Don’t ever doubt it; that your whole life can change in a second, for good or even for the worse. One Thursday evening, Six months into my marriage, mine took a dive into the ground. I always thoughtTunji a wildcard, I could hardly help the lingering thought that I somewhat took a risk with my life by choosing to spend the rest of it with him. My biggest fear was about to pounce, a testament to what bad decision I had taken with Tunji.
I had returned from work two hours earlier than my husband that evening and like most evenings, I had to prepare dinner. Tunji always had me cook dinner.
“Dinner is the only realistic chance I get to have your meals. I won’t miss it for anything”. He had said this once when I asked him why he was insistent on home cooked dinners by me. Even though I had asked the question grudgingly, hoping to be relieved of the stress, that statement was enough to spur me on. I accepted the responsibility whole heartedly and put in everything I had into every dinner since then.
I searched out my phone from my busy bag and put a call through to Tunji as I took off my clothes. He didn’t pick up. I tried again.
“Juju dear. How are you?” Tunji spoke with his charming husky voice as he picked up the phone. He was very calm this particular evening, absolutely void of the life that accompanies his voice. But it wouldn’t be the first. He must be really tired I had thought to myself.
“I’m fine! Where were you? I’ve been calling!” I feigned anger.
“I’m sorry dear. I was away from my desk.” He was very quick to apologize.
“Alright dear. I just got home and I was wondering what you would like to have for dinner. Should I make Amala and Ewedu?” I asked.
It was his favorite and I was almost certain he was going to be fine with it, but I was about to be disappointed.
“Don’t bother yourself Juju dear. I have dinner sorted and I will be home soon okay?” he responded. This was the first red flag. It sounded strange to say the least. I skimmed through my mind wondering what was going on. Tunji had no culinary skills that I was aware of. Or was mine so unimpressive that he’d decided to do something about it? All sorts ran through my mind that I barely noticed I had gone tangible minutes without uttering a word. I snapped back to life when Tunji called my name a little louder than he’d been speaking all evening.
“Ojuolape!” he called. He only called my full name when my attention was desperately needed and this time, it definitely was.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “You’ve been quiet since I told you not to worry about dinner”
“I’m fine” I said trying to gather myself. “I am just wondering why….” I was going to raise my concerns when he cut me short.
“Come on Juju! You know I love it when you cook for me. Don’t overthink things. I’m just trying to be a romantic husband here” he joked.
I became a little less unsettled. I exhaled and smiled “so what are we having?” I asked.
“The surprise is part of the romance. Don’t ruin it for me” he answered.
Now I was all smiles. The worry had been swiftly substituted by anxiety. What was Tunji up to? I thought to myself.
“Okay o. let me take a bath and prepare for you then” I said hoping that was enough to get him started.
“That sounds great. See you soon.” He said quite coldly. I expected him to be more excited. Tunji wasn’t a stranger to wild thoughts and naughty phone conversations, but he had hung up before I could say anything else.
I resisted the temptation to re-think this plan for a romantic evening as I went in for a shower, put on the red lingerie I had reserved for special nights and from indications, this was looking like one. I looked out my bedroom window at the sound of my husband’s horn. I picked up my favorite fragrance; Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker and armed myself with it. I sprayed it behind my ears, smeared some on my inner wrists, and sprayed some on my neck, inner elbow and little on my chest before going to welcome my husband.
He dropped his briefcase and a Nylon bag presumably containing the surprise dinner at the sight of me. As I came close to him, he pulled me even closer with one hand slightly resting on my buttock, sniffed me audibly, smiled and kissed me. This is surely going to be good night, I thought to myself as I picked up the dinner and went to the kitchen to set up the table. We were having Chinese rice and shrimp sauce.
It didn’t take too long for me to realize that something wasn’t right. As we ate, I could tell Tunji was disturbed. He was in another world. It took him more time than normal to grant responses to my statements in what we could barely tag a conversation. He would often wander away from time to time. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I was tired of it and so I asked him on one of his voyages into wonderland.
“What is the matter?” he didn’t hear.
“Tunji!” I yelled. The sound of my loud voice and cutlery clashing with ceramic plates brought him back to me.
“What is going on here?” I demanded to know.
He looked at me and said, “Juju, I do not know how to tell you this.”
“Tell me what?” I was becoming apprehensive. I had no idea what was happening but one thing was certain; I was getting answers there and then.
“I love you Ojuolape, no matter what happens, always remember that.” He said reaching for my hands. I held his hands too as I concurred, trying to make him comfortable enough to spill whatever he was keeping from me. My anxiety was too visible.
“Tunji, will you tell me what the matter is?” I asked.
“Shola is pregnant and is due for delivery in a week’s time.” He muttered to me barely looking at me.
“Well…. Congratulations to her. But what still eludes me is why this is our business?” I responded a little clueless. He kept looking down at the food he had barely eaten. I felt my head go bald, suddenly feeling coldness on my scalp. It obviously could not be what I was thinking.
“Tunji! Is the baby yours?” I asked as if expecting him to refute the claims. He didn’t say a word. His gaze fixed at the unfinished food in his plate. I saw tears roll down his eyes. There was my answer.
“Tunji!” I yelled as I started to cry. “Answer me!” I screamed.
I had been married to Tunji for just 6 months and another woman is about to put to bed for him. It couldn’t be happening.
“Juju my love, it happened way before you and I” he said reaching for my shoulder in a bid to calm me down.
“Get your filthy hands of me!” I yelled before bombarding him with questions.
“Way before what?! You and I have been forever. So when is way before you and I Tunji? So you were still having sex with Shola all along? Before and after the Singapore trip? But why did it have to be her? What did I do wrong?”
I could barely hold myself as I broke down in tears. It was simple unfathomable wickedness. How could Tunji do this to me? Propose marriage to me when another woman had his child in her. Why would he string me along for this long? I felt betrayed; not just by Tunji but also by Shola who was supposed to be my friend.
I dashed for the bedroom. Tunji chased me but I locked the door before he could get in. he banged the door pleading with me to open. All he could hear was my helpless sob.
“It has nothing to do with you, it is all me. I was just not sure you wanted me for real. I felt played; the whole talk about your new lover, I wasn’t sure anymore.” He explained.
“Tunji Paul came way after your saga with Shola. You made me believe you guys were over.” I yelled back at him.
For some reason, I felt uncomfortable in my own home. I got up, found my car keys. I pulled the door open. Tunji fell flat on the floor; he had been leaning on the door pleading with me to open the door. I dashed to my car with Tunji trailing me, trying to stop me.
“Please do not leave Juju.” He pleaded as he walked briskly behind me. I paid no attention to him as I got into my car and sobbed some more on the steering. Where do I go from here? I thought to myself as I drove off. Five minutes after, I went back to the house, to our bed, laid down and slept.
4:30am the next morning, I got up, took a bath, dressed up and drove to work. It was really early, but it didn’t matter. I got to my desk and applied for a Digital Marketing course on Coursera. At 8am, I had finished two modules. At close of work, I stayed back and completed the six modules left, totally ignoring all Tunji’s calls and text messages. It was supposed to be an eight weeks course, but I done in a day. Then I packed my belongings and headed for the house.
It was dead late into the night, but I didn’t care. As I stepped into my apartment, Tunji was waiting on the couch. He was obviously worried but had definitely not found the courage to speak to me. I have to hand it to him though, because he was wise enough to know that talking wasn’t going to get him through this one. I just walked into our room, showered and slept off. 4:30am, I was up again, I began to clean, to scrub, to sweep. By 12:05pm, my house was sparkling clean. I put a call through to fifth Scent furniture company and asked that a four seater black leather couch be delivered to my apartment. I texted my pastor to inform him that I had couches to give away and we arranged for it to be moved from my apartment to the church.
I went on YouTube and researched the recipe on how to make Akpu and Bitterleaf soup, I called back fifth scent to inquire how many people will be delivering the couch and they said five of them. So I made a sumptuous Akpu and Bitterleaf soup, large enough for me, my husband and the five delivery men.
All through, Tunji stared at me. I wasn’t sure if it was fear or what I could see in his eyes, but I didn’t care. At the end of the day, everything was achieved: I had swapped my couch for new ones, blessed a family with a six month old couch and fed six men. I was happy. I was relevant.
4:30am on Sunday Morning, I was up again, I got dressed up for first service, which didn’t start until 7 am, but I didn’t care, I just needed activity. I needed to be busy. I could not afford idle moments.
“Why are you up so early?” Tunji asked, trying to clear his eyes.
“Today is Sunday Tunji, on Sundays, people go to church.” I replied him.
“I know that, but church doesn’t start till 9am Juju.” He responded.
“First service does.” I responded. I hadn’t afforded him as little as a wink since that unholy Thursday and this morning was no different.
“When did we start attending first service?” he enquired. “Please stop Juju, Are we going to talk about this?” he asked.
“No, I am not Tunji, I am just going to talk to my God, see you later.” I said to him in passing as I left the house.
I was in front of my church at 6am, I had volunteered to clean and arrange the church. As I was at it, I felt a tap, I looked up and it was Paul.
“When did you start coming to church this early? When did you join the sanitation and setup unit?” he asked with a wry smile.
“Today, I guess. How have you been? Paul, how has life been? Have you found the one?” I asked even if somewhere deep down, I hoped he hadn’t.
“It is you who needs to answer me. What is happening?” he threw the question right back at me.
“Walk with me Paul”, I said as I walked towards my car. When we got to my car, I leaned on it and broke down in tears. “I made the mistake of my life Paul.…”