Regina looked from one friend to another, realizing that they were quite serious.
“I am disappointed. This is the price of confiding in false friends”, she muttered.
“This is the price of dating married men, you meant to say” Miriam corrected.
“You should know, from experience”, Regina snickered.
“You can’t even mock me. I went into my error, with my eyes open. At the time, I had given up hope on finding a husband. So having a child on my own, seemed to be the best option”, Miriam replied.
Regina made a hissing sound and got up to stomp out.
Ekene restrained her. “Pick your things first. We have said what we wanted to say. There is no need to walk out” she said.
“When you are threatening me?”
“We are serious about what we said but, we will stand with you, not against you”, Ekene said soberly.
“I don’t think I can stay”
“Not even for my ofe nsala?” Ekene teased.
“I pounded yam” Miriam announced.
“You? Lazy bones?” Regina pointed at her.
“I am working on my domestic skills” Miriam made a face.
Ekene drew Regina back to her seat and took her bag from her, setting it down.
“Now, where were we? Did you see the miu miu bag?” she went on.
Ijeoma was watching a programme on TV when Magnus came home. It was a Saturday and the kids were spending the day at her sister’s house. She had promised to drop them off, after they attended a party with their cousins. Magnus came in, closing the door behind him. She ignored him.
“Good afternoon, Ij”, he greeted.
She made a hissing sound.
“Can’t you even respond? You won’t say a word to me. Am I not your husband?”, he flung his keys on the table and sank into the sofa, beside her.
She got up to put more distance between them.
“Am I chasing you away?”, he mocked.
“It seems your girlfriend is out of town? “, she spat.
“I don’t have any girlfriend”
“Where are you coming from?”
“I had a meeting”
“You must think I am hare -brained! Her perfume is all over you”, She accused.
He raised his arm to smell his sleeve.
“What perfume?” he asked.
“I bet she uses Channel No 5?”
He kept his face expressionless.
“God knows I have been a good wife to you”
“Did you cook anything?”, he interrupted her rant.
“The food I have been cooking, did you give me money for it? Have you asked about the children’s fees? Yet, you never forget to send money to Chibuike” She raised her voice.
“I’m sorry. Send me the full details of what you spent and I will repay you. I will eat now, if you cooked”
“I did not cook. Ndi fed me when I dropped the kids off”
“Okay, let me cook some noodles, then”, he rose to his feet.
She made a hissing noise and turned away. He went into the kitchen.
“This one he is talking to me, I hope he is not planning to try anything this night cause I will so shout at him!”, she muttered.
Justin and Magnus were at a friend’s house. The election had held and their candidate had lost. Dotun was the one who introduced them to the gubernatorial candidate. He had hoped to clinch a position on the cabinet, in return for his support.
“Those boys are bad boys. They rigged the election. I tell you, they used Federal might”, Dotun complained loudly.
A steward was pouring him a drink
“Na wa O!” Justin agreed. Magnus nodded.
“We will fight them. The people gave us their mandate. Blood will flow, you watch out”, he boasted.
Magnus and Justin nodded.
“Can you imagine that idiot, Kola, who did not build a single road in our state in his day, winning? He did not do anything, anything!”
Both men shook their heads sadly at the injustice.
“We will go to court” he insisted.
“But, he conceded defeat” Magnus offered.
“That was a momentary loss of judgement! “, he barked.
“Omo has to retract it or the party will on his behalf”
Magnus put his head in his hands. He had invested a total of N2.4 million. When his salary was increased, he had only thought it wise to invest more. Justin had put in N800,000. While Dotun ranted, he wondered how he would recoup his losses. He had borrowed N100,000 from Ij, and N1 million from Regina. It would be shameful to admit that he lost all the money. He had been so sure of reaping huge returns. Their candidate was the incumbent and Dotun was his personal assistant at the time he was a commissioner for special duties.
It all seemed like a bad dream. His head swam as he sat there, remembering all the sacrifices he made to part with that money. It was the reason they still lived on a shoe string budget, despite his pay raise. He had expected the reward to erase every memory of him not being as generous as Ij would have liked. It would have been great to throw his success in her face. As things stood, she was having the last laugh.
“Chike, I’ve told you to stop calling me. Stop sending weird messages to me. I am a married woman”, Ijeoma shouted into her phone.
“You didn’t know you were married when you made me fall for you. Ij, you want me to commit suicide?” he whined.
“Please do so. As soon as you drop this call, slit your wrist! I am tired”
“What did I do wrong?”
“I have to……I need time to sort my feelings out”
“It seems that guy begged you, right? You know he will never change”
“Just leave me alone. I mean it this time. And if you bother me at work, I’ll quit!”, she warned and ended the call without letting him say another word.
Ijeoma was at home, watching her favourite show. She had stopped taking Chike’s calls but he called with an unknown number, so she picked it. Though she had not reconciled with her husband, she did not want the affair uncovered in court and used to not only disgrace her but, to grant him custody of the children. She had tried to explain this to Chike, but he only saw her slipping out of his grasp and intensified efforts to win her. Thus, she had to put her foot down.
Ijeoma was losing her cool. She felt overwhelmed by the malice with her husband as against Chike’s attentions. Her prayer life was non existent. She felt too guilty to read her bible. During sermons in church, she zoned out. It was at this time that Magnus began to show slight remorse. He came home a little earlier, limited his chats on phone during family time, and tried to speak to her. At first, she thought he wanted to resume the romantic side of their marriage but, he made no such advances. She was at a loss, what he really wanted. Ijeoma still wanted the divorce but, not at the cost of her reputation, or of her children.
She began to look for ways to obtain evidence of his infidelity. That way they would be on equal footing. He would not be able to paint her as the villain. She wanted to be sympatized with, as the victim, the long suffering wife, the faithful wife of his youth who married him when he was penniless. What ever would portray her otherwise, had to go. No matter whose ox was gored.
Ndidi and Ekene were hanging out at an ice cream place. They had formed the habit of going out after fellowship at Elyon. Ekene had confided in her, her reservations about Fred. She had met him twice; once when he came to pick her after they had hung out, and another time, at her boutique. Ndidi felt he was a great catch.
“Ekene, what did you think of what was taught today, about faith and risks?” she asked, stirring her coffee
“I would never have called myself a risk taker but, I guess by faith, I have stepped out on a limb severally without even knowing it” Ekene replied, eating her chocolate cake.
“I took a risk marrying a yoruba man, without his family’s approval. They have not really warmed up to me but, God has taught me to honour my in laws” Ndidi went on.
“I used to be a pain in Femi’s neck, complaining about their behaviour. Now, I deliberately invest kindness”
“I like that, ‘invest kindness'”Ekene nodded.
“It is a serious one O! I plant seeds of prayer, positive confession, forgiveness, airtime for their phones, calls, texts, and gifts”
“It took 1 year of unrelenting sowing for me to see results”
“Today, we are at peace. I can’t claim we are best of buddies but, I know where we came from. My mother-in-law uses me as an example to her 2 other daughters-in -law”
“That’s just powerful”
“Complaining doesn’t solve problems, confessing the word does. I can’t tell you the number of times she has seen me and turned away rudely. I smile and say ‘I am blessed and highly favored. This woman is affectionate towards me because the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. I have a goodly marriage. He causes me to lie down with pleasant in laws’. That makes my attitude to her cheerful. With time, she just melted” Ndidi smiled.
“You should be mentoring women at odds with their in laws. Many such women are under pressure and it affects their marriages and careers”
“I know how it is. At a time, I felt like pulling out my hair!”
“Well, that is something I don’t have to worry about with Fred. His is extremely affectionate. Last month, his sister sent me shoes from UK. His aunt sends me a text or calls daily. Even his dad calls occasionally” Ekene smiled.
“You can say that again”
“Please fix your wedding date so I can plan a bridal shower for you”
“You would do that for me?”
“What are friends for?”
“Let him propose first”
“I wonder what he’s waiting for. Busy dropping hints rather than going on a knee” Ndidi laughed.
“Don’t mind him”
TO BE CONTINUED.
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Cheers, Dr. N