Later that night I tell Dayo about the interview.
“Hmm.” he says, “That’s nice. But does that mean that you’ll be traveling around?”
I hesitate to think on this. “Well, it will involve some traveling but I don’t know how frequent it will be.”
“Hmm.” He grunts.
“What is it?” I ask with slight irritation, wondering why he’s being skeptical.
“I just don’t know about this traveling aspect, are you going to be leaving the kids at home for months?”
“Dayo!” I say angrily. “Why are you like this? Why can’t you just be happy for me…?”
“I’m happy for you…”
“Really. I just don’t like this idea of you traveling up and down, children need their mothers…”
“I don’t think it will be that frequent. But if I have to travel, they have their father don’t they?”
“Hmm.” He grunts again.
“What is hmm?” I get up furious at him. “Honestly Dayo, the more I try the more frustrated I get…”
“The more you try? What are you talking about?”
“I’m unhappy Dayo! I’m dissatisfied with this marriage!”
There, I’ve said it. He looks at me expressionlessly for a while and then bows his head.
“It’s because I can’t provide for the family right, I know you’re dissatisfied. But remember, that money is not everything…”
What is this man going on about? I stare at him in shock. “This has nothing to do with money…”
“It does! It has everything to do with money! Isn’t it why you decided to go to Kenya against my wishes? You want to be the man of the house because I’m not stepping up, isn’t it?”
My mouth is agape, I cannot believe that I am married to the man that is speaking now. “Dayo, how did you become this? You used to support my career, what happened?”
He clasps his head. “I’m happy for you Remi, I am. I’m just not in a good mood.”
What is this? What is this erratic behaviour that my husband is displaying, hot this minute, cold the next? Is he having some kind of mental breakdown?
“I just feel that you’re becoming proud.”
I sit by him, frowning in confusion.
“You never used to argue with me or disobey me, but lately, you just do what you want.”
“Did you come to this conclusion because of one event?”
“I don’t really know how to explain it, but you’re just different. And it all started with this Kenya job.”
I’m still thinking about our conversation long after we’ve said good night to each other. I stare at the ceiling wondering what has changed. What have I said or done to make him feel this way? It then occurs to me that I’ve truly changed, but not in the way that he thinks. I’ve stopped being helpless, I’ve stopped relying on him and he feels it. He wants to know that he’s somehow still dependable.
Uju is calling me, I look away from my phone and continue working on my computer. She’s really something, keeping in touch with me when it’s convenient for her. She hasn’t bothered to answer any of my messages and now she’s calling me. When she won’t stop calling, I decide to pick up.
“Remi! I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your messages, I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff. How are you?”
I hear her sighing. “Remi, I know you have every right to be angry but please don’t be, I have been…”
“Uju you’re the one who’s been asking me to be patient with Dayo and then you just decide to ignore me. I know my wahala is too much but I wouldn’t be disturbing you if you just let me deal with this my way. I’m sure you thought I wanted to borrow some money from you…”
“Remi, you’re not any trouble. I’ve just been dealing with a lot…”
“What are you dealing with?”
“I don’t really want to go into it. I’ll sort it out.”
So she’s more comfortable hearing my sob stories but she doesn’t want to talk about what she’s dealing with?
“All right, I guess your own problems are too posh to be shared with the rest of us common people…”
“Remi, what’s with the attitude? Are you having some kind of premenstrual hormonal imbalance? I said I’m sorry, why do you have to make me feel bad because I don’t want to say something? And since when did you start this “I’m poor, you’re rich” nonsense? Are you going to throw away all our years of friendship because you’re having a temporary setback? What’s all this nonsense?!”
Uju and I have known each other for the past thirteen years but I can only remember one other instance when she’s flipped like this.
“Uju…sure you don’t want to talk about what’s going on?”
I hear her sigh and hesitate. “Kevin is sick.”
“Sick, how? What’s wrong with him?”
I sit up, what could be so grave that she’s hesitant to talk about it? “Uju, talk to me now!”
“He has bipolar disorder…” she almost whispers.
“How…?” I’m stunned beyond words.
“It’s something we’ve been dealing with years, before we got married. I just never told anyone. It all started about the time that Kelvin died.”
“His twin right?”
And here I was yapping away about her not calling me!
“How’s he now?”
“He’s much better.”
“Uju, I’m so sorry. But why didn’t you want to tell me?”
“I didn’t want you to stop talking to me. I’m always here, if you ever need to talk.”
I rub my eyes, this is heartbreaking. “Okay.”
“I have to go now. There’s so much work for me to catch up on.”
“Remi, don’t forget, I’m here if you want to talk.”
“Okay. Can I come and visit? Would he mind?”
“No I don’t think he would, you’re family.”
“Okay, I’ll come by on Saturday.”
“Bring the boys o.”
“Ah!” I didn’t think I’d go with them. “Okay.”
Later that week, a bouquet of red roses are delivered to me, and I know they’re from Mr Martins.
I’m thinking about you. Be happy. The card on it reads.
After chasing away my curious colleagues who are convinced that my husband has suddenly become the most romantic man in the world, I send Mr Martins a message.
Got your flowers
He’s online, I’m not surprised. He must have known that I would be contacting him about this time.
Is that a thank you? J
I roll my eyes and then respond. I don’t even know what to say.
He responds. Say thank you Sola.
I respond. Thank you Mr Martins.
He responds. K
Are we still doing this?
I’m amused to see that he’s angry. I respond.
He responds. It really isn’t funny.
I thought we were past this!
I respond. Okay, sorry.
Thank you Sola.
He responds. J
Hope you like them?
I respond. Yes I do.
No one has ever bought me flowers before. How can I not like them?
Two days later, I’m home because Dotun is ill. The boy has very little tolerance for unhygienic conditions, so we’re dealing with another gastrointestinal infection. Sola and I have been talking about how he’s feeling and what I can do to help him feel better. I’m still uncomfortable with this relationship we’re having. We’ve not defined it, I’m not sure what to call it, but I can’t deny that I’m enjoying the attention he gives me and the fact that I love how he listens to me. My relationship with Dayo is even better because I’m less cranky, I have someone else to share my burdens with.
Have you had something to eat? He asks me in a chat.
No, not up to cooking.
I wish I had a maid.
He types. Well, you can have someone deliver food to you.
I know I can’t afford that right now but I say. Yeah, I’ll probably just do that.
What’s he doing now? He asks.
He’s asleep, finally.
So you can eat now?
Okay, so come and open the door.
I look towards the sitting room before I type. I’m sorry, which door?
Your front door. He responds.
You’re at my door?! I type.
Yes. He responds.
I look at myself in the mirror and quickly ditch my oversized t-shirt for a polka-dotted sleeveless blouse.
“HI!” I say, refusing to open the door wider, and stunned that he’s right here in the middle of the day.
“I know this is a surprise but I thought I’d bring you something to eat, I just finished a meeting at Bode Thomas.” He sees the look of doubt on my face. “Really, I’m not lying. So are you going to take the food or are you going to leave me standing out here?”
Still stunned, I take the carrier bags he’s brought the food in. “Thank you…”
We stare at each another for a while. My heart melts at his handsome face and the nice gesture, but my mind tells me that I’m in dangerous territory.
“What is this Sola? What are we doing?” I ask him.
“We’re being friends.”
“This is more…”
“How? We’re not doing anything inappropriate, we’re just talking.”
“But it’s not right…”
“You know why!” I sigh. “I’m flattered at this attention but BImbo is also my friend.”
He frowns. “Why do you have to bring Bimbo into this?”
“Because she’s my friend! Because she’s your wife!”
He moves closer to me, I retreat further into the house.
“I’ve never felt for anyone the way I feel about you Remi. I know this isn’t right and I confess, I’ve not been faithful to my wife in previous years but this is different. I can tell you anything, you’re so easy to relate to…”
“But I’m not your wife…”
“I’m not asking you to be. Be my friend…”
“I’m not a fool Sola, we both know you want more….”
“Tell me you don’t want more…”
I sigh. “This isn’t about what I want, what we want, it’s about what’s right.”
“And do you think it’s also right for us to ignore how we feel even though we are good for each other?”
“Don’t worry about the future, let’s take it one step at a time. Starting with the food in your hand. Eat, rest, we’ll talk later.”
I sigh yet again and close my eyes.
“Your face looks so surreal when you close your eyes.” He says, licking his lips and looking at me with so much intensity.
My breath catches in my throat. “You should go,” I say in a shaky voice, with my hand on my neck.
“I’ll keep in touch.”
When he leaves I lean on the door, trying to still my beating heart. Why can’t Dayo sweep me off my feet like this? I grab my phone and dial his number, I want to hold on to my husband.
“Hello?” he says.
“Hi, how are you?”
“Fine…” I hear him grunting. “Is everything all right? How is Dotun, is he better?”
“Yes, he’s sleeping now.”
“Okay so… why are you calling?” He sounds confused and he should be, we don’t usually call each other during the day except it’s important.
“I just wanted to say hi.”
“Remi you know I’m usually driving at this time, you should have called later. These LASTMA people can arrest me for receiving a call while driving, I thought something was wrong.”
“I’m sorry. Nothing’s wrong.”
I hang up and clasp my head. I breathe in and out before I reach for the bag of food.