“The Stir” by Emefa Adzo.

Lying in bed, but with his eyes wide open in the dim-lit room, Mawuli stared at the whirring ceiling fan. He shook his head as Mansa’s snores echoed through the bedroom. He turned to look at her curled up in the thick grey covering, and his thoughts immediately transitioned into memories.

*

“My son, I have seen women who are as wild as bush cats. I have seen women with more audacity in their eyes than insolent hunter dogs. But as for this your woman, she is something else.” Mawuli’s father had told him, when Mansa was first introduced to the old man.

His mother had added “Are you sure you will have peace with this woman under the same roof?”

Mawuli had taken offence at his parent’s words, but he controlled himself and chuckled, shrugging off their concerns with “Come on Efo, you trained me well” and “Maama, you have nothing to worry about.” To him, they clearly stretched their antiquated forebodings to what he simply appreciated as Mansa’s self-confidence.

*

He checked the time on his wrist watch. The green hands glowed thirty minutes past five. Mawuli had thought about this for days and, though unsure if he could carry it through, he was bent on giving a try. He had read somewhere that when it came to sacrifices in marriage, a good husband would always strive to litter the matrimonial record books with his altruism. It was even biblical, he remembered: ‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.’ He sniffled at the thought of giving his life for Mansa.
He gently got out of bed and walked to a specific corner of the room. With determination, he began to dig into the large rotund raffia basket they kept their dirty clothes in. After taking out what he was looking for, he arranged them on the terrazzo floor. He smiled as he counted ten panties and seven brassieres.

Mansa stirred. The twitch-twitch sounds from the basket coupled with Mawuli’s near-perfectly stifled expressions had managed to disturb her deep sleep. She sat up with a frown and laid her eyes on Mawuli. Their eyes met. Mawuli grinned sheepishly. Her eyes darted to the undergarments gathered on the floor.

“What the hell are you doing!” she barked.

“I- err- I wanted to- I- I was looking for my boxer shorts,” Mawuli stuttered. He reached into the basket again and after a protracted second, pulled out one of his own pieces of underwear. He lifted it like a defense counsel’s exhibit.

“Put-my-stuff-back,” Mansa ordered sharply and added a look that roared, ‘I’M WAITING FOR YOU TO DO THIS NOW!’.

“Sorry,” Mawuli replied and gently gathered his wife’s undergarments into a small heap which he lowered into the basket. He watched her curl back into sleep. Accordingly, he picked up his boxer shorts, tossed it into the basket and made his way out of the bedroom. As he shut the door, he heard Mansa resume her snoring.

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