Nike gave out a long sigh. It was on days like this when she wondered. Wondered if she had made the right decision; if leaving Jide made sense. After all, it was no fault of his that joblessness was rampant in the country. Neither was it his fault that his family was one that depended so much on him being their beacon of hope. He was their pride, joy and sole breadwinner.
Bread, she thought.
When last did I eat it?
Poverty was a slow shadow that had crept upon her family and she was powerless to stop it.
All it seemed she could do was wait.
…and hope, yet somewhat half-heartedly that Jide would get a job. Any job for that matter so long as it provided for their basic needs. As the days grew longer, her patience was like the proverbial egg that had to be cradled, lest it crack and unleash an unfertilized foetus of fury.
She thought back to the days when things were good. Days when all it took was one smile from Jide and her world would be fine. Days when transport was courtesy of the company car and days of unlimited access to elite country clubs. Days when many revered her as a “been-to” madam. One who had left the shores of the continent to return with an upper class husband. A lady who could clearly afford to dine in exquisite locations without batting an eyelid at the accompanying bill. Her husband’s job and position was one that many viewed with envy. At the tender age of 24 he was practically second in command of the oil company he worked for, an accolade only given to those that had either really lucrative post-graduate qualifications or those that were heavily “connected” as the term is in Nigerian society. What did they have to worry about really? Absolutely nothing, or so they thought.
“For better or worse” was the promise they made to each other. A promise of constant love and devotion, regardless of the circumstance.
Did they know that a few years and several miscarriages down the line and all would not be as blissful? Or that childlessness was the least of their worries? These she pondered as she recalled their old house. The empty 6th bedroom in their old house was one that Nike often avoided. It brought an invincible force of sadness that flooded her heart with tears.
She cried for Wunmi, the stillborn she carried in her womb for 8 and a half months; Yetunde and Tayo, the twins that she lost as she slipped in muddy water on that fateful rainy day she decided to go to Balogun market and Junior, their love child and honeymoon baby who never saw the light of day. She cried for the shame, the ridicule that bothered her every time Jide’s family came to visit. Her lips still tasted the bile that rose in her throat when her mother-in-law gave her a foul tasting concoction from one “baba” in Ijebu Ode. She recalled the numerous pastors she had met and “seeds” she had “sown” in anticipation, fattening their wallets and upgrading their cars. All in the name of conceiving a child. Her shoulders stood on edge every time hawkers called her “auntie, baby things” in the market. To them, she had a litter of pups at home. If only they knew.
Yet through it all Jide was her rock. Her tower that remained unfazed, constantly reassuring her of his unconditional love. To him, losing a child meant more time to practice making another one. True, she loved his honesty and drive to succeed. She loved his “never give up” attitude and knew that given the chance, he would make one of the world’s best dads. But was that enough reason for her to stay in the marriage?
That morning as he walked out of the house she knew. Knew he would comeback hungry, tired, reeking of peak hour traffic, unwashed bodies and without a job. She had thoughtfully laid out the table, without a plate for herself, of course and left a note that the food was in his mother’s cooler on top of the fridge. The one that was a gift for their one year anniversary. Jide always said that the cooler made her food taste almost as good as his mother’s. She begged to differ.
She took one last look at the living room and walked out the door, slowly approaching the blaring horn that was Chief’s driver, waiting for her.
…. to be continued next week