It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #10

As promised…although it’s coming very late. Goodnight, ye nightcrawlers

Evening falls and I am chill. I have turned off the air conditioners and parted the curtains to let the air in. I have switched off the lights too. Jiney is asleep and I have the house all to myself. A glass of wine, a bowl of chicken, a collection of my favorite songs and I’m fighting depression like a pro.

Okay, not really like a pro. I feel far from ace but I will pretend that everything is fine. My doctor won’t write me a prescription for the sake of Jiney, although he admits that the pills wouldn’t have any effects on her.

“Talk it out with your husband, Honey,” he advises me. “If you settle your fight with him, I’m certain you’ll feel better. If you don’t, then come back to me.”

So, here I am, listening to I Fall to Pieces, but holding it together, hoping Nne has gotten through to her son’s blockhead and he’ll come home to me.

hon3

The baby monitor makes a sound and Jiney’s scream comes next. I break away from my ‘me time’ and hurry to She who must be fed. I bring her back to the living room and we activate nursing mode. As usual, she sucks me dry until I almost fall asleep. When she is satisfied, she goes back to bed without even as much as giving me a smile. After I put her away, I slip into my nightshirt. It’s 8pm already and I doubt that Jide will come home tonight. Suddenly the chicken and wine lose their appeal. I am on my way to dumping them in the kitchen when I hear Jide’s car making it into the compound. It’s a sound I have missed. However, I hold back from my usual running to the door to welcome him. Instead, I take a leisurely walk to it, unlock it and wait…

But he does not come in. He takes the backdoor, and I do not realize this until he calls me.

I turn around to see my husband in scrubs with a contrite smile and hands bearing gifts.

“I’m so sorry, sugams.”

“Me too.” I give off something between a laugh and a muffled sob as I rush to him. When I throw my arms around him, the gifts hit the floor. He is about to speak but I hush him with my lips over his. I rape the man’s mouth which is by the way, the sweetest thing ever. I can see he still wants to apologize but really who apology epp when hormones are on a high?

Soon my hotstuff responds to my urgency with the same fire and we’re flinging clothes to the floor. I push him to one of the couches. I go after him. I use my mouth on him, tasting, nibbling, licking, sucking. I get him speaking in strange languages. I handle that tool like a boss. By the time I’m done with it, it will nod only to me.

But Jide cannot wait. He stops me, pulls me to him and takes my waist. I am lifted by strong arms and I sink down on him. We stop for a second and I smile for no reason as his fingers dig into my bum.

“Do your thing, Hon.”

And I do my thing. I do my man. In a way I had never done before. I am savage. Blame it on Hauwa and the wild imaginings in my head. Nne has told me to trust my husband but this mind of mine will not stop thinking the worst. Anyways, I have decided to channel my insecurity into better use and Jide will be happier for it.

“You’re crazy, you know that?” he says to me in-between inaudible sounds of pleasure. I laugh, stop and lower myself to kiss him. He pushes my hair which has fallen over his face backwards and buries his fingers in to deepen the kiss.

“I love you, Hon.”

“Me too, baby.”

I go back to my former position. The ride is wilder this time and Jide cannot just keep quiet. You know when a man gets it so good he starts to call you all the sweet and nasty names you ever heard. He even promises you heaven on earth.

“iPhone 7,” I request.

“Yes! iPhone 7 with the EarPods. Chai! This woman, you’ll kill me.”

And kill him I do – when I stop just as he is at the brink, and finish it off with some mouth love, giving him a full brain drain. He dies for some minutes, unable to speak or move. I microwave the chicken and serve it with chilled wine. Both naked, we lie under the coziness of a blanket in our bedroom. He then takes his time to explain to me who Hauwa is to him. Although I feel better now that I know there’s absolutely nothing between them, I am jealous of their relationship. I want that with him – the friendship part. We don’t have it yet. We’re still lovers. I want to be his best friend. No other woman should take that spot.

“But why did you get angry and walk away like that, hotstuff?” I ask, circling my finger around a mole on his thigh.

“I was angry, that’s all.”

“That’s not all, Jide. Something pushed you. You don’t get angry like that. It builds up. What pushed you?”

He lets out a long sigh. “Can I sit up for this?”

“Sure.”

He pulls down the blanket and rests his back on a pillow as he sits straight.

“This is going to be brutally honest, Hon. You’re sure you want to hear it?”

My heart misses a beat. “You cheated again?”

“No, no, no. Haba, Erhinyuse. Trust me nau. Trust your husband. I promised that I’ll never touch another woman. I even just told you that I never cheated on you with Hauwa. Why can’t you just trust me?”

The sadness in his tone gets me sad as well. “I’m sorry.”

It takes him some time to recover from my accusation and go back to what he wants to say.

“Remember when you put me through one week of hell after I confessed to you that I cheated on you in Zanzibar?”

“Yeah?”

“And how a wedding date was fixed and all?”

“Yeah?”

“Honey… the truth is… I wasn’t ready to get married. I felt kind of forced into it. Marriage was not what I wanted at the time.”

I shift away from him a little. This is not consciously; my body just shifts away.

“I understood that you were pregnant and didn’t want to be showing at the wedding and that also, you needed to stamp yourself in my life, following what I had done… I understood, but I wasn’t ready. My own plan was for us to have the baby and then fix a date. So much had happened to me in a short while—the accident, my neurological issues, my infidelity… I didn’t want any of that carried into our marriage. I wanted a clean slate, to heal properly, to go to therapy with you, to help you with your depression, to enjoy being pregnant with you. I wanted to know you better, Erhinyuse, to become your best friend through our struggles. There was so much we could have done without the pressure of marriage.

“But you wanted the fairytale so badly you took all the issues between us and slathered them over with a magical wedding. I was hurting inside. I felt hamstrung. But I didn’t want you to know because I was scared to kick off your bipolar. I just wanted you to be happy. You needed to know that I was not like every other man out there, and so even when you bugged my phone again and the spy detection app I installed informed me, I was silent. When you said you didn’t feel like sex because of the pregnancy, I didn’t complain. And when you became a pregzilla and constantly demanded for an arm and a foot, I gave you all you wanted, denying my own pleasures. For me, the marriage came too early. The wedding spoiled a good thing. Resentment built up in me and I didn’t even know. When Hauwa came into the scene, I didn’t decide to hang out with her just to spite you. No, it was just a window to get away, to be reminded of who I was before I bore the husband title.

“It was wrong to seek that in her. I should have come to you, spoken to you and together we’ll trace our way back but no, I enjoyed the escape. And so when we had our fight on Sunday, I snapped. I am sorry I held all of that for so long, Hon.”

He looks at my face and sees it covered with tears. He slips back into the blanket.

“Please, don’t cry.”

“I’m so sorry, Jide. I didn’t know you didn’t want to get married.”

“I didn’t say that, Use. I said I was not ready at the time. Are you crazy? How can I not want to marry the most beautiful woman in the world? Who will I now leave you with? You’re my best friend.”

“I am?”

He wipes my tears. “You are.”

“Not Hauwa or Tomiwa?”

“Have you seen me near Mary of late? Abeg o! She’s somebody else’s property. Just like you’re mine.” He kisses my nose. “You and I will love like there’s no tomorrow but please, learn to trust me. I’ll never cheat on you.”

“But can Hauwa just disappear already?”

“You feel threatened by her?”

“Nope,” I lie.

“Hauwa wants to settle down. Badly. So, if you can give her one of your male friends, she will forever be loyal.”

I have no intention of doing that so I keep my mouth shut.

“Do you want to eat microwaved popcorn and watch Power or just make love?” Jide asks.

“Power, popcorn and your fine ass,” I reply, my hand stroking his junk, which is already hard, by the way.

“You’re looking for trouble, sugar lips.” He throws off the blanket, climbs over me and soon he’s filling every inch of me. Power and popcorn come much later, after I have been made love to like a princess, pounded like a whore and eaten out like a honey pot.

It’s almost midnight now and Jiney has had another feed. Jide changes her diapers while I make popcorn and then we both cuddle up to watch Power. We haven’t quite gone into it when my phone rings.

“It’s Yazmin,” I tell Jide.

“Again? What has Mex done this time?”

I take the call.

“Honey, I sent you some messages on Whatsapp. Please check them.”

“Is everything okay?”

“No… erm…I don’t know. I Just… please, check them and tell me what to do.”

“Okay.”

She goes off the line. I get on Whatsapp and see two messages from her, telling me that Emeka has just left the house to Omoh’s place.

-Why?

-I dunno

-Who gave him Omoh’s address?

-He got it from me

-How did you know the way to Omoh’s house??

-He sent it to me. He invited me over

-And you went?

-NO!

-Wait, you mean you didn’t block him as I advised???

-I did but he went on Twitter and sent me a DM and then Papi saw it and now he’s on his way there. Please, help. Do I go after him

-Are you alright? It’s 12 midnight. Stay back.

-Ok

-But you sef you light a fire and sit back to watch it burn. I have a feeling you’re enjoying this

-I am not, I swear

I roll my eyes. Yazmin is quite dumb for not completely blocking Omoh from all her social media accounts. You don’t deal with creepy men using kids gloves, unless you like the attention. I have a feeling she enjoys getting a rise out of Emeka.

And the Omoh person, he clearly needs to be buried alive for a few minutes. He had promised me when we met earlier today in his office that he would back off Yazmin, although he insisted that she didn’t deserve to be anyone’s second wife. What’s with sending his house address to her?

And finally, Mex cum Papi cum hothead brother-in-law, what is he thinking he’s up to?

-Yaz, if things get hairy, call me or Jide

-Sure. Thanks

I dump my phone on the nightstand and relate to Jide details of the chat.

“Should we step in?” I ask.

“Nope. They’re adults. Ignore them jare.”

He drags me close and nestles me between his legs. Soon his fingers begin to work on my nipples.

“Really?” I ask as I feel him grow hard again.

“You starved me for seven months, ma’am.”

“So you want to catch up in one night?”

“Just the tip. I promise.”

“Jide…” I whine but weakly. I still need more of him even though my body is exhausted. Well, one more orgasm won’t hurt.

He moves me into a spooning position and gently slides into me. When he starts moving, my body falls into a relaxed state. This is his famous sleep potion. It’s pleasurable, at the same time soothing.

I don’t know when I fall asleep.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

Party Celia is back, and it takes me less than twenty-four hours to put together a Saturday shindig, inviting all our friends. I had not bothered with the little details of preparing the small chops. I simply called a catering service and made orders. This was after I had a set of furniture and curtains brought into the new house. It seems I am beginning to enjoy the effects of being able to afford stuff. Things happen at the click of your fingers when you have the means.

I love our new home. The rent is on debt, though. A certain sum will be taken out of Shady’s salary until it is all paid off; this fundamentally means that he is stuck with Ibro for a while. But it’s a good deal since Shady is a massive hit to the business in the short time he has been there.

“I went there, knowing nothing about selling cars,” he tells me as we both fix the new curtains.

“But you’ve always been a fantastic salesman, Shade.”

He bends to give me a kiss on my nose. He loves when I call him Shade. No one else does that.

“At that your stupid, old job, they overused and underpaid you,” I reminded him, passing him a pole and a pair of curtains.

“Well, I kept all the details of their clientele and sent them newsletters. Ibro didn’t want to do a slash on the prices at first. But after a one-week test run, he was singing a different tune. Now, he wants us to extend it to a month. I told him it would be too much of a good thing. We need to maintain our standard.”

Dara strolls in with her sippy cup in her hand. “Mommy, tea.” She points it at me. I follow her to the kitchen, make some hot chocolate for her and we return to Shady.

“How about Nollywood? Don’t you want to act anymore?”

He looks at me. “Babe, do you want us to go down that road again or do you want to make money?”

“Just asking.” I pass over the last set of curtains to him. Dara and I watch him fix them and three of us stand back to enjoy the beautiful mix of rainbow colors on all four windows.

“It’s beautiful,” he mentions and then rests his chin on my head. “You color my world, Cee. Don’t ever leave me again.”

I smile.

“Daddy?” Dara lifts both hands in the air at him.

“Yes, babe?”

“Tea.”

“Didn’t you just drink some now?” I question her.

“Tea,” she repeats, her face coming to a sob. Shady lifts her up and takes her to the kitchen.

“You are spoiling that girl, Shadrach.” I go around picking little bits of gold threads and discarded décor pieces from the floor. When I’m almost through, I remember I have a phone call to make. I take a break from cleaning and call Naomi.

“Hi sweetheart,” she answers.

“Morning, Naomi.”

“How was your night?”

“Good. Yours?”

“Awesome. The husband came home last night. He was smelling of roses. You know I hate roses. No lipstick stain, this time. Thank God. But I found a red strand of hair on his shoulder. Red, synthetic hair. How can he stoop so low?”

This is not why I called. I am not interested in what happens in her marriage but she never gets the memo.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Nay.”

“Thanks. I should get me my own little sidechick, you know?”

“Hopefully she’s not me.”

“Hopefully, she is.”

“Anyways, I’m calling to remind you of my little get-together this evening. Are you coming?”

“Yes. but just briefly. The husband and I are having sex tonight. I’m ovulating. He wants this baby badly.”

Naomi is not interested in having a kid. Her husband believes that she has infertility issues but nothing is wrong with her. She is on the pill and he has no idea.

“Nay, soon he’ll find out the truth. You can’t pay off every hospital to keep lying to him.”

“Until he finds out, my womb stays untouched.”

“So you’re coming?”

“Yeah, dear.”

“Okay. See you by seven.”

After I drop the call, Shady and I put everything together to ensure that the party turns out well. Daylight breezes by speedily and darkness skulks in. Bobby and Kate are the first to arrive, owing to Bobby’s punctual nature. I hear that these days he is busy with a small tech hub he opened on the island. It is particularly set up for students and for people like him who have other things taking up their time but are crazy about IT. I hear Kate manages the hub well.

We hug as they walk in. Kate hands me a bottle of wine while fighting off their chubby son who feels the wine should not belong to me. We have a laugh over it and I point her to a couch.

Mary and Ekene are next. My former best friend embraces me like I have just returned from the dead. She asks me a lot of questions in a short stretch of one minute. She wants to catch up before the other wives come. I don’t have time for that as I hear the doorbell ringing again.

I dash for it and we have Peace smiling at me like the freaking sun. Behind her is her German boyfriend. I wonder if he finally got circumcised.

Next are Jide and Honey. They are wearing matching traditional attires, having just left a wedding. I tell them they look adorable. Honey hands me the fourth bottle of wine for the evening, and as they walk in to join the others, Jide holds her from behind, whispering into her ear. I smile at them. They give all of us relationship goals.

Lastly, her highness, Noka, steps in with Ibro.

“And she finally comes home,” she mutters after giving me an up and down look. “Nice wedges, sha. Prada?”

I nod. You can’t fault Noka’s eye for fashion. She always hits it on the head, although I feel like when it comes to wearing the chicest outfits, Honey is queen.

“Hi, Ibro.”

Ibro gives me an unexpected hug and whispers into my ear, “you did us all a solid by disappearing. It would be nice if it keeps happening.”

I laugh and he lets me go.

“How are you, though?”

“I’m good and I’m indebted to you, Ibrahim.”

“Ba yawa. We were just upset that you guys hid what was going on for so long. Why?”

I look down in embarrassment.

“Well, we thank God that all is good now. If you need anything…”

“Just call me,” Noka chips in with a smile that says ‘don’t you dare go near my husband.’

“Thank you, Ibro,” I answer.

They walk in and the others hail them with cheerful shouts. I grin. I have missed this. All of it—friends, laughter, naughtiness and a good time. I have the whole package for them tonight.

drinks

It starts with light conversation. Over drinks and small chops, we catch up on what has been going on in each other’s lives. I notice I haven’t missed anything much, save for the pictures a certain Hauwa lady shared of Jide and herself in Canada. Jide gets the heat from all of us and we demand he issues a dramatic apology to Honey even though he keeps explaining that they are past the issue.

“Apologize, oga.” Noka passes around her phone where she has saved the photos.

“You people should leave my hubs alone, biko,” Honey protests. We all shut her down. Jide must apologize.

He leaves his space beside her and stands in front of her. We are all expecting him to swing out some magical words but Jide lowers and gives her a long French kiss that leaves all of us embarrassed.

“You guys shouldn’t have insisted,” Bobby comments, breaking the intense silence.

“E don do o!” Noka claps, stopping them.

“Leave them alone,” Peace hushes her and stares longingly. I doubt that she is still seeing Reno. The German is becoming a fixture in her life.

Finally, the lovebirds part lips.

“Two of you are so shameless,” Mary says.

“Look who is talking,” Honey throws back.

Ekene politely asks for a drink of water. I dash into the kitchen to bring another round of drinks. Mary comes along and I hand her a tray containing small glasses of cocktail.

“What are they for?”

“You’ll see.”

When we return to the living room, we meet the others arguing over something political. It’s not the way I want the evening to go, so I take over the mood and announce that I have a game for them.

“This is why I’m actually here,” Bobby exclaims in a dance.

“We’ve actually missed your silly games, Cee,” Mary mentions.

“Thank you, fam.” I curtesy. “So, down to business. This game is called Never Have I Ever. I’m sure you guys know it…”

“I don’t,” Ibro states.

“Well, it’s simple,” I say, pulling out a piece of paper from my jean pocket. “On this paper, I have over a hundred statements that describe acts starting with the line Never Have I Ever. When I read out anyone and you have ever done it, you will indicate by having a drink of what’s on that second tray. I know we have two breastfeeding mommies here, so we’ll have them drop five hundred bucks each time they have ever been guilty of anything I read out. If you know you’re going to be driving. please, drop five hundred bucks. Don’t worry. I have change, a whole bundle of hundreds.”

“What will you do with the money, madam?” Noka asks.

“It’s for charity, dear. So, are we ready?”

Enthusiastic nods meet my question. I smile evilly. They have no idea what awaits them. I take my seat.

“Never have I ever watched porn with someone else.”

A general gasp spreads across the room as they all stare at each other. Jide breaks the silence by reaching for a drink. Laughter follows and other hands go for cocktails. Honey drops five hundred naira. Only Kate and Mary do neither.

“Tomiwa, you’ve never watched porn with someone else before?” I probe.

“I have never watched porn before. Period.”

“That’s a lie!” Bobby counters. “In school, you walked in on me and my ex…”

“Abeg o!”

“…watching porn. You remember?”

“I walked in and walked out. Remember I freaked out? Since then, I have never ever watched it again.”

“Holiness aunty,” Noka murmurs. “Dey carry Bible for your head.”

“Worefa. Continue jare.”

I read out the next statement. “Never have I ever taken someone’s virginity.”

“Jisos!” Bobby exclaims. We all laugh. But Jide, again, takes the lead. We glare at him. He downs his drink before he answers.

“We were teenagers. She wasn’t my first, though.”

Ekene goes next and everyone holds back stares, avoiding Honey’s eyes. We all know the love story they once shared. Bobby is third to pick a drink.

“But of course,” Jide says. Kate hides her face in a hanky.

“Anyone else?”

There are no more candidates, so I reach forward and take a drink. Shady’s mouth drops open as do the others.

“You guys don’t want to know. Moving on!” I read out the third statement. “Never have I ever lied to protect a cheating friend.”

All the wives give their husbands accusatory glances as fresh laughter erupts. But I surprise them and go first. Gasps replace the laughter; they fix their eyes on me downing the cocktail. When I put the glass back on the tray, I catch Noka’s glare. I hold it but she looks away.

The men follow my lead. Kate drops a thousand naira note and I give her five hundred.

I read on. “Never have I ever woken up next to a complete stranger.”

“Everybody, abeg pick a glass and drink!” Ibro yells as Shady refills empty glasses.

“Y’all hoes,” Honey says, going first. “I’ll own my shame.”

I watch them all down their drinks. Kate and I are the only ones who have never woken up to total strangers.

“Behold, my wife in whom I am well pleased.” Shady blows me a kiss. I catch it and place it on my chest.

“Not like you met her a virgin,” Noka sneers.

“Moving on!” I cut her off, and continue with the game. My questions get more interesting and downright nasty. More drinks, more mirth and things wind up in the course of an hour. No one is colossally tipsy because I had ensured, while making the cocktail, that the alcohol percentage doesn’t cause any drunkenness.

“Celia, it’s good to have you back,” Jide tells me.

“Thanks.”

“We missed this.”

“Me too,” I reply. I begin to clear the table. Mary and Peace offer to help me. Honey joins them and we all walk to the kitchen.

“So, where did you go, aunty?” Mary probes. “You look so fresh and fluffy.”

“You should travel more often,” Honey adds. “It suits you.”

“Thanks, girls.”

“Where exactly did you go?” Noka comes in.

I face her. “Fiji.”

“Your girlfriend took you there?”

“She’s not my girlfriend, Noks.”

“What girlfriend?” Honey and Peace ask simultaneously.

I place wine glasses in the sink. I have anticipated this moment and prepared a response.

“I just wanted to get away and Naomi was going on a short vacation and she took me along.”

“She didn’t kiss you again or anything like that?” Peace is genuinely worried.

“No, she didn’t.”

“You’re sure?”

I chuckle. “I’m sure, P. By the way, she offered me a job which involves me traveling the world with her.”

“What type of job is that?” Mary queries.

“Personal consultant.”

Peace takes on a ‘mommy countenance’. “And you said no, right?”

“Actually, I said yes.”

Everyone stops what they’re doing to focus on me.

“Why, Cee?” Peace’s voice is broken. “You’ll leave Dara and Shady and follow a woman who forced her lips on you and told you she wanted an affair with you?”

“Na wa o!” Noka claps her hands. “Nothing we no go hear.”

“That’s not a sound decision coming from you, Cee,” Mary asserts.

“Can I explain myself?”

They give permission. I tell Kate who has just stepped in to shut the door. As she does, I take a pose with crossed arms.

“I really need this job. Not for the money, not for the long haul. I need it for now.”

“Why?” Honey asks.

“Girls, that slap Shady gave me woke me up. It made me think about my life and where I am headed as a person, as a woman. Money has always been an issue for us as a couple. I had had dreams. Huge dreams for us, but none of them came true; and for a moment it seemed like life was passing me by. In fact, life passed me by for a while. And then I went to Fiji and saw that there was a world out there that I wanted to be part of.

“I am not leaving my marriage or my kid. I am just…trying to live. When you get married, you leave a lot of yourself behind. Your goals become about you and your husband – and then the kids, when they start popping out. And so, you abandon yourself and years go by and you realize that you’re now old and you can’t find the person you used to be or the dreams you used to have.

“I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to have a story to tell my kids one day, of how I traveled the world and of all the places I’ve been and people I met. I don’t want to be some plain, old Jane who wakes up one day and regrets what she could have been, or if she could have had it better.”

“Awww, this is inspiring,” Noka utters blandly. “I actually have tears in my eyes.”

Honey flashes her a nasty glare.

“But you’ve forgotten to add that the person who is flying you up and down to fulfil this your dream of discovering yourself actually wants to fuck you.”

“I know that, Noka.”

“And I have no squabbles with that, Celia. In short, go ahead and have an affair with her if that makes you happy. It’s all part of your midlife crisis, your…self-discovery… But please, make arrangements to get Dara a nanny so that your husband would stop taking her to work.”

“Ojonoka!” Honey spins to face her.

“What?”

“I have had enough of your spitefulness! Enough! This is your last warning! If you do or say anything unkind to any of us from today…”

“You’ll do what?” Noka moves towards her.

“Oh, please, try me.” Honey also takes a step forward.

“Ladies, abeg,” Kate pleads. Noka laughs and claps her hands in a taunt but I can see on her face that she is scared of Honey’s unspoken threat.

“Okay o. I’ll play nice before someone with mental issues claws out my eyes.”

Mary dives in-between them. “Noka, get out.”

“What did I do?”

“Get out!” Mary repeats.

Noka turns around, picks a samosa from a paper plate and leaves.

“Honey, ignore her words,” Mary begs.

“It’s fine. It’s okay. She can joke about my issues as much as she likes but I’ll get her. Oh, I’ll so get her. She doesn’t know me.”

Angry, Honey also leaves the kitchen. I exhale sadly. This is not how I wanted the evening to turn out.

“It’s not your fault, Cee.” Mary rubs my back. “They’ll both cool off. Honey will be back to say she’s sorry.”

“She doesn’t need to apologize,” Peace mutters. I see anger in her eyes too. “Noka has gotten out of hand. We need to do something about her.”

“Can we not make this beautiful evening about that dumb bitch?” Mary voices out in frustration. She holds my face. “Celia, I may not understand what you’re feeling or how badly you want to fulfil your itchy feet but I’m solidly behind you. Just talk to Shady about it and make adequate plans for Dara. It would be nice if you even took her along on some of your trips. She is part of you. Just…make sure you are not hurting her and Shady in the end. Okay?”

I nod. She hugs me. Peace joins in the hug.

“But the moment that Naomi touches you inappropriately, please get on the next flight back to Nigeria after you give her a dirty slap.”

“Trust me nau.”

We break away and find Kate washing wine and cocktail glasses. We help her out and in minutes the kitchen is clean. On our way out, Honey comes back in. She pulls me aside.

“I’m sorry for what just happened here. Noka gets on my nerves with her attitude.”

“Honey, it’s fine. No need to apologize. You handled her fuckup…”

“Not quite. I’m planning for her. She feels she’s better than all of us but I’ll show her that she isn’t. When I dig up dirt about her and expose her shit…”

I shake my head. “No need to, Hon.”

“I will o. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and I’ll find hers…”

“Trust me, you don’t want to dig out Noka’s. Just let it be.”

Jide pokes his head in. “I’m ready if you are, Hon.”

“Give me a second,” she responds. Jide thanks me for a wonderful night and leaves.

“Travel to anywhere you want to, Cee. Follow your heart but don’t forget those who need you.”

“I won’t.”

Honey squeezes me, pecks my cheek and dashes out. One after the other, they leave, but Ibro stays back to tidy up business deals with Shady. While they sit at the dining table and pore over some papers, Noka follows me into Dara’s bedroom.

“Nice place.” She looks around. Flowers, lush green lawn and butterflies are painted on the wall – all of Shady’s doing. The bed, wardrobe and floor are all in different hues of pink that match the decor. I am proud of him for this. It seems I am not the only one who found myself after that slap. He has changed quite a lot. My going away also did him some good. Having learned to care for his child all alone and to clean the house too, he is now hands-on with domestic responsibilities. Who knew he had this shade to him?

“Celia?” Noka calls.

“Yeah?” I reply. My hands are busy with Dara’s onesies.

“I know I come off as bitchy and insensitive but you know I’m not like that, Cee. You know I love you. All I was trying to say in the kitchen before Honey went all savage on me is that having Dara being in the showroom with Shady is unprofessional…”

“Did you know that Dara is starting school on Monday?”

“She is?”

“But what do you care? Your mind is occupied with the next blowjob you’re going to give the father of your illegitimate son just because you can’t pay up the blackmail money he keeps increasing every year.”

Noka’s shoulders slump down. “Why are you bringing this up?”

“Because your life is so perfect and one day Ibro will find out that the boy you call your little cousin is actually your son and you guys will live happily ever after.”

“Please, don’t tell Honey this or she’ll use it against me.”

“I’m not going to tell on you but I will if you don’t stop being a bitch.”

“I’ll try.”

“You’d better.”

She watches me tuck Dara in and then she puts her arms around me for a hug. “Goodnight.”

“Night.”

She walks out of the bedroom and stops.

“He’s asking for more than blowjobs now. The last time, he wanted me to go all the way. I told him I couldn’t. I gave him some money. That was why I couldn’t contribute when the girls suggested that we should give you something.”

“Noka, don’t sleep with him. And stop giving him head. Tell the truth.”

“How?”

“Just do. Your son needs to know who he is and Ibro needs to know the truth.”

“I can’t…”

“Then let us help you. We’ll tell our husbands and they’ll talk to him. Just stop lying and cheating on him.”

Her eyes glisten. “I can’t.”

Shady appears and she wipes her eyes subtly. “Ibro is ready to leave. Are you ladies done?”

“Yeah.”

I step out of Dara’s bedroom and together we walk to the sitting room. Shady and I escort them to their car. When they leave, we go back into the house and I find that my phone is ringing.

I put it to my ear.

“Hi Naomi.”

A sobbing voice at the other end comes on. “Cece?”

“Nay, what’s wrong?”

“Can you come over, please?”

“Right now?”

“Yes. Please, come over. Please…”

I don’t ask her what is wrong. I quickly explain to Shady that she needs me. We already talked about her last night and in his opinion, she is no threat to our relationship. However, I am not sure he will feel the same way if I tell him of my travel plans.

“You want me to drive you there?” he asks.

“No, I’m good.”

He passes me his car key and I hurry out of the house. I find that I am genuinely worried about Naomi. We had become quite close during the trip but solely as friends. I worry that something bad has happened to her.

When I arrive at her house and a maid leads me up to her bedroom, my breath is held.

I open the door. “Naomi?”

“I’m here,” she answers from the bathroom. I stroll through a messy room, not made untidy by habit but by what seems like a scuffle. I step over broken glass and cosmetics flung from the dressing table as I aim for the bathroom.

“Come in.”

I push the door open and find Naomi on the floor. I can hardly recognize her as her face is red and black and swollen into twice its size in certain places.

“Nay?”

“He found out, Cece. He found out I’ve been lying to him and he beat me. He almost killed me. He was choking me…”

Her voice is barely a whisper and fear rests on her face. I rush to her.

“Let’s get you to the hospital.”

I help her up and discover that the blood I see on the floor is from between her legs. The entire floor on which she sits is covered in a pool.

“He wanted to kill me,” she repeats. “He stomped on my tummy, telling me he’ll destroy my womb since I won’t carry his baby.”

I fume, mad at her a husband, a man I have neither seen nor spoken to. I help her out of her clothes and put her under the shower to wash away the mess. I need to clean her up before taking her to the hospital. I hope she hasn’t lost too much of blood.

“Don’t leave me,” she clutches my hands as the water hits her body.

“I won’t.”

 

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

Genesis is startled out of her sleep. She had gone to bed quite early after organizing some seminar for financial moguls. The day hadn’t been exactly fun for her, as Zach had gotten into a crying spell that threw her into an unpleasant mood. When she couldn’t handle his tantrum, she left him in the care of Iya Idaya.

Mamisi had also been contributory to her grumpiness. The old woman showed up unannounced and dumped a heap of clothes in the laundry room. Genesis scolded her and they got into a fight. Iya Idaya stepped in with an offer to launder the clothes but Genesis would have none of it. She asked Mamisi to leave, then stomped up the stairs and went straight to bed.

Now she is awake, not sure why she is. She turns off the air conditioners and opens the windows. The night is cold and the sky clear with a full moon.

Genesis walks back to her bed. She clutches her rosary and soon falls asleep.

She dreams…

On the bed, lying beside her is Dominic. Motionless. Stiff. Cold. Pale.

She wakes up with a scream, her heart pounding painfully in her chest. Her rosary is still clutched in her hand but she holds it tighter. She begins to pray. She is incoherent, her words disjointed. But she prays on, until she finds some peace.

She lies back again and falls asleep once more. There are no more bad dreams waiting. She makes it to the morning.

When she stirs up at daylight, her nose picks the strong scent of Dominic’s perfume but she doesn’t give it much thought. Having had nothing to eat last night, hunger drives her downstairs. She bursts into the kitchen and is surprised to find Dominic with the twins.

“Nick?”

“Look who’s finally awake!” he stretches a hand and she ambles to it.

“Why are you here?”

“I missed you guys so much that I decided to come back.”

She bends for a kiss from him, and then delivers several pecks on her children’s cheeks.

“Seriously, why are you back?”

“I missed you guys nau. I can’t miss my family again?”

“I’m thinking that maybe I’m still sleeping, so I’ll go back upstairs, crawl back into bed and wake up when morning comes.”

Dominic laughs heartily. “I’ll come and show you that I’m real.”

He calls for Iya Idaya and instructs her to continue feeding the kids. He drags Genesis upstairs. In their bedroom, he kisses her until she is breathless.

“Was that real enough or you need to wake up?”

He doesn’t let her answer. He kisses her again, lifting her nightshirt and kneading her backside.

“This feels real,” she moans.

“Not quite yet.”

He tosses her to the bed. Her mouth salivates at the sight of his blatant erection. She has always been able to get completely turned on by just seeing him aroused, whether nude or clothed. The man is impressively endowed. She waits in anticipation as he undresses. He makes it clear that he isn’t in the mood for foreplay. She isn’t either. A week ago she had found him too clingy. Now, she doesn’t mind if he is stuck in her all day.

He falls on the bed and goes straight to business. He is wild and nasty, reminiscent of that first night they made love when he went into her apartment and demanded her body like he owned it. Time and work took that edge away. Their sex life remains awesome but nothing can be compared to that night…

Except this.

dominic8

Soon, Genesis is screaming out his name. She has never been one to hold in her pleasure. She arches into his every possessive, powerful thrust. She gives back as she gets it but soon finds that she can’t match his energy. Not this morning, at least. This morning, it’s all about him and how much he can give.

So, she takes and takes until she runs out of staying power.

He stops, panting hard, body soaked in sweat.

“What on earth did you eat in Singapore, Ditorusin?”

He laughs and leaves for the bathroom. She falls back on the bed. Sheets wet. Genitals quivering.

When she finally catches her breath, a smile fills her face. As she begins to wonder what has come over her husband, her phone beeps.

She picks it up and there’s a message from a foreign number.

Hi Genny. How are you doing? I’m guessing Nick is at home now. Please, rush him to the hospital. He is not in top shape. He had a heart attack during our first meeting here. After a doctor cleared him, I put his ass back on a plane home. Please, have his doctor give him a check. Love, Seyi.

Genesis jumps out of bed and hurries to the bathroom in annoyance. She flings the door open.

“Domi, you had a heart attack and didn’t tell me?!”

Her movement halts. Her hand freezes in the air. Dominic is lying on the floor, eyes looking up at the celling.

“Call the ambulance,” he rasps.

©Sally@moskedapages

 

 

 

Images: welscua.blogspot.com, eroticnoire, blackmomsblog

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #9

God bless you all for your prayers, encouraging words and messages.

I can’t thank you enough.

I love you guys!blow kiss So to make up for lost time, there will be double episodes this weekend. One today, and the other tomorrow.

Enjoy!

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She has never heard her heart beat so loudly and so fast. She is certain everyone in the room can hear it. That and the nonstop flapping of butterflies in her tummy. She is a nervous wreck and not even Mahmud’s hand on hers can calm her.

Her eyes are fixed on the floor. They stare hard at Mahmud’s dad’s well-manicured toes. She dares not look up at the man, with his full, white beards and rheumy eyes that enjoy seeing into her soul and ripping out her self-assurance. His wife has a more agreeable face but even the calm on it is not enough to dispel her fears today.

Wura, Mahmud and Bilal had flown into Sokoto two days ago on the old man’s request. It is not Wura’s first visit but it is her first, true welcome. She is received warmly and given one of the best rooms to stay in. Mahmud’s mother lets her into her kitchen to help out with the meals and cleaning, even though there are other girls in the house – relatives of the family. All of Mahmud’s older siblings are absent, although the first two live with them here in Sokoto. Wura is rather glad that the house is quite empty. The last time she visited, the whole family, excluding Asma had put her in the same spot she is presently seated, and told her without flinching to cut off ties from their lastborn. That night had been frightening. She remembers staying awake until morning and disappearing at the first break of daylight. Echoes of that night still haunt her and this is why she has imagined the worst this morning.

“Wuraola,” Mahmud’s father calls. It is the second time he is saying her name. She keeps her head down even though she answers him.

“Look at me.”

His quiet, commanding tone forces her head up. She swallows as his soul-ripping eyes go straight into hers.

“Everyone knows that I do not speak many words,” he says. Her stare breaks away from his to the sparkling white jalabia he has on. “So, I’ll go straight to the point. Look at me.”

Wura takes her eyes back to his again.

“For reasons that are best known to us in the Suleiman family, we approve of your marriage to our son.”

Wura’s stare widens. She shoots a sharp look of disbelief at Mahmud and back at the old man.

“We also do not compel you to convert to Islam. Mahmud has always been an extremely liberal Muslim and we are not quite surprised that he has chosen a Christian girl to marry…”

“For the second time,” Mahmud’s mother adds.

“But he is our son and we want the best for him. If he is convinced that you are that best, despite everything we have done to separate both of you, then alhamdulillah. All we ask is that you stay faithful to him. May it not be found in you that you went back to your old ways, Wuraola. Be a good, humble and submissive wife to him. Do not follow the ways of today’s women who feel they are equal to their men. I know Mahmud does not mind but please, respect him in all areas.”

Wura nods as a force of unnecessary tears distorts her view.

“Should he ever have the desire to get married to another wife, preferably a Muslim—even though it’s not our way in the Suleiman family—please, don’t stop him.”

Mahmud tightens his hold. She knows he is assuring her that she’ll be his only wife.

“Stay close to your God. Take care of our grandson. He must be raised a Muslim.”

Wura neither nods nor shows any sign of agreement. Bilal already has a foundation of both religions. He always follows her to church but has his little prayer mat on which he imitates her cousin each time he prays. Sometimes Wura lets the boy take him to the juma’at mosque near the house for the evening asr prayers.

“We pray that God will bless your marriage and your home,” Mahmud’s father concludes.

The unnecessary tears now make a full residence on Wura’s face as she leaves the comfort of Mahmud’s hand and goes to her future parents-in-law to show her appreciation. She falls on her knees before them. The hands that touch her are not the same cold hands that had reluctantly approved of her marriage to their son two years ago. She can feel the warmth. Something has changed. She wonders what.

On the flight back to Lagos, she and Mahmud talk about it.

“He thinks he’s dying,” Mahmud explains. “Prostate cancer.”

“Aww.”

“It’s a silent killer. He’s had it for years and didn’t know but it has been treated. He’s in remission.”

“That’s good, right?”

“Yeah. But he believes it will come back again and has made up his mind not to treat it if it does.”

Wura looks at Mahmud. His face holds no expression. He has never been the type to wear his emotions outwardly. You can only read him by a rise or drop in energy. For the past couple of days, he has been quiet.

“He’ll be fine, Mymood. Just have faith.”

Mahmud smiles at her, adjusting a sleeping Bilal to lie properly on his chest. Wura slips on a pair of earphones to listen to her collection of Christian soft rock and she goes into silent prayer.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

“Okay, madam, give me one last push.”

A tired mother, just about to have her first baby, gives me a drained look. I smile back.

“I know. But your baby is here.” I take her hand which her husband is holding and guide it down to the tub of water she’s seated in so she can feel her son’s head between her legs.

“You feel that? He’s here. That’s why it hurts so much. But one push will take away all the pain. Can you do that for me?”

She nods.

“Okay, ma’am. Push!”

“Oya, PUSH!” her husband shouts and gets me laughing. The man has been a relief for sour mood. I don’t particularly like water births because of the extra mess they come with – I have done it only once, owing to its unpopular nature in Nigeria – but this man has made my time with him and his wife in their home bearable today. He is the coolest Caucasian I ever met and his pidgin is high grade stuff. Warri approved.

His wife lets out a scream and she births her baby with just that one push. I slowly bring the baby up for air, letting him have a feel of the water first. He lets out a cry, I pass him unto his mom and my work is done. A junior midwife takes over while I capture the moment. I am not allowed to upload this one on Instagram yet until the couple first shares it with the world.

water-birth

I walk away from them to give them their moment while I get set to leave.

Nne once told me that he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.

In many ways, that proverb is true. But not in my case, not when I don’t feel like fighting with Honey anymore. I have acted irrationally and insensitively towards her. This is me admitting it, but not to her who deserves to hear it.

It’s been four days too long and I miss everything about her. Even her insecurity and misgivings. I miss Jiney too.

The only cure to the emptiness is to swallow my ego and go back home to them.

But there’s a lot I want to say. I want to be honest with her about myself, tell her things I was supposed to have told her before we got married. I had thought they would burn up under the fiery flame of what we shared but some other things came in and turned that fire down too fast.

Now, we are here, me hiding secrets, Honey hurting from my misbehavior. But I hope she knows that I didn’t set out to hurt her. I hope she recognizes how much I love her.

“Thank you, DOM,” the grateful mother tells me. I smile back at her, watching the familiar scene before me as her husband gives me a thumbs up. I leave their home and drive back to the hospital. Somehow, I have lost track of my activities and I need to be reminded. I stop in front of the roster board at the midwifery wing to see if I have any more patients today. I rub my eyes that have been longing for sleep over the past couple of days as I inhale the spicy scent of Hauwa’s perfume. She comes up behind me to stare at the board as well.

“Hi handsome.”

I give her an eye.

“You and I need a talk,” I tell her.

“Talk?”

“Yeah, the long-winded type that would leave you in tears and make us stop speaking to each other in a while.”

“Somebody is pissed this morning,” she says in a singsong tone. I face her with a glower.

“We need time apart, Hauwa.”

“You’re…breaking up with me?” she clutches the stethoscope around her neck with both hands.

“Can you be serious for once and just try not to get on everyone’s nerves?”

“I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.”

I grunt silently. Hauwa is an annoying person, and I’m saying this in the nicest possible way. She enjoys getting a rise out of people for fun. She has always been like this. But she is actually kindhearted beneath. Six years ago, her generosity had overlooked the fact that I was a strange man in a strange city, and offered me the spare bedroom in her house just because she had heard me ask a mutual colleague for the number of a house agent.

That generosity helped me get settled into my new job and was there for me on nights when the pain of losing Ezinne was too much to bear. She hadn’t been inappropriate towards me; rather it was I that read the signals wrongly on a rainy afternoon when I went for her lips.

Hauwa had laughed and pushed me away that day, giving me the ‘you’re like a brother to me,’ look. A few days after, my new apartment was ready and she helped me move into it. Contrary to what Honey imagines in her silly, little head, Hauwa and I have never been physical or romantic. She helped me score many chicks back then and always came to me whenever she had man problems. She took Mary’s place in my life for the time I spent with her. I felt no need to share this with Honey. Not that I was hiding anything but Honey had acted coldly on their first meeting and I didn’t see it as a good sign. Hence, I kept details of my relationship with Hauwa away from her.

The time spent in Canada had been fun for Hauwa, mostly because she was getting out of a two-year relationship that had been hell, and secondly, because the other midwives and nurses at the hospital were pissed that I picked her as part of my travel team. The beef was that she was a newbie in the hospital and didn’t deserve the spot. But I had not cared what they thought. I was repaying a favor to a friend who had been there for me in the past. She needed the vacation.

Nobody saw her whenever she withdrew to a corner to break down in tears and mull about her failed relationships. Being two years older than I am, she believes she is way past the marriage age and may never find the man of her dreams. This is made even more difficult with her standards. Hauwa is saving her body for marriage and will not date a man who is struggling, abusive and a cheat. These are realistic deal breakers I think all women should have. Unfortunately, women like Hauwa always find themselves being left out of the marriage circle. I feel bad that all my reasonable guy friends are married. All the same, I’ll find someone for her.

“So do you want to have this talk over lunch or in your office…?” she holds on to her stethoscope.

“Let’s do it here,” I reply, taking my eyes away from the nurses watching us but pretending to be going through a file.

“Okay, I’m putting on my serious face.” Hauwa pushes her lips to a pout.

“Can you be more professional with me when we’re working?”

“I thought I’ve always been.”

“You haven’t, and I’m tired of the gossip behind our backs. I’m your boss, you’re under me. Keep it strictly professional. Asides that, I’m a married man. That Facebook stunt you did put me in a lot of trouble.”

“I apologized nau, Jide.”

“You did but I have to draw the line. So, please keep you distance. Can you do that?”

“Sure.” She giggles. Her eyes, however, read something different. My words have hurt her. “Can I go now, DOM?”

“Yeah.”

“Have a nice day, sir.”

She walks away, as do the eavesdropping nurses. I head towards my office, feeling like an ass, tired and craving for Honey’s afang soup. I’m craving for her lips too. All four of them.

We haven’t spoken to each other since Sunday, but she has uploaded a video of Jiney on Facebook in which she tagged me. I have watched the video over ten times.

I stretch out on the examination table in my office and as I am about to shut my eyes, I receive a call from my mom. I stare at the phone, having no desire to answer, but somehow, I do.

“Jideofor, kedu?”

“I’m fine, mom. Good morning.”

She doesn’t reply in English as she straightaway goes into the reason why she is calling. Honey has told on me and the old woman summons me for questioning.

“I’ll be there shortly,” I reply, leaving the bed. Still wearing my scrubs, I walk out of my office and down a long pass that leads to the parking lot. I get into the car and start the engine. The car hums for a while before I force myself to move it out of its spot, towards the gates.

I still am not in the mood to be doing a lot of driving. I love to be chauffeured around but the idea of having a driver does not just appeal to me yet. Maybe when I get older and look like RMD, I may fit into the narrative.

I drive to the family house. I am ready for whatever Nne has to say, as long as she lets me have a proper home-cooked meal which I haven’t had in a while.

“Is it not you that wants to live like a bachelor?” she tells me, serving me a dish of oha soup, filled with all sorts of meats and fish. Beside the dish is a plate of akpu. For the first few minutes when I start to eat, I can’t even hear anything she is saying. Her words begin to settle in after the fifth swallow and second piece of fish.

“Erhinyuse must be treated like gold, Jidenna. I don’t want to ever see her cry the way she did when she came here. Do you think it’s easy to see your husband with another woman?”

I stop chewing for a second and gaze at my mom. Her question is from a place of pain.

“Don’t treat her less than she deserves, and let it be the last time I’ll hear that you slept outside your house.”

“But Honey has trust issues and I can’t deal, abeg.”

“It is for better and for worse, Jide. Besides, whose fault is it that she has trust issues?”

I give no answer.

“You no fit talk abi?”

I almost laugh. In one short conversation, my mom has gone from English to Igbo and now to pidgin.

“No be like that,” I answer her.

“Then, how is it?”

I exhale. I want to tell her my own side of the story but this is a bad idea already, having a third party in my marriage. I never planned to do this. Honey and I had agreed that we would not let family or friends in but I guess I pushed her to this point. I’ll take responsibility and fix things.

“Mom, I’m sorry that you have to be called in to put me straight. I messed up and I’ll do the right thing from now on.”

Nne melts.

“Marriage is not easy, I must tell you. Sometimes…” She looks away and comes back to me. “Sometimes, a lot is lost in translation even when you’re face to face. The end of a discussion can become the start of a squabble and then little issues become major ones. But you have to keep the fire burning.”

“I’ll try.”

“Please, don’t hurt her again,” she advises me in Igbo. “She’s your wife. Your baby. Hold her like an egg. I know she wrongfully accused you and I know how she gets irrational but be gentle with her. Follow her like a child. Small-small. Hot soup is eaten little by little.”

I look down at my plate of soup which has not been eaten little by little. All that is left is the large chunks of beef in it.

“Can I have more, please?”

Nne points to the kitchen. I walk in there, top the soup and return.

“I’ve spoken to a friend of mine to get you people a maid since that silly Ndidiamaka cannot have sense to know that all the housework rests on her.”

“Nne!” I laugh. “Didi is actually a nice girl.”

“Didi? Is that what you call her?”

“Yes.”

“Hmmm. Okay o. Let her just hurry up and find her own place so that two of you can have peace.”

I say nothing further. The woman has refused to let Didi into her heart no matter what we try.

“Nne, this soup na die!” I lick my fingers. “I really miss your cooking.”

She smacks my head. “You don’t have sense. It’s your wife that prepared it.”

I glare at the soup as if just seeing it for the first time. “Eziokwu!”

“I’m telling you. She did it all on her own,” Nne replies with a proud smile. “No supervision whatsoever. Go home and thank her.”

I say a silent ‘wow’ as I keep on eating; the soup suddenly becomes a hundred times more delicious. Honey amazes me every day with the things she does. She deserves more than I give. I’m going home straightaway to make things right with her.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

My feet touch down in Lagos. I step on familiarity – and wait for some form of elation to hit me but I feel nothing.

I thought I would miss this place but I haven’t. I just want to turn around, hop back on the plane and find myself in Fiji again.

“I understand exactly how you feel.” Naomi touches my hand and guides me towards the airport shuttle. When we sit in, alongside other passengers, Naomi is facing me, staring at me in that eerie manner she had stared at me throughout our three-week vacation in Fiji. The look basically spells her desire for me, of which I have no business with. I tell her this on the morning I leave the house after Shady hits me. I think of the million places to be other than hers but all those other places belong to my friends whose marriages are perfect. I could visit Peace but she is sleeping over at Honey’s. And so I choose the least person my commonsense wants me to go to. Naomi welcomes me, arms open, my face pressed to her chest. I don’t care. I just want to let the tears out. Nobody told me boobs can be this comforting.

“Can I stay here for a while?” I request.

“Of course, darling,” she replies, stroking my hair. At this point, I am not thinking. I just want to be far away from Shady.

“You know what?” She takes my face and brings it to hers. “Let’s travel out. Have you ever left the shores of Nigeria before?”

I lift my shoulder and drop it in embarrassment.

“No need to be ashamed. But you do have a passport?”

Yes, I have a passport. My pastor once told everyone who had hopes of flying out of Nigeria to make a move of faith. Many dropped seed faith offerings. I decided to get a passport because I was too broke to afford a seed faith and a passport at the same time. I had figured that if the opportunity came knocking, I’d be ready. I had figured right. And as Naomi holds my face I tell myself that God is answering my prayers.

“Pick anywhere you want to travel to. At least, somewhere that doesn’t require a visa.”

My eyes dash left and right in thought, and then I remember reading an article about places one can travel to outside the shores of Nigeria that wouldn’t require a visa.

“Let’s check online,” I suggest. Both of us hunch over her phone for almost an hour and then we pick Fiji Island. Immediately, she calls a luxury travel service and makes arrangements to request a travel concierge to Fiji.

“I’ll give you a good time,” she says to me with such thirst in her voice that I see a horny man’s face on her. It is at this juncture I explain to her that I’m not going to open my legs for her.

“I just need to go away and clear my head, Naomi.”

“I don’t care. Being with you on a holiday is way better than sitting here, playing dutiful wife to a man who is hardly around.”

Still, I make her promise not to jump on my lips again.

“Brownie honor,” she swears. Two days later, we’re flying first class to Fiji. There, I have the time of my life but I find myself falling into quiet moments where I rather wish to be enjoying the holiday with Shady and Dara. It is on one of those occasions I succumb to my heart and call Shady. He tells me he’s sorry for the zillionth time. He says he misses me. He puts Dara on the phone. I listen to my baby with tears in my eyes as I gaze ahead at the ocean. Over me, the shadow of a palm leaves dance. Sometimes, it’s Naomi’s fingers making forms in my view.

cee

Shady tells me he’ll save the number. I don’t want him to, knowing he will call at every chance he has.

“How are you coping?” I ask. But what I really mean is, ‘have you gotten your lazy ass a job?’

“Well, we’re managing,” he replies. “Still scouting around for something. God will provide.”

I sigh inwardly. I’m no longer upset. I have given up. Naomi offered me the job of being her personal consultant cum assistant, and that involves traveling everywhere with her on business trips and basically helping her make most of her decisions. It’s a great offer, considering the financial benefits that come with it. I accepted the proposal but I asked her if it comes with groping my breasts. To that, she laughed.

“I’m not that horny,” she replied.

“Than what do you want from me?”

She smiled that manly smile and that was all I got. I guess it’s some sort of mating thing lesbians do.

“Cee, are you there?” Shady calls my attention away from a Caucasian couple that are snorkeling in the body of water not far from me.

“Just be praying for me,” Shady adds in a depressing manner. It is this same mood that meets me when I return to Lagos. Naomi’s chauffeur who has driven us into town from the airport, parks the car outside the compound Shady and I share with three other families.

Naomi moves closer to me and links her hand in mine.

“Thank you for the fun I had back in Fiji.”

“Thank you for the vacation. I really needed it.”

She dips her other hand into her handbag and takes out another envelope, much like the one she gave me almost two months ago, only fatter. I had returned the other one on the morning I went to her.

“I added two thousand dollars, Cece. You need it. Take it.”

Am I to be a hypocrite and say no after I have enjoyed an entire trip on her tab? No, not when Shady and I both need it.

I take the envelope and on my own accord, hug her. Despite the attraction thing she has going on in her head, she has been a good friend. Not tested, not trusted, just good.

I come down and head into the compound as her car drives away. At the entrance of the compound I see my neighbors, all three of them, seated on a bench. Two are married while the other lives with her fiancée. They are all housewives, the types that sit and gossip about working women like me. I know that I’m always the main topic of all their discussions.

Walking past them, I throw in a greeting that is tersely answered. I walk to my door, and just as I insert the key, I hear, “Iya Dara, your husband and pikin no dey here again o!”

I pretend not to have heard. I turn the key, push in a rather dusty door and walk into an empty living room.

I stop, not sure if I am in the right house. Everything is gone. From the furniture, to curtains, and even our wedding photos on the walls.

I hear a voice behind me. It’s the neighbor who had spoken earlier.

“I been dey tell you say your husband don pack but you no answer.”

“My husband packed?” I turn. “To where nau?”

She hits the back of one hand over the palm of the other with her lips pressed together and sloped down in a gossip manner.

“Last week, hin carry one big lorry wey come pack everything commot. You sef, where you go? Una been dey fight abi na wetin?”

I don’t answer her. I walk to my bedroom and find it in a similar state as the living room. Same with Dara’s bedroom.

“Your husband sha don change. Hin get one fine jeep like this.”

I look at her.

“Chasis ride! Whether dem dey call am Pathfinder abi na Range Rover, I know no. The car sha fine die! Even the cloth hin dey wear these days…correct, correct corporate. I no know say the man handsome like that.” She laughs. “If na vex you vex am, biko, go beg am before all these Lagos girls help you manage am.”

All she is saying is strange in my ear but I intend to get to the bottom of it. I give my empty house one last look and step out. Outside the compound, I restore my Nigerian SIM card and the first thing I do is dial Shady. He picks my call.

“Hey, bae.”

“Shady? What is going on? I’m at the house and there’s nothing there. What happened? Where are you? Where is Dara?”

He laughs. Heartily. “Calm down, madam. Your blood too dey hot. Where are you?”

“At home.”

“Stay there. I’ll come get you. Welcome back.”

He hangs up and I contemplate on whether I should go back into the compound or wait outside. I choose the latter, settling on a bench with my travel case beside me. I wait for a long time and Shady eventually comes – driving an SUV I don’t recognize. Like my neighbor noted, it’s a Pathfinder, sleek and black. When Shady steps out of it dressed like he owns the stolen billions the president has been trying to recover, I blink several times.

He walks to me, sweeps me up and kisses lips that are parted in surprise.

“Shadrach, what is going on?”

He doesn’t reply. He ushers me into the SUV, taking my luggage along. Later on, after long kisses, him gushing over me and refusing to let go of my hand, he tells me how Ibro changed our fortune.

I sit beside him, quiet, staring. I can hardly recognize him. He is happy, talking rapidly, telling me how many more doors have opened since then but he is wiser now to hold on to what is working well for him. He thanks me for walking out on him to shake out the lazy man he used to be.

“You did the right thing, leaving me, Cee.”

But it hadn’t felt that way that night when I was sitting on the floor, wondering what I was supposed to do. I always used to have a quick answer to situations like that.

“Walk away from the marriage,” I would say. “Once he hits you, he’ll never stop.”

But there I was, the woman who was hit by her husband, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave Shady. He was on his knees. He was begging, having just called my brother, Joey, and reported himself. I would have warned him against doing that if I had known he would. Joey will thrash him like a child when next he sees him. One, two, ten years from now, Joey will enact his revenge. Shady was never Joey’s choice for me.

“Too broke,” Joey had told me after their first meeting. “Find someone with the means to take care of you.”

But I had never been that woman who puts money before love. I loved Shady with that deep kind of love that was rare. And I still do. I still love the man who has abused me.

I didn’t stop weeping. My mind was plagued with many things.

Shady was not an abusive man…but what if he really was? What if that was the beginning of an abusive marriage?

Was I to walk away? Or give him another chance? If I give him another chance will things go back to how they used to be? Could I trust him not to hurt me? And then there was that little issue of my pride that had been bruised. Where was the Celia who would not take nonsense from any man? Why did I feel so weak? What the hell was I to do?

He didn’t stop begging, and the hardest part was that he gave no excuses over what he had done. The devil, jealousy, a bad childhood, my sharp mouth, his financial situation – none of them were to blame. It was all on him. He didn’t even say it was a mistake, nor was he asking me to forgive him. He was simply begging me not to see him as a monster. In-between were moments when he stopped and thought back to the time when he hit me, shocked at himself for what he had done.

I was shocked as he was but hours passed and some kind of numbness took over, bringing dark silence as we both lay in bed. I did not let him touch me. I cringed at the feel of his hand over my skin, and so he withdrew.

Neither of us slept. The morning came as quietly as the night left. I rose from the bed, packed my clothes into a bag and told him I was leaving.

“Take the car.” He jumped out of bed and went for the car key. I shook my head. “Please… you need it.”

“I don’t.”

“Celia…”

“Shady, stop… I’m just going away to clear my head and know what to do with us. I don’t need the car.”

I couldn’t look into his face—at expressive eyes that always drew me in like quicksand, or at generous lips that had kissed me a million different ways—and lose my will to leave. This marriage thing, nobody tells you, is iron mixed with miry clay. It gets you stuck and you cannot leave without breaking your legs. But it wasn’t entirely about leaving. It was about knowing I had the choice whenever it became too difficult to clutch. It was about power.

Yes, I had it all figured out, feminist me. I knew all my options and I’d been through scenes like that in my head but nothing trumps reality, when you have to tear away from the person that has become your breath.

“Are you going with Dara?” Shady had asked.

“No.”

I didn’t give him an explanation, and that was because I didn’t have any. I just wanted to stay far from everybody.

I hurried out before he said something that could break me further. I didn’t check on Dara. I just breezed past her bedroom and through the living room to find the cold, moist air that was outside my warm home. I had no plan when I went away that morning but somehow I found my purpose out there. Fiji gave me freedom. Fiji showed me I can do and be whatever I want to do and be. It awakened my wanderlust.

I love my husband, I have forgiven him, I am ecstatic for what Ibro has done in our lives but this is not who I want to be right now.

Shady’s warm, wet lips rest on mine in a loving kiss. I almost tear up at the happiness I see in his eyes. Finally, he is here. He can hold his head high without pretense. I am happy but I am sad my own dreams will take me away from him.

“Let’s go home,” I say. “Wherever home is…”

He chuckles. “We’ll pick Dara from the office, first.” He starts the car. His left hand is on the wheel and the right one holds mine.

This is a perfect scene, one we have always fantasized about but how do I tell him that in a short while I’ll be jetting off to some other part of the world and I’ll abandon him and Dara again? How do I tell him that I’ve found my dreams but they have nothing to do with him?

©Sally@moskedapages

Translations:

Juma’at – Friday

Asr – The late part of the afternoon when Muslims pray

Eziokwu – Is that so? Oh yeah?

 

Images: favim.com, birthwithoutfear

 

 

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #8

Morning!

At last, I am here. I’m glad to be back.

So today, I’ll be giving away five free copies of The Fourth Finger. I was thinking of how to do this giveaway, whether to do it on Twitter and Facebook alone, or to throw out questions about my stories to reward faithful readers or to just randomly give the books away. Well, I chose the last option.

To be eligible to win, you have to drop a comment below. Now, do not comment about winning the book. Read this episode, drop your thoughts on it. That simple. After that, add #TheFourthFinger to be eligible. If I pick you, I will send you and email, so make sure you’re using a working email when you drop the comment. Please, do not add your email address to the text. I won’t pick you. Just use your email in the section that requires you to add your email and if I pick you, I will send you an email.

Now, in the email, I will ask for a screenshot of you liking my page Moskeda Pages on Facebook or following me on Twitter @moskedapages or on Instagram @moskedapages. Simple as ABC.

The shots will look like these if you’re using your mobile. You can see that there’s proof of ‘liking’ and ‘following’. I need just one screenshot but if you can send three, awesome!

Once you send me proof, I’ll forward the book to you.

The giveaway ends at 12 midnight.

Thank you.

Now, enjoy the episode!

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lexus5

“Come and pick your father, Lex. He needs someone to take him to the airport.”

“Really?” a groggy Lexus rasps into her phone. Beside her, Trinity stirs, but her eyes remain shut. Both of them have been asleep for the best of two hours, sprawled on Lexus’ bed after playing dress-up and taking selfies.

“I have an event,” Genesis continues, “and in keeping with tradition, I’m not taking him to the airport.”

Lexus makes to roll her eyes but a yawn stops her. “It’s easy, Gen. Drive him to the airport, kiss him silly and watch him leave. You won’t die. That’s what wives do.”

“You know I can’t handle it.”

“You’re such a baby. Geez! Dominic spoils you.”

“He doesn’t.”

“How about Prince? Is it his day off?”

“He’s at the repair shop with the Rover. Besides, your father doesn’t want him to drive him to the airport.”

“Why?”

“Erm…how do I put this? Your old man is being quite clingy today. He’s seeking for attention and I’m not in the mood for it. Please, come and carry him.”

Lexus stares at Trinity. “I’ll be there.”

Another yawn comes. She lets it out loudly before she hangs up. Minutes later, she’s on her way to pick Dominic. Trinity is still fitfully asleep in her child seat at the back of Lexus’ brand new Lexus LS 460. Without traffic she arrives at the house in about half an hour. Genesis is out and Dominic is sitting at the front steps with the guard dogs, his travel bag on the ground beside him. He lifts his head as Lexus drives in, peering through blue sunglasses to have a good look at her car.

When she steps out, the dogs charge towards her but Dominic calls them back to stand down.

“These your useless dogs always pretend they don’t know me. I’ll kill one to teach the others a lesson.”

“We’re sorry,” Dominic responds. Lexus stops and observes her father’s appearance. She finds streaks of grey in his hair and beard but it does nothing to reduce the spruce in his looks. As usual, he looked impeccable – even with casual clothes.

“Did you shave your beards?”

“I trimmed it a little. Genesis was complaining.”

“You actually look better.”

“Thanks. Nice wheels,” he comments. Lexus stares at her car.

“Thanks. Thought you’d like it.”

“I do.”

“It cost a lot.”

“You’re a big girl nau.”

“Actually, it’s a gift from Genesis.”

“She must really love you.”

Lexus smiles. “I know you gave her the money to buy it, dad.”

“I don’t like being accused for stuff I didn’t do, young lady.” He stands and picks his bag.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Lexus starts back to her car. He follows. “Where are you off to this time?” she asks.

“Singapore.”

“How many hours’ flight is that?”

“Seventeen.”

She whistles.

“But I have a few hours before the plane takes off, so I get to spend some time with my favorite girl.”

With her hand on the door handle, Lexus turns. “We’re not going to the airport now?”

“No. We’re going to yours. I’ve missed you.”

“How sweet.”

She opens her door while he walks around to the passenger side. When he opens the backdoor to toss in his bag, his eyes fall on Trinity.

“Kasi’s baby,” Lexus explains in a whisper. “Don’t make any noise.”

They both slip into the vehicle.

“Chichi disappeared this morning,” Lexus informs Dominic. “But I’m guessing you already know that since you’re behind the whole thing.”

He shuts his door. “I’m behind what?”

“Chichi’s disappearance. You probably paid her a lot of money to go away for good.”

Dominic laughs. “You give me too much credit.”

“Dad, I know what you can do. Chichi going away makes no sense to me. She badly wanted to have this baby for Kas so she can tie him down. Then out of the blue, she vanishes into thin air like that? Come on, dad, this strongly stinks of Dominic Ditorusin.”

“I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Your upper lip is twitching. That happens when you lie.”

“But Chichi’s disappearance is a good thing for you and Kas, no?” He throws a glance at the backseat. “I mean, it’s not up to twenty-four hours and you’re already doing mommy duty.”

“I love Trini. It has nothing to do with Kas. In fact, I don’t want to get back with him until he stops being mad at me. If we continue where we left off, he’ll make it all about the payback. I don’t need that shit in my life, especially revenge sex, which Kas knows how to do well.”

“Too much info there, Woyintonbra. Just drive.”

“Yes, sir.”

She kicks off the wheels and they leave the Ditorusin compound. Out on the road, Dominic leans back on his seat under shut eyes until they arrive at her apartment.

“Dad, we’re here.” She taps him awake. He takes off his sunglasses. She finds tired eyes on him that hold little wrinkles at the edges.

“You’re getting old, Dominic,” she tells him in a concerned tone.

“Old keh. Me that want to have two more kids?”

“Please, don’t. Zach and Zoe are already too much to handle.”

“But this one behind is not? You’re smack in love with her father, Lex.”

“I am only helping out a friend.”

He smiles. “I understand.”

“But seriously, though, your eyes look tired.”

“I’m fine. Just a little beat these days. And that happens a lot, even when I do little.”

“Is it your heart again?”

“No. I’m good.”

“Maybe you should finally listen to your wife and slow the fuck down.”

“Everything will be done by Christmas, sweetie, and I’ll have time for everybody.”

“You’re sure.”

“Yup.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“Forehead kiss. You used to do that when I was little. You’ll make a promise and give me a forehead kiss.”

He leans over and drops a peck on her forehead.

“You never used to keep the promises, though.”

Trinity wakes up with a whimper. They both turn and look at her. She releases a smile and then gurgles as she stretches a hand when Dominic makes a funny face at her.

“Dominic Ditorusin, killing women since the beginning of time.”

He slips his sunglasses back on and steps down from the car. When they get into Lexus’ two-bedroom apartment, he takes a moment to admire the artsy beauty of the living room. The walls are covered in paintings done by her, matching the basic color theme of black and grey. The entire décor shows little femininity. Clearly, the girlishness she acquired in New York is not enough to do away with the tomboy.

“Order some food.” Dominic stretches out on a couch. “I’ll pay.”

Lexus calls a nearby eatery and makes orders for both of them. When the food arrives they eat on the living room floor, discussing details of Lexus’ art center which is kicking off to a good start so far. Dominic gives advice, and then offers financial help which she refuses.

“You know I’m always here for you, though.”

“Yes, dad,” she replies, clearing the empty packs of food littering the floor. When she stands up, Trinity lets out a cry. She stops.

“Go and do what you want to do. I’m here.”

“I actually want to shower. It’s dark already and Wura’s love concert is in three hours.”

“I can’t believe that after all my planning I’ll miss it,” Dominic says, lifting Trinity off the floor. “Just go and have your bath. Me and this one will be fine here.”

Lexus enters her bedroom and spends less than half an hour there. When she emerges she is showered and wearing a dress.

dominic5She walks in on Dominic singing along to The Temptations’ classic My Girl to Trinity which is playing on his phone. He is in a slow dance. Lexus is immediately tossed into nostalgia. The scene brings to mind a younger Dominic and her late sister. She recalls how she used to watch him do the same thing to Nimide as a baby. Every night he sang her to sleep while Lexus sat by observing in mild jealousy, wondering if he ever was that way with her as a baby.

“Is she asleep?” she whispers as she moves towards Dominic when the song comes to an end.

“No,” he replies. Trinity raises her head, peers at Lexus and rests her head back on his chest. Lexus picks a couch. She sets to apply makeup on her face as another song begins to play. Dominic also sings along to this one. It lasts four minutes long. When it ends and the opening notes of the next song starts, he faces Lexus.

“This is your song.”

She looks up, a powder brush on her cheek.

“I have a song?”

“I used to sing it to you as a baby.”

Lexus lowers her hand. “You were never there.”

“I was. A few times. And you were the coolest little girl. You hardly cried but I just enjoyed singing and dancing you to sleep.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Trinity protests with a whine and Dominic goes back to his dance. Lexus leaves her eyes on them until the song draws to an end.

Dominic stops dancing and fixes a stare on Lexus. “Are you crying?”

“Crying?” She wipes her eyes furiously. “No, it’s the fucking eye pencil.”

He chuckles. “Come and change this kid. She just pooped. We should be on our way to the airport.”

Lexus takes Trinity from him but receives a second peck on her forehead. This time Dominic puts his arm around her in a hug.

“I’m proud of you, daddy’s big head. I may not say it often but I am. I can’t believe how you’ve grown up from the little girl you were. Eva would be smiling down from…wherever she is. You turned out good, weed and all.”

“Thanks, dad.”

He releases her.

“That being said, hurry and get married to Kasiobi so this little angel can grow up in a home. I don’t want her raised out of wedlock.”

“Really, dad? That’s your reason for pressuring me to marry?”

“I’m pressuring you?”

“Just say you don’t want me to end up like Eva and I’ll understand.”

“Okay, you got me there. The thing is…I’m old school, and I’m not feeling this independent woman thing you girls are doing these days. Every woman needs a man. You need the father of this child.”

“He needs me.”

“I know but please don’t front for too long. Girls are all over him like flies to shit.”

Lexus rolls her eyes as she heads to her bedroom. “I don’t give a fuck, dad,” she replies, wondering if Kasiobi would love the dress she has on or if she should try something else with a little color to it.

∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞

The first time I heard Wura sing was at my wedding. She gave me goosebumps through her entire performance. It was hard to comprehend how someone could sing like that. And it wasn’t just the dexterity or texture of her voice. The woman had soul. She was deep, and could sing you into or out of any emotion. I just knew I had to hear her sing again, and luckily for me, my wish was granted with the love concert.

I had what they call a good ass night, even though I spent it alone. The concert was out of this world. I have never heard music in Nigeria done so tastefully and beautifully. It was tear-jerking. People literally cried because of the emotions the songs brought. If any couple experiencing problems in their relationship attended that concert and left the same, then they needed some higher power to help them. For me, it was all about being open and honest with Jide, bringing out the little foxes I have been battling with. The first of which is trust. I still can’t trust him. I forgave him a long time ago over his indiscretions in Zanzibar but I never forgot them. I still randomly snoop through his phone without him knowing. He has no idea I have hacked him again. Well, what he doesn’t know won’t kill him. But it is killing me.

Some new girl at the hospital has the hots for him. It’s not supposed to be a new thing to him, as girls always literally throw themselves at him. Every now and then one new one pops out from nowhere.

But this girl is different. Not only does she work under him as a midwife, she lives down our street as well. This means they sometimes go to and come back from work together. I had not liked her from the day he introduced her to me but I have never shown it. The one time I made a passing comment about how clingy she was to him, he told me she was like that with everyone. Hence, I chose to ignore what my insecure mind was telling me.

But hanging out with Tola a few days ago, she brings the girl’s issue up.

“Hauwa is seriously crushing on Dede o! You better put an eye on that one.”

Pushing a piece of meat I had gotten from Tola into my mouth, I break and look at her.

“Explain, please.”

“Rumor has it.”

I put my hand down. “Tola, Jide is in a nursing conference in Canada right now and Hauwa is with him but you are here in Lagos. So, please tell me where this rumor is coming from and how you’re aware of it.”

“Nothing specific jor. Just that everybody is noticing how she won’t leave him alone.”

“She works under him.”

“Exactly. She’s using that to express her crush, which is now so glaring that people are beginning to gossip. And our darling Dede is oblivious. Or rather acting oblivious.”

“Typical Jideofor,” Mary, who is with us, says. “But have no fears, Honey. He’ll never cheat on you.”

“But isn’t that what I said when he traveled to Zanzibar? I didn’t listen to my intuition and look what happened.”

“He will not cheat on you,” Mary restates.

“And you know that, how?” Tola asks.

“Because I know him, and I have tested him before and he didn’t even budge.”

“You are not his type, so maybe he wasn’t turned on at all.”

“What does that mean?”

“Sorry, I’m not fat-shaming you.”

Mary frowns. Tola has not changed and we don’t expect her too. She is like Noka in some ways but with a darling heart beneath. Besides, she means no harm to Mary. They have gotten quite close over the past months, and sometimes even hang out without me.

“My point is,” Tola states, “and I’m speaking from my own experience… Jide loves you Honey but it won’t stop him from cheating, especially with someone he has known before. Be vigilant…”

I stop her with a raised hand. “Can you rewind to the part where you said he had known her before?”

“W-wait… You didn’t know?”

I feel tears of anger coming to my eyes. Jide lied to me? I can’t believe this! He lied to me about Hauwa? How could he have missed telling me that they used to know each other?

“Well, me I didn’t know until one day when I was stylishly trying to tell her to stop misbehaving around him. She now laughed in my face and said that her conscience is clean and she and Jide have been friends for almost seven years; that, in fact, he had bunked in her place when he first started working in the hospital they both trained in before he was given his own place.”

I almost block my ears. I don’t want to hear more.

“Me I thought you knew. But if he’s hidden it from you, then maybe it’s for your own good. We all know how you can get when you are angry. Just sha go easy on him. All that matters is that he loves you…”

I raise my hand again to stop her. I don’t subscribe to bullshit. I’m either married to a faithful man or I’m out of that marriage. Jide knows this. If he has made the mistake of straying, I’m leaving his sorry ass and I’m taking my child with me.

“Tola that your mindset is just somehow, abeg,” Mary expresses. “I know you’re talking based on your present situation but men can be faithful. Please, don’t let us get into this age old, cliché argument.”

Tola snorts and sticks out her tongue. She is having amala with some soup that hardly has any leaves in it but is filled with an assortment of meat and fish. Trust a Yoruba girl to keep it real. We’re at a swanky beauty salon and she goes about her thing like no man’s business. There’s a fat, posturing woman that has been staring at her all morning and always shows surprise each time Tola’s American accent slips through her Yoruba tongue.

“This my baby will sha like pepper,” Tola comments and sucks her pinkie. “The amount of pepper I have had this week alone…sigh. Only Jesus can save me.”

Mary gives me her attention. “Ignore everything this victim of polygamy just told you. Trust your man. I know it’s hard after what he did but I know you can, babe. Just try.”

I nod at her but my mind is all the way with Jide in Canada. Hauwa is beautiful and has my body type. The difference between both of us is that she is lighter, almost Caucasian-looking. She turns heads anywhere she goes but she’d rather have my man. Lord knows I will kill her. But it will not be worth it. I can never fight over a man.

“So, as I was asking you,” Mary tries to bring my mind back to the salon, “you think the purple pantsuit works for church on Sunday?”

We had been speaking about church outfits before Tola brought up the issue of Hauwa.

“You wear pantsuits to church?” Tola questions. “Na wa o. How will the brothers concentrate on God nau?”

“Is it not better than wearing a uniform that everyone else is wearing?” Mary throws back.

“The white garment is a sign of holiness, purity and reverence to God…”

And so they go on while my thoughts meander back to Jide and Hauwa. I imagine them in all sorts of compromising situations, ruining my mood and my day. The madness continues the day after and the one following that and even yesterday. But at the concert, God drops in and speaks peace to my heart. I am reminded of why I had fallen in love with and married Jide. I go home banishing Hauwa away. I sleep fitfully without Jiney making my whole night miserable as she has done over the past week.

Since Jide traveled, I have been struggling with exhaustion. Jiney caught this cold from nowhere that has worn me down and makes me feel inadequate as a mother. It is my first time being separated from Jide since we got married and I had thought I could handle the absence until Jiney fell ill and tossed my world upside-down.

Common cold, the pediatrician told me, but to me it was much more. It was me caving under the weight of being too bushed to care for her and too proud to ask for help. Apart from Saratu, Dele’s wife and Yazmin who worked with me at the office every day, no one else knew she was ill. I particularly kept it away from family and Jide. This is because they were all not happy that I resumed work so hastily after Jiney’s birth. According to them, I needed more rest. Jide was the most upset at me. We had a fight over it but I stuck to my decision. What nobody knew was that following Jiney’s birth, I had begun to struggle with pangs of depression. If you ask me what the trigger was, I can’t tell you. Sometimes, it needs no trigger. It just switches on like a light bulb and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself falling, unable to grapple anything to help you out until you hit rock bottom.

I didn’t want that. Hence, I threw myself back into career mode, a weight loss program and an active lifestyle. It was exhausting but I couldn’t slow down and let my mind get taken by the old demons. I fought them hard and fought them alone. And although I felt Jide would always be understanding when it comes to my mental illness, I was still embarrassed over it and loved him too much to bother him.

This week alone has been insane. I am done in every day, working late hours, nursing a sick baby and battling depression. My weight has dropped and it has become difficult to breastfeed Jiney. I’m just not producing enough milk for her, and thus three nights ago, after a crying fit from her that pushed me to my breaking point, I got into the car and went to buy baby formula at the nearest supermarket. She fed well and slept off. The following day and the day after, I looked to the formula for help and it did its magic. It isn’t something I’m planning to do for long or even when Jide comes back today. Hopefully, his return will help normalize things. I need a break from my life for a bit and he’ll be just the distraction my body requires.

I am ditching church today just to catch my breath. I have shopping and laundry to do. Didi just got back from Mass and she’s already occupied with cleaning the house but I ask her to help out with Jiney while I visit the shopping complex on the next street.

Before I drive out, I go on Facebook to reply a message from a client who claims she hasn’t been able to reach my line all weekend. The moment I go on my timeline, I see a series of photos Jide is tagged in. They come in an album titled ‘Canada, midwifery and lasting friendships’. Anger crawls up my spine like an icky spider as I scroll through the pictures. They are about Jide’s nursing conference in Canada and contain mostly shots of the activities and tours he has been involved with for one week. However, the ones that get the rise out of me are of him and Hauwa. In one, he is napping in a tour bus and she is seated next to him, pinching his nose. In another, she has her arm around his shoulder and is smiling to the camera while he looks elsewhere. In a third (and this is the one that gets me mad) he is in his hotel room, wearing nothing but his shorts and holding a mug.

jide4

What the hell was she doing in there with him? Why did he let her in? What really was going on with them? And to splash it all over Facebook?!

I drop my phone for a moment to catch my breath but Tola rings me. I answer.

“You’ve seen the pics of Dede on Facebook?”

“Tols, I’m weak. I don’t even know what to think.”

“That girl is the devil. You better deal with her before people start believing that something is actually going on between them.”

“But why did Jide allow her go that far?” I ask in despair.

“Don’t blame him. Blame her. She’s the one after him. And please deal with her fast before she becomes another Yazmin. These Onuora men and their love for women sha!”

I don’t want to hear anymore. I tell Tola I’m hurrying out and I end the call. I go back to Facebook and type in this long, nasty comment on the last photo but faces of Nne, Mary, Ekene and Dele’s wife pop into view and they are all not in support.

“Talk to your husband first,” I hear Nne say in my head.

“Don’t air your laundry on Facebook,” Dele’s wife adds.

“The pictures mean nothing, Hon. Trust Jide,” Mary insists.

“I didn’t disvirgin a market woman. Behave yourself and handle it like the Honey I know,” Ekene instructs.

I log out of Facebook by literally hitting the ‘sign out’ button just for my peace of mind.

As I drive out to the store, I try Jide’s number to find out if he’s already on his way back but the call doesn’t connect. I toss my phone aside just as I arrive at the complex. After parking, I rush in and do the fastest supermarket run I’ve ever done. Nothing asides what I’m here for, catches my fancy. Not even the cute, dark guy in a kaftan who has been standing by the cashier, keeps staring at me.

Stepping out, I see a familiar car drive into the parking lot but I don’t give it much thought. I hold my long skirt in one hand as the other hand pushes the shopping cart to the car. I begin to offload the stuff I have bought and dump them at the backseat when I see a form that doesn’t fall fully in my view. I make a sharp turn and there is Hauwa. Tall, shapely, fair, skin shining like a mix of melted butter and caramel, makeup on point – she is basically me before I got pregnant and had Jiney.

Even her fashion sense seems on a mission to make me feel like an old, tired wife. She is dressed in the manner of those girls who spend all day on Instagram, showing off flat abs and a toned butt. This was me not long ago.

She slams the door of her car, laughing at someone I can’t see. But soon I see him – my dear husband – as his face pops into view. I am not surprised that he is in town and he is with her. On the day they flew out, they had used her car to the airport and she had it parked there. It was only normal that they returned together. He had already phoned ahead of time to tell me not to pick him up.

I hear Hauwa say something to him before walking to the complex. When she disappears, he makes a turn and spots me.

I hold my breath. I want to see his reaction, if it will be of guilt or not.

I get nothing. Just a simple, yet affectionate smile that makes me realize I have missed him so much.

I don’t return the smile but I keep my eyes on him. Soon he is walking towards me and I’m feeling my heart begin to pace. I am upset but the sight of him breaks me.

When he gets to the car, he takes my waist with one hand, tugs me close and kisses me.

“I’ve missed you.”

He squeezes me into his scent which I have missed incredibly. I can feel his open palm resting on my butt.

“I hope you’re done with shopping because I can’t wait to go home and do bad things to you.”

I feel heat on my cheek. He now has my head held in his hand as he whispers in my ear. The familiarity of his breath causes me temporary amnesia and Hauwa and the photos are forgotten. After one more kiss, he gets his bag from Hauwa’s car, dumps it in mine and we drive home. We are hardly inside our bedroom when we start kissing again. This will be our first time making love since the birth of Jiney. I have hankered for too long; I almost feel like a virgin again.

On soft cotton sheets and in a cold room we make love. We don’t need foreplay. He is crouched over me, nude and wholly mine, lips on my mouth. I am spread open for him. He strokes me with his tongue, seeking love on my neck, my throat, my not-so-heavy breasts that are now too full for his hands. I am overpowered with endless kisses as he does the ‘bad things’ to me. It’s fast and slow all at once, gentle and rough, soft and hard, Jide and Honey. Just us and all the months we have not done this. Neither of us wants to be stopped by that pesky thing called an orgasm. We want to go on all day and night like they do in romance stories. But our bodies want that release, and so he turns me over, places a finger on my panic button which is now swollen and deliciously sensitive. A couple of strokes and I’m off like a firework, exploding in strong squirts. I tighten him so strongly, he lets go and releases his weight on me. My pleasure takes longer and he holds me while it lasts. I notice he is not quite done, but Jiney decided he is as her piercing cry ends our amorous bliss.

Soon we hear a knock on the door and Jide goes for it, a towel around his waist. Didi passes Jiney to him. He smothers her with kisses but they don’t abate her screams. Only my breast suffices. As she nurses, Jide goes for a shower. I log into Facebook, cringing as I browse through Hauwa’s pictures a second time. The anger resumes, rising in my throat like bile. Some of her Facebook friends are not happy as I am, and they are quite expressive with it in the comment section. Someone goes as far as telling her to stop parading another person’s husband as hers. But Hauwa has a reply for everyone. It’s either an ‘LOL’, a dancing emoji or one of those laughing ones with tears on the sides of their eyes.

It is clear she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. And this can only happen if she feels she has a claim over Jide. I shiver. I shouldn’t be thinking this way. I should let him explain first.

He walks in from the bathroom, soaking wet.

“Is your phone off?” I ask him.

“Yea…thanks for reminding me sef.” He goes for his discarded jeans on the floor and takes out his phone. I hold my calm as he turns it on and notifications start pouring in. I watch his face go from normal to a frown and then to laughter.

The laughter irks me. Does he find Hauwa’s antics hilarious? There’s nothing funny about what she’s doing.

I mentally clear my throat, readying myself for a talk. Again the faces of Nne, Mary, Dele’s wife and Ekene come to view but I deport them to the back and throw in a question.

“Hotstuff, is there anything going on between you and Hauwa?”

And there, I win the Wife of the Year award. For foolishness.

“What sort of question is that, Honey?”

I should tread carefully. I know, I know, but for heaven’s sakes! She was in his hotel room! Did she spend the night with him?

“Why the fuck would I want to do that?”

Oops! Did I think out loud again?

“No, I didn’t mean to ask you that…”

“But you did, Honey.”

“I just need to know what went on in Canada. She was all over you and you didn’t stop her – obviously. How can you let her put her hand around you like that and take a picture of you half-dressed in your hotel room? And it’s on social media, Jide! Do you have any idea what people are saying right now?”

“Hauwa and I are friends.”

“For how long?”

He sighs.

“How long, Jideofor?”

“For almost seven years now. I squatted with her when I first started my midwifery training.”

“So why did you lie to me about her?”

“I didn’t lie to you.”

“You just forgot to add that you lived in the same house and had sex—”

“We never had sex, Honey! My God! Who told you these lies?!”

“It doesn’t matter! I should have heard it from your mouth first but you lied to me…”

“I never lied to you.”

“You did!”

“Can you just SHUT THE FUCK UP?!”

I recoil at his tone. Jiney starts crying.

“Great! See what you’re making me do. You’re turning me into a monster.”

“I’m not. I’m just…”

My phone interrupts with a ring. I gawp at it. Yazmin is on the line. I ignore the call. This is not a good time to have any work-related talk.

Jide’s phone starts to ring as well. Unlike me, he picks the call.

“Mex, how far?” he answers, leaving the bedroom. Yazmin calls back. This time, I pick her call, trying to placate Jiney at the same time. A quick switch to my other breast does the magic.

“Yaz, this is not a good time,” I say to her in a tense tone before she utters a word.

“I’m sorry for bugging you, Honey.”

Her voice is shaky. She sounds like she’s crying.

“Are you…crying?”

She sniffles.

“Yaz?”

“Emeka has asked me to leave. He says he’s divorcing me.”

The news hits me with a headache.

“Ha-ahn. Why? What happened?”

“He’s accusing me of cheating on him with that Omoh guy.”

I get lost for a few seconds wondering who Omoh is, and then his face and details rush into my head.

Omoh is a mega rich guy in his late thirties who owns a luxury brand business that caters to a select clientele of wealthy business men and families who have the means to indulge in deluxe transportation and concierge services. They deal in a whole lot from luxury cars and yacht rentals, concierge and protection services, aircraft sales and private jet travels. Saratu had mentioned him to me because we had the type of clientele he was looking for. She felt we could get into some sort of deal with his company. Therefore, I sent Yazmin to him. She is the face of the company and has reeled in quite a huge catch of international business our way. She and Omoh had a good start at the first meeting but because he was so busy on that day, he set another appointment to finalize the business plan. It was a lunch date that went well and promised good things. Why would Emeka want to end their marriage because of it?

“Can you imagine?” Yazmin cries. “I know Tola did this. She saw me the day I had lunch with Omoh. She told on me.”

“Now, calm down. We’re not sure…”

“She did it! She just wants me gone so she can have Mex all to herself.” Her Spanish accent comes out heavy. “This is not fair. I love him. I could never cheat on him.”

I plead with her to take things easy.

“Can you please come and explain to him that I’m not cheating on him?” she requests.

I stare at Jiney tiredly. I don’t feel like leaving this bed.

“Please, Honey…”

“Yaz, I can’t…”

She breaks down again. I feel sad for her.

“Give me an hour.”

“Thank you.”

She sniffles a few times. I abort the call and I immediately regret my decision to go to theirs. I am yet to deal with my own drama. Why add more?

Jide returns.

“Is Yazmin seeing some Omoh guy?” he probes.

I shake my head. He walks to the closet and comes back with fresh clothes.

“Emeka and Yaz are having a fight. I want to go there and calm things before Mex throws her out.”

“I’ll like to go with you. Yaz invited me.”

Jide shrugs. But he waits for me to feed Jiney and change clothes. We take her along for the journey. I am behind the wheel; Jide is seated beside me. We don’t speak to each other. I have never seen him this silent before.

We arrive at Yazmin’s house. From the gate we can hear her and Emeka at each other’s throats. The maid lets us in and we walk into a warzone. The instant we make our presence known, Yazmin rushes to me sobbing. I pass Jiney to the maid and instruct her to give us some privacy. The girl seems displeased. It is obvious she is enjoying the show. I wonder how many fights she has witnessed.

We wait for her to leave before we face the warring couple. The details roll in.

Emeka had been informed by a reliable source that Yazmin went on a date with Omoh. When Emeka confronted her about it, she held that it was a business lunch date and nothing more. But Emeka snatched her phone from her, forced the password out of her and swept through her different social media platforms for incriminating messages. It didn’t take long to fish out a chat thread with Omoh from her Whatsapp. Omoh had been inappropriate, expressing feelings, detailing how he was planning to steal her away from her husband.

Jide and I are shown the messages.

-A second wife is no wife. I’ll make you’re my first and only

-Your husband can’t give you the luxury you deserve. I’ll spoil you senseless

-And sex? I have dick for days. You won’t even know where I hit you from

That is where I stop. I ask Yazmin why she kept this secret from me. Her reply is that she was doing everything to secure the deal, hence she didn’t even reply his messages.

“But you should have told her, Yazmin!” Emeka shouted. “Or me! And you didn’t!”

The fight resumes. Words are thrown in every direction and all Jide and I can do is watch until it mellows down. When they both lose steam, I speak.

“Mex, Yaz is faithful to you. Don’t ever doubt that. Please, trust her.”

“I can’t.”

“Please, do.”

“This person gave me claudia. It’s funny how no one is mentioning that.”

I smile at the name he calls chlamydia. “That’s all in her past. Please, let it all go, Mex.”

I proceed to give this emotive speech about love and marriage and plead with them to reconcile. Jide doesn’t add to what I have said. The maid brings Jiney who is now asleep, back to us, and we make our exit.

The tension in the car now hangs heavier than before.

“Take me to the hospital,” Jide requests. I steer the car in a different direction from the route we come through. Once the road is free, I glance at Jide.

“Jide…”

“Please, don’t say anything. Please.”

“I…”

“Please, shut up.”

I obey. The journey continues in the silence he has built. When we get to the hospital, he asks me to park the car. I do.

“Erhinyuse,” he calls, facing me.

“Yeah?”

“I love you. You are my wife, the woman I chose to be with forever. The one I vowed to be faithful to. I would never cheat on you, Honey. Never. I love you that much.”

Tears sting my eyes.

“Hauwa is a good friend. I didn’t mention that I had known her because I didn’t want you to feel insecure about the relationship I had with her in the past. She means no harm. The things she was doing in the pictures were just to piss the other nurses off. They have never liked her for reasons known to them, and have treated her unkindly. I’m the only friend she has at work. So, those pictures were not for you but for them, but I’ve already ordered her to take them down. Just for you, Honey. Just to make you happy.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s funny how you have the right words for Emeka but you can’t advise yourself. Why is it so hard to trust me?”

Zanzibar comes to mind. “Jide, you cheated on me with three different women. How am I supposed to trust you?”

His head hangs down. “I’m not asking you to. In fact, don’t. Every text, every chat, every phone call, keep on monitoring as you are already doing.”

I gasp silently, surprised that he knows I hacked into his phone.

“Please, don’t stop if that makes you feel good. Go on being insecure and untrusting since it makes you happy.”

“Jide, you’re trying to make this about me but it’s clearly about you not giving yourself boundaries with women. Imagine if I went on a business trip and pictures of me being inappropriate with another man shows up on social media…”

“So I was inappropriate?”

“Yes! And it doesn’t matter what you guys used to have, you gave her the room to feel you still have something. Why do you flirt like that?”

He looks at me. His eyes are cold. He opens his door.

“Jide…”

He gets down from the car, opens the backdoor and retrieves the bag he had used on his trip. We both had forgotten to take it into the house earlier.

“Jide, where are you going?”

“I need to clear my head to think and also to concentrate on work.”

“Jide…” My voice breaks. The door slams. I watch him walk into the hospital building with his bag. The pain I begin to feel comes on me forcefully. I sit in the car for a long time, until Jiney wakes up and reminds me that I need to go home.

I ease the car out and leave the premises. I feel the old demons return. They don’t even give me a moment to absorb what has just happened. They go in for the kill as a dark cloak falls on me. This is going to hurt like hell and I don’t think I can handle it on my own.

I think it’s time I called my doctor in South Africa to recommence treatment. I am terrified of falling. No one has ever witnessed me on a low before. It is one side of me I don’t even wish for my enemy.

Lord, help me.

©Sally@moskedapages

Images: Dariuswilliams, blackfathers, blackmomsblog