That marriage felt like drowning in the ocean. Not that you don’t know how to swim, but the vastness of the water and the raging waves make you look like you don’t. I am not bad with women, I mean, at least I know how to treat them well. My mother taught me that, like all mothers should teach their sons. But that woman? That woman called the mother of my son? That one was untreatable. No amount of good gesture would turn her stomach upside down. Being kind to her didn’t help her even develop a slight soft spot for me, just at least so that the marriage could work because we were already in it. Busting my ass so I could buy the world for her seemingly wasn’t enough. She wanted the heavens too, I guess. And that was the problem, I was earth for her, not heaven.
[If you didn’t catch the first of this sequel, now is your chance to understand where this story is coming from. Read it here.]
My very being slapped the cheeks of her mind with the reality that I was the father of her first born. This wasn’t a scenario like a phone charger and a port where you could put in and pull it out and there would be almost no evidence of the act, except a slight charge, but nothing permanent. Like my friend who says since she bought a new phone, she says her earphones port (of the phone not her) is still a virgin because she only uses airpods. The sacredness of that port is preserved until she won’t be able to anymore. I think she hated the fact that she sold her sacredness too early and something permanent came off of it. She didn’t have a chance to ‘enjoy her youth.’ She kissed one frog that had a sizeable dangling thingie and her fate was sealed immediately after. Oftentimes, the pain of the unknown shouldn’t haunt people but I think she wanted the full privilege of kissing and uncovering many unknown frogs. Like the kids in this generation who, unlike our times, take pride in body counts. It’s now a contest and no longer a contemptuous thing. It’s the higher you go, the more respected you are. A numbers game. An exhibition of prowess and experience. It’s today’s definition of youthfulness, though anyway, not one that was entirely absent from my generation.
So she had to practice being something she didn’t sign up to be, a mother. A mother in an age when life had barely began. I robbed her off her flower too early and the realization that she would never get it to blossom again pumped more bitterness. It takes two to tangle but suddenly, I was the bad person. Nonetheless, I never lifted a finger or my voice because, anyway, even I was amazed at how I stepped up quickly. Not that there were no opportunities to raise my voice or even a machete because boy did she get on my nerves.
There’s this day she threw a mug, actually two at me after I suggested it was financially reasonable to prioritize paying our son, Jide’s school fees and buying new school uniform instead of spending on a new clothes and shoes. Jide had just turned seven in 2006 and I had to transfer him to a new school because the previous one had alot of negative influence on him but the mother didn’t think it was worth giving two shits about.
“Madeline, you no need new clothes and shoes. You dey attract to every shiny and trending thing, but for once, just cooperate for this marriage. Jide need go to another school.”
“Na you dey wan make him go another school because of your pride and ego, when him dey do well where he is.”
“So, e no mean anything when our pikin dey come home everyday don learn more cuss words than new words from grade two English textbook?”
“Our pikin self dey speak better English pass most students for that school! Why the transfer come so necessary?”
“We no suppose dey argue in front of him na.”
“Taurus, the boy don even dey private school, you think say dey get more private school than that one?”
“E no be about that, e dey about discipline.”
Rolls eyes, “Oh abeg!”
“I no go siddon look my pikin grow into pikin wey no go sabi the meaning of respect and decency. And as I dey see how you no dey cari face for him in discipline matter, I no even trust you sef to correct him misbehaviour.”
“Oh f*** you Taurus!”
“There we go.”
“Wetin you dey try talk? Say I be a juvenile kid and now I no be worthy mother? Say it Taurus! Say it to my face!”
I sensed the heat and began matching out. It was that day that I knew there is nothing more a woman hates than a man who takes the high road in the middle of an argument. I am not sure what would have transpired if I had sat through the entire argument, but I know being escorted out with two flying mugs was the least of them all.
Did we have good times? Sure we did. Sometimes the ocean tides calm and you’re left with a serene view of the horizon. At the time, you remember that nature does have its beauty and ugly side, and when it’s beautiful, it’s really beautiful. The three of us would go out together sometimes to the movies and amusement parks. We would go on merry-go-round rides together, looking like a happy couple and their son. Yes there was no lie there, we looked happy because we were at that particular point in time. Mostly parents (many times just one parent) bring their children to swing, jump and go on merry-go-round rides as they sat at a distance watching but we were the parents who didn’t mind joining the circus. And who goes to an amusement park only not to be amused? It was everyone’s assumption that we must have loved each other so much if we could do such things together. What they didn’t know was that it was an escape from having to breathe the Jidee air within a bungalow house in town. It was the one opportunity we had that could make us forget the constraints of our marriage. I was always the one who had a dizziness issue with those centrifugal machines. I would feel the food I ate the previous night reverse from my bloodstream back to my throat yet those two just kept on going even after having ice creams and junk food. Call them two peas in a pod because despite one being the mother of the other, they related like brother and sister. Sometimes I’d look like the man who had brought his kids to play.
My serene view was always watching how happy she made that boy. She would spit fire on me if she was a dragon but she was very meek when it came to Jide. They did nearly everything together and made him laugh in ways I couldn’t. Whenever he needed to solve a math equation, I was his hero but when it was about the equations of life? He had a friend for that, his mother. I guess that is why I soldiered through her baptisms of fire because I could live under bridge if had to as long as I knew she would never take out her bitterness on our boy. I may have been the worst thing that landed on her but that boy sure is the best thing that came out of her.
That’s not to say that I didn’t admire her for anything else. I’d be lying if I said I covered my eyes and snapped a rubber band on my nut sack whenever she would dress up so stunningly for dinner outings with our mutual friends or regular occasions like church. I would see how my friends would look at me after I introduce her as my wife. Like, “Bro, you de hit that?” Unfortunately, I wasn’t. We’ll talk about that a bit later. But at least I got to be among the possibly few men who were not ashamed to appear in public with their wives. Yes she is the luxury type of woman, but it was on occasions like that I got to forget how she siphons money from my donkey self just so she could keep up with the latest trends. There is this time she wore a jungle green dress that ran to her toes but sliced a killer slit right through her left side to her thigh. She walked out of her room like she had just left the backstage and asked me who was now running mad because we were running late, “How do I look?”
Jide must have seen something he only saw on cartoons happening to me that day; my jaw dropped to the floor. I spent the rest of that end year party dinner at my work place thinking to myself, “Seriously bro, why are you not hitting that!”
I guess I drowned myself with more and more champagne in place of probing the matter. And I guess I should have spent more time ensuring she stands by my side during the entire party because there is nothing more dangerous than a wife who doesn’t like you looking that deadly like a Kardashian in the middle of a corporate dinner party littered with the sharks of the industry.
Anyway, I was not hitting that because first, as you heard me mention earlier, she came modelling from her room that night, not our room. Her terms and conditions were she would only accept to have us live like a family if she would have her own room. So I had to move us into a four bedroomed house. First it was a two bedroom when we moved to the city. I was still wallowing at the bottom of the food chain at work, I was even barely affording it. At the time, we had a maid, Yetunde, who didn’t mind commuting everyday up until she complained that the work was too much and ‘the mother of the house’ never lifted a finger to help. In fact, the bigger complaint was how she tasked her to do chores that were not related to the baby. It’s like the house was her palace and Yetunde was her maidservant who did everything for her majesty including bathing her. Okay that she didn’t do, but knowing Madeline, it wasn’t far from happening.
Yetunde demanded for a significant raise or have her chores chopped back to those she signed up for. Otherwise, she promised to leave a cloud of dust behind her as she ran away from us and our self-acclaimed Cleopatra. I had to negotiate with Madeline over the latter proposal since I couldn’t afford a raise at the time. She was the best maid we ever had and Jide, being only two years old at the time, loved her like his own grandmother. Yea she was quite elderly. But she didn’t sit through Jide’s fourth birthday. One day I came home from work and found the house in a mess, Jide crying his lungs out while Madeline was taking a nap in her room. I later found out that she had had a scuffle with Yetunde earlier that day and the latter left unceremoniously. Later I tried to plead with her to come back but she said, “Only after you divorce and marry another woman.”
That wasn’t an option then, so I had to move on to others. We got another maid but a younger one. Way younger than the previous one. She must have been Madeline’s agemate. This one couldn’t commute since she came from the village. I suggested that perhaps considering the new circumstances, husband and wife could just share a room and let the maid have the other room with Jide. Of course it was going to be over her dead body.
“You can even a share a room with her, I no care.”
Believe it or not, I was so pissed at the time I had started considering it. Luckily, the maid didn’t mind taking the couch. She soon had her own room when we moved to a three bedroom. Her tenure ended when she was accepted into a convent in pursuit of her dream of becoming a nun. The next maid was young as well. It’s like the older ones could smell Madeline from a far and decline the job offer. Something happened with this one which Madeline knew about but she never made a fuss about it. Not making a fuss doesn’t mean someone’s cool by the way. Maybe she was waiting to find something like that and she would confirm our marriage was on the way to being over.
Jide still shared a room with the maids but that had to change sooner than later when one time I walked in on the maid as she was changing. I honestly thought she was in the kitchen and I was looking for the kid. As you may expect, she freaked out and things fell apart, literally. She freaked out even more because she thought if the mistress got to know such a thing happened, maybe she would get the wrong idea and she would send her packing. So she reported herself and begged her not to get the wrong idea. Madeline laughed through it and it still amused her as she was narrating all these to me. That’s when I knew we needed a four bedroom.
In other words, the house arrangements could not allow me to have any of that. Secondly, she wanted none of it anyway. If she did, she would have done something about it, right? How ever she managed her own desires (if she had any) was her business and probably her room’s too. So it wouldn’t matter if I wanted it; the answer was already a ‘Don’t you dare touch me!’ And I guess that’s also what made our marriage harder. My conscience would haunt me every time I would entertain another woman. But it began to lose grip the following week after the dinner when Madeline said she was going out. Certainly, she wasn’t going with me and she was also not spilling who she was going to see. At the time, it didn’t matter. The next three weeks later I was out with the boys, some were my own colleagues when drank talk ensued.
“Taurus, you suppose get yourself some action. Life dey short.”
“That mama wey dey there don dey give you green light since we land here. You suppose do small flex, bro.”
“Now, we no want make am reach like this, bro, but we honestly wan try our best to make sure say you no come out as the underdog for this matter.”
“Wetin you dey yan?”
“We don dey here all night, you no gree gree make we push you comot, explore your options and even balance the scores.”
“Guys, abeg, I no be pikin. Tell me truth straight. Wetin una dey hide from me?”
“Okay.” Pause. “We think say oga dey poke your wife.”
“Yeah, bro. You don dey yarn us about the katakata for your marriage. That one sef no be marriage, bro. Na just arrangement wey happen by chance.”
It was at that moment when the events of the dinner party at my workplace came rushing. That’s where it all must have began. Crap!
The guys were right. There was no marriage there. Come to think of it, twelve years was enough ‘marriage’ in my life. It was time to live for me. Time for both of us to face reality and freely see other people. At least I did for the next three years until she asked for a divorce. I knew someday she would want a divorce and since I had no use for marriage again, I didn’t need the rush to sign papers. I wasn’t going to match into my forties unhappy. I think I’ll spend my forties redefining what happiness is to a man. I’ll do what makes me happy. I’ll do who makes me happy.
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