Click HERE for previous episodes.
My eyes were bloodshot, a far cry from what you would expect from a new bride. I stood up from the bed, stretched and went to the wardrobe to get my makeup bag.
Subtlety is the key and I knew that. No one expects a ‘just waking look’ to show traces of makeup. So I applied a little foundation to conceal the bags under my eyes, and a hint of black eye shadow to give a smoky look. I returned the kit to the wardrobe, and returned to place myself carefully beside Jite. I paused for a minute to adjust the settings on the camera. Shutter sound and flashlight off, I placed my head on Jite’s chest and took the picture.
He didn’t rouse from sleep at all. I understood that he needed to sleep after the stressful day we had. I used the picture as my BBM display and put the message;
‘First day of forever! Bliss…hitched and ecstatic.’
The Yoruba people will say two people cannot be deceived at the same time. If the person who is being lied to doesn’t know, the person who is lying knows he is lying. I felt no guilt over the deception. I was miserable but the world didn’t have to know.
Who would see the message and imagine that we had both gone to bed after a shouting match that people two rooms away could have heard?
I had surprised myself with the D-word. It was unplanned but I was totally out of control.
He had burst out in laughter immediately I mentioned divorce.
‘Omoboye, please don’t make laugh. I am not in the mood for laughter. You? Divorce? You won’t do that Honey. You love public approval too much for that. You would sooner die than face the stigma of divorce, especially so soon.’
‘Oh, you think I won’t abi? Keep this attitude up. See if I won’t. I don’t think you realize how much I wish I could be out of this room, out of this marriage, out of it all.’
‘Who brings novels to their honeymoon? Why are we even having the honeymoon anyway? We might as well not bother. You could tell your mum to keep her money, that we don’t need it. Tell her we are the worst couple that ever existed, that we don’t deserve favours. Tell her who your wife really is; tell her what you really think of me, make sure you include how you think I’m a vile, vain, baby-killing monster!’
‘I’m glad you know what you are.’
‘You are glad I know what I am?’ I shrieked.
I grabbed a pillow and hurled it at him, indignation rising within me. ‘You are glad I know what I am?’
‘How dare you even judge me? It’s not like you didn’t misbehave too. Have you even apologized to me for one minute for what you did with that Cripple?’
I waited for him to respond but he didn’t. Instead he turned his back to me.
I knew I had struck a nerve.
He didn’t talk to me for the rest of the night.
The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was Omoboye in front of the wardrobe, a travelling box in front of her. She looked good, and I allowed my eyes to feast on her. She took good care of herself and it showed; butterscotch skin, hairless legs which she waxed every other week, a well-rounded bottom – the result of numerous hip exercises. She was an attractive woman and she knew it.
The night dress formed a perfect silhouette for her curvy hips. I could tell she was wearing nothing underneath and I felt my body harden just looking at her. Vintage me would have drawn her close and we would have had a mutually satisfying tango under the sheets, but I couldn’t afford to do that as much as I wanted to at that moment. She would take it to mean we were cool and I wasn’t ready for that.
It dawned on me that this was our first morning together as a married couple and I wanted to say something; good morning, hello, or whatever it was that newlyweds said to each other the morning after, but somehow my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was still too bitter about her mentioning my slip to even greet her.
She shouldn’t have mentioned anything about Bisade. She crossed the line with that and she knew it.
It’s not like I planned for what happened to happen.
Bisade was a dear friend and a confidant. We had never shared any intimacy beyond talking, but that changed the day Omoboye killed my baby.
I had gone to Bisade’s place straight from Boye’s apartment, and I told her what Boye did. She had been aghast at the extent of Boye’s vanity and had offered her comfort.
See, Bisade was not someone I was attracted to or someone I ever thought I could have anything beyond friendship with. Ours was that type of boy-girl friendship that put proponents of ‘a man and a woman can never be just friends’ to shame.
Our friendship started right from university. We studied the same course and shared a desk for the four years we spent in school. I never had any romantic feelings for her and she didn’t seem to have any for me either. We both understood that we were always going to be just friends. I was her champion, the one who fought anyone who looked down on her. She had a bad case of Polio Mellitus as a child and so couldn’t walk without crutches. My friends would tease me to no end; they even gave me the nickname ‘Oko aro’. The girls I dated were always initially uncomfortable with our friendship but they usually came around once they realised she wasn’t a threat, and some even made friends with her.
Boye was different however. She hated Bisade from the first time they met and would always call her a Cripple. The label annoyed me and she knew it. I stopped complaining when I realized that the more I showed my displeasure at the term, the more she used it.
Bisade was only supposed to comfort me that day but even now I can’t seem to remember how things got out of hand. I just know they did and somehow we ended up having sex.
I felt dirty and soiled afterwards. We had been in such a hurry that we didn’t even remember to get naked. I had ended up with shiny pieces of her sequined dress glued to several parts of my body. It took one whole agonizing and guilt filled hour to get them off my skin. The mistake I made, unfortunately, was not getting them off my shirt and trousers and that was where Omoboye discovered them two weeks later. Shiny little snitches! Her question had been so gentle and direct that I couldn’t even think up a story fast enough and so I had told her the truth and made sure to blame it on her. She took it stoically then and I had been relieved.
That morning, however, I blamed myself for having a big mouth. I didn’t have to confess. I could have kept my mouth shut and retained the exclusive right to be indignant. Now not only did she have something to hold over me, my friendship with Bisade was also destroyed. I wouldn’t dare to even wave at her if there was a chance Omoboye would know.
Jite was even more withdrawn than the previous day. I knew he was sulking about my reference to his Cripple. I knew what I was doing when I mentioned it. It was meant to remind him he wasn’t all that holy either.
I hadn’t allowed myself to dwell so much on the issue. I willed myself to focus on making things better between us. I convinced myself that I deserve what happened; but that didn’t stop me from being pained. I don’t know what hurts most, that he cheated on me or that he did it with a Cripple.
However I was ready to sheath my sword. I wanted us to show some warmth to each other. After all, Zanzibar was a beautiful place, one I had always dreamt of going to. I had no desire to have an unhappy time there. Besides what’s a Honeymoon without the Honey?
I watched as he sat up on the bed and decided to hug him. I was the woman here, right? I should be the one to swallow my pride and reach out. Yes I aborted our child, I told him and then he cheated. I should still overlook the cheating right? Yes, I should forgive him and make the marriage work, I decided. I was sure Mum would agree with that.
I could almost hear her voice in my head.
‘Omoboye, it’s a man’s world. If a man cheats on you, you forgive. Besides you caused it. If you had not done what you did, he would not have had reason to go to the girl.’
I went to sit beside him and hugged him. It was a one sided hug, his hands remained with him. I said ‘good morning husband’, and he replied with a gruff ‘good morning wife’ and disentangled himself from my embrace.
Ish. “I tried,” I murmured, swinging my hips as I walked to the bathroom.
I hate flying. Maybe it’s because I am always scared about how the plane could easily crash. I glanced sideways at Jite; his face was still sporting a dark frown. I felt sad, wondering how men could be so different from women.
Did it not occur to him that all this drama could end in a split second, that the plane could crash and we would both be gone forever? Did he not know that life was too short to live it in acrimony? My mind went to the crash that happened only months before. Who knows if one of the numerous couples that died in the crash had been fighting? How would they have felt when the plane developed problems? Would they have quickly apologized to each other, suddenly remembered how much they loved each other and hugged till death came?
Oh Omoboye stop thinking of death, I chided myself.
Think of Zanzibar, of sand, of beaches, of six course dinners under the stars, of belly dancers, of hammocks and beautiful nights spent entwined.
Static. It was hard to picture myself and Jite entwined without pink packets of condoms clouding my vision.
A wicked smile curved my lips as I thought of the condoms.
He would have a fit when he realizes they are gone. Tucked under the mattress where a lucky cleaner would find them.
There was no way I was going to have a condom-filled honeymoon. Not when Mum’s threat if I failed to conceive before our first anniversary still haunted me.
The idea had come out of the blues. No condom means I get pregnant and when I get pregnant, husband calms down. Everything goes back to normal and we live happily ever after. Phew! A smug smile brightened my face as I placed my head on Jite’s shoulders.