That evening after her shower, Kunbi sat on her bed and thought about the events which had led her to take up the Nanny job. Aunty Chidera had met Kunbi’s Mum at a women’s church meeting some months ago and had mentioned how difficult it had been for her to get a reliable Nanny for her children during the long vacation period. Kunbi had completed her third year in university and was idle at home at that time, trying to be positive and hoping that school fees money would miraculously become available by the time ASSU called off their strike.
The money which she had earned so far as a Nanny went to her parents for the upkeep of their home. Her parents, who had been made redundant from their teaching jobs earlier that year, were on a daily pursuit to receive their rightful terminal benefits.
As she put on her shorts and t-shirt and got ready to join her mother in the kitchen, Kunbi wondered if she was really the sort of person who would accept a bribe.
She and her mother ate their dinner of beans and garri by the glare of the rechargeable lamp, since there was no electricity that evening and it had been agreed that the generator was only to be switched on every other day to conserve diesel.
Kunbi felt responsible for her parents and she knew how pained they were when they told her that she had to stop her University course.
As she watched her mother eat hear meal, looking regal even in the harsh glare of the rechargeable lamp, Kunbi made up her mind about what action to take.
On her way to work the next day, which was Friday, Kunbi felt very tense, even though it was usually her favourite day of the week. Her stomach kept rumbling even though she was not hungry, and she was scared that she would throw up in the cab. She wondered how she would frame the words which she needed to say:
‘Yes, I will take the money’.
‘Okay, I will accept your bribe’.
‘Just give me the money’.
Before now, Kunbi prided herself on her integrity. She never lied, never cheated during examinations and was content with getting an honourable ‘C’ grade rather than paying any of her lecturers for an ‘A’ grade.
As she rang the doorbell of the Osifo’s home, Kunbi felt stressed out, and wondered about people who collected bribes regularly without batting an eyelid.
‘Kunbi! How’re you my dear? Come in!’ Mrs Osifo said as she opened the door. She looked radiant and colourful in a multicoloured robe. Her dark skin always looked luminous and smooth, while Kunbi was fighting a losing battle with acne scars and other blemishes on her face.
‘Aunty! Good Morning Ma!’ Kunbi curtsied out of habit and followed her into the house, shutting the door behind her.
‘I thought you were coming back next week, Ma’ Kunbi asked, since she felt she had to say something. Mrs Osifo smiled. ‘My dear, I just decided to come home early; the conference was soooooooo boring. Who knew Accountants could be so boring?’ She laughed at her own joke. ‘I mean, London wasn’t too cold, but I couldn’t bear to be away from my family any longer, so I just changed my flight time’. Kunbi had learned that she could communicate with Mrs Osifo for hours on end simply by nodding every few seconds; the lady liked to talk.
Mrs Osifo led her into the kitchen, still chatting away about London and Accountants. Kunbi thanked her for the clothes, and Mrs. Osifo wove off her thanks with her dainty hand.
‘The girls are upstairs with their father. Oh, I have some good news for you’. Mrs Osifo gestured for Kunbi to sit on one of the stools in the kitchen.
Bemused, Kunbi sat down, wondering what was going on.
Mrs Osifo leaned against the kitchen counter. ‘When my husband was driving me home from the airport this morning, we were talking about you. When you first started working for us, I had asked him if we could assist you with your school fees. At the time, he had said we couldn’t afford to, but today he said he felt we were in a better place financially. So congratulations-Dr. Osifo is going to pay your fees for your last year of University’.
Kunbi almost burst out with laughter. Instead, she made sure her face was set in a grateful expression and stood up from her seat, before kneeling down in front of her. ‘Thank you Ma. I am so grateful to you and Dr. Osifo for your kindness’. Mrs. Osifo rolled her eyes and asked her to get up.
‘It’s only fair, you have done so much for us and the girls love you. We will have to look for a replacement for you, but I’m glad that you’ll be going back to school whenever they decide to call off the strike.
Just then, Dr. Osifo bounded into the kitchen, stopping short when he saw Kunbi.
‘Oh, hey darling! I just told Kunbi the good news’. ‘Yes, thank you Sir’ said Kunbi, curtseying. Dr Osifo looked mildly uncomfortable, but nodded in acknowledgement. He got a bottle of water out of the fridge and walked out of the kitchen.
Kunbi watched Mrs Osifo watch her husband. There was something in her expression which made Kunbi feel like she was sceptical of the motives behind her husband’s generosity. At this point in time, Kunbi wasn’t bothered; all she wanted was the money for her school fees so that the burden could be shifted away from her parents.
Later that day, Kunbi watched the Osifos as they got into the car with their kids to take them to buy some ice cream. They seemed like the perfect family.
When she got home that evening, something had solidified in Kunbi’s stomach, a feeling of awareness tinged with resentment. She thought about her parents who were good people just trying to make ends meet, and then thought of Dr. Osifo, who was duplicitous in nature and confidently getting away with his bad behaviour.
‘What’s the point of being good?’ She thought. As she received the transaction alert on her phone for an amount which was much more than was needed for her school fees, Kunbi understood that she had been too naïve in her 22 years on earth.
She began to think of ways to make more money.
© Ivie M. Eke 2017.