Three weeks later, we’re in Akure to see my in-laws. My mother-in-law wants to see her grandchildren. The boys dash into the house and immediately begin exploring it as Dayo and I unload the car.
“Mummy would love these clothes right?” I ask him about the clothes I bought for her and my mother in Kenya.
“Yeah,” he replies half-heartedly.
“Are you okay?”
I sense a hesitation in his response, is he hiding something from me?
“You don’t look okay.”
“No, I’m fine just feeling tired. You know I really don’t like driving long distances.”
“Pele, I’m sure you’ll be able to get some rest after you’ve eaten.”
“Yeah,” he responds and goes into the house.
My parents-in-law are seated in the living room, both picking their teeth, they’ve just finished eating lunch. We greet them and settle down to eat and catch up on the events of the last few months. Then my mother-in-aw says,
“Children, go and stay in the room.”
“Okay grandma.” My boys reply respectfully.
What do they want to talk about, I look at Dayo, he doesn’t look back at me.
“Remi,” my mother-in-law begins. “You’ve offended me.”
“What did I do ma?” I ask in surprise.
“What did you do? You left your husband and children alone and went to another country to go and do a job, without your husband’s consent?”
“You just left them! Your husband said you shouldn’t go but you did. He told us that you said they would pay you one million. Is it your job to provide for the home? Are you trying to take his place? You left your job as a wife and mother to go and work in another country? This is not the Remi I know o! I hope you’re not keeping bad company?”
I’m too stunned to reply. I look at Dayo, he knew this was going go to come up. That’s why he was quiet. I expected her to express her objection but not in this manner, not after all this time. What exactly did Dayo tell them?
“Don’t let me hear that you did this kind of thing again. In fact, we wanted to call your parents and tell them what was going on but my husband said we would be over-reacting. You really offended me Remi, I expect so much from you.”
I want to ask her if he told them that we needed to pay school fees and house rent and that I don’t have a car to drive but I know this might not get me the sympathy I expect.
“I’m sorry ma.” I say instead, bowing my head and making my face as contrite as possible.
“Don’t join all these modern day women to disobey your husband, do you understand me? Money is good but greed will only destroy. Not all that glitters is gold, be content with what you have. Most of these women are greedy and irresponsible. Obey your husband, if he says you shouldn’t go somewhere, then don’t go there.” My father-in-law says irritably.
My mother-in-law eventually changes the topic and after some minutes, I excuse myself and go to the room where I sit for a while, just thinking about the conversation with my in-laws. Dayo comes in a few minutes later and sits by me.
“I’m sorry about that, I told her not to say anything about it. I told her that we’d settled our misunderstanding.”
“You told them that I just abandoned you and the boys, did you tell how hard things are? Did you tell them how we’ve been managing?”
“I’m sorry Remi….”
“You took our business outside our home…?”
“C’mon Remi, it’s my mother we’re talking about here.”
I shake my head. “So you would be comfortable if I told my mother how I now have to take public transport with the boys? You would be okay with it if I told her that we can’t afford the school bus, that sometimes we can’t even afford to eat well, that I had to give you my salary to pay for the rent…?”
“You didn’t have to say that.” he says, his face hardened.
“I don’t have to say what? You’re not comfortable hearing how hard things are but you’re happy to go and tell your people that I abandoned the family?”
“Don’t talk about my mother like she’s an outsider!”
“I’m married to you! Marriage is about two people, husband and wife. If I cover your excesses why would you go and tell your mother mine?”
“She’s my mother Remi, I have known her all my life!”
I want to scream, he still doesn’t get it, or maybe he does and he just refuses to accept it. I’m angry, sad and overwhelmed by this roller coaster of emotions that I’m enduring in this marriage. This isn’t the first time that Dayo is telling his mother about our business, we’ve discussed this so many times but he only sees what he wants to see.
“I’m tired Dayo.” I say wearily.
“Tired of what?”
I’m tired of this marriage, is what I want to say but I know he will not take it well so I try an abridged version of the truth.
“I’m tired of how you make me feel.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked puzzled.
“Figure it out.” I reply taking my purse and walking out of the room.
I need some air, so I’ve gone out to a nearby store where I buy myself a drink and some snacks. The shop owner gives me a chair to sit and as I eat, I chat with Uju, ranting and telling her how much I’m tired of my marriage. She’s not online but I feel less burdened with each word I type. Just as I’m about to lock my phone I get a message notification from Mr Martins.
Hi Remi, I’m thinking about you.
I stare at my phone for a while before I type. What are you thinking?
He types. I’m wondering how you’re doing.
I haven’t seen you in a while and you won’t talk to me.
Even though I’ve told you I only want to make you happy.
I send a smiley.
He types. You think I just want to…
You know what, can we just sit down and talk?
I don’t reply, I’m thinking about this. What does he want to say? I’m curious.
He types. Are you there?
I type. What do you want to talk about?
He types. Don’t you want us to settle this once and for all?
I type. No. we talked in Kenya, there’s nothing you want to say now that you didn’t say then.
He types. Okay.
How are you?
I’m surprised, I expected him to argue with me. I’m depressed and Uju is not online, I decide to tell him how I’m feeling.
I’m not fine.
He types. What’s wrong? Do you want to talk about it?
I type. Why do you guys find it so easy to tell you mother what’s going on in your marriage?
He types. Don’t generalize.
I don’t tell my mother what’s going on in my marriage.
It’s not her business.
Your husband reported you?
I hesitate, unsure that I should be telling this man about my husband’s weakness. I type.
He types. Sorry about that.
Did you tell him how you felt about it?
I type. It’s not the first time.
I talk to him
He doesn’t listen.
He types. Are talking to him at the right time?
I type. Yes, I’ve tried so many approaches, the man just won’t listen!
Just then my phone rings, it’s Dayo. I stare at it for a while, unwilling to hear what he has to say, unwilling to go back to my painful reality. Still I know that if I don’t pick it up, he’ll be worried, he’ll tell his mother.
“Remi, where are you?”
“What does that mean? Just come home please.”
“I will when I’m ready.”
I hear his sharp intake of breath. “Remi please don’t start this behaviour here. Just come back, we can sort everything out when we get back to Lagos.”
“So in the meantime I should just pack my feelings in a box and keep it until you’re ready to hear me, right?”
Another sharp intake of breath. “Remi, my parents are asking about you, the boys are wondering where you are. I’m not saying you should keep your feelings, just come home.”
“Okay.” I hang up.
Mr Martins has left me several messages.
Stop talking then
Focus on your life
Are you there?
I’m here if you want to talk
I type. Sorry, I was on a call.
Got to go
He types. I’m here if you ever need to talk.
I’m at Greenland Ltd one week later, Mr Weju has invited me for an interview, but it’s really just a formality because he has made up his mind about me.
“I expect the whole process to be over in the next two weeks. Congratulations!” he says giving me a firm handshake while I grin uncontrollably.
Giddy with excitement, I walk out of the reception when I hear someone call my name.
I turn back to see Oby.
“Na wa o! So you were just going to leave without saying hi?”
She looks different, I can’t put a finger on it but something about her has changed.
We hug. “Don’t Oby me,” she says in mock reprimand. “How can you come here and not ask about me. If Weju hadn’t told me that he just finished talking to you I wouldn’t have known that you were around.
“I’m sorry, I was too excited to even think straight.”
“I’m happy for you. You’ll love it here.”
“You look different.” I can’t help but say.
“Yeah something about you is different.”
“My sister, it must be this Nigerian condition.”
“So, how’s Sola?”
“S…?” I roll my eyes.
“You’re still rolling your eyes? Remi! You know what, give me your number. I need to go.”
We exchange numbers and hug one another again.
“I’ll call you and fix you up.”
“You better pick up!”
Oby, she always leaves me with a smile.