“I miss you.” There was a vulnerability in her voice that made Effiong stop for a few seconds before he turned towards the bathroom.
“I miss us” she said again.
“What do you want?” Effiong snapped at her in a tired voice.
“You, us, I want us back the way we used to be.”
Effiong humphed. “That’s not happening”
“Please let’s work things out. I know I’ve hurt you…”
“I can’t do this now.” Effiong cut her short and headed into the bathroom.
Posi sat on the couch beside his father who was watching the network news, fiddling with the remote.
“Alright Posi it’s time to sleep. Go to your room.”
“Please what? You don’t want to sleep?” Posi nodded in the affirmative. “Why?”
“I don’t want to sleep in our room.”
“I always have bad dreams”
“Have you been watching those cartoons I told you not to watch?”
“So why do you have bad dreams? You must have been watching those cartoons, I trust you.”
“No Daddy I didn’t watch them. Can I sleep in your room?”
“No, you’re a big boy now. When you have bad dreams you pray about it and go back to sleep okay?”
Posi nodded. “Now go to sleep.”
“Go to sleep now!” Dapo snapped at the boy who walked reluctantly to his bedroom crying softly.
Dapo turned his attention back to the TV, it was time for the business news.
“Olakunle, your brother just called me now to report you and even though what he said sounded convincing enough, I decided to speak with you myself. The Kunle I know is better than the Kunle I heard about this night. What is going on, why haven’t you given your contribution?”
Kunle sighed and remained quiet or a while wondering if he could confide in his mother. “Mummy there are many things to say.” He finally said, Banke was asleep and he had been staring at the television when his mother’s call came in.
“Then talk to me, that’s what I’m always here for. I know you, you’re not the kind of man that will become stingy just because he’s married.”
“Let me call you back ma.”
“Yes, I’m listening.”
“It’s my wife Mummy” Kunle said heavily.
“Banke? What did she do?”
“She’s ruining me.”
“She’s spending every dime I have. She doesn’t understand when I say we need to save, it seems to her that I’m making her suffer. I am spending so much money maintaining this marriage and I’m tired. In fact I’m beginning to think that I made the biggest mistake marrying her.”
Kunle’s mother sighed in response.
“I know you warned me about her but I never thought things would be like this, that she would be like this. Mummy I’m in debt, have you ever heard me say I owe anybody?”
“Well, ever since I married Banke, I’ve been in debt.”
“Hmmn…this is something.” Kunle’s mother said.
“I haven’t even told you all. She now collects money from her father and lies about it. Let me confess something to you, the money we spent for Teniola’s naming came from her father because she told him that we didn’t have money to host a big party like she wanted.”
“What? Olakunle how could you? What kind of desperation made you stoop so low?” his mother asked unbelievingly.
“I couldn’t refuse the money without insulting my father-in-law indirectly!” he said in his defense.
Kunle’s mother sighed again. “You have let things degenerate for too long. You should have taken a stand from the very beginning with her and your in-laws. The reason I didn’t want you to marry Banke is exactly because of this, I didn’t think you would be bold enough to say no to her but at this point you’re going to have to be bold and be the man of your household.”
“How do I do this?”
“First I think you should sit down and determine the things that you have to cut back on. Then call her and let her know the true state of your finances and let her also know that there are going to be changes. No more collecting money from her father, because the truth is that the more she keeps doing that, the more you’ll lose your respect with her family. Let her know that your family is more important than her spending and if you need to call a family meeting or speak to someone in her family that you know can influence her, do it.”
“What about her father.”
“Do not collect any more money from him no matter what. I’m very disappointed in him, he should know better as an elderly man but men like him derive pleasure in having people under their control and you have to break his control over you. On the other hand, he’s your father-in-law and you need to respect him no matter what so tread carefully. With him it’s a dicey situation so act wisely. Your reputation is very important, don’t let any woman take that away from you. A man has to learn to make tough decisions, so put your house in order and be the responsible man that I know.”
Kunle sighed, he felt better already. “Yes ma, thank you ma.”
“You’re welcome my dear.” She yawned. “I’m sleepy already.”
“I trust you!” Kunle teased.
“I’ve heard you! Goodnight.”
Kunle leaned back, he knew the first thing they were cutting back on. Teniola would have to start attending Havillah, the fee was a quarter of what he was paying at Rubies.
Joy bit her nails whenever she was agitated and now she was. She had been looking through her English textbook when she found a note that Peace had written to Ayodele.
My dear Ayodele,
I’m so happy I came to your house, you make me so happy and make me feel like a woman. I dream of marrying you every night, I will take very good care of you.
Yours in love,
So Peace had meant what she said about being smart and taking Ayodele, she had even taken her time to write it in cursive like they taught them in the fine-arts class. But Peace had underestimated her, she would show this letter to Mummy Teni tomorrow and then Peace would know she was smarter and beautiful.
“Effiong please let’s talk” Olayinka tried again as Effiong came out from the bathroom.
“There was a time when I wanted to talk but you weren’t interested, now I’m not interested.”
“I was wrong…”
“You think so?” he replied sarcastically casting off the towel and reaching for his pajamas.
“What can I do to make things right?” Olayinka cried clasping her hands together. “I want you back, I need you back Effiong, please…just tell me what I should do.”
The walls were crumbling with Olayinka’s tears. “What you should do is get well soon and move out.” He said quietly.
Olayinka gasped and she saw in his eyes that he really meant what he said. “We both messed up…”
“What makes me hate you is not just the fact that you were unfaithful, it’s the fact that you got pregnant for him. I wanted another child, I begged you for another child but you wouldn’t hear it and then I find out that you got pregnant for this guy. I can never forgive that.” He said as two streaks of tears escaped his eyes. “I knew you were cheating on me and I wanted you in spite of it…”
Olayinka was crying inconsolably now. “I’m sorry…I’m sorry…” she said over and over again.
“Get well soon and leave.” He wiped the tears on his face and walked out of the room.
Olayinka limped back into the bedroom from the toilet and sat on the bed watching Effiong from the corner of her eye. She now realized that they had to solve their problems not just because of their children, she didn’t want their extended family members to be aware of her affair. There were people on both sides of the family who had sworn that their inter-tribal marriage would not work, she didn’t want to give them something to smirk about. Effiong was taking off his clothes getting ready to take his bath and she observed him, his strong arms and smooth fair skin, she let her eyes linger on his broad chest and remembered the many nights she had lain on it.