relax,” auntie Nayi said with a smile
Boakyewaa turned towards the old woman
“He’s not here,” auntie Nayi continued.
Boakyewaa smiled for the first time in a long while.