Oleng wanted to brave it, she wanted to rant and rave and ask if she was God but she knew that wouldn’t get her anywhere, what with Michelle already gearing up for a fight. She had to appeal to the motherly side of the elderly woman.
Oleng knelt down before her mother-in-law and put her two palms together. “Please ma. Please don’t send me away. Please. I’ve done everything possible save go to a native doctor to get pregnant. The doctors say Dave and I are okay, that all we need is time. Please ma, I know you’ve been very patient but please give me more time. Please.”
“Wetin you dey talk for there?” Michelle jumped up in anger. “You mean we should wait for another four years. See, even if we wait till the second coming of Christ, you still won’t get pregnant. Just peacefully and quietly go in there, pack your things and get out of this house or Felicia and I will throw them out for you.” she countered impatiently.
“Yes o!” Felicia got up also. “We told Dave not to marry you but he wouldn’t listen. See now.”
“Please ma. Please wait till Dave comes back. Please. Let him discuss with you and sort things out. Please.” Oleng pleaded profusely as tears gathered in her eyes.
“Wait for Dave indeed! So that he will stop us, abi? We knew he wasn’t at home before we came. We know you’ve blinded him with juju so it is better that he isn’t around to stop us.” Michelle injected.
“It’s a good thing you didn’t blind us with juju also. Pity, you should have thought of that.” Felicia laughed harshly.
“Please ma. Please. Take me as your own daughter. Please.”
“I don’t know if I can do that because my first daughter has children and the second, who is already pregnant is getting married soon. They can and will never be like you.”
“Ooooh! Mummy, we’re talking too much!” Michelle complained bitterly. “Felicia, come let’s go and throw her things out since she doesn’t want to do it herself.”
She marched to the bedroom not minding the fact that she was in her ninth month of pregnancy.
Oleng was still on the floor begging her mother-in-law with tears rolling slowly down her lovely eyes when her sisters-in-law brought out her travel bags with her clothes packed haphazardly into them from the room she shared with her husband.
“Michelle please.” She pleaded but the latter pushed her away.
“So you sabi beg? You’ve forgotten when you slapped me. Idiot!”
“Felicia, please. Remember you’ll get married someday. Please.”
“It isn’t someday. I’m getting married in a few months from now and I know my in-laws won’t treat me like this because I’m already six weeks pregnant. Leave me alone, you barren thing!” Felicia pushed her away also, leaving her sprawled on the rugged floor.
She quickly got up and continued begging her mother-in-law who just looked away.
When they finished throwing her things in a careless manner outside, they told her to leave.
“Please think of your brother. Think of how he’d feel when he finds out you threw me out. Please. Please don’t throw me out like this.” She pleaded sorrowfully but they were deaf to her pleas.
“We know what to tell him when he comes back.” Michelle informed her.
“Please ma. Please don’t humiliate me like this. I beg of you. Please give me more time. If I don’t get pregnant, I’ll personally leave your son for good. Please have mercy and pity me. Let’s sit and discuss the best course of action. Please. Don’t disgrace me like this, I beg you!”
“Indeed! Better get up and get out now or Felicia and I will throw you out.”
“Michelle please now. Felicia please.” Oleng muttered with pain in a futile attempt at reaching them. She knew she couldn’t fight them. They would over power her but she really didn’t want to leave her matrimonial home in such an embarrassing manner.
“You still dey beg, abi? Michelle, abeg carry her hand.” Felicia urged as she held her sister-in-law’s hand. She and Michelle dragged her to the door amidst her pleas, opened the door and pushed her out.
Oleng just laid on the cold floor crying.
“Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” Mrs. Sokari questioned her daughters.
“Yes o!” Michelle quickly asserted.
“I can’t help feeling sorry for her.” Their mother said sadly.
“Mum, don’t feel sorry for her. She’s a great pretender. It’s because of your presence that she became humble. If Dave had been here, her mouth would have been running like a leaking faucet. Don’t mind her. She has destroyed her womb with countless abortions and now wants to pretend nothing is wrong with her. Idiot!” Michelle extended with emphasis.
“Serves her right.” Felicia asserted with derisive cool.
“Feli, please let’s go to the kitchen to look for what to prepare for mummy.” Michelle suggested and they both got up to go into the immaculate kitchen, leaving their mum staring into space and trying to suppress her guilty conscience.
Meanwhile, Oleng was still at the door weeping profusely. She couldn’t believe what had happened to her. What a shameful way to leave your husband’s house, she thought. She wished for the umpteenth time that Dave was there. She could bet her life that he wouldn’t have allowed his family throw her out in such a disgraceful manner.
She got up and packed her clothes, shoes and jewelries properly into her travel bags. They had only thrown out a few of her things. She didn’t mind because there would be ample time for her to get the rest. She was glad the neighbors weren’t around or she would have died of embarrassment.
She managed to get a hold of herself and carried the bags to the gate. She thanked God the gateman wasn’t around to ask her questions because she was fond of him and she wouldn’t have been able to lie. She hailed an approaching taxi, put her luggage in it and gave the driver Aunt Vien’s address in MCC road. She had nowhere else to go.
When Aunt Vien opened the door, Oleng just burst into tears. Her aunt quickly led her in and helped her to bring in her luggage.
“What is it my dear? What happened?” She was anxious but Oleng cried on.
“Please my dear. Pull yourself together and tell me what happened. Is Dave back? Did you quarrel with him? Please tell me what happened.”
“Dave’s mum and his sisters threw me out of his house because the three months they gave to me to get pregnant is up and I still haven’t conceived.” she finally confided.
“What?” Her aunt stood up in anger. “Are you God? Who are they to play God in your life? Where were they when you were running from pillar to post in attempts to get pregnant? Don’t they know all you’ve been doing to get pregnant? The different doctors, their numerous tests and from one church program to the other that you’ve been through. Where were they? What have they done as in-laws to help you get pregnant? God will definitely punish them for treating you like this. They won’t go scot free. I assure them.” Aunt Vien retorted sharply.
“Aunty, it’s not their fault. Look at me, I’ve been married for four years yet I haven’t been able to conceive not even once so that it would be said I had a miscarriage. Not once! I don’t blame them at all. I don’t.” She shook her head continuously.
Aunt Vien sat by her and held her. “But it’s not your fault either. We’re fertile in my family and you can’t be different. Remember you even got pregnant for Eric.”
“That’s the more reason why I’m worried, aunty. What if his child did something to me?”
“But the doctors said you’re alright and the child didn’t harm you in any way. Stop blaming yourself. What about Dave? Have you considered the fact that the fault could be from him?”
“There’s nothing wrong with Dave, aunty. The doctor said he’s okay too and he told me two of his ex-girlfriends got pregnant for him but they had to abort them because of their studies. I don’t know what’s wrong. Why is this happening to me? Why? Why is my life so full of misery?” she lamented pitifully.
Her aunt held her and couldn’t help the tears that rolled down her eyes also. On her part, she had tried to help Oleng by taking her to traditional doctors who were specialists in such matters. They had given Oleng herbs that she had taken religiously but had still not conceived much to their surprise. One had suggested that the fault might be from Dave and had mixed a concoction for him too which he had taken religiously also yet Oleng hadn’t conceived. They had admitted the case was beyond them then. Aunt Vien had turned to God but her niece’s stomach was still as flat as ever. She felt so sorry for her. Why was life so cruel? So unfair? This girl had gone through a lot in life.
Oleng took a sick leave from her place of work. She knew Dave would be back the next day but she switched off her phone. She was willing for him to find out she had been thrown out by his family on his own. He called Aunt Vien the day he was due back when he couldn’t reach her but Aunt Vien lied that the network was poor.
Oleng was in the living room with tears gathered in her eyes from watching a pampers diapers advert on television when she had a round of knocks on the door. She knew intuitively that it was Dave because he was due back that evening. She ran to her old room. It was Aunt Vien who opened the door at the persistent knocks.
“Yes? Why do you want to break down my door?” she demanded curtly.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Vien. Where’s Oleng?” he asked desperately but she stared at him in anger.
“I’m sorry for my lack of manners. Good evening Aunt Vien. Please is Oleng here?” He tried to control himself.
“And what if she is? You want to take her back there so your family can humiliate her again, ehn?”
“No, Aunt Vien. Please it’s not like that. I’ve sent them parking. I threw them out of my house. Please let me see Oleng. Please.”
Shock registered in Aunt Vien’s eyes at what he just said. “You mean you threw your mum out of your house?”
“No, she chose to leave when I threw my sisters out of the house. When I came back to the house with so much joy at the thought of seeing my angel, I was both sad and disappointed to see my family there. They ignited my anger when they told me they had thrown out my wife in my absence and without my consent. Michelle even dared to hold me back when I wanted to rush down here immediately they told me. She’ll have to see a doctor for the sound slap I gave to her.
I didn’t mean for my mum to leave because I wanted to talk to her without the poisonous influence of my sisters but she made me choose between her and my wife and naturally, I chose my wife, so she left my house in anger when I threw my sisters out.
Oleng means more to me than three of them put together. Oleng is my reason for living today. She is the reason why I’m alive today but they don’t understand that. I had to choose Oleng in place of them. Besides, my mother already has two grandchildren and two more are even on the way.” he narrated squarely.
His wife’s aunt just stared at him in amazement.
“Aunt Vien, please can I see Oleng? Please I really need to see her. To assure her that the fact that they threw her out means nothing and I’ll stand by her no matter what. Please let me see her.”
“I can’t. She won’t see you so don’t bother.”
“Please let me see her and talk to her. Aunt Vien, please you have to help me. I love her very much. She’s my life. Please.” He pleaded desperately.
“Don’t waste your time here anymore because she’s no longer interested in continuing the marriage with you.” she angrily informed him.
Dave stared at her as if she had spoken in Latin. “What did you just say?”
“She’s seriously thinking of a divorce.”
Dave became so weak he had to lean against the wall for some minutes.
“Please, can you get me water? I need to take my drugs. Please.”
“If that is a ploy for me to allow you to come in then you must be joking. I’m going to lock the door before I get you the water. When I open it, I’ll still lock it. You won’t see her. I assure you.” she bitterly told him but was stunned when she saw his pale complexion. He looked sick indeed. She locked the door and rushed to get him water. She opened the door and gave him the glass of water. She suddenly felt sorry for him because he looked very weak.
When he had taken the drugs, he gave her handed her the glass and tried to comport himself. He stood with his head against the wall for some minutes before finally looking at her and saying, “I’ll be back tomorrow. I need to rest now. Please just help me tell Oleng that I love her very much and she should please come home.” With that, he weakly walked away.
Aunt Vien stood there for a while watching him as he left. She wondered what was wrong with him.
When she told Oleng about his sudden illness and the abrupt way he had left, she was troubled. She picked up her phone to call him but decided against it.
“Is something wrong with him?” Aunt Vien queried.
“Yes, he often has this sudden bout of illness especially when he comes back from the field. I’ve warned him against going to the field but he said it’s his job but because of me he’d try to find a way to stop going.” She was greatly worried.
“What exactly is the problem?” Her aunt persisted.
“He was diagnosed with asthma when he was a kid but he said he took some drugs which stopped him from having attacks but it comes back sometimes especially when he inhales some substances.”
“Then he should stop going out to the field.”
“He’s trying his best to stop it but you know he is a petroleum engineer.”
“He can still do without going there. How did he get the job in the first place with such an illness?”
“He falsified his medical records. There are times when I feel it’s more than asthma. I just hope he’s alright.” She felt for her husband.
“Why don’t you go over there and take care of him.” her aunt suggested.
“But aunty, you know I can’t do that. Let his family take care of him.” she retorted.
“But they are no longer there. He sent them packing.” Aunt Vien remarked.
“What?” Oleng was amazed.
Her aunt then proceeded to tell her all that Dave had told her.
“They’ll hate me the more now. O God! What kind of mess is this?” She slapped her palms together in disgust.
“Take it easy, my dear. They can’t hurt you anymore.”
“But they can always return when he isn’t around to throw me out again.” she pointed out furiously.
“That will never happen again now that you know what they are capable of. Besides, your husband won’t allow them. When he comes back tomorrow, please listen to him.” Her aunt proffered.
“There’s nothing to listen to. I’ve decided to call it quits with him. Let him go and get married to the girl his mum is arranging for him. Maybe he’ll have kids by her since it seems I’m barren.” she announced with scorn.
“God forbid! You’re not barren, my dear. And Dave won’t marry someone else. Remember that marriage is for better, for worse. Please try and listen to him when he comes back and don’t give up on your marriage yet.” her aunt pleaded.
“Aunty, I’m tired. I’m so tired of everything. Let him get married to someone else who will give him a child so that I can have peace. So I can be free from his family forever. I’m tired.” she growled impatiently.
“It’s okay. In everything, please remember Dave. Think of what your leaving would do to him. It would surely hurt him. Please think of him.”
When Dave returned the following day, Aunt Vien made Oleng sit and listen to her husband. She gave them some privacy by going out to see a friend.
“Angel, how are you? I’ve missed you.” Dave drawled softly.
“I’m fine. And you?” she enquired, gazing at her flip flops. She wasn’t prepared to tell him she had missed him too.
“Well,” he shrugged. “I’m holding on but would have loved to have met you at home when I got back.”
“Your family made it so.” She simply stated.
“I know but now I’m asking you to come back. Please angel. Please. The house is not the same without you. Please.” He put his two palms together, pleading with his wife.
“I can’t. Please don’t ask me to go back after the way I was humiliated. I can’t go back.” she whispered.
“Do you want me to rent another house? I’m prepared to move out of that house into another to keep you from remembering the awful incident.”
“No, I don’t want you to go to some much trouble for me.”
“It’s as if you don’t know how much I love you.” He sounded exasperated. “I’m ready to go to any length just to make you happy. Simply come home with me. Please.”
“I can’t. I want you to listen to your mother. Take her advice. Marry the girl she wants you to marry. Have children and forget about me. Please.” She couldn’t look at her husband as she granted her consent for him to take another wife.
Dave was so stunned he couldn’t speak at first. “What are you saying? What do you mean?”
“I love you. I want you to have children. Since I can’t give you, then have it by another woman. Your family is right. We shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. We made a grave mistake. I’m not good for you.” Her tear duct opened as usual.
Dave went to sit beside her. He wiped away her tears with his hands. “How can you say a thing like that? Don’t you know you’re my life? Do you want me to commit suicide? I swear I’ll commit suicide if you leave me. I love you. I don’t care about children. We can adopt if you want but please don’t say I should go and marry someone else. I can handle my family if they’re the ones you’re worried about. I’m going to Port Harcourt over the weekend to tell them to leave us alone. I swear they’ll never disturb you again. Please come home with me.” he passionately begged his wife.
Oleng shook her head slowly and tried to contain her tears. She slowly removed her wedding and engagement rings and held them out to him.
“I can’t. I can’t continue to ruin your life like this. I’m sorry. You’ve given me so much. You’ve made my life worth living again but I’m sick and tired of the worry and everything. It’s not just your family, I’m tired of everything. I don’t want to hurt you anymore. Someday you’ll wake up and blame me for not giving you a child when you realize that all your wealth will go to charity or your family. I don’t want that. It’s better we end it here and now. I’m sorry.” she sniffed heavily.
Dave slowly shook his head and ignoring her outstretched hand went down on his knees before her.
“Here I am Oleng, on my knees again, begging you to please come back to me. Please forget the past. Forget what happened. We can start afresh. I told you I’m not particularly worried about children but if you want them badly and since we can’t have ours, we can adopt. We can adopt a new born baby so you can start loving him or her from the beginning of his or her life. I’ll do anything you want me to do but please don’t leave me. Remember I told you that I wanted to commit suicide the day we met again. I’m not joking. If you leave me, I’ll commit suicide. I swear.” he firmly declared but she shook her head vigorously.
“Don’t say that. Life will go on. With your new wife and kids, you’ll bounce back eventually. Life will be worth living again. Please let me be.”
Her husband got up slowly. “I’m going to give you time to think about it. I’m going to give you two weeks. I’m giving you that long because I want you to think about the wonderful four years of our marriage and see if you’re willing to throw all that away and because I have to travel. If at the end of the two weeks, you don’t come home, start making preparations for my burial because I’ll surely commit suicide. I’m not joking. Know that my blood will be upon you because you would have saved my life if you had come back to me. In everything, know that I love you very much and life will not be worth living without you.” He quietly left the house leaving Oleng to stare after him, bemused.
When Aunt Vien came back, she told her what transpired between them. Aunt Vien told her to go back to her husband but she was adamant.
“I can’t help this feeling that you’re not telling me everything. You’re hiding something from me.” Her aunt’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“Nothing, I’ve told you everything.”
“I’m not talking about the situation at hand. I’m talking about your marriage. Truly, sincerely, were you really happy before this issue came up?”
“How could I have been happy when I couldn’t have a child?”
“I’m not talking about your inability to get pregnant. Besides, there’s more to marriage than children. Tell me; were you happy as husband and wife?” Her aunt stared at her as if she could see into her soul.
Oleng was quiet for a while before she slowly shook her head.
“I knew it!” Her aunt exclaimed. “What was the cause of the discord?”
“Lack of fulfillment, Aunty, I’ve never felt inner joy since I married him. That inner fulfillment, inner peace that everything is fine and you married the right person. I’ve all this while just been the dutiful wife but things haven’t really been normal.”
“You don’t love him.” her aunt stated as a matter of fact.
“I do.” she countered.
“You don’t.” she repeated.
“I do. It’s just that I don’t think I love him the way he loves me. This all-round, all-consuming kind of love he has for me. I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried but I’ve always come up short. I’ve always felt guilty at not loving him enough; that’s why I want to let him go now. Maybe his new wife will love him the way he deserves. I’ve always blamed myself for not being able to get pregnant because of it. I’ve always thought it as punishment for not loving him the way he deserves because he is such a nice and wonderful person.”
“It’s not your fault. He’s not your husband.”
“What do you mean by that? We’re married.”
“I mean he’s not the one God destined for you. Both of you forced the issue. He’s not your soul mate.” Aunt Vien calmly pointed out.
“You think so? Zinny said the same thing.”
“O God! What a mistake to make. What do I do now?” She was confused.
“You have to go back and try harder to love him. Since he is okay with adoption, adopt a baby and live happily ever after with him. Make him happy and not regret marrying you. That is the best you can do in such a situation.” her Aunt advised.
“I’ll have to think about it.” she informed her aunt.