I hope you enjoyed the holiday? This is the last episode of this series. Enjoy, and please share!
Labisi gazed at her son lovingly.
“He looks so much like me.” Wale said.
“Yes, with your big head!”
The couple smiled in gratitude, all thoughts of the emergency C-Section gone. Nothing else mattered but the infant cradled in his mother’s arms. Labisi’s pelvis had been too narrow for the baby’s head to fit through and Dr Nkechi had observed it just in time.
On the other side of the room, Miriam tried to sleep but couldn’t, she was in too much pain from the birth. Abdul had left the hospital to go home and freshen up, but his mother was on her way to the hospital. Her daughter was sleeping beside her in her cot.
“Go home and rest. You need it.” Labisi said to her husband.
“But I can’t leave you here and I’m sure that you wouldn’t want Mummy here.” he replied.
“No, it’s fine.” she said, gazing at her son.
“What?” Wale said unbelievingly.
“Yeah, you can go. Let her come and stay with us.”
“So you’re fine with her staying?”
“Yes Wale!” Labisi laughed, she just realized that she could tolerate the woman, now that she understood what it meant to give birth to a child.
“Okay… I’ll call her then.” He got up and walked out of the room, shaking his head unbelievingly.
“Congratulations again.” Miriam said facing her, hoping that their conversation would distract her from the pain in her groin.
“Thanks. Are you breastfeeding now?”
“No not yet, the nurse said that I should drink some warm pap.”
Labisi gently laid her son by her side and reached for her phone.
“It’s time to introduce you to the world son!” she said, snapping pictures of him.
“The world? Miriam laughed.
“Yes o, I’m about to upload a picture on my Instagram page! It’s a big deal to give birth and I must celebrate it.”
Miriam laughed again as Labisi updated her Instagram page.
“There!” she said and began to view other posts from her timeline.
“I just don’t know what people enjoy in putting their pictures on social media.” Miriam said.
“It’s just the way the world is now. Everybody is putting their pictures on Facebook and Instagram…”
“I’m not even on Instagram…”
“Really?” Labisi asked unbelievingly. “Why? Please open an account immediately jo. You’ve been missing out on the latest aso-ebi styles and gist on bellanaija. How can you know what’s going on when you’re not on Instagram?”
“I’m not interested jare. I don’t believe in putting up pictures of my life for the world to see.”
Labisi didn’t respond, she frowned and looked up at Miriam.
“What is it?” Miriam asked.
“Nothing.” Labisi said a little too sharply.
“So why are you looking at me like that?” Miriam asked, watching Labisi shaking her head.
“Nothing.” Labisi shrugged and tried to look unperturbed.
“Ah ah tell me what the matter is. Do I have something on my face?” Miriam started to touch her face.
“Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong. I just saw bad news…”
“On your phone? You looked at your phone and then started looking at me funny.”
“Please madam, I don’t want to be the one to… please just forget it.”
Just then Grandma Ayinde came into the room with a cane basket. “That’s my daughter!” she exclaimed and hugged Labisi. “A bouncing baby boy! Ehn? See my grandson! He’s so handsome.” She turned towards Miriam. “Congratulations to you too my dear.”
“Thank you ma.”
“Boy or girl?”
“Ah! Husband and wife!” she pointed back and forth between the two infants.
The women laughed stiffly and Miriam got up to go into the toilet.
“The man is her husband.” Labisi said in hushed tones to her mother-in-law. “I am very sure of it. I just knew that I recognized him. Clara has been posting pictures of him, me and bae this, me and bae that. I feel so sorry for her and I don’t want to be the one to break her home. I just pray she finds out.”
“Just keep shut. Don’t spoil another woman’s home. What if she already knows? She’s a Muslim, doesn’t their religion permit men to marry more than one woman?
“Yes, but I don’t think that is the situation…”
“Labisi mind your own business! Let’s talk about something else before she wakes up.”
But Miriam had heard everything, she had been sleeping but woke up shortly before they started talking about what Labisi had seen on Instagram. She waited a while then sat up and rubbed her eyes slowly.
“You’re awake!” Labisi said with fake cheer.
“Yes.” She inhaled and exhaled then said, “Please let me see those pictures.”
“Hmm? What pictures?” Labisi asked nervously.
“I heard everything you said.” Miriam replied softly. “Please let me just see the pictures, I should know what’s going on in my own home.”
Slowly, Labisi handed over the phone to her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… I don’t want to destroy your home…”
“It’s already destroyed.” Miriam replied, swiping on the phone. There were several pictures of Hakeem and a very beautiful younger lady. She checked the dates on the posts, they all tallied with all the times he had travelled for conferences. There was one of him holding hands with her, another of him kissing her and yet another of them in a pool. He looked like he enjoyed himself immensely. Soon, tears began to drop on the phone and she wiped them quickly.
“I’m so sorry.” Labisi said as Miriam sent the pictures to her phone and handed her back the phone.
“My dear, don’t cry. These men are so undependable. Wale’s father did worse to me but today it’s a thing of the past. He’s only doing it because he’s still young.” Grandma Ayinde said.
Miriam smiled politely with great effort. Hakeem had no excuse, not his youth, her previous condition or the fact that their religion permitted him to marry more than one wife.
“I have eyes only for you… I can’t handle polygamy… You have nothing to worry about.” He had said to her several times. To think that while she was alone and pregnant at home, he was busy with another woman in several parts of the country was heartbreaking. She felt like a fool.
“What will you do?” Labisi ventured to ask.
“I don’t know yet.”
Behind her, her baby cried and she got up to attend to her.
Later that day, Hakeem returned. Miriam’s mother-in-law was busy stirring in some evaporated milk into a bowl of pap.
“Good evening.” He said to Labisi who smiled superficially.
Miriam retuned from the bathroom and sat on the bed.
“Won’t you greet your husband?” her mother-in-law asked teasingly.
“Thank you ma.” she said and collected the bowl from her.
“Sweetheart… you’re angry because I came late abi?” he said playfully and reached for her cheek but Miriam backed away.
“Ah ah! Miriam, are you angry with your husband?” Grandma Abdul asked confused.
Miriam reached for her phone, opened the gallery and handed it to her husband.
Hakeem stared at the phone dumbly for several seconds, confusion and fear running through his mind.
“Mummy please stay out of this.” He said to his mother firmly. “We’ll sort it out between us.”
Shortly afterwards, Doctor Nkechi came in with Nurse Titi. “How are my beautiful women?”
“Fine.” Labisi said smiling.
Miriam took her phone from Hakeem.
“Mrs Abdul you look dull, I hope all is well? Are you in pain?”
Miriam bowed her head, unable to speak.
“Miriam, what is going on? Hakeem what did she show you on her phone?” Grandma Abdul asked, sitting up.
“Don’t tell me to stay out of it! What is the matter, what is making her weep?”
“Mrs Abdul, Mrs Abdul!” Dr Nkechi moved closer to Miriam. “Do you want your visitors to excuse you?”
“Please excuse her, I need her to be calm.”
“Doctor, let her say what has happened…”
“Please excuse her ma. She is my patient and her welfare is my priority.”
The grandmother and the husband left the room solemnly.
“What happened Mrs Abdul? Are you alright?”
“My husband has been cheating on me and I just found out through my roommate here.”
The doctor looked back and forth between her patients and shook her head in confusion. “I just have one question to ask you. When last did you do an HIV test?” she asked.
“About seven months ago.”
“We need to do one right away.”
“You think I’m HIV positive?” Miriam cried. “God I might be HIV positive!”
One hour later the test came out, it was negative.
Labisi was snoring, Miriam couldn’t believe how loud it was. It seemed that her lying on her back and the sedative she had taken to calm her frayed nerves were to blame.
Hakeem was standing beside his wife, wringing his hands. He wished that he could muffle the snoring woman’s mouth, he couldn’t think straight with her noise. He had to say something, Miriam hadn’t uttered a word to him, not one. Not even to tell him that she was being discharged. She’d merely sent him a text with six words- “Pick me up in the morning.”
She didn’t respond, she was busy packing up her bag.
“I… I don’t have an excuse… I’m sorry…”
Still Miriam didn’t respond, she closed the bag and looked around. Nothing was forgotten. Bending down, she carried her baby and began to walk out of the room. Hakeem carried the bag.
“Aren’t you going to say goodbye to your friend?” he wanted to hear her speak.
Again, Miriam didn’t respond, she simply walked out of the door.
This is the end of the series, thank you for reading. Now let me hear from you, what would you have done in either woman’s shoes? Share your thoughts in the comments!