Becky was about to wash clothes, she emptied the pockets and threw them into a big bowl of soapy water. Mama Adio’s children were running around stark naked, screaming and holding up sticks. Their mother was sitting a distance away from her, picking vegetables and stirring her pepper sauce intermittently. Becky shook her head deprecatingly, wondering why the woman couldn’t get her children to put some clothes on. Her baby kicked within her and she smiled, it would have the best life that she could afford. Education would be a top priority and the child would never have to sell anything on her behalf. Continue reading “Abowu District Episode 7”
Dear reader, welcome to a new week. I do hope you had a restful weekend.
Like I said last week, the series will be available for sale this week. So, this is the last episode I’ll be sharing here. The concluding part and the entire story will be available for sale on Friday.
In the meantime however, a new series will start tomorrow, it is a FREE story. I hope I’ll see you here. Have a wonderful day and please don’t forget to share this link and leave a comment!
Bimbo is sitting by me, folding her hands pensively.
“So he just resigned?”
I want to tell her that it’s none of her business but I already made it so when I got into a shouting match with Dayo and walked into her feel. I feel so ashamed of myself, by now I’m sure that the entire compound knows we were fighting. How am I going to raise my head in this compound again? And what was I thinking coming into this house where Sola is? It’s almost eight, I’ll have to go back into my own house, after I’ve come here to tell my curious neighbours what is going on in my marriage. I feel so stupid and embarrassed, Bimbo is watching me and I know I must tell her something.
“Yes,” I reply in a small voice.
“Wow, but had you guys talked about it before?”
“Hmm, na wa o! So how are you going to cope? I mean I know you guys were barely getting by, how are you going to manage this?”
I’m more than embarrassed now, I’m stunned. How dare she?
“I don’t know.” I reply simply, there’s no use getting into another fight with her in her own house.
“These men are just something. How could he have resigned, just like that, and without telling you first?”
Is that a rhetorical question? I’m not sure it is but I stay quiet. Sola comes in, I’m not looking at him but I can smell him. He smells so good, he’s probably just had his bath.
“Is everything all right?” he asks in that mesmerizing voice of his.
“She and her husband had a fight,” Bimbo answers for me.
“Did he beat you?” he asks me directly with a veil of anger on his face.
“No,” I reply not looking at him.
“I mean it’s just sad. Can you imagine that he quit his job without telling her?”
“Wow!” I hear a slight amusement in his voice. “You guys should just be patient with each other.”
Why exactly did I come here? “I should go,” I say.
“Where?” Bimbo asks. “Why don’t you stay here for a little while longer? Let me get you something to eat.”
Before I can even protest, she’s gone. I stare at my hands, feeling Sola’s eyes on me.
“Let me make you happy,” he says.
“You’re going to say that to me here? While your wife is getting me something to eat? What kind of man are you?”
“Just the kind who is interested in seeing you happy.”
“’You want to make me happy while Bimbo is unhappy?”
“You’ve never even asked if I’m happy? Why should I continue to suffer in silence just because I want to look good?” he leans forward. “Look, you and I are one of a kind, we belong together.”
Before I can respond, we hear the kitchen door open, he readjusts and I pretend to watch TV.
“All right, I’m going to bed,” Sola says to Bimbo, I hear them kiss each other and then he says to me. “Good night madam, take it easy.”
“Thank you sir,” I reply as expressionlessly as possible.
Bimbo set a tray of chin chin and a jug of juice before me. “Don’t allow your husband to walk all over you Remi, I keep telling you that you must stand up for yourself. Don’t allow him to force you to be the breadwinner, do whatever you have to do. Whatever!” she moves closer to me and says conspiratorially, “Sola tried something similar, he wanted to make me some kind of submissive woman, but I let him know straight up, that I wouldn’t take it!”
“Really?” I say but she misses my sarcasm.
“Yes! Now he knows his boundaries. He respects me completely! You better stand your ground and don’t take on a role that is not yours. Don’t be weak!”
“Wow Bimbo, you’re stronger than me.”
“Na God o my sister.” She clasps her hands.
I feel so sorry for her but I eat my snacks and allow her to think that she’s indeed stronger than me.
When I return home the boys are asleep, I can see from the plates in the sink that they had dinner. Dayo is asleep in the room as well, he has a book laid out on his chest. He looks so tired and as I stare at him I realize that I still love this man in spite of everything. I sit on the bed and ask myself how we got to this point. When did he stop being enough for me?
I made an oath to be with him for better or worse… I made a commitment to him… I choose to love him… stay with Dayo… Take his small dream and make it bigger, you have the power to do that!
Am I really being unreasonable? What if I support this man and it doesn’t work out? Dayo is not exactly one who can delay gratification and sacrifice, how is this business plan going to work?
I made a commitment to him… I choose to love him… stay with Dayo…
I lie on the bed and debate whether I should give this man a chance or not.
The next night, as he changes into his night clothes I sit up and tell him my decision.
“I’m with you, I’ll support your business idea and help you as much as I can.”
He turns to look at me, he looks like he’s trying to determine how serious I am.
“Wow, I feel honored.” He eventually says.
I roll my eyes, he wants an apology.
“And I’m sorry about yesterday night.”
“What exactly are you sorry about? The way you insulted me in front of our boys, the way you yelled my qualifications to the hearing of our neighbours, or the fact that you meant every word you said?”
I exhale and consider my response. “I’m sorry about everything Dayo, I just was in a bad place.”
He snickers. “You were in a bad place! I’m not perfect Remi, I know this but I would never speak to you the way you spoke to me last night. As a matter of fact, I don’t know how you can still be in this marriage when you feel the way you do about me!”
“Dayo, this is not the way forward. It’s true, I’m not satisfied with the way things are, but arguing about what happened last night is not the way forward for us. I am truly sorry about the things I said last night, I truly truly am and it will probably be one of my greatest regrets because I did it in front of the children but I want a solution. I want to move forward, I want to make things work.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
This is not something I overthought I’d hear. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying maybe we should ask ourselves if this is worth it. It’s obvious how you feel about me and I don’t think I want to be married to someone who thinks so little of me and my plans.”
“Are you asking…?” I’m even afraid to say it.
“It’s really up to you Remi, I can’t continue to put up with your cranky attitude, I just can’t seem to do anything right and I won’t live like that anymore. I am who I am, I’m not going to change. So if it’s not good enough for you, you can leave, because I won’t have you disrespecting me in front of my children.”
I’m stunned. “You want me to leave? You want to throw away all the years we’ve been together because we had a fight?”
“Like I said, it’s up to you.” he replies, turning off the light and getting into bed.
The next week, I’m in Uju’s house again. This time, I’m alone and I can take in the recent work in the house. She’s so lucky that Kevin’s father gave them this nice house in Ikoyi. With her job at the reputable architectural firm and his as a general manager in an international bank, it’s understandable that she’s almost double her former size. She has a somber look on her round face as we sit opposite one another at her dining table.
“He told me what happened.” She says.
“I’m sure he did. But look, Dayo has said hurtful things to me too, but I would never tell him to take a walk if he wants to. I mean, how do I function in this marriage? This is more than I can bear Uju.”
She clasps her hands and rests her forehead on her fingertips. “This is something.”
I’m glad she now gets it. “This is really more than I can bear Uju.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I’m going to leave him.”
She sighs. “After all these years?”
“He is willing to throw it all away, why should I care?”
“What about Dotun and Tomiwa?”
“I’ll take them with me, I have a better job now and I can afford to give them a good life.”
“Is Dayo going to let you just take them?”
“I don’t care. They’re mine and I’m taking them with me.”
“So you’re ready for a lengthy divorce process and custody battle?”
I hesitate for the fraction of a second. “I’ll be ready.”
“How are you going to explain it to the boys?”
“I’ll tell them it didn’t work out between their Dad and I.”
“And you think they’ll believe you?”
“When they saw you humiliate their father?”
“I doubt that they will believe you. As it is, it’s going to take them a while to get over seeing you guys fight and forget all that you said. It’s not in your favor Remi.”
I stare at her with indignation. “So you expect me to stay?”
She hesitates as if she’s thinking about her answer. “I think you shouldn’t give up just yet.”
I laugh humorlessly. “What else do you expect me to do Uju? I’ve tried my best!”
“I know, but it’s been more difficult for you to try because of a certain someone.”
I exhale sharply and shake my head in disbelief. “This has nothing to do with Sola!”
“So now I know his name.”
“This has nothing to do with him!” I say again.
“I never even asked you about this man, the children distracted us the other day. How did you meet him?”
My anger dissipates immediately and I look away.
“Remi? Where did you meet him?”
“Let’s not talk about him. He’s not important.”
“Oh he is, and we both know it. Where’d you meet him?”
“Why can’t you just tell me?”
“Because you’ll just judge me! I know you.”
She stares at me for a while. “I’m sorry if I’ve come across as judgemental Remi, but I’m just being your friend.”
I’m now staring at my hands.
“Where did you meet him?”
I scratch the back of my ears. “It’s not as simple as it sounds…”
I can feel her confusion. “Do I know this person?”
“I don’t even know how it all started.”
“Remi…? Just say it now! Is it your husband’s brother?”
“What? No! God forbid!”
“Then who is it?”
In a small voice, I answer her. “My neighbour…”
From the corner of my eyes, I can see that she’s moved closer to me. “Remi, which neighbour?” She asks in a quavering voice.
“The ones who just moved in…”
“Wait, opposite… next to… your next door neighbour?”
She slaps her palms on the table and I jump startled. “Remi!” She whispers harshly. “Have you lost your mind?”
I rub my eyes, afraid to see the look in her eyes. I hear her stand up and pace the floor.
“Okay, I’m not going to judge, I’m not going to judge. No judgement, no judgement… Remi, what were you thinking? I mean your next door neighbour? What if Dayo finds out? What kind of foolish game are you playing?”
Her reaction is just as I expected so I sit still and listen to her rail on. Suddenly she sits and stares at me.
“Are you done?” I ask her.
“This is messed up Remi…”
“I know.” I stare back at her.
“Yelling at you won’t solve the problem…”
“Finally, we agree on something.”
“And you being cheeky is not the way either.” She points at me in reprimand and sighs. We sit in silence for a while.
“Answer this question in all honesty.”
“Would you be thinking about leaving Dayo if this man wasn’t in the picture?”
“I was already dissatisfied before him Uju…”
“Yes, but would you have thought of leaving him? Answer honestly.”
I don’t respond, because I know the answer is no. She knows it too.
“Don’t give up yet.” She says earnestly.
“What about him? He’s given up Uju, why should I hold on?”
“Maybe he’s given up because he thinks you already have. See a counsellor, I can refer you to someone?”
“He won’t go.”
“He’ll go, Kevin will make sure he does.”
“Okay Uju, I’ll give it a shot. But this is taking a lot from me.”
“I know Remi and I appreciate you, but you are stronger than you think!”
I wipe the tears that have pooled in my eyes and exhale slowly.
This is the last post of the week. This series will be available for sale next week (not on Monday), I hope that you are anticipating it!
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Oby and I have decided to meet at a national conference for researchers, after several hours of boring speeches in which I dozed off more than a few times, we go to a cafeteria. Oby is sponsoring lunch.
“So how’s everything?”
By everything, I know she means what’s going on between Sola and I but I act as if I don’t know it.
“Everything is fine.”
“So you’ve decided to give Sola a chance?”
“Na wa for you o Oby. Are you his solicitor?” I ask wearily.
“He really likes you.”
“And how do you know this?” I ask, picking fillets of my grilled fish with my fork.
“He won’t stop talking about you and pleading with me to talk to you on his behalf.”
“I thought you said your phone was bad, and that’s why you had to ask for my number again? How have you been keeping in touch with him?” I ask suspiciously.
“He gave me his card!” She replies with a grin.
I look at her doubtfully. “Are you sure you don’t want him? You can have him o!”
“Please! It’s not even like that. Besides, I already have someone who makes me happy.”
“Is that so? I assume you’re talking about Isaac.”
“No, it’s not Isaac. Look let’s get back to the subject, allow yourself to be loved by another man. Sola will take care of you.”
“And his wife? Who will take care of her?”
“That’s where you’re getting it wrong. You keep thinking about other people when you should be thinking of yourself. Allow yourself to enjoy life. You deserve your own happiness!”
I look away from the intensity of her stare and smile. “This food is really nice.”
It’s the weekend and we’re at Uju’s house. Kevin looks very good, not a hint whatsoever of his condition.
“You look good,” I say hugging him.
“Your friend is taking very good care of me,” he replies, looking at Uju with so much love that she blushes.
“Kevin, see how you’re making her blush!” Dayo says laughingly.
“Man, she deserves it. She’s been so wonderful!”
We walk into the living room and I look at the room in admiration.
“You redecorated!” I exclaim.
“Yes o, I thought I’d give the house a facelift,” Uju says, flopping onto one of the chairs.
Wow, it’s good to have money. I say to myself. The boys have run upstairs with Uju’s children. They’ll come downstairs when they’re hungry, which will be soon. Uju and I leave the men to their discussion and go out into the garden where she’s grilling chicken and potatoes. The cook, Ruth, is securing the foil wrap. She greets me warmly. We walk towards the center of the garden where there are cane chairs and a table.
“How’s everything?” she immediately asks.
“Fine.” I answer chirpily.
She looks strangely at me. “You look excited… no, excited is not the word, you look peaceful…?”
I laugh. “I don’t know what you’re seeing o!”
“Wait, are you pregnant?”
I stare at her in shock. “For what now? Where is the money to take care of more children?”
She laughs. “You look different though, I can’t explain it but you look different.”
I dismiss her observation and we settle down to catch up on all that has happened with Kevin. After a while she decides to go and check on the children and confirm that the cook is doing as she has instructed. When she leaves, I unlock my phone and check my notifications. There’s a message from Sola.
You guys are not home today?
Did you travel?
I’m pleased to see that he’s noticed my absence. We’re at Ikoyi.
He’s online, he’s almost always online. I got you something, was hoping that I’d give it to you.
I’m surprised. You did?
He sends me a photo of a pair of sparkly green earrings. They look expensive and I’m flattered but I wonder how much this cost and what Bimbo would think of this. I shove aside my hesitation and smile widely.
He reponds. ☺
“Remi!” Uju calls, she’s standing and staring at me in wonder.
“Oh my God!” I jump in my seat, startled. “Why are you sneaking up on me?”
“I didn’t sneak up on you, I’ve been standing here for a while. Who are you chatting with that’s making you smile?”
“One of my friends,” I reply dismissively, hoping that she’ll let it go. She doesn’t.
“Which friend?” she asks.
“You don’t know the person.”
“Is this friend a man or a woman?”
“Ah ah Uju, what’s with the interrogation? Do you think you’re my only friend?”
“You’ve not answered my question.”
“You want me to tell you about all my friends?
She takes her seat beside me with her mouth agape. “Oh Remi, you’re having an affair!” she says softly.
“No wonder you look different, happy! How long has this been going on?”
Uju knows me too well, I cannot lie to her or even dismiss her suspicion. “I haven’t done anything Uju, I’m not having an affair.”
“So what are you doing?”
“I’m just talking to him, that’s all! He gives me a listening ear and God knows I need that!”’ I take a sip from the drink she’s brought.
“What are you doing Remi?” she asks again, shaking her head.
“You don’t know what I’m going though Uju!”
“And is this the solution? Is having an affair going to make you more comfortable? Is it going to change your husband?”
“But what about me? Don’t I deserve to be happy?”
“You want to be happy by ruining another woman’s home?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you know that’s what’s going to happen.” She shakes her head in confusion. “I can’t even believe that we’re having this conversation. Remi you know the right thing, we are not supposed to be women like this…!”
“Women like what Uju? Women who are tired of redundant husbands? Women who can no longer stand being unhappy? Well I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m one of those women. It’s easy for you to tell me what to do when you’re not in my shoes.”
“You think my life is perfect? Remi, I have problems too! Do you know what it means to be married to a man who is suicidal? Do you know what it means to have your children go away for a while because their father is in the depths of depression? Do you know what it means to keep tabs of his medication and administer them when he’s in one of his moods? Do you know what it means for me to have to explain his behaviour sometimes? Do you know what it means not to be able to sleep well because you’re afraid that your husband might kill himself while you’re asleep…?”
She breaks down into tears and I feel so sorry for her. I really cannot imagine such a life and I’m amazed at all she’s endured. How did I not know this?
“I’m so sorry Uju!” I hold her and let her cry for a while. Then, she sits up abruptly and wipes her face.
“That’s my reality Remi, but I would not leave him, not except I’m in danger of him harming me. I made an oath to be with him for better or worse, it doesn’t matter if he wouldn’t do the same for me, what matters is that I made a commitment to him. So I chose to love him even when I just want to scream and run away with the children. He wants to get better and together we can work to make sure that his life is as normal as can be. It’s hard and it’s not what I bargained for but I wouldn’t run into the arms of another man because my husband is flawed.”
I sit back in my seat and fold my arms.
“Leave him Remi, stay with Dayo, and support his dream even if he wants to sell moi-moi. Take his small dream and make it bigger, you have the power to do that! He’s flawed, aren’t we all? Cheating on him is not the way, think of the woman whose heart is breaking because of what you’re doing. And don’t think that because you’re not sleeping with him, you’re fine. If you don’t break it off now, it’s only a matter of time before you do. And I assure you, it will be the greatest regret of your life!”
Thinking of Uju’s words has made me pensive, and as I go about preparing dinner I’m unaware that Dayo has been staring at me.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine.”
“You look like you have something on your mind.”
I shrug. “I’ll be fine. Just thinking of something Uju and I talked about.”
He’s leaning against the door frame, his hands in his pocket. Then he bring them out and puts them back in, all the time shifting from one foot to the other. He repeats this process several times as I realize that he has something on his mind.
“What is it?” I ask him, covering the pot of food I’ve just checked on.
“I want to tell you something and I’m not sure how you‘ll take it.”
I stare at him for a while. What does he want to say? Does he suspect that I have feeling for another man?
“What is it?” I ask him uncertainly.
“Can we go and sit down?”
The boys are playing in their room so we have the sitting room to ourselves.
“What is it?” I ask him again as I sit.
He clasps his hands together before he says: “I resigned yesterday.”
I gasp, put my fingers on my lips, open my mouth to say something and then shake my head. “Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m very serious. I’ve also applied to become of one of their wholesale agents.”
“How are you going to get the money to do this?”
“They’re paying me some money as part of my benefit…but I need some more money…”
“About two point five million.”
“Where are you going to get that?”
“Kevin has offered to loan me.”
Now I clasp my head in my hands and exhale slowly, is there no end to this provocation?
Without looking up I ask. “So while we went to check on his health, you were asking him for money?”
“I didn’t ask him for money, he offered it. Do you think I went there to beg?”
I put my hands together, my forehead resting on the tip of my fingers. “Dayo, how could you think of doing this without talking to me about it first?”
“I didn’t tell you because I knew what you would say. You’ve never supported this idea, and I want to do what makes me happy…”
“And what happens to your responsibilities?”
“I intend to put aside some money to take care of the next school fees and the basic household needs. I hope that before we have to pay for another term, the business would be able to pay me.”
“You’re placing everything on your hope that things will go well? This is my problem with you Dayo, you never think things through, and you’ve never been able to look beyond the present. How can you do something like this?”
He laughs humorlessly. “Remi, do you think that all I’ve come to do in this life is to provide for my family?”
It’s my turn to laugh humorlessly. “Then you shouldn’t have gotten married Dayo!” I’m so furious now that I’m yelling. “You always think of yourself alone! You are so selfish!”
“And you’re such a nag! Ah ah! Nothing ever pleases you, I have to walk on eggshells in my own house! I have to wonder will Remi approve or not! I can’t live like this!”
“Neither can I!” I retort, standing up, my body trembling with anger. “If I had known that you were such an irresponsible, selfish man I would never have married you! How can you quit your job because you want to explore a ridiculous idea! And you did it behind my back, knowing I would tell you no. You couldn’t even wait to save some money or actually plan this idea of yours! What’s going to happen to the other things we spend money on? I should go and work and give you the money right?”
“This is your problem!” he retorts, standing up too. “You think that because you have some money, you’re better than me! You’re so full of yourself!”
“I’d rather be full of myself than be full of nothing! You’re such a disappointment! Look at what you’ve become, you had big dreams but then that’s what you’ve always been, a dreamer! Wake up Dayo! Wake up and be a man!”
He looks at me defeated and it is then that I realize that my boys are standing, watching us, and crying. I’m crying too.
I hold my head in my hands overwhelmed by shame, pain and anger. “I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t!”
I walk out of the house and close the door. Bimbo is waiting outside her door, she opens it wider, and I go in.
The events of the past weeks fade from my mind when I see my boys. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed them, they don’t look like they’ve lost any weight. They cling to me, trying to tell me all that has happened while I was gone. I gather that they’ve been walking on eggshells around their father. He’s been carrying out his anger towards me on them.
It’s the beginning of another week, yaay! The series continues again today. I thank you for leaving your feedback from last week’s episode. A special shoutout to Ms Yinka Wadak who was so kind to point something out to me.
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