Eid Mubarak, guys!
This one is for the holidays just because I love you. Another comes on Saturday.
Have an awesome night, fam!
“Love without complications? Honey, that’s like asking for a rose without thorns.”
I look at the bunch of roses in mommy’s hands. She is wearing gardening gloves but she remains careful not to touch the thorny stems of the flowers.
“Tola, please pass me that vase I gave you.”
A sulky Tola picks a green vase at her feet that contains clean water and hands it to me and I pass it over to mommy who smiles into my eyes.
I love her garden. The flowers, the way they are meticulously arranged, their different fragrances all coming to one intoxicating fragrance make me want to forget that I’m having a not-so-good day. Jide and I had this nasty fight this morning and I miss him like crazy already. I wish he would just answer my calls.
“So back to your question, Honey. Love is never free of complications. When you step out of the honeymoon phase, you begin to experience the nastiness that comes with it.”
“As for me, my honeymoon phase ended when she showed up,” Tola mouths acidly.
Mommy looks at her with a lighthearted frown. “Oya, lay you complaint, darling. I know you’ve been itching to talk.”
“I’ve been having dreams,” Tola almost cuts in. “Really bad dreams…”
“Emeka and Yazmin.”
“And what do you see in the dreams?”
“That they have another baby together. Or the other night, it was that Mex followed her to Mexico and told me he wasn’t coming back.”
“And this somehow means what?”
“Mommy, I feel like something is going on between them.”
I look at Tola’s distressed face and marvel at the power of female intuition. Jide already revealed to me that Emeka married Yazmin and asked me not to tell anyone. So far, there has been nothing in the way Emeka relates with Yazmin that throws suspicion in anyone’s direction but Tola strongly holds that something is going on.
Abandoning her snooty attitude a few days ago, she invited me to their home for lunch and shared her fears with me. Although she didn’t mention it, I knew she wanted to know if there was something going on in the background that Jide was aware of and had mentioned to me. Luckily at that moment, I was oblivious of what was happening. Later that night, Jide exposed Emeka’s secret to me. I didn’t know what to make of it because I like Yazmin a lot and we have bonded.
On the one hand, I don’t blame Emeka; the marriage was forced on him. But on the flip side, no one got him into the mess but himself. Jide feels he should divorce Yazmin but I doubt that it would be the best solution.
“What is wrong with him having two wives?” I had asked. And I wished I hadn’t spoken because Jide gave me such a lecture on fidelity and the sanctity of marriage that I ended up apologizing for my careless statement.
“Nothing is going on between them, Tola baby,” Nne assures her daughter-in-law with a smile and a gentle rub of her back.
“I hope so.”
“You know you’re pregnant and pregnant women always have vivid dreams. It’s because of all the hormones running wild in your body. You’re a gynecologist; you should know better.”
“Mommy, this is beyond pregnancy. My instincts are telling me something is off. I feel this disconnect from Emeka.”
“Wait, I hope he’s behaving himself.”
“He is… but…”
“He is suddenly too loving and generous.”
“And you said your honeymoon stage is over?”
Mommy laughs. “This girl ehn!” She pulls her cheek. “Don’t worry, your husband is faithful to you.”
“If you say so.”
Mommy flicks off a little, green worm off a rose stem and her eyes passes over me briefly.
“Are you alright, Honey?” she asks. “You look pale.”
She is not wrong about her observation. I haven’t been feeling right all day. At present, I have this nauseous sensation building in me.
“I’m fine, mommy. Just tired.”
I dare not tell her how I’m feeling or she’ll jump into the easy conclusion that I’m pregnant.
“Maybe you need to go in and stretch out on the couch.”
“Sorry,” Tola mutters to me.
I nod and head into the house. Yazmin is watching a Nollywood movie. She is obsessed with Nonso Diobi and has gotten an entire collection of his movies after forcing Emeka into using his connections in the entertainment industry to arrange a lunch date for her with him. Now, she won’t stop going on about how handsome he is.
How do I describe Yazmin? Physically, she’s smallish and shapely. She is beautiful; I can’t overemphasize that. Character-wise, she is fun, friendly and bubbly, everything Tola is not. She charms everyone around her effortlessly and has chosen to make me her Nigerian bestie.
I genuinely like her despite her husband-snatching ways, and it was what got Jide and I into a fight this morning. Hurtful words were uttered on both sides. It didn’t start with me, though. He woke up in a mood and felt like laying down the law on my friendship with Yazmin. I defended my right to befriend whomever I wished but he insisted that she is not all she presents herself to be and is simply out to destroy his brother’s marriage.
So I said to him, “What if it was me that got pregnant for you? Would you abandon me and the baby like that?”
And he went, “First, I’ll never make the mistake of getting you pregnant until we’re married. Secondly, I don’t think you’re that irresponsible not to know how to handle your reproductive organs after unsafe sex. Only stupid women and those with bad motives get pregnant out of wedlock.”
I was dazed at the manner in which he had spoken because here was a man that clearly slept with more women than there were days in a year, yet he was going all straitlace on me. So I called him a hypocrite and in response, he told me he questioned my values if I found in Yazmin someone I could call a friend.
I was livid because his statement struck a chord somewhere. I knew he was dredging up my past affair with my pilot ex, Nonso (which I had shared with him). Hence, to hit back where I knew would hurt him, I told him the only reason he was defending Tola was because he had slept with her.
At that point, the air went dead silent and cold. Jide had a look in his eyes I had never seen before. Without telling me anything, he picked his phone and left my house.
He has refused to answer my calls since.
“Did I go too far?” I asked Mary over the phone.
“Probably,” she answered. “Here’s something you don’t know about Jide. He was a really good guy before the whole Ezinne disaster. Not that he was religious or perfect but he was one of the good ones. He didn’t sleep around, only drank socially with his friends, went to Mass every Sunday and held strong family values. His Bridemaker days are over and he’s back to being that old person. You didn’t have to dredge up Tola. He feels really bad about it.”
“But he hurt me too.”
“I know but bringing up Tola was way below the belt.”
Well, what did I expect? That Mary would take my side? She and Jide have this bond not even I can break and I have come to respect it. All the same, I have taken her words to heart and I plan to apologize to him later on. Right now, Yaz wants to accompany me to the mall where I intend to make a second installment of cash for office supplies.
The travel agency is coming up nicely, thanks to Kalu and concerted effort from Dele’s wife and Saratu. We hope to launch in a couple of months or even earlier if all goes according to plan. Sadly, the bulk of the work falls on my shoulder and I wouldn’t have bothered if my health was in order. I still feel nauseous and a little dizzy but I think I can manage to the mall and back. By tomorrow, Saratu will be in town and take over the running-around while I rest.
Yazmin dashes upstairs to change into fresh clothes while I am forced to watch Nonso Diobi do some slobbery kissing act with an Igbo-looking actress who has a budding moustache and fake grey eyes.
Out of nowhere, as it is with Nigerian movies, a horror tune takes over the bluesy song that is playing and Yazmin’s adorable baby is disturbed from his slumber. He cries out and I rush to his crib to check on him. His eyes are open but I don’t think his concentration is on me. I rock the crib gently and his eyes shut again. I smile at his cuteness. From the moment I laid eyes on him I fell in love. He is that type of baby that makes you think of having babies but just like Jide, I am not ready right now.
I feel a presence in the room and turn. Yazmin’s maid, Maria Lena is standing by the door that leads to the kitchen and she’s giving me that look, which I’m quite used to now, that spells her dislike for me.
I head back to my seat and settle in.
“Cabrona,” I hear her say. I turn to her with a frown and she smiles.
I turn back. Maybe I misheard. She did not just call me a bitch.
A couple of minutes fly by and I hear, “Puta.”
I turn again. She retains the evil smile, having just called me a slut.
“Did you just call me Puta?” I ask.
“Me?” she responds innocently. “Noh.”
I eye her real good. I understand Spanish a lot more than anyone knows. Working as an international flight attendant affords you the privilege to learn the basics of the world’s most popular languages. I have French, Russian, Chinese, Latin, Dutch and Spanish in my repertoire. Spanish, in particular, came easy for me because of a colleague who was Mexican.
Yazmin and her maid assume I know only the ABCs but I have enjoyed playing the fool just to listen up on all their gossip. I have learned from eavesdropping, that Yazmin’s mother is not in support of the marriage and wants her home immediately. I have also learned that Yazmin sometimes cries when no one is around because she feels she is going to lose Emeka to Tola. And of course, I gathered that Maria Lena hates all of us, especially Emeka, and wishes the marriage will come to a disaster soon.
Yazmin generally pays her no mind. They are more like sisters, Maria Lena having been born into their household to a mother who is still a maid to them. Both ladies grew up together.
“You should stop calling me names, Lena,” I tell the annoying fatso plainly. “I have been nothing but nice to you, although you have been a nasty bitch to me. So, stop it.”
I know she can’t translate my sentence word for word but she pretty much gets the message.
“Si senora,” she replies sarcastically.
“Leave the door and sit down.”
She hesitates for a moment and then she decides to take the space beside me, which makes me rather uncomfortable.
“Don’t sit too close, Lena.”
“Maria Lena,” she corrects me.
I shift away but she moves closer, nudging me with her thick arm.
“What’s your problem?”
She looks up the stairs and towards the kitchen door. I observe her cagey behavior.
“I tell you something,” she whispers. I lower my head.
“You hear Spanish.”
It’s not a question. It’s an outright assertion.
“No, I don’t.”
“No, I don’t.”
Next, she grumbles in this long sentence that she knows I understand Spanish but she doesn’t comprehend why I pretend that I don’t, and it is the reason she hates us Nigerians because we’re always trying to fool someone.
“I don’t know what you just said.” I laugh, enjoying the annoyance I am building up in her.
“Escúchenme!” She grabs my skater skirt, hiking it up my laps and exposing my nakedness.
I slap her hand away in embarrassment.
“Oh! No panty!” she sniggers.
“Don’t do that again, Lena.”
I straighten out my skirt.
Her face switches on to a serious manner and she moves yet another inch closer.
“You hear me?” She takes my hand now. Her grip is scarily strong but I extract my hand from it.
“Okay. I’ll listen to you. Just don’t strip me or break my hand or come near me. Okay?”
Stubbornly, she shifts closer one more time!
Okay, I’m officially freaking out here.
She begins to make certain gestures with her hands that I cannot comprehend. She links her fingers together and slams the heels of her palms into each other in a continuous motion that leaves me confused. I know she is talking about Emeka and Yazmin but I’d rather have her say the words in Spanish than this charade thing she’s doing.
“Yazmin y Emeka …”
She does the hand motions again. I sigh.
It’s time to give up my pretense and expose that I understand her language. But she beats me to it as she grabs me forcefully and whispers really fast into my ear.
“Sabes porque anoche Yazmin y Emeka se desaparecieron? Estaban singando en su carro.”
Okay, give me a minute and I will explain what she just said but WHAT?!!!
“No, Lena. You’re lying. It’s not…”
She slaps her hand over my mouth and I pick the sound of Yazmin coming down the stairs.
Maria Lena disappears just as Yazmin appears.
“I’m ready!” Yazmin announces with a bright smile. I take a good look at her from top to bottom and her smile dies away.
“Is everything okay?” she asks in her Mexican-American accent. “You don’t like what I’m wearing?”
I absolutely love what she has on. It’s a little black dress with teal floral prints and on her feet are purple sneakers. She looks casual, yet fab. I should tell her that but I am still reeling from what Maria Lena just shared with me.
“No, your dress is fine, Yaz. My mind was somewhere else.”
She leaves a peck on her son’s cheek and we head out, she leading the way. I give the sitting room one last look before I leave and I see Maria Lena with a finger over her lips, instructing me to keep my mouth shut.
Like hell I will!
It’s drizzling when we drive out to the road. Yazmin stays in character, filling my ears with fascinating stories from her privileged life. She is quite the storyteller. She knows how to weave a tale with suspense and anecdotes that would leave you begging for more. Daddy, in particular, makes her entertain him every chance he gets.
“So last night, did you and Emeka have sex in his car after dinner?” I ask unexpectedly, repeating word for word what Maria Lena told me.
Yazmin slowly turns her head in my direction.
Yesterday, I was at the family house to pick Aso-ebi for Jide and I. One of their cousins is getting married soon and Nne insists we should all pay for the ridiculously expensive Aso-ebi material. After picking it up and dropping the money, daddy had insisted I stayed for dinner. Emeka was also present, and of course, acted distant towards Yazmin. It’s still hard to believe he shagged her in his car after dinner. I hope Maria Lena was lying.
“Yes, last night. Did you screw Emeka in his car, Yaz?”
“No,” she replies.
I stare at her squarely. I wait for her to say something further but she doesn’t.
“Look, I know you’re married to Emeka. I was told the whole story.”
“Okay? That is all you’ll say?”
“Yeah. And that I don’t have to lie about last night. We had sex, okay? It’s called conjugal rights.”
I hold back words that are about to say something nasty in response.
“Yaz…I think marrying Emeka was a stupid move because you’ll always be Emeka’s sidechick, wife or not.”
She chuckles and says silently. “I know.”
“And then, Tola is an Adeniyi. The name is pretty important around here. I doubt that Emeka would want to dump it for a Ramiros.”
“I’m fine with the arrangement, Honey. I’m not fighting for Tola’s place. I don’t want to tear them apart. I just want my son to grow up with his father. It’s a gazillion times better than life as a Ramiros, trust me. And it’s my escape from hell too.”
Her tone silences me. I realize her shoe pinches where no one sees or feels. I shut down my argument and promise to keep my opinion and nosiness to myself from now on. Love triangles are complicated things. I just hope no one gets hurt when the truth eventually blows out.
I slow towards a traffic stop and fight the nausea that is coming on me full force now.
“Are you okay?” Yazmin touches my shoulder.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
“You’re pregnant,” Ekene says the moment I stoop down, bend over my toilet seat and barf up my lunch.
I point the way out of my bathroom. My head is still crouched over as another upsurge of puke comes to the surface.
I feel terrible; I don’t need his unsolicited diagnoses about my health. Come to think of it, who even asked him into my house?
“How did you get in here?” I ask, wiping my mouth. I don’t get an answer.
I briefly recall parking my car outside my house and he showing up with his dog. I remember being really dizzy…
The toilet flushes and it startles me. I look up to see Ekene standing over me.
“So after the last time, you didn’t learn shit. You still stupidly got yourself pregnant again?”
“I am not pregnant.”
“You are! And you’re showing the same symptoms like the last time! Night sickness, nonsense vomiting and faintness!”
I look at Ekene again. Why the hell does he think he has a right to shout on me?
I rise up.
“Please, go home. Whoever annoyed you outside, go and meet the person and stop shouting on me inside my own house, abeg.”
His face is a deep red shade of anger and seriously, I can’t understand why he should even care.
“You have your life ahead of you and you ruin it with a dick?! Learn to close your legs, Erhinyuse!”
“Okay, leave!” I scream back and instantly feel a burning sensation in my throat.
Ekene stomps out and seconds later, I hear the front door slam. I walk to the sitting room, lock the door, turn on classical music and walk back to my bathroom. I am too tired for a shower but I strip down to my underwear, rinse my mouth and lie in bed.
I pray Jide slips in later at night as he usually does. The weather is too cold; I can’t sleep in my bed all alone. I miss him.
Ekene’s words return with a sting. I ponder on them.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
This priest, I don’t like him. He is boring and his homilies are as long as I used to know. One would think he would have changed after five years but it’s like I went away, returned and met him right where I left him. I prefer the older priest. He is more engaging.
I yawn loudly and get a disapproving stare from my darling mother who is seated with her husband two rows ahead of us. I smile at her.
Scolding after Mass, loading…
“Christ admonishes us to forgive one another just as he forgave us our sins on the cross,” the priest says and I catch some people nodding in seriousness like they had just heard breaking news. Isn’t the whole message of Christianity centered on God’s forgiveness through his son, Jesus? Why pretend like you’re just hearing it for the first time? God is not impressed by anyone’s falseness. I tire for these church folks sef.
“No matter what is done to you or what has been said, Christ wants us to forgive.”
I think about Honey. I have forgiven her but it feels good to punish her some more. I wonder if that counts as malice and if God would hold it against me.
“You didn’t have to tell Kalu,” Emeka, seated beside me, comments.
“Shh!” replies Kalu, seated on his right.
I’m in no mood to revive the conversation we were having before the homily began. It was about Emeka’s unfortunate marriage to Yazmin. I hadn’t planned to tell Kalu but coming to church and seeing Yazmin with the family, all happy and feeling at home with herself, I let my dislike for her get the best of me and blurted out to Kalu what was going on. Emeka hadn’t been pleased; a hushed argument between him and I ensued and we flagrantly kept on until Kalu stopped us just at the commencement of the homily.
“You are in God’s house, for God’s sake!” he had said with clenched teeth and we both conducted ourselves. Now, Emeka is pushing my buttons again.
“I will not divorce her,” he makes clear. “Deal with it. That is her, sitting two rows before you. Get used to her back view, her side view, her front view and every other view because she is your sister-in-law and will call you Dede from now on.”
I feel like elbowing his face. And why on earth did Tola decide to worship in her own church today? Why is she not here to put an end to Yazmin’s madness?
The homily ends and we all rise to recite the Nicene Creed.
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen…”
“You shouldn’t have married her,” Kalu speaks.
“I didn’t ask your opinion,” Emeka squelches.
“In God’s eyes, Tola is your only wife.”
“Don’t speak for God.”
We bow our heads as we recite more lines from the creed.
“But what has been done has been done,” Kalu continues. “Live with the consequences.”
“Meaning?” I question.
“Divorce is totally out of the question.”
“He should keep two wives?” I ask, aghast.
Kalu looks from me to Emeka. “It’s called consequences. Let Yazmin choose to leave you on her own. But you have to love and respect her and the vows you made to her.”
I don’t miss Emeka’s smile as the Nicene Creed comes to an end.
“We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
The lector then launches us into general intercessions and I go through the routine like a zombie. We sit and I carry on my zombie mode. I feel annoyed over Kalu’s opinion and the way he uttered it.
I do get where he is coming from. I also feel it would be heartless to displace Yazmin, and that Emeka ought to face up to his responsibilities as a husband and father but at what cost?
I honestly do not see a happy ending for those involved. But as it stands, I officially withdraw myself from the saga.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I am staring at the blue line on the pregnancy test strip like it is an alien color to me. I have broken into a sweat and my heart races twice over.
How did this happen?
“I am so disappointed, Hon.”
Ekene’s words are a million miles away, coming to me only in an echo.
“I am not pregnant,” I whisper, wishing the blue line away.
Why did I agree to the test when Ekene showed up at my door with Saratu and the test kit some minutes ago? Why didn’t I kill that proud voice that was telling me to go ahead with the test just to prove that I was not pregnant? Why did I do this to myself?
“This result is false,” I say.
“The pee is still there and so is another strip,” Saratu tells me. “Do a second test.”
I eagerly take out the second pregnancy home test kit from its pack and dash into my bathroom. I still want to prove to them that there is just no way I am pregnant.
I dip the strip into the urine and wait, my heart thumping.
After a while I pull it out and sadly, get the same result.
Tears invade my eyes.
“No,” I repeat.
I walk back to my sitting room, dazed. Saratu is irked when she sees the result.
“I told you not to do this to yourself, Hon. I told you.”
“Does she listen to anyone?” Ekene lashes.
I slip into a chair and sob. Neither of them consoles me. Not that I want them to, though. My mind is on Jide and how he would react to the news.
“You don’t need this baby now, Hon,” Saratu states. “It will just ruin your life.”
“The worst part is that she doesn’t even know this guy well and she’s already carrying his child. If this is not the highest order of irresponsibility, I don’t know what is.”
I’m too devastated to reply their harsh words. What in heavens will I do with a baby in my life right now? Erhinyuse, what type of mess have you gotten into?
“And I will not support you in any abortion like I did the last time,” Ekene states. “For that one, I followed you because it had been a one-night stand. For this one, I remove myself kpata-kpata! In short, I wash my hands off you, Honey. Disappointment is an understatement for what I feel. I am heartbroken that you’ll do this to yourself and to us.”
“Yes, us! You knew I still wanted us back together. Your ring is waiting in my closet! You were supposed to be the one but you go and do this-this irresponsible thing to yourself?!”
That’s the word Jide used yesterday– irresponsible. Am I?
“I don’t have feelings for you again, Kene.”
“I didn’t tell you I was looking for your feelings!” He eyes me up and down. “Have a nice life, Iya Ibeji!”
He breezes out the front door. I am a little baffled at his behavior but it is the least of my problems.
“Well, there goes a good man,” Saratu murmurs.
I ignore her.
“So what are you going to do now?” she asks.
“With the pregnancy. What will you do?”
“Sara, I don’t want to talk about it now, please.”
“You know you have to get rid of it, right?”
“Get rid of it,” I echo.
“Yes. Go for an abortion.”
“Abeg, spare me any religious crap you want to spit out now. That baby needs to go. We have a company to build and you are the face of that company. We already have a baby mama onboard; we don’t need another. So, chin up and wipe those tears. It has already happened. Tomorrow, I’ll take you to a doctor in town and he’ll handle it like this.” She snaps her fingers.
I can’t say anything to her. I am still wondering how it all happened. Jide and I had that one night of unprotected sex and my period came in the morning. In fact the rush was so heavy I went through a tampon in just two hours. How on earth did anything survive that flood? Or does semen take a different route to the same uterus that releases the egg? And how can fertilization and menstruation occur at the same time? What the hell happened in there?
I hear the sound of a car outside. I peep out the window and see that it’s Emeka dropping Jide off.
“Jide is home.”
Saratu stands. “I’ll say hi to him later. Let me go in and unpack and rest.”
She kisses my forehead and wipes away the tears on my cheek. “You’ll be fine, luv.”
I watch as she gathers all evidence of the pregnancy tests I conducted.
“Don’t tell him anything yet.”
She vanishes into the guestroom while I enter my bedroom. Seconds after, Jide walks into the house. I’m standing at my bathroom door when he makes an appearance.
“Hi,” I say.
He doesn’t respond. I’m about to launch into an apology over our fight when he walks to me and kisses me really slowly and sensually. I bury myself in his embrace and struggle to keep my emotions in check.
“I’m sorry for all I said, hotstuff. I didn’t mean them.”
“I know. I’m sorry too. I love you so much, Honey.”
My emotions can’t be held back any longer. I break down in his arms. He doesn’t ask me why I’m crying; he thinks it’s because of our fight. I squeeze him tightly and get consoled by the affectionate words he uses to assure me of his love.
Somehow emotions transform to desire and before I can stop myself, we are peeling off each other’s clothes. Sex comes in a slow but passionate way and afterwards, we lie back in bed, both staring up the ceiling.
“Is there a reason why you were crying so much while we were having sex?” Jide questions.
I don’t know if I am to smile or be scared that he can read me so well.
“What’s wrong, sugar lips?”
He has his weight resting on his elbow and he’s staring at me in concern.
“No, you’re not. If it’s something my dick didn’t cure, then it’s serious. Come on, talk to me.”
He lightly runs a finger from my earlobe down to my shoulder and then to my nipple.
His finger stops moving and he lifts it off my body. Slowly, he withdraws from me and shifts away as if I have a contagious skin disease.
“Can you repeat yourself?”
“I am pregnant.”
His eyes rest on my tummy for almost a minute.
“Honey…” His voice is hushed.
He stops me with a raised hand. I can’t bear to look into his face and see something that might break me further. I gaze away and the moment I turn, I hear him leave the bed.
“I hope you’re happy,” he says, putting on his briefs. “You accomplished what you set out for.”
“What I set out for?”
“This was what you wanted all along, wasn’t it?”
“Well, congratulations, Hon. Regrettably, I won’t be a part of it.”
I bury my head in shame and weep.
Cabrona – bitch
Puta – slut, bitch
Si senora – Yes, madam
Escúchenme – Just listen for a moment!
Sabes porque anoche Yazmin y Emeka se desaparecieron? Estaban singando en su carro – You know why Yazmin and Emeka disappeared last night? They were fucking in his car.
kpata-kpata – totally, completely
Iya Ibeji – pregnant woman