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No, he is just trying to get on my nerves. Boye is going to burst into laughter anytime now and spit in this liar’s face, I thought, glancing at Omoboye.
My face fell and I felt tears spring to my eyes at the look on her face. She looked ashamed, trapped, like she wished she could disappear.
‘Is it true?’ I asked.
She didn’t answer, her eyes just darted around the room.
Femi was sitting up, one hand held to his bleeding lip. He looked smug and his eyes shone with mirth. The room was quiet. They must all be waiting for Boye’s response.
I looked at her too and shook my head at the way she pleaded with her eyes.
So she wants me to cover her shame and do this in private? Oh, well, I shrugged. I could do that as long as she explained, but I made a decision there and then; if it was true, then it would be the last issue we would have. I was going to walk out of the marriage.
I grabbed her hand and made for the elevator. She followed, crying. Several whispers and chuckles trailed us as we walked out and at that moment I wanted to cry.
Why did I marry this woman?
I must have said it aloud because her sobs escalated into wails.
This is it. Jite will divorce me. There is just no way around it. No sane man will want me after this. Yes, this man loves me but seriously how much more can he take?
I sobbed as the elevator went up but I started wailing when I heard him say, ‘Why did I marry this woman?’
He had never said that. At least I never heard him say it. Not even when we were neck deep in the abortion issue.
I wiped my tears when we entered the room. It was time to talk. I had no choice; my best kept secret was finally going to come out.
‘Now start from the beginning and don’t hold anything back this time,’ he said.
‘Okay Jite. I promise I will tell you all,’ I said meekly.
‘Look at you. You know I really want to hate you now. I thought you were a Queen, I treated you like one, I thought you were decent.’ He paused and I saw tears cascade down his cheeks.
My heart broke at his tears. He doesn’t cry. He had told me several times that only weak men cry and that he was a real man who knew how to keep his tear ducts dry and grieve without wasting body fluids. And here he was, crying.
He sobbed for over three minutes and I engaged myself in a debate trying to decide on what to do.
Boye, move close to him, console him.
Oh no. I can’t do that. This man is mad enough to slap me if I do.
Okay. Tell him you are sorry. Tell him what happened, that it wasn’t intentional and why you never told him.
That won’t solve anything; it will sound like bullshit to him.
So what do you want to do? Allow him to finish crying and tell you to expect his lawyer?
No. Start crying too.
That was the option I took. Why didn’t I think of that earlier, why did I stop crying? Of course that’s the thing to do. Join him in the sobbing.
And so I started sobbing too. They were not fake tears; I was feeling real pain, pain that the nightmare was starting all over again, pain that I was making my husband hurt so bad, pain at the stories that were bound to show up in blogs and newspapers, pain that my life was totally out of my control.
My weeping got louder as images of what Femi referred to flashed across my eyes. Wounds I had thought were healed reopened making my heart bleed the more.
I was licking my lips, kneading my breasts with one hand while rubbing my hair with the other. A recurring laughter resounded in my ears and when I wasn’t licking my lips, I was laughing too and then I was crying out from pleasure, sinking my fingers into his collar bone and tightening my thighs around his waist. Femi’s eyes were shuttered, his mouth open, strangled noises coming out of his mouth, and then suddenly we were both quiet, the laughter stopped, the moaning stopped, the silence was marred only by the splat splat sound of skin slapping against skin and then the sound of Femi’s cry as he came mixing with the farts that came out of me in succession. The combination was almost musical and made our lone audience start laughing again.
‘Omoboye, what is wrong with you? Are you fine?’
I heard his voice from somewhere far. I opened my eyes and felt him touching my forehead.
‘Boye, what is it? What were you thinking of that made your eyes look like that?’
‘I am fine,’ I murmured, looking into his eyes.
‘You are not, you looked like you were about to pass out, like something was torturing your mind.’
‘I want to forget it. I am not sure I am strong enough to talk about it yet,’ I said
‘You can forget about it after you have told me. I won’t let you hide whatever it is from me again.’
‘What happened between you and Femi?’
‘What did he do to you?’
‘Jite, please I want to forget.’ I said, gripping his shoulders. ‘Help me forget, love me, I need to shake these images off. Please replace them. You may walk away after that. I won’t blame you, but please help me shake these images off.’
‘No, Boye. Snap out of this. Calm down and talk to me. What happened?’
‘Give me a minute,’ she said, rushing to the bathroom. I heard her retching and debated whether to go in and check on her or not.
What was wrong with her? Guilt? No. There had been something else in her eyes. Fear? Pain? Regret? Shame? Anguish? And the way tears had been cascading down her face, the way her eyes had been wide open but unseeing…was she acting?
Is she even now composing a lie to tell me? No, that can’t be. Omoboye isn’t capable of that. Or is she?
‘I am ready,’ she announced when she entered the room.
She sat on the bed facing me and I couldn’t help noticing how pale her face was.
No, she is not acting, I decided. She had something to tell me and it would be the truth.
‘What I am about to tell you is something I have always liked to think was a dream. I can’t even explain how I was able to convince myself that it was; I just know I push it back into the recesses of my mind every time I think of it.’
‘Boye, quit the drama and say what you have to say,’ he said. I could sense he was impatient and getting irritated too.
I nodded, then yanked the blanket off the bed and covered my body with it.
‘Your ex-boyfriend? What about him?’
‘Okay. It happened when I was dating him.’
‘What I am about to tell you.’
‘What are you about to tell me and how does it have anything to do with Dapo?’
‘I will get to that. Please Jite, just allow me to explain. The only way I can explain it is by starting from the beginning.’
‘Take your time then. I am all ears.’
‘It was his birthday. That was July 5, 2004. We had just made up having recently broken up as we used to do every other month. This time, it had been because he cheated on me with one of my cousins. I had been determined that I wasn’t going to have anything to do with him again but he managed to change my mind. He told me I was his conscience and his life would be destroyed without me. I felt like his messiah and so I accepted him back.’
‘It was a small party; just a few friends and colleagues. I played the role of the supportive girlfriend; ensuring the guests ate to their satisfaction and that everything went on fine. Dapo had told me he wanted Femi to cover the event. Even then, Femi was quite expensive but I managed to convince him to do it as a favour for me.’
’I was supposed to spend the night with him so I was still there when everyone started leaving. Femi wanted to leave when the party thinned out but Dapo said no, that he wanted him to do a photo shoot for us. I was excited and even thought that perhaps he was planning to propose.’
‘I was naive and stupid,’ I added in a low tone. I wasn’t looking at Jite’s face despite the fact that I could feel his on mine. I didn’t want to see what I was sure would be there. Disgust.
‘So?’ He asked, prompting me to continue.
‘So we did the photo shoot. It was fun; Dapo was at his very best, attentive and very loving. I was in high spirits too still hopeful that a proposal was in the works. After the shoot, he brought out a bottle of wine, said it was the best and that he saved it for both of us but he would however love for Femi to join us. He poured each of us a glass and we took the drinks.’
‘I didn’t know I was drugged, I just realized that after a while Femi and I got cuddly, with Dapo encouraging us. I even remember asking Dapo if he wasn’t going to be annoyed if I kissed Femi and he replied saying, ‘Why would I? I would love to see that.’
Although I wasn’t looking at Jite, I could feel him perspiring.
‘And then I kissed Femi. The rest is still a blur or maybe it feels like that because I always prevent my mind from thinking about it. I just remember I was acting like I was drunk only it was worse than being drunk, I was not in control of me, I was wanton, pushing myself against Femi and the strange thing was that he was responding too.’
‘Stop, Boye. Please stop. That’s enough.’
I couldn’t listen anymore, yet I wanted to listen.
Who did I marry?
How come she had this sort of history and I never even had a clue? How did she manage to not mention this?
I wanted to cry. She wasn’t done but my mind knew whatever she still had to say was going to hurt me more than what she had already said. I wanted to save myself the agony but still I felt like I needed to know everything.
She looked pale, sick even. I knew whatever it was that she went through must have been traumatic but I needed to hear more. She shivered occasionally despite the fact that she was covered with a blanket and yet was sweating as much as I was.
‘Continue, I need to hear more.’
‘Somehow we started having sex.’
‘You and who?’
‘Femi and I. I didn’t know what I was doing; I just knew I was enjoying it. It was as if I stood and was watching my own body do those things. At that moment it felt like the only thing I ever wanted to do and not even seeing Dapo sitting on an arm chair laughing and blowing on his cigarette changed my mood. He was there throughout and even cheered us on at some point and then when Femi was done, he took over.’
‘Oh my God! No!’ Jite screamed, standing up.
‘Those bastards! Did you report to the police? Of course, you didn’t. Why am I asking? But why Boye, why didn’t you lodge a complaint? Was it because you enjoyed it? Ehn.?’
‘Ehn, was it because you enjoyed it?’ He repeated, shaking me with his hands.
‘Stop it Jite. You think I stood a chance? Do you think I even wanted to go through the trauma of letting everyone know what happened? It wasn’t until later that I even knew I had been drugged and it wasn’t just me. Femi too.’
‘The next morning, Dapo sat us down and, laughing at the bewildered look on our faces, told us he drugged us both with Ecstasy. When I asked why, he said something that haunts me to this day.’
‘You are too good for your own good Omoboye. You need to do bad from time to time. I hate your sanctimonious guts, I always have.’
‘That wasn’t all. He said he hated that I always made him feel so guilty for cheating on me and for not being a good boyfriend and that I always reminded him of the sacrifices I made for him and how he was my first and only.’
‘Boye, I needed to spoil you. He said. ‘At least now, you can’t say I am the only one you have slept with anymore. I needed to make you have something on your conscience too.’
‘He said he tried to push me into cheating too but I was too wrapped up in self-righteousness to cheat even if only for revenge.’
‘And then he apologized to Femi, saying he was just an unfortunate pawn. You needed to be there Jite, to see the smug look on his face, to see the…’
My voice broke at that point and for the first time in six years, I allowed myself to relive and mourn those moments.
I wanted to commit murder. Any resentment I felt towards Omoboye was gone, replaced with a fierce sense of protectiveness.
‘Boye, why didn’t you trust me enough to tell me?’
‘How could I? I needed you to see me as me, not as a victim of abuse. I needed you to love me. I wasn’t sure you would still love me if you knew all that happened. Besides the closer we got, the harder it was to tell.’
‘Was Femi aware of his plans?’
‘No, he was a victim like me. Dapo likes playing silly games just for the fun of it. He wanted to make me pay for always making him look like the bad guy and for leaving him so he wooed me back with the intention of punishing me.’
‘I am going to kill the bastard.’
‘God forbid. You won’t be a killer.’
‘No, I am not a killer but he is going to die. I swear by my late father’s head. He is a dead man.’
‘No, Jite please don’t say that. I have left him to God. All that matters to me right now is that you are not so angry with me anymore.’
‘God, I can’t believe you went through something like this. But why would that idiot say that about you knowing that what happened was not something you did in your right senses? Which brings me to another question; why did you continue to work with him?’
‘I really don’t know why Femi has been the way he’s been since we got here but I think he said what he said because he wanted to hurt me for telling you, and he probably was jealous that we were still cool with each other in spite of the fact that I told you.’
‘I guess,’ Jite replied, shrugging.
‘As for working with Femi, I didn’t really have a choice. As you know after we did the Beauty Magic competition in which our pieces were both chosen, one of the terms of the prize and our contract was that we had to work together whenever Beauty Magic had their pageants/fashion shows, which is like every other two months. So basically despite what happened I knew I was stuck with him for the five years of our contract. I could have cut ties with him after that but somehow we got past it and managed to keep up a professional relationship. He never acted inappropriately; we never even talk about it as he had been mortified about it as well.’
‘But he must have been nursing some feelings for you. It’s the only explanation for what he did tonight. Anyway, I want you to enter the bathroom now and take a shower. Rest well because we will be leaving for Lagos very early tomorrow morning. I have some business I need to take care of.’
Perhaps it was something about the way he said the ‘I have some business I need to take care of’. I just knew it had something to do with Dapo. I didn’t say anything, I just resolved to stay close to him and ensure he did nothing stupid.
When I came out of the bathroom, he was still sitting in the same spot, staring ahead.
‘He is the one who impregnated Boladale,’ I said before I could stop myself. ’He basically used that girl too. Looking back now I am thinking he might even have used Ecstasy on her too,’ I added, wondering why it never occurred to me before.
‘Tell me what he did to her. Everything.’
When I was done, he said:
‘Another reason for the bastard to die.’