He hugged her from behind, pulling her into the shadows. She wanted to say No but the words died in her throat. She wanted to push him away, slap him, anything to show she was a good Christian woman. Rather, she found herself wishing he would pick her up and carry her to his car, room, heck, even the bush. She just wanted to be alone with him.
Chike turned her to face him in the hidden corner, by the entryway and looked into her face. He saw that she was putting up no resistance and kissed her. Gently at first, then, deeply, till she melted at the knees. He began to unzip her gown, reaching for her bra strap, when she came to her senses. She pushed away from him, hurriedly ziping up her dress, wiping her face, and stumbling towards the exit. He let her go, smirking. There was no surprise. He had the tall girl to assuage his stirred emotions. She was a prop he brought along to provoke the reaction he got from ijeoma and he was glad to see it worked.
Ijeoma was in a daze as she walked to her car. She could not believe another man had provoked the kind of reaction Magnus used to elicit in the first few months of their marriage. It had been so long that she got this excited about a man. And she blamed it on Magnus. If he were more prayerful, a better provider, a better listener, more caring, less concerned about his autistic brother, she would not be in this position. He had succeeded in driving her into the arms of another man.
She was driving in a mix of emotions. Anger at Magnus, excitement at Chike’s touch. She pushed any twinges of guilt away. It was totally the fault of the man she married. Obviously, they were not compatible. She had missed the true bone of her bones. Chike understood her. He knew how to calm her, excite her, please her. Magnus only wanted to take and take and take. She banged her fists on her steering in frustration. The only solution was to ask for a divorce.
Already, they were living like strangers. They barely spoke, even though there was no quarrel. She also suspected he was having an affair. Judging by the amount of time he spent on his phone and that he deleted all his chats immediately. She had tried to snoop, but couldn’t find anything incriminating. The worst was that whenever she complained, people took sides with him because, she was more outspoken. Naturally, she was labelled ‘Shrew’.
At home, she parked and checked her face for any tell tale signs of the encounter with Chike, before alighting. Kevin and Jonah were spending the night at Ndidi’s. Under normal circumstances, this would have been a wonderful opportunity for them to rekindle the romance in their marriage. As things stood, she didn’t see it happening.
Magnus was in their bedroom, working on his laptop. She entered, said hello, and began to undress. He didn’t even turn to look at her when he acknowledged her greeting. Even when she left earlier, he had barely noticed her new dress, or hairdo. She fumed within her as she pulled off the dress she had bought specially for the night. At least someone had noticed. Someone had made her feel like a woman. Someone saw her for who she was and celebrated her.
As she stepped out of the shower and lay on the cold bed, she made up her mind. She would ask Magnus for a divorce as soon as possible. That way, she would be free to be pursued by Chike, without guilt or fear of societal criticism. She would tell him her decision, so he would chill with the pursuit. When the divorce was in motion, Chike would have all the freedom to chase her. And she would revel in his attention.
Regina was making purchases at a supermarket. She was torn between going home afterwards and seeing a movie. Ekene was attending an interdenominational fellowship, while Miriam was attending counseling sessions in Gateway. She missed her friends. Ekene had invited her to the fellowship but she declined. She had attended a number of times but felt there was nothing new.
Singles, abstain; Married women, submit. That was the message every speaker preached. No one talked of how lonely abstinence made you. Besides, her married friends told her that submission was over rated. It only made the man take you for granted. She had heard enough. It was time for God to give her a husband and stop the dilly dallying.
She spotted Magnus in another aisle and made her way towards him. She chose this particular supermarket because he mentioned he visited it occassionally to buy things for his mother. He was due to visit his family the next day, after service in Gateway.
“Hello, Magnus”, she called.
“Wow! What are you doing here?”,he asked.
“Just some weekend shopping”
“I didn’t know you shopped here”
“I decided to try it. You filled my ears with how much variety they have”, she laughed.
“Yeah. So how have you been……. Since the last 2 hours we chatted?”
“Good, I guess”
“You look smashing in red”, he eyed her form in appreciation.
“Really?” she did a spin.
He whistled. She laughed.
“I was going to catch a movie after shopping …” Regina mentioned.
“O, what is showing?”
“I’ll just watch the latest blockbuster. Not like I have anything to do at home. Miriam and Ekene are busy”
“How is she taking the counseling? I mean Miriam?” he asked, wheeling his trolley towards check out.
“She’s well……What can I say?” she shrugged.
“I admire her courage for confessing to Pastor”
“It was a smart move. I was against it but, now, I see it was the right thing to do. By the time the gossips notice and go to report her, she would already have won him over” Regina reasoned.
“I don’t see you getting into such a mess. You’re far too classy”
“Bodi no be firewood, sha”
“I just think you think things through before getting involved. Look how she was fooled. Falling in love with a married man who also impregnated 2 other girls? No, my Regina would never do that” he insisted.
“You flatter me”
“No flattery intended. Well, since I have time on my hands, I’ll go see the movie with you” Magnus offered.
“Yippee!” she yelled.
“Has anyone told you that you are awesome? How thoughtful of you!”
“Hey, just being a good friend. I couldn’t let you sit there all by yourself, could I?” he made a funny face at her.
She smiled as they pulled up at the check out counter.
Ndidi was at Elyon Interdenominational fellowship. She was in a small discussion group of 5 women who were between the ages of 28 and 45 years, married and single. They introduced themselves to each other. One person volunteered to lead.
“The topic is ‘Joy'”, Doris began. “I’ll read from the discussion guide. Joy is a fruit of the spirit: Explain”
“I think it means that joy is something we cannot manifest without walking in the spirit”, Ime volunteered.
“What does it mean to walk in the spirit?”, Doris probed.
There was a thoughtful interval.
“Walking in the spirit, means living a life submitted and obedient to the word of God”, Ndidi answered.
“Walking in the spirit means, being conscious that while we are in the world, we are not of the world. We are accountable to God, so we make the choice to be different”, Bose said.
“Great. So I’ll continue with the guide. ‘Who is responsible for our joy?'” Doris went on.
There was silence again as everyone thought carefully.
“We want our spouses, parents, jobs, friends, shoes, wallets, and more to supply and maintain our joy. Is it practical?” Doris asked.
“I think those things you mentioned can only make us happy. Joy is different from happiness”, Ime surmised.
“Aha! That leads to the question, What is the difference between joy and happiness? ” Doris asked.
“Happiness is temporary. Joy is deeper”, Ekene answered.
“Happiness is an emotion. Joy is a fruit of the spirit” Doris read, after nodding at Ekene. “While happiness is a feeling, Joy is spiritual. Can we throw more light on that?”
“I agree that happiness is a feeling. For instance, my husband can make me happy by buying me a bag I mentioned I like but, few minutes later, I find myself griping about him squeezing the toothpaste from the middle” Bose said.
“I so hate when men do that” Ime complained.
“You too?” Bose laughed. “After 10 years of marriage, you would think he would have changed”
“My sister, any woman hoping her man will change is a dreamer. You had better accept him like he is. Men are like babies”
“But, babies grow up and become adults” Ekene observed.
“True. Let us not get derailed. I think the valid point is that happiness is fleeting”, Doris said.
“I have a question”, Ndidi raised her hand.
“Yeah?” Doris nodded.
“Is it joy for you to be enduring behaviour you dislike?” she asked.
“Who wants to answer?” Doris looked around.
“Let me try”, Ekene raised her hand. “Joy is a state if mind. So long as the situation is not sinful or life threatening, we have the responsibility to remain joyful. We cannot force people to do what we want but we can refuse to let them steal our joy”
“Very good. Joy is a choice and Joy is our responsibility. I like that”, Doris nodded.
“Yes that is true”, Ime agreed.
“I’ll read from the guide. ‘Joy is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness (www.theopedia.com). The bible says ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’ . If you are in Christ, you have joy, you only need to stir it. And how do we stir it? Through Psalms and Hymns; making melody in our hearts to the Lord. By being thankful for what He has done and hopeful that He will do the rest” Doris paused and looked round the group.
Everyone was sober as they reflected on all the ways they had tried to achieve happiness all theirlives, neglecting the joy of the Lord.
*Bodi no be firewood : I also have emotions
TO BE CONTINUED