“I just feel like you are not going to listen to me regardless of what I say.” The voice boomed from the other end of the receiver.
Akudo rolled her eyes.
She could not blame her for saying so; theirs had not been a particularly smooth relationship.
Ifunanya, Akudo’s immediate younger sister, was two years her junior and very much the bane of her existence throughout their childhood.
From the minute Ifunanya could crawl, she was a thorn in Akudo’s side. She smacked her on the face, pulled her hair, and gnawed at her limbs.
As she got older, she graduated to getting Akudo in trouble with their parents, then feigning innocence. Akudo was a daddy’s girl so Ifunanya was not always successful – which made her despise Akudo even more.
By the time they became teenagers, the tables had turned.
All the things Akudo was never allowed to do, were easily granted to Ifunanya. It seemed like where Ifunanya was concerned, their mother lacked the ability to say “no.”
Whenever Akudo would ask if she could visit a friend, her mother would respond with “how many times has that friend visited you?”
The first time that Ifunanya asked, she got “okay, but don’t stay long.”
Akudo waited until she was eighteen to summon up the courage to ask her mother if she could go to a party thrown by a peer. Her mother responded by asking her whether she had done her chores. When she replied in the affirmative, she asked her if chores belonging to her other siblings had been done and when she said they had not; she received a speech about how irresponsible she was for wanting to go partying while the house was “a mess.”
However, when Ifunanya asked a few months later, when she was only sixteen, their mother had agreed.
When Akudo protested, her mother said not only was Ifunanya’s a “children’s party”, but the attendees would be people in her class; and she knew every child in Ifunanya’s class. However, she was sure that “ruffians” and children that lacked home training would have been at the party Akudo wanted to attend.
To make matters worse, Ifunanya hit the peak of puberty before Akudo did.
While Akudo was a lanky young girl with a pretty face at seventeen, Ifunanya had developed plump bossoms and wide hips that rounded into a shapely backside at fifteen.
The male attention Akudo wanted, Ifunanya got.
Makeup that Akudo was not allowed to use until she went off to University at eighteen, Ifunanya got to use at sixteen.
When Ifunanya took Akudo’s clothes without her permission, the fact that the clothes fit Ifunanya better doubled Akudo’s fury.
At some point, they were constantly quarrelling. Quite frankly, the only reason they never came to blows was because their mother had a zero tolerance policy on physical fights.
The tumultuous relationship lasted through to Akudo’s second year in University. She dreaded returning home on holidays because it meant facing the fact that her younger sister was better-looking and favoured.
She distracted herself with her studies and her friendships; so much so that when her curves finally arrived, she barely noticed. Instead, she learnt to accept herself as she was, and channel her focus towards other interests.
They tried to work on their relationship afterwards, but they had never really been close so the periodic phone calls became few and far between; especially after Akudo married and got busier.
When Akudo lost her husband, Ifunanya’s calls resumed in earnest. Even after she got married and relocated to Canada.
Though Ifunanya continued to make an effort, the frequency of the calls had reduced over time because there was so much they disagreed on.
Like the issue of Ronke.
“It absolutely boggles my mind how the two of you are still friends.” Ifunanya continued. “I know you like her a lot so everything I am saying is likely going in one ear and out the other, but you should know that she does not mean you well.”
“I know you. You are calm, but you are not a pushover; so I do not understand what it is about this particular woman that weakens you.” Ifunanya persisted.
“Ọ gwọlu gi ọgwu?” She added when Akudo remained quiet.
“Oh come on!” Akudo said, rolling her eyes at her sister’s suggestion that voodoo might be involved.
“What? It’s abnormal.” Ifunanya maintained.
“I hear you. Trust me, I really do but…okay, the truth is that she was there for me when Edozie died and-”
“And you feel some kind of obligation to remain friends with her despite her appalling behaviour?” Ifunanya cut-in.
“Something like that.” Akudo said, biting her lower lip.
“But that’s what friends are supposed to do; be there when you need them. Not cut you down whenever they get a chance.”
“I know, I know.” Akudo said. “I was also going to say that the other reason is because she sort of really needs a friend. She is not a bad person per se. She can be really good and really caring, but sometimes her insecurities get the best of her.”
“Ah, your Superman complex.” Ifunanya quipped.
“I don’t have a Superman complex.” Akudo retorted, annoyed at herself for sounding defensive.
“You do. You are trying to save her from herself, and help her be better because you see the good in her; and that’s not a bad thing. The problem here is that she is perfectly content to hurt you if it means she gets to have her way. Also, you forget that she is a grown adult; meaning, she decides when she wants to change.You cannot make it happen any faster by tolerating her excesses. You are also not bulletproof so one day, something will give.” Ifunanya finished.
Akudo sighed. She hated how absolutely accurate her sister was.
Ifunanya sighed as well.
“Look, just be careful okay?” She offered, throwing in the towel.
The Ifunanya she used to know would have worn her down. She was not sure if it was her husband or the pregnancy but something had changed her.
Akudo did not mind the change at all.
“I will.” Akudo said, meaning it.“How is the pregnancy coming along?” She added shortly after.
“I am just glad that I am finally in my second trimester. Do you know how hard it is to have cravings but not be able to keep anything down? How did you do this two times?” Ifunanya queried, nearly bellowing into the receiver.
“Bia, if you are implying that this will be your only child, you must be joking oh. If Edozie were still alive, your mother would have expected me to have shot out two more children by now.” Akudo said, chuckling slightly.
“She should come to Canada and force us to have unprotected sex.” Ifunanya said plainly.
“Ugh! You are so crude.” Akudo chuckled.
“It’s true na. You are the one that lets her get away with murder. She cannot try all that guilt-tripping nonsense with me. If she will not relocate to Canada to provide free, full-time childcare for me, she should sit where she is and leave me to make my own decisions biko.”
Akudo only laughed.
She wished she had Ifunanya’s ability to ignore their mother and her antics.
“I want to ask you something and I want you to be honest with me.” Ifunanya asked moments later, her voice cautious.
“Sure. What is it?” Akudo responded, adjusting where she sat on her couch.
“Do you think you might like him? Timeyin that is. You know, like like him like him?”
“No, no not like that.” She said, shooing away the idea with a wave of her hand.
“I think Ronke could tell that there might be something there, which is why she said what she did.” Ifunanya said.
“I know, but that is even beside the point. My annoyance is that she would even treat another human being like that. Especially after all she has been through. How can she say she was planning to jump from one guy to the other as if Timeyin has no feelings? She tried to play it off as a joke but I know her. I know she was serious.” Akudo said, the anger rising back to the surface again.
“You bet she was serious. That was just her way of telling you that you had better not get any ideas because she wanted her own happily ever after, and she was not going to watch you get it before her.” Ifunanya responded, her tone matching Akudo’s in tempo.
Akudo paused at that.
That was it.
That was why she was so furious at Ronke’s remarks.
It was not because Ronke was planning to toy with another person’s heart, it was because Ronke was threatened by the possibility of her finding love. Or at least finding love before her.
Was this not the same Ronke that tried to convince her to date again? The same Ronke that insinuated that Akudo deserved to love and settle down again?
Akudo was not planning on any of that, but did that mean Ronke would not really wish that for her?
Akudo smacked herself on the head.
No wonder her sister suspected Ronke might have used voodoo on her. Continually choosing to remain friends with this type of person was madness.
Akudo ended the phone call with her sister promising to re-assess her friendship with Ronke.
She had actually considered calling her brother Azuka, she was a lot closer to him; but she knew he would just tell her Ronke was only joking or to simply ignore her. He also used to have a small crush on her, so she knew it would be pointless.
She needed someone who was aware of Ronke’s ugly side.
Though she was worried that Ifunanya’s distaste for Ronke would cloud her judgment, she was nearly running mad not being able to talk to anybody about Ronke’s ridiculous remark.
Now that she had spoken to Ifunanya, she was glad it was her she called because the girl made perfect sense.
She said all the things Akudo needed to hear.
Things Akudo already knew, but had continuously made excuses for.
She would not end the friendship abruptly; after all, there was something to be said about the times that Ronke had been there for her. However, she resolved not to invest so much of her heart into the relationship.
Her phone beeped.
She was planning to get her hair done on Saturday. She knew that once she picked up the boys on Sunday, and school resumed on Monday, she would not have time to get it done for weeks.
Also, she could not remember the last time she saw a play; and she loved the theatre.
You need to go out more. She reminded herself.
Besides, once the boys were back, her weekends were back to being busy.