Tamanna | Abubakar Mustapha | Nigeria

There are four classes of women in the world: (1) educated women; (2) illiterate women; (3) women who are wife material, and (4) women who rule the house. Mr Bale’s, my boss’s wife, Tamanna, falls in the fourth class, and she fits there like a tortoise in its shell.

Mr Bale, my boss, is the gentlest of all gentlemen I have ever known, but with a wife like Tamanna he is no better than a hapless orphan and with three children — all female — my boss is as good as childless. Looking at his always glum face, you cannot help but see despair etched sharply in perpetual presence there. His three daughters are a chip off the old block, except that they can be reasonable at times — a quality their deranged mother will never have. To have a wife who dominates you in every sense of the word dominate is the last thing every man would pray for.

I am a driver in Mr Bale’s house, or better Tamanna’s house. Given the kind of wife he has, my boss is a forgetful mouse. He virtually forgets everything. I wonder if he’s not going to forget his name one of these days.

I trudge up the flight of stairs that lead to Mr Bale’s dark-lit parlour, my right shoulder sagging from the lead-heavy suitcase I am carrying. My boss has forgotten it in the car. I step on the landing and falter, almost sending the suitcase crashing on the hard, cold surface of the landing. My heart jolts as I catch the suitcase. Phew!

The parlour is deserted. I wonder if Mr Bale is sleeping at this time of the day. I check my wristwatch. 10:23 a.m. Not the right time for a nap, I think. At least not on a Monday morning.

‘Excuse me!’ I call, stopping in the middle of the parlour.


‘Excuse me, sir.’

You could hear a pin drop from all the silence in the house.

My heart skips a beat.

I step close to Mr Bale’s room tentatively. Tamanna has warned me not to as much as come near the parlour, let alone near her husband’s room. But I need to give my boss his suitcase. I know the worst Tamanna could do is to berate me, and that is no skin off my nose. I am used to her tantrums.

‘Hello! Anybody here?’

Again silence.

My left foot steps on something cold, watery. I force my eyes to adjust to the light in the parlour and at the same time train them to my foot, then to the cold, watery substance under it. I catch my breath.


I jump back, suppressing a scream.

My eyes sweep across the parlour in a frantic search. And there, sprawled on the tiled cold floor is Tamanna, gazing at me with bloodshot dead eyes. Then Mr Bale like a ghost creeps into view, his face expressionless, its trademark glum disposition only too obvious. My eyes pick out a blood-curdling butcher knife hanging limply in his grip. Although there is not much light, I can still make out the crimson-red liquid dripping from the tip of the butcher knife like raindrops falling off the tip of a leaf.

‘Hi, Laba,’ Mr Bale calls, his voice choked.

I can only stare at him in shocked silence.

He stands like a dignified, sacred statue: five feet three, dark-complexioned, built like a barrel, with a bull-like neck that supports a square face and squarer head. His charisma exudes like the scent on him. Only charisma doesn’t work with his family. At least not until today.

‘Calm down, Laba. It has to end this way. I’ve had enough.’ His voice could cut a rock for all its sharpness. A tear trails his rotund cheek.

I do not trust my voice to speak, so I listen rooted to my spot.

As if by sleight of hand, a shiny black gun jumps into his hand.

I swallow hard.

‘Do you know the bitch has been cheating on me?’ His voice rises an octave.

I cringe, aware of the thumping of my heart. I wish I could just vanish. The floor seems to have tilted, and the air in the parlour has grown suffocatingly unbearable. My Adam’s apple pistons. A gob runs down my dry throat.

‘Samira, Tima, and Nana are not my biological daughters. I found out today.’

A shiver runs down my spine.

‘I went to see my doctor’s friend yesterday. The last time we met was fifteen years ago. He was dumbfounded when I told him I have kids. He told me there was no way I could ever get a woman pregnant, that I had a disease condition that prevents one from fathering a child.’

I listen with rapt attention, my wild eyes not leaving Mr Bale.

‘I confronted Tamanna this morning. She confirmed the doctor’s statement without as much shame. “You wanted a child, didn’t you?” That was what she said, Laba. I asked her to tell me who the father of those bastards was, but she only laughed at me. What an effrontery!’

I have stopped listening to Mr Bale. My head is beginning to spin. I recover myself and open my mouth to speak.

‘Sir, . . .’

But the loud bang drowns my voice.

Mr Bale drops to the floor in a crashing fall that shakes the house.


Flummoxed, I pick the gun and started swinging like a pendulum between husband and wife.

‘Please sir, don’t die. . . . Madam, wake up, will you. . . .’

I finally settle beside Tamanna, the mother of my three children, and weep. Even in death, she looks beautiful.

Then I hear the siren of police vans at the gate, then the pattering of feet on the stairs. Everything happens in a flash.

Police officers surround me, their mouths agape, a look of disbelief plastered on their black, sweaty faces. The cook, a butterball of gossip, and the cleaner, a mountain-of-flesh lady in her forties, all stare at me.

I realise too late what I have done.

Tamanna’s dead body is lying against my chest and in my right hand is Mr Bale’s gun. The shiny, black gun points at his dead body sprawled on the floor four feet away. An open and shut case.

I close my eyes and wait.

Sadiq Mustapha is a budding Nigerian writer who hails from the northern part of the country — Borno State. He writes intriguing short stories and flash fiction. His genres are crime and psychological thriller. He enjoys writing dark/horror fiction as well. He has a lot of stories on his Facebook handle. He is an editor with a wealth of experience, a ghostwriter and an English grammar coach. His editing firm is called SPARKLE EDITS.

e-mail address: abubakarmustapha15331@gmail.com

Country: Nigeria

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