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It came to prove that I was anxious for nothing and that the morning wasn’t at all worth the wait.
It only took me offering a ‘good morning’ greeting, fitfully garnished with a ‘sweetheart’ suffix, for Nike to launch a full-scale attack on me. It wasn’t part of my plan but I must say it helped my cause. The goose bumps that suddenly crept unto her face, the shivers, the avoidance of my gaze, like I was emitting fire balls and the fondling of her hands told me that I had her in a box.
I felt pleased with myself, pleased that the ever corrosive Nike was cowering in fear. But my pleasure was short-lived, it was killed by fear… fear of what Nike was afraid of… fear of that which could make Nike look this scared and look this guilty.
I placed my hand on her right cheek. It was hot. Hot and wet. That was when I noticed the thin tear line forming an etch on her smooth face. I moved to wipe them, yes them, not only the physical tear but also the emotional tears.
“Did he touch you?” That was a trick question, I wanted her to cut all the overtures and preambles…save her all the stress of explaining. I guess yesterday had a lot to do with the chief but then it was a guess, a guess I wished I was wrong about.
“I kicked him in the nuts before he tried to”
As she said that, a tiny smile grew on her face, broke and diverted the long line of tears falling across her cheek. She buried her face in my shoulder, shrieking amidst gentle sobs. She had forced herself into my arms…well…because I lacked the guts to…I lacked the guts to hold my wife in my arms and give her comfort and security. I lacked the guts to tell her everything will be alright, when I wasn’t too sure they’ll ever be alright. I realized that it wasn’t just my job I had lost. I had also lost my balls, I had stopped being a man.
I had tried to run away from reality by forbidding any help from Nike but like they say “you can’t lie to you”.
I’ve been living a lie nursing the thoughts that I was the ‘man of the house’. Yet I couldn’t even protect the woman I love.
I think I was crying too, and I’m sure the clasp became tighter. She repeatedly let out muffles of “he’s such a beast… I’m sorry…”
“No, I’m sorry” I corrected quickly.
I blamed myself for whatever she had to go through. I won’t be half surprised if she had gone to see the canine of a chief because she wanted him to secure me a job with his connections. I broke off the embrace and guided her to seat on the bed. I dragged a stool closer to sit in front of her.
Our knees touched each other. I watched as her composure was beginning to climb and she begun to feel at ease.
I held both her hands, enveloping them into mine.
“All is well” I lied.
Even though all was far from well and I knew it. I knew how much the vile was winning the war against the righteousness in my mind… how much I wanted to break the chief’s neck.
It was a Friday morning, I swallowed hard when I remembered it was two days to Sunday and I hadn’t remitted the vow I pledged to the church.
Church was beginning to feel more like a routine to me or a social obligation, one which I was arrantly tired of honouring… and well, Church was another of Nike’s worries. Nike was a staunch member of our church or more like the pastor’s close friend, a man whom she tries too hard to please. She couldn’t help but feel bad about the level of my mundanity. Yet I feel being a christian is a lot more than ‘dashing’ monies she wasn’t earning to the ever-ready-to-accept pastors.
Maybe it was the poverty mentality she’s always talked about that is affecting me but then again fact remains that I have lost faith in religion.
I somehow blamed God for our problems; for our childlessness and my joblessness.
Her palms were soft as usual but they felt hot and my hand shook in resonance with the vibration of hers.
“Why do we have to suffer like this, Jide?”she asked me softly.
I had no answer to her question. It was rhetorical.
She didn’t wait… she turned her face away and I too, turned my face. The meeting had to be adjourned.
Both of us had become too emotional to be rational. I got up, took a bath and settled for yet another Eba and Ewedu soup breakfast. If I needed to get anything done today, I had to leave earlier. My plans had changed, sinister thoughts had taken over, I had lost control of myself.
Nike must have seen the hate in my eyes when she said “Okomi, I hope you’re not going to fight the chief o, you don’t even know the full story.”
“No I’m not…” I said dryly, in a tone hardly enough to convince myself.
“You’re not leaving this house.” she said as she tried to shield the door, but she was too late.
I moved out, blinded by rage, armed with a business card and a somewhat porous plan. All that was on my mind was retribution…