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Some questions are not meant to be answered and most times the questioner knows the one who is being questioned does not have to answer. Some other questions, however, are meant to be answered and most times both the questioner and the one being questioned know it. The latter usually proved the hardest questions to answer; the type of questions whose answers stuck to the roof of one’s mouth; hard to spit out, yet harder to hold in.
Omoboye’s question had to be answered. She also expected it to be answered, only I couldn’t answer not because I didn’t know the answer but because the question both enraged and hurt me. It told me in clear terms that I was neither forgiven nor trusted. To be fair, it was only natural. I shouldn’t expect to be trusted and forgiven just like that. Omoboye wasn’t God, was she? Even God has to be beseeched to not remember one’s sins. My only wish was that she would talk to me about the bitterness or pain that might be left in her heart but it was as though there was a wall; a very thick one that stood between us.
It is funny how our roles became reversed in such a short while, I thought. Just a few weeks before, I had been the one who refused to forgive, and just when I let go of my resentment and anger, Omoboye brought her own issues to fore.
She didn’t repeat the question and when I dropped her off, there were no hugs, no “Enjoy your day dear”. Nothing. Just Omoboye slamming the door and me driving off ignoring my better judgment’s advice to run to her and reassure her.
He didn’t answer my question. Bisade must be pregnant. That was what I kept thinking as I walked into my makeup studio. There was work to be done. My students were there waiting. They were supposed to have a practical session but I rescheduled it and locked myself up in my tiny office.
Anger coursed through my veins. I wanted so desperately to call him, to vent all the anger that I felt. I wanted to curse Bisade to her face but I didn’t even know where she lived; I didn’t know where she worked. I knew next to nothing about her. I decided I could go home and rummage through some stuff and see if I would find the information I needed somewhere.
I left the studio so blinded with the hurt and rage in my heart that I didn’t even tell anyone where I was going and when I would be back. I entered the first cab that stopped for me and surprised myself by snapping at the driver when he kept saying Aunty, Ajah is 2,500 from here o. I wanted to give him a long lecture about how it wasn’t my first time of going to Ajah and how I knew there were a lot of imbeciles like him who charged that much for a 15 minutes’ drive. But I managed to restrict myself to just saying. “Move this thing abeg”.
Getting home , I entered our bedroom and looked around not knowing exactly what it was that I was looking for but I knew Jite had a box filled with papers on the top of our wardrobe. I decided to start my search from there.
The box was filled with letters, printed e-mails, photo albums, greeting cards and some note books. I told myself I had a right to go through my husband’s stuff and so I began to read the letters. They evoked several emotions in me and before I knew it I had forgotten the pain I felt and the real reason for the search. Some of them made me laugh, some made me turn up my face in disgust and going through some, I felt pangs of jealousy. There were too many girls, some of them were familiar names but majority were names I had never heard of. Jite and I had shared stories about exes while we were dating. He had told me there were too many to talk about but had mentioned the names of the notable ones.
I had what could pass for fun until I reached a blue envelope that had the word that had been giving me nightmares written on it in Jite’s handwriting. ‘SKIPPER’.
I sat up immediately I saw it and began to open the envelope with shaky hands. It was filled with pictures taken in several cities of the world. Whoever you are, Skipper, you are one heck of an Ajala the Traveler, I murmured, going over pictures with backgrounds like the Burj Al Arab, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty…there were about sixteen pictures in all and Skipper looked exquisite in all of them. The pictures all had an inscription on the far right corner; ‘Love. Skipper’
Who is Skipper, I asked for what was could very well be the thousandth time.
Why not ask Jite?
Why ask him?
For your peace of mind, for your sanity, is it not better and easier to ask?
No, I don’t think I want to know.
Still, I want to know, I admitted to myself with a sigh.
Skipper was beautiful; I had to admit that even though it was painful. I stared at the photo she took in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower. I wondered how anyone could be that beautiful and why Jite had never mentioned her. Was she that special? She must be. He had even created a different envelope for her pictures. I stared at the pictures for another fifteen minutes trying to find a flaw – a crooked or broken tooth? Knock knees? Dark spots? I found nothing. There must be a flaw somewhere, I concluded. No one could be this perfect.
I didn’t stop looking for faults until the words of the text message I read in Zanzibar and their implication jumped into my mind. Skipper was in Lagos and she didn’t know Jite was married; she hadn’t wished him a happy married life. I obsessed over that for a while before other thoughts set in. Those calls that he took in private, which always turned out to be from Skipper…could it be they were already meeting? She must have told him she called and sent a message, how come he didn’t ask why they went missing on his phone? What does Skipper want from my man?
Bisade is not pregnant, at least not for me. Like I told you earlier, we used protection. That’s not the only reason I know though. I have spoken to her after we came back from Zanzibar. I know I promised not to have anything to do with her again, but I felt like I needed to see her, I felt I needed to know there were no ill feelings. It was just important for me to apologize to her because I feel like I used her. In case you are wondering, we didn’t do more than talk.
She assured me I was forgiven. Once again, I am sorry for this mess we are in. It was all my fault. If only I had forgiven you at the very beginning. My behavior was inexcusable. Omoboye I am sorry and I love you. Even in all this madness, I still love you. I must also add that I meant it when I said we should slow down on the pregnancy thing. I want you first before any other thing, and I mean it when I say it won’t matter if we never have children. I would still love you. We would adopt fifteen kids or whichever number you wish. Just don’t lose yourself in this mess. Let’s be happy babe.
Your Husband and Lover
The idea of giving her a note sounded like what a coward would do and I had a feeling that Omoboye would feel the same way. Why did I find it so hard to talk to Omoboye about stuff? I wondered as I slipped the letter in my pocket. I knew it would be better to say those things to her face but I didn’t want to see the disbelief and distrust in her eyes. I could only hope that when she read it, she would think about it and believe me.
I wanted to burn the pictures along with Jite’s box but I felt that would be too dramatic. My mind was in turmoil and the unanswered questions kept revolving around it. Who was Skipper and what was the urgent thing she needed to discuss with Jite? After over an hour of thinking about Skipper, I decided to leave the house. I didn’t want to face Jite, not with the way I was feeling.
I also wanted him to suffer, wondering what could be going on in my mind.
I packed a bag and left for my parents’ place. I knew Mum would want to ask why I wanted to sleep over at their place and I had a story ready. Jite was out of town.
I will be at my parents’ place. I will tell Mum you travelled. It shouldn’t be for long. I need to clear my head. We should talk when I get back. I would appreciate if you don’t come to the house or try to tell Mum what is really happening. Take care.
I read the note for the third time and afterwards placed the one I drafted for her beside it. I wrote her a note, she wrote me a note. Only hers got delivered while mine couldn’t reach her. Are things this bad? I wondered. Why would Omoboye leave my house to clear her head in her father’s house? Did she not know how wrong that was? Every responsible and wise woman knew how wrong it was to leave her husband alone like this. I felt anger well up in me as I looked around the house, checking for things she might have packed to help give a clue on how long she might be gone. The wardrobe looked untouched; I could barely notice that anything was missing. That is a good sign, I thought, hopeful that it would be for just a few days.
Being at my parents’ place wasn’t fun; that was the reason I stopped living with them after graduating from the university. My mother was too bossy, too judgmental.
She had snorted when I told her Jite was out of town and I didn’t want to stay alone, murmuring something about how the matter that a man says Baba must not hear about would eventually be settled by Baba. I had ignored her, pretending I didn’t hear her words.
As if my life wasn’t complicated enough already, something interesting happened: the day I got to my parents’ place, I stumbled on ‘I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant’.
The evening had been going on quite normally. Mum usually slept before 9pm, and on days when Dad wasn’t around- which was usually five days in a week given that he worked in Ibadan- she went to bed by 8pm. After Mom slept, I saw a movie until 11pm and turned in for the night but I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning.
At first I thought it was because the air conditioning had made the room too cold. It took me a while to realise it was something different, something that brought tears to my eyes. I was missing my husband. It’s amazing how something you have done all your life suddenly becomes alien. Before marriage, I had slept alone without any discomfort, but there I was without my husband for just one night and all I could think of was how soothing it would be to have him beside me.
After two hours of trying to sleep, I went back to the sitting room. I began to scan the stations to see if there was any programme that would interest me, and it was while flipping through the channels that I saw ‘I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant’. In a different state of mind, I would have hissed and waved it off as a very ludicrous program. The kind which tries to insult one’s intelligence instead I sat riveted in my seat fascinated about what I was seeing. The cases the programme featured were a bit different from mine but the similarities were still obvious to me. These were women who didn’t know they were pregnant until the day they started having contractions. One of the cases I watched that night was someone whose baby just dropped on the floor of their sitting room. I was excited. Perhaps I was pregnant after all. The only difference was I suspected I was pregnant while they never had a clue.
Their belly size didn’t increase, while mine was increasing. They didn’t have symptoms while I was having symptoms. Still I was glad to see the programme. Perhaps my contractions would just start one day and my baby would drop too. If I was pregnant, it would be around two months. That is too early for other people to notice, isn’t it? I thought excitedly. I slept happy after that, confident that I was truly pregnant and ignoring the tiny part of me that was still in doubt.
I didn’t talk to Omoboye until the third day after she left the house. It wasn’t because I wanted to honour her wishes and not call. It was because I couldn’t. Her phones were switched off and I know she would be upset if I called her Mum. I knew very well how much she hated people thinking there was anything wrong with her life. When the call went through, I didn’t ask why she switched off or why she didn’t contact me, I just asked how she was doing.
She assured me she was fine and would be home soon.
‘Jite, I feel much better now,’ she said. I should be home in two days’ time. There is so much we need to talk about when we see. I have some questions I need answers to.’
‘How about I come to your Mum’s place?’
‘No, you can’t do that. She would wonder why. She already suspects that we have issues.’
‘Okay. I understand. But Boye, why don’t you just come home today. I have missed you so much. This house is empty without you.’
‘I hear you Jite, but I would like to stay for two more days. However, there is an option. You could come around late this night and say you had to cut your trip short. Make sure it’s really late so that we can say we would rather sleep over instead of going back to the house.’
‘That’s okay with me Boye. I can do that.’
‘Jite…’ She called in a tone that made my heart skip a beat.
‘Yes love,’ I answered, half hoping she would say ‘I love you’.
‘We would be sleeping in separate rooms and please don’t ask me why.’
With that, she ended the call. I didn’t have a chance to respond; I am sure I would have asked how she intended explaining our sleeping in different rooms to her mother. But still, I know I wouldn’t miss the opportunity for anything in the world. My body, mind and soul had missed my wife. I needed to see her even it meant having to grant her wishes no matter how ridiculous.
After Jite and I spoke, I decided it was time to talk to Boladale. Although I hadn’t deleted her from my contact lists on Blackberry Messenger and my phone, I wasn’t picking her calls; neither was I acknowledging her messages.
I called her up that afternoon and informed her I would like to see her. She asked if I would like to come to her office and I said I would prefer if we met at a Sweet Sensation outlet close to her office. We both agreed to meet by 3.00pm. She was already there when I entered. She stood up to hug me as soon as she saw me and I hugged her back. It was a bit awkward but I smiled at her. I needed her to think we were cool. Besides she looked so strained and disheveled.
‘Babe, what’s up? How is married life? I don’t even need to ask, I can see you are glowing!’
Something about our friendship had changed. Before the pregnancy issue Boladale and I could talk for hours about just anything, but there we were acting like two siblings who were meeting for the first time.
‘I’m fine Bola. I’m sorry I wasn’t picking your calls, I was just so annoyed with you but I am past that now. I don’t want to sacrifice our friendship because of something so trivial.’
‘Thank you Boye. Thank you. This makes me feel so much better.’
‘It’s okay. No problems at all.’ How are you, you are not looking very well Bola. Kilode?
‘Hmm Boye, I know I am not looking well. ’, she sighed. I didn’t tell you everything the other day. A lot has happened and I want to tell you now but promise me you will forgive me.’
‘Bola, I can’t make a promise when I don’t know what’s involved.’
‘Omoboye, please promise me.’ She said tears pooling in her eyes.
‘Boladale, I can’t promise you.’
‘Hmm, either way I just have to say it. I have to lift this terrible burden off my shoulders. When I am done saying this, Boye you can kill me and I would deserve it.’
‘Boladale, what is it that you have to say?’ I asked in an impatient tone surprising myself.
‘Remember when I said the father of my unborn baby is a married colleague? I didn’t mention that he is someone close to you. Someone very close to you.’
I shivered, a sudden cold enveloping me. It was as though a bucket of chilled water was poured on me. ‘Someone close to me, someone very close to me. Someone that is your colleague…’ I murmured.
‘No! Boladale! You didn’t!’ I shrieked, flying out of my seat as comprehension set in.