I apologize for not posting Family Secrets. You know how busy I can get. I’ll make it up to you guys.
It’s a Very Complicated Something
One of the simple pleasures of my life is watching Honey’s morning beauty routine. She doesn’t do much makeup but her skincare regimen is a different matter entirely. She has this array of herbal creams and lotions which she obsessively applies every morning. I think that is why she has a perfectly-even skin tone. My job is to just lie back in bed and watch her exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize; and then I pull her back into my arms just to feel her skin and er…do other things.
This morning, she has that look on her face that tells me to basically keep my hands to myself. She hasn’t got time for any extracurricular activity. Peace had sent text messages to all the wives last night, informing them that she urgently needed to see them, Honey inclusive.
“When I leave Peace’s home, I’ll go look for someone to clear the grass in front of my house,” Honey informs me. “Kene thinks there might be snakes. Same thing one of the guards at the gates said.”
Her back is to me and she’s bending forward to pick a granny panty that has fallen to the floor. I am not distracted by the sight of her bent over because the mention of Kene has put me ill at ease.
“Why does Kene care about your lawn?”
She slips into her underwear and turns around. “Sorry I mentioned his name.”
“Answer my question.”
“Well, he stopped by and suggested I cleared the grasses because of snakes.”
I sit up and place a pillow between my legs. “Can you tell me the story of how you guys broke up again?”
Honey, on her way to strapping on her bra, drops her hands.
“I’m listening, sugar lips.”
“We didn’t exactly breakup.”
“We… I… called things off because of the distance between us.”
“And did you still love him?”
She hesitates. “Yes.”
“And did it end with the breakup?”
Her eyes shift upwards. “No. We still saw each other every now and then.”
“So, let me understand the situation here. You never broke up officially and never stopped shagging?”
“Do you still love him?”
“But he feels he has a right to tell you what to do with your lawn.”
She dismisses my unease with a careless wave of her hand. “He’s not an issue, hotstuff. I feel nothing for him.”
I decide I’ll stop badgering. My suspicions are uncalled for but I promise myself to keep an eye on Kene. I can’t get over the conceited look he had in his eyes that day when we met.
I feel my phone vibrate on the bed and I toss pillows and bed covers around to find it. I finally see it wedged between the mattress and the bed frame. I check my call log; I have just missed Emeka’s call. I dial back and he answers immediately.
He informs me that Yazmin’ flight was delayed last night and she was coming in this morning. He is picking her from the airport but would love to see me first.
I ask why.
“When I come we’ll yarn.”
I disconnect the call. Honey is dressed in a pair of Ankara shorts and a plain tee, looking absolutely gorgeous, and because I can’t help myself, I walk over to her and wrap my arms around her from behind. Don’t blame me; the woman is too beautiful to be left untouched. And what I feel for her these days makes me always want to possess her entirely. I have reached that stage where I love things about her that are less appealing, things no one else may find adorable. I have only felt that way once – with Ezinne. But it was short-lived.
“Hi,” Honey says, applying a light shade of pink gloss over her soft lips. Our eyes hold each other’s in the mirror. She smiles at me.
I kiss the nape of her neck.
“Don’t stop,” she hums.
I kiss her again, brushing my lips over her sensitive earlobe. I watch how goosebumps spread over her neck.
“Okay, you should stop now.”
I peel away from her, slip into a pair of jeans and a shirt and wait for Emeka. Some minutes later, Honey tells me she’s leaving.
“Take the car,” I say to her.
“I’m still learning how to drive, Jide.”
“Peace’s house is not far from here and the roads are free. Take the car.”
“Two more driving lessons and I’ll start using the car,” she promises and we both chuckle when we remember the last driving lesson and how we parked in some abandoned place and tried our first car sex, which was totally mind-blowing.
She blows me a kiss and leaves.
Emeka arrives shortly after but won’t sit in. He requests that I follow him to the airport to get Yazmin. I tell him I don’t want to. He pleads, saying he has something important to discuss.
You see, there was a time I knew Emeka like I knew my own soul but after the recent mess with Tola and Yazmin, I’m not sure I know him again. Hence, it’s only natural for me to freak out when he says we have something important to discuss.
As we hit the road, he doesn’t tell me what’s bothering him straightaway. He gives me this unnecessary speech about how deeply he loves Tola and how she means the world to him and so forth.
“Can you just hit me with whatever shit you’re trying so hard to sugarcoat?” I demand.
He sighs. “Hmm… Jide… what I’m about to tell you ehn… Hmm…”
“I’m married to Yazmin.”
Time stops for a second or two as I bless him with a harsh stare. He is not looking back at me. His eyes are on the road ahead.
“What did I just hear?”
“Yazmin is my second wife. Legally married.”
“Dude, what the fuck!”
“I kid you not.”
Well, didn’t I just mention that I don’t know this boy?
“Mex, abeg tell me you’re kidding.”
“No. And it gets worse. She is actually coming to Naija to stay.”
I glare at my brother a second time. I am shocked at the blasé manner in which he speaks, the way he laughs with no care in the world and I’m wondering if it’s the same parents that raised us. I still don’t want to believe what I just heard.
“I’m not joking.”
“When did this happen?”
“When I went to see Tobe.”
“I don’t believe this.”
“Seriously, we’re married.”
“Mex, why? Why are you doing this to your wife? What type of nonsense is this?”
“It’s not my fault, Jide.”
“How is it not your fault? Did anyone force you into marrying a second wife?”
“Yes! Literally! I had no choice at all!”
“Shebi it’s the reason I entered car with you? You better explain yourself.”
Emeka first swivels the car in a U-turn to take a shorter route leading to our destination.
“I told you Yaz’s father is a warlord, right?”
“Well, that was just a mild way of me saying he is a drug lord.”
I cackle. At this point I am beyond shocked.
“Chukwuemeka, you went to mess with a Mexican drug lord’s daughter? You have a death wish or something?”
“If I knew Yaz was from that type of family, Jide you know me, I would never have touched her. Babe never told me anything. And I never asked. Biggest mistake of my life, bros.”
Well… I can’t judge him on that one. There were girls (like Tola) that I wouldn’t have been involved with if I bothered to find out more about them.
“What type of drugs?”
“I don’t know. Nobody really knows, not even Yazmin. His operations are tight, covered by legit businesses. But we all know he is a drug lord and one of the most feared men in Mexico, with strong connections to the government. He is basically untouchable, so you can imagine the type of shit I got myself into. First, he was mad when he heard I got married to Tola. He personally called me on my wedding night and threatened to end my life if I didn’t show for Tobe’s circumcision and christening. And man, I was scared, I won’t lie to you.”
“It’s not like he can do anything to you from there.”
Emeka gives me a look that carries the weight of what he’s about to say.
“Ivan Ramiros?” He laughs. “Even devil no dey try himself where Ivan Ramiros dey, Jide. Once he get you for mind, your own don finish.”
“Abeg, continue your story.”
“So I got into Mexico City and his chauffeur picked me from the airport and carted me off to their hacienda. I’ve never been there before. The last time I met the man was at his office in New York. We drove into the estate and I was like holy shit! There were guards with guns everywhere, hefty bulldogs, a high electric fence and a house the size of our family house like twenty times over. I kid you not! JD, if you see this house, you go weak! A shitload of money was used to build it!”
“Drug money, you mean.” I am not charmed by our new in-law. In fact, I despise him already.
“I didn’t get to see the old man immediately. And mind you, he’s not old like popsi old. He’s old like George Clooney old; dude is posh and knows what’s up, which makes him scarier.
“So, they gave me a room, I dropped my bag and the driver took me to Ivan’s night club.”
“Wait, you call him Ivan?”
“Dem born me well make I try? Anyways, he was waiting there. I was ushered into his office. He asked everyone out and it was just me and him and a gun that was on the table between us. Jide, I was sweating in my balls because the man was staring straight into my eyes for like almost ten minutes. I could not move, could not talk; I just dey there dey sweat.
“Finally, he went ‘Nigga, no me jodas’. Which literally means don’t fuck with me. Then he added, ‘you fuck my daughter, get her pregnant and you go and marry some Nigerian puta! You’re a fucking idiot. Your mama gave birth to a fag.’ Jide, I had nothing to say but apologize and explain that Tola was who my parents chose for me. The guy laughed for a long time but his fingers were toying with the conk of his gun and he was looking at me with eyes that weren’t laughing. I no fit breathe; I just dey there dey look am. He now said, very slowly, ‘Pinche pendejo, you will marry my daughter tomorrow. You will put a ring on Yazmin’s finger, look into her eyes and tell her you love her and will be with her until the world ends or shit like that.’”
“And what did you tell him?”
Emeka laughs. It’s a washed up laugh. That type a person gives off when they want to turn an intolerable situation into a manageable one. I actually feel sorry for him.
“Jide, wetin I wan tell that kind man?”
A car behind us honks and Emeka cusses back at the driver in Igbo.
“Anyways, the man did not threaten any further. He simply passed me a drink, lit me a Cuban, made a toast to family, endearing ties, and cheered to the happiness I will share with his daughter. Two days later, in his home office, with a few family members and a city official present, Yaz and I signed a marriage certificate. In the evening, a big party was thrown which lasted till the next day. My brother, na so I take acquire second wife o.”
I am unable to say a word after Emeka’s sorry tale. I want to blame him, scold him, judge him, but he is already suffering for his sins. It’s ironic that I slept with way more women than he did but he ended up with all the drama.
“I think we can find a way out of this,” I mumble.
“I don’t know anything about Mexican marriage laws but is it legal to marry there if you’re already married?”
“It is not,” Emeka replies, “but I already told you the influence that man pulls. All the papers, including the ones I was supposed to process by myself if I wanted to marry Yazmin, were already taken care of before my flight even touched down in Mexico City. It was either I married her or ended up in a hole six feet under.”
“And what of Yazmin? She just sat there and let all of this happen?”
“She didn’t have any choice. She begged the man, used her momsi and family members to beg him but he refused.”
“Does she still have feelings for you?”
“So which kind dirty beg she beg?”
“And now, she’s come to stay. Jide, I don’t know what to do. I can’t lose Tola over her. I love Tola to death but she cannot know what is on ground now. I have begged Yaz to take off her ring and not mention anything about the marriage until I sort out the mess.”
“How do you want to sort it out?”
The careless laugh comes again. “I no know o! I swear, I no know.”
“The only option is just to annul the wedding with Yazmin, Mex. That’s the only way out. If you two can sneak into Mexico and meet some city official or a judge and explain the whole screw-up to them, they can annul the wedding.”
“That is if they don’t contact Ivan first.”
I roll my eyes.
“The moment they see Yaz’s full name, that’s it. They’ll call him and I’m screwed. Jide, I saw what he did to her younger brother in my front just because the guy scratched his car. I don’t want to sign my death warrant, biko. I will manage two wives for now. Besides, Tobe is still too young for any stress at this point. I’ll figure out something soon. And erm… by the way, she’s coming with her maid.”
“Yes. Yaz is a pampered girl…”
“Spoilt, you mean?”
“Yeah…you could say that.”
“And the maid wants to live in Naija too?”
“No. That one is staying for just a month or so.”
I shake my head. We close the chapter and talk about something else as we head up to the airport. Actually, Emeka does all the talking because my mind is circling around the different ugly scenarios that will arise when the truth finally blows out. I am mostly worried about my mom. I don’t think the old woman can handle another stretch of humiliation. And then there’s Tola. The scandal will just break her.
I am highly disappointed in Emeka but because I haven’t exactly been a role model to him and Oba, I can’t reprimand him. I can only think up a plan to get his head above water for the meantime.
He senses my state of mind and breaks off mid-speech.
“I know I screwed up, Jide. It was just a phase I was going through. I didn’t know it would lead to this.”
I keep mute to his admission.
“Say something. Your opinion is important.”
“Just park the car, Mex. We’ll talk later.”
He does as I instruct. We get into the airport and wait. Yazmin’s flight is taxing the runway at the moment. I choose to pass the time on Twitter, just to get my mind off Emeka’s drama. Nothing of interest scores with me on Twitterville, so I move to Facebook and see that Honey has uploaded selfies she and I took a while ago. I skim past, neither commenting nor liking, although my face holds a smile. I don’t really like my private life in public but I have no qualms with Honey showing me off. It’s a woman thing, I guess.
I continue with the status updates and posts of other friends on Facebook. I haven’t been online in a while due to my busy schedule. I try to catch up on latest happenings.
I look up from my phone and search for the face behind the voice that has just called out above the noise rapidly filling the arrival area. I had been so engrossed in my phone that I totally missed the sudden influx of people.
I see a feminine hand waving in the distance. Emeka bustles through a family of four and heads up in the direction of the waving hand. A couple deep in embrace has blocked my view. I shift to the left to see better and catch the striking face of a Mexican woman whom I believe is Yazmin. Standing beside her is another Hispanic-looking woman of fuller figure, frowning and cradling a baby in her arms.
Tola wasn’t lying about Yazmin’s looks. Even after a thirteen-hour flight from LAX and donned in a sweater, she looks stunning.
For a moment, I am hypnotized by her beauty but snap out of it when I see Emeka, on his own accord, give her a French kiss that makes me take back the pity I have for him.
In fact, I am annoyed and I pray that thunder fires him. The guy is a shameless polygamist.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
“Ray, I’ll just pop in real quick and shower. Will you come in and wait?”
He looked like he might decline my invitation but he turned off the engine and followed me in. I dashed into the bathroom and in less than five minutes I was done. I came out in my towel to pick a change of clothes but Reno stopped me with a careless statement.
“You know I still find you sexy, right?”
I hissed as I rummaged through my clothes for something fresh.
“Abeg, carry that your nonsense talk that you use on all those cheap girls out there and shove it.”
He laughed. “It’s nonsense talk now, abi? You’ve forgotten when my words were all you wanted to hear.”
“Yeah, a century ago.”
“Let it be a millennium sef, what I feel for you is still strong, Mary.”
I faced him. “Reno, what’s wrong with you? You have a good wife, for heaven’s sake! Why are you treating her this way? Peace has literally given up her life and happiness for you, to make you happy. Why can’t you respect her, even if you feel nothing for her?”
“How did Peace pop into this conversation now?”
Clearly, he was annoyed but I just had to say it to him the way I felt he needed to hear it.
“This useless sleeping around you’re doing will ruin you and I don’t want Peace and Sammy to be caught up in the mess.”
“Peace and Sammy.” He laughed. “You think your friend is a saint? Have you asked her who Sammy’s father is?”
“I don’t need to ask her. I know he’s your son…”
“He is not!”
I released a heavy breath. “Reno, please let’s not do this now. Our friends are waiting, so I’ll forgive you and ignore the pass you just made at me. Meanwhile, try and get a life.”
“I should get a life.” He scoffed. “Everyone goes on and on about how much of a dog I am but no one puts a microscope on Peace because she carries the Bible on her head.”
“She is good wife and a good mother,” I stress.
“She is not! Peace is a drunk and as much a cheat as I am!”
“I am not lying! Peace cheated on me with someone else to have Sammy!”
“Okay, stop shouting! We are not fighting.”
“Let’s forget this whole thing abeg.”
“I am sorry.”
He got to his feet and moved towards me. “You know I hate upsetting you, baby.”
“Reno, seriously stop. Just stop it. We were over a long time ago and even in my wildest madness, I will never have anything to do with you.”
He moved closer and made to touch me but I slapped his hand away. When I tried to move, he blocked me, and that was when I had enough. I pushed him off.
“You’re a wicked man, Reno! You don’t deserve the type of wife you have at all! Peace gave up her faith to cover your shame when she decided to be inseminated by a complete stranger just to have the child your impotent dick could not produce!”
He stared back at me in shock.
“Yes, I know the story! She did it all for you! She covered your shameless ass and instead of being grateful, you humiliate her further by screwing around! You are just useless! Abeg, leave. Just go. I’ll find my way to Jide’s house by myself. I can’t stand you right now!”
I marched to the door and opened it but Reno stood there, watching me.
He took a slow walk to the door with this cocky smile on his face. Next thing, he grabbed my hand and placed it on his dick and went, “Does this feel like impotence to you?”
I tried to pull away but he pressed my hand harder. I was more irritated than anything. I didn’t feel threatened because this was a man I knew intimately once and he was my friend’s husband. Rape never crossed my mind, not for a second.
“I don’t know what Peace told you but I am not impotent, Mary. I might not be able to have a child but trust me baby, this device is in perfect working condition, better than you used to know. You want to test it now?”
“I’d rather die!”
And that was when his eyes changed.
He slammed the door, locked it and then shoved me to the bed. I screamed and tried to fight him off but I was not strong enough. I guess I was weakened by shock because I could not believe what was happening. I just lay there, staring back into his eyes. He couldn’t stand my stare, so he took one of my pillows and covered my face. I could hardly breathe but I still didn’t fight him. I just…wanted my heart to give out or something.
“And… that’s the story of how Reno raped me.”
The room is plunged into silence following Mary’s story. I look at the faces of the women around me. I see shame mixed with shock and sadness. Not even mouthy Celia speaks.
And then I look at Peace; she is fiddling with the edges of the handkerchief in her hands that are soaked with her tears.
“Me, I have questions,” I speak up. “For Mary and Peace.”
Both women give me their attention.
“Go ahead, Honey,” Peace says.
“You slept with someone else to have your son?”
“Sammy is not Reno’s son,” Peace acknowledges.
And as if sensing he is the topic of discussion, Sammy who is asleep beside Peace, wakes up with a loud cry. She pats him to get him back to sleep but the seven-month old cries louder. Peace picks him up and heads straight to the kitchen with him.
“Who would have thought,” Noka whispers after Peace disappears.
“But Mary you can keep a secret o,” Celia says with a tinge of jealousy. “How did I not know all this?”
“You’re not supposed to know everything,” Mary replies.
I take my ears off their conversation. Photo frames of Peace and Reno have caught my attention. At first glance you see a happy couple but on closer inspection, it’s easy to pick the farce.
Peace is an intriguing woman. She comes off as the cliché church type who dresses modestly, has not a hair strand out of place and keeps her home shipshape. I love her décor taste. The way she combines green and blue with traces of gold is stimulating. The white of her marbled floor, the fluff of her throw-pillows, the serenity and flawlessness of her home, all of it push you to want to become the perfect wife. How did she end up with someone like Reno?
I turn to Bimpe who has been saying something to me.
“Your phone is ringing.”
My ears tune to the sound of my ringing phone with a bit of annoyance. One of my siblings is calling. I know it’s not Jane because I have taken her name out of that group, so I know it’s either Harry or Jessie. My other brother, Abel, will never call me.
I dump the phone in my handbag just as Peace returns to the sitting room with Sammy.
“Sorry, he’s teething, so he’s really fussy.”
Peace has lost a lot of weight. She isn’t on the big side to begin with but over these past few weeks, she has shed some good fat that has left her with bones sticking out. I know her friends are as concerned as I am. I’m pleased they didn’t give up on her; Mary especially, who persisted and who has the biggest heart out of all of us present. I now understand why Jide has a soft spot for her.
“What I’m about to share with you girls, no one else knows, except for Mary,” Peace speaks. “And even then, she knows only part of it. I was willing to take the secrets to the grave but what Reno did is making me think otherwise.”
“Peace, at this point, if you take a gun and shoot him, the world will understand,” I say to her. “Exposing his dirty laundry is nothing.”
The wives agree with me.
“I blame myself for how my life turned out. I met Reno through Mary. It was at a business seminar that she invited him for of which I was the organizer. I fell in love with him that day and straightaway started praying to God to make him my husband. We went out a couple of times and on the third date, he proposed. I believed it was an answer to my prayers because I didn’t want to get to the age of twenty-six and I was still unmarried. When I think of it now, it was all really stupid.”
She places her sleeping son back in his former position.
“Mary begged me not to marry him, my pastor told me I was rushing but I didn’t listen. Reno was perfect. He was romantic, sweet, playful, charmed my family…”
She reminisces with a smile.
“He never asked for sex and didn’t go beyond a kiss. I believed he was sent from heaven. And that was how, just after three months, we got married.”
She stops as her smile disappears.
“On our wedding night, I got the shocker of my life. We were both naked and about to have sex and he goes, ‘Peace, I am sterile. An STD rendered me infertile and I can never give you a child. But you know what you will do? You will find some sperm donor out there and get pregnant by him and we’ll call the child mine.’
“I was stunned. Speechless! He went on to threaten that if I ever revealed to anyone what he told me, he would tell them I’m an adulteress and they would believe him because there was already proof that he could get a woman pregnant. He told me about his teenage years when he got some girl pregnant and everyone knew about it but she later aborted it because they were both too young to be parents.”
“Yeah, Shady told me that story,” Celia comments.
“Well, that was how my wedding night went. I was being disvirgined by my husband in the worst possible way. I lay there in tears the entire time. That night scarred me and I hated sex from then on. The marriage plunged downwards even though it was just beginning. It’s like you’re at the foot of a mountain, about to climb, only that you find yourself already tumbling down.”
“I was stubborn the first three years, refusing to do what Reno asked of me. I held on to my faith and prayed for a miracle. I was at church every weekend for fasting and prayers. I was working then, so I spent all my salary on seed offerings and donations to motherless babies’ homes all for the sake of Reno. I endured the insults and taunting from his family, especially his mother.”
“I remember,” Bimpe says. “And Reno never spoke up for you. In fact, the guys were all mad at him at some point and begged him to adopt but he refused.”
“I took all the blame but it started becoming difficult after the fifth year. That was when I confided in Mary and begged her to find me a sperm donor. I told her the type of man I wanted and how much I would pay. I then backed it up with prayers. After two months or so, she found a guy but I didn’t like him. A month later, she found another guy but it was the same feeling. And that was how we went on and on—she would find somebody and I would disapprove—until we both gave up. I never liked any of them because none of them matched up to Reno in my eyes.”
“But P, he is not even fine!” laments Celia.
“I know but I loved him and I believed God could do it for us but Reno just kept pushing me to get pregnant.”
“Why didn’t he help you find a donor?” Noka asks.
“When he was busy sleeping around?” Celia hisses.
“He said it was unethical and humiliating for him to find a man who would father his son.”
“Can you imagine?”
“I became so stressed, got fired from work, and that was when the drinking began. I would take a glass of red wine or two each time I was depressed. It would calm me and I would sleep off. From a glass or two, I started finishing a whole bottle. After a while, I realized wine wasn’t strong enough. I moved to beer and later on, to spirits.”
“And were you having sex with Reno during all of this?” Bimpe asks.
Peace laughs. “Sex? My dear, I didn’t want to but I had to. He called me a dry wood and said he wasn’t attracted to me anymore, so I would always beg for sex. I irritated him. Somehow, he saw me as a reminder of children he couldn’t have. And the more I prolonged getting pregnant by another man, the more he slept around.”
“Humph!” Celia grunted.
“Finally, last year, Mary got me this guy that I liked.”
Peace’s eyes twinkle beneath a hidden smile.
“After checking his profile out, we arranged a meeting and I told him what I wanted. He named a price, we drove to my doctor and tests were carried out. When the results were released, he checked out healthy, passed all the tests. The doctor fixed an insemination date based on my cycle. The day came and it was carried out but feelings had already developed between me and him…”
“Are you serious?” Mary asks. “I didn’t know.”
“What’s his name?” Noka enquires.
“I can’t tell you, Noka,” Peace replies.
“Abeg, continue,” Celia remarks. “Ignore this gbegborun.”
“Just call him X.”
“So you and X were…?”
“In love. We had lunch that day and ended up in a hotel and that was how I started cheating on my husband,” she said sadly.
“What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” Celia comments.
“I fell in love with him and fell out of love with Reno. He made me enjoy sex because it was good. So, so good. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I couldn’t stop. For the short time I was with him, life had meaning. I stopped drinking, I was happy, I laughed a lot… But then I fell pregnant and I knew I had to end it there. Useless or not, Reno was still my husband and what I was doing was a sin in God’s eyes.”
“But God would have understood if you continued with X and divorced Reno’s cheating, rapist ass!”
“Celia?!” Noka scolds.
“I am saying the truth here. She fell in love with a good man who is a million times better than Reno and was able to knock her up! How was she going to burn in hell for that? Honey, abi I’m lying?”
I agree with Celia. Peace should have divorced Reno a long time ago.
“Peace, go on,” Bimpe urges with a wave of her hand.
“So I cut off all communication with X,” Peace continues, “and told Reno I am pregnant with our baby and he goes, ‘how many times did he screw you to get you pregnant?’ I was shocked at the question but I said nothing. He insulted me, called me a whore and said the moment he found my replacement, he would kick me out.”
“Na wa o!” Bimpe exclaims. “The same Reno I know?”
“Bims, believe me, you don’t know Reno,” Mary states. “I don’t even think the guys know him. Maybe Jide does.”
“You should have seen the way he announced the pregnancy to his family,” Peace goes on with her tale. “You should have been there. He was in tears. He kissed me, hugged me, sang for me and promised all manner of gifts because I had finally made him happy. And the heartless souls were even congratulating him for being loving and patient with me all these years. We became the talk of the town.”
“Ibro even threw you guys a party,” Noka recalls. “But none of us knew what was happening. How did you survive all this, P?”
“I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t.”
“And Mr. X?”
Peace’s eyes twinkle once more. “He was heartbroken but understood my reasons and stayed away. I sent him a picture when Sammy was born. He never replied and I went back to loving my husband.”
“You don’t love Reno, Peace,” Bimpe tells her. “You are being manipulated by him and enslaved by your vows to him. Take it from someone who has been there, you are an abused woman and you need to get out and find your happiness.”
“By the way, X is married,” Mary reveals. “Sorry, Peace. I don’t want you hoping against hope. He married earlier this year in Abakiliki. I attended. He asked of you and Sammy. I gave him pictures.”
“Okay.” Peace sucks in her lips briefly to hide her disappointment. Mary reads her emotions and goes to sit beside her. She puts an arm around her.
“It wasn’t meant to be.”
“I know. It was… wrong. And yet…”
“I don’t think you loved him,” I say plainly.
They all stare at me.
“He was just a picture of all you wanted in Reno, the man you truly loved. So, if you had left Reno and hooked up with him, it might have been a disaster.”
Noka raises a hand. “I think so too.”
“But what we shared was strong.”
“It was just sex,” I stress.
“Then let her have her sex, Honey,” Celia says defensively. “It was good. She enjoyed it, the man is taken and all she has is memories, so let her enjoy it. Is it your sex?”
We all laugh, easing the heavy mood.
“It was adultery,” Peace sniffles. “Good as it was, it was wrong. I’m heartbroken that he’s moved on but it’s a good thing too. I guess it’s time I find my own way as well.”
“Your own way, as in…?”
We all look at her in dreaded anticipation, praying she says the words we want her to say.
“As in…divorcing Reno.”
Everyone sighs loudly. Celia slips to her knees and throws her hands in the air in gratitude to God.
“And you’ll go to rehab?” Bimpe tosses in.
“Don’t push it, Bims,” Noka cautions.
“I will. I’ll go to rehab.”
Celia leaves her place on the floor and hugs Peace, leaving kisses on her face and neck that plunge her into a tearful outburst.
Celia pulls back and we all watch Peace, afraid that she is about to have a Reno relapse.
“I don’t want to leave him,” she cries. “Where do I start from?”
They surround her immediately, offering words of encouragement while I simply observe. How does a woman get to a point where her man becomes her god and she fears the very ground he walks on? And she cannot walk away from him even in the face of an unbearable situation? Is it what marriage is about? Will I have to give up myself to ensure that the ring on my finger actually means something?
I love Jide, and what I feel grows every day but what if he hurts me in the future? How much can I take before I say it’s enough and walk out the door? As it stands, I am yet to be in a relationship where I don’t have a part of my heart packed in a bag and waiting by the door. It takes very little to see me walk out on a man, and I doubt that it would be different with Jide. Does marriage mean I have to unpack all of my heart and commonsense and sacrifice them on the altar of marriage vows to my husband as Peace has done?
I am yet to comprehend all of this. All I know is that I still want my happily ever after.
pinche pendejo – fucking asshole
gbegborun – gossip
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport