After the sudden death of her husband mama Adaora was left alone to cater for their two kids- Adaora and Nnaemeka. Everyone in the village knew that the death of her husband would take its toll; more so because mama Adaora was a sit-at-home mother who did nothing but to wait for her husband to return each day to savour her soft palms on him, as well as a beautiful smile that reveals itself religiously as soon as her husband dropped a bag of foodstuff in the kitchen floor. The cooking was done by the house girl; mama Adaora had no concern to worry.
However, the table turned after a ghastly accident killed her husband, and that was when she began to feel the full weight of life’s punches. Surprisingly, she swore no man will ever see her nakedness and she also refused to marry; so to make ends meet she took to selling sweets and biscuits. With the help of a carpenter a kiosk was arranged for her, she began to sell hot drinks, perhaps the business of biscuit brought no profits and little customers, and when she added cigarettes, it began to boom…the way it booms at hot drinks stalls.
Uncle Joe as he is fondly called, was an ever present face at mama Adaora’s shop, he never fails to feed his unsatisfied still lips each day even when it was once read aloud to him the inscription on a packet of Benson, “Federal Ministry of Health warns that smokers are liable to die young’. Mama Adaora sits beside Uncle Joe to laugh at his joke while smoking and she thought he was funny. He offered the stick to her one day to try, but she laughed him to scorn and exclaimed “God forbid”, the way haughty people say when they’re offered a gift they think is beneath them.
A few days later mama Adaora felt sick, vomiting colts of blood that looks strongly reddish in their thickness. After a lag of uncertain days, death released her from pains. At her funeral, I was told she had died of cancer, but I was more surprised to see the lanky Uncle Joe still alive to mourn. Not farther from where I was an empty packet of Benson and hedges lay on the floor, and I saw some part of the warning written on it “….are liable to die young” and I just wondered, if smokers are liable to die young, then passive smokers are twice endangered.