She had started watching football with him only so she could milk those minutes that took him totally away from her. He would be seated on the edge of their sofa; head at an angle to the TV hung higher up the wall; his hands would stray to loosen his tie further every five minutes. She would lower his food on a tray to a stool that she nudged closer with her foot while abstractly asking: “Is that Messi?”
He would grunt and nod; his eyes darting around, following the white near-dot as it passed from foot to foot. She’d sigh and return to washing the pots she had used to cook.
Then she started to sit beside him longer. “Bayern Manchester is winning?” “It’s Bayern Munich. The one that Ribery and Dante are in. I told you,” he would say with a touch of impatience; like he was teaching Math to a slow student. “Oh yes. Dante with the nice afro. I remember him.” And he’d laugh and laugh that she remembered his hair while she delighted that she could still make him laugh during football hours.
After a few months, she started taking her meals beside him; joining in the “Goal!” chants; half-rising but followed closely by the drawn-out hisses that signified disappointment. She remembered their names; she checked goal.com and even started calling him from work to ask if he remembered about the 7:30 match.
After a year of telling Sule to buy them dinner from TFC so that she could ‘prepare to watch the match’, she was so conversant in the sport that she had the nerve to begin supporting the team rival to the one he owned ever single jersey of.
It came up when they sat across the church marriage counsellor. He complained about the transformation of his wife. Why were they eating snacks on football days? Why was she supporting the opposing team?
“Mr. Azuka, are you seriously bringing up football now? Your marriage is on the rocks and..” The befuddled counselor’s eyes widened when the wife spoke.
“Ah! Why won’t you talk?” She was addressing her husband. “You’re not different from that Torres that always misses the net! That’s why my womb is empty! That’s why we have no children! Shior!”
“Ah! Me, Chicasa?!”
“Ah.. You’ve won, Chicasa! 1-0. 1-0!”
And the marriage counselor buried her head in her hands and died a little inside.