“Ronke please, just hear me out.”
“Hear what out?” I was feeling a bit nauseous but I forced down the rising bile. I had been weak once, I wasn’t going to be weak anymore.
“It was once and it was during Richard’s bachelor party, I swear I have never had any cause to cheat on you.”
“Forgive me for not giving you a standing ovation over that statement. Out of curiosity, how did she get your number since this was – according to you – a one night stand?”
“I don’t know I swear; must have been when I was drunk.”
“You got drunk?”
“No…tipsy I guess and…yes I remember, she claimed to have misplaced her phone so I had to ring her number and then we discovered it was in her bag all the while.”
“You fell for a cheap trick Bee.” I had to stop calling him that, it sounded distasteful not after someone else has been calling him that as well. “Tell me something, did she know you were married?” I do not think I know this man, the man that got drunk and had a fling, perhaps this impostor stole my husband’s body, this was definitely not my husband.
Sighing, the man with my husband’s body shook his head before answering, “No, she didn’t. I couldn’t bear to look at the ring, so I slipped it off.”
“I didn’t know that slipping off a mere band made one less married or reverted the status, foolish me!” I was dripping sarcasm but I didn’t care.
“I know how hard this is for you but this is harder for me, I cannot concentrate at work.”
“Then get your Morenike to help you concentrate, abi?”
“Damn it Ronke! This was a mistake; you don’t have to rub it in!”
Oh so he could yell and get angry? “And why can’t I rub it in?! Did you call her after then or not?! Did she just pick up her phone on Sunday and call you to remind you of who she was?! Did you fucking know about the damn pregnancy?!” I hope babies ears weren’t formed in six weeks; I wouldn’t want my baby picking up vile words.
“Stop using vulgar words Ronke, you know how we both hate it.”
“I will use any damn words I please. You don’t get to FUCKING tell me what to say and what not to say!” I really needed to calm down, I wasn’t helping matters. I took a deep breath and counted to ten before exhaling.
Apparently Biyi did the same because he came and knelt by my side speaking softly; “Nothing can excuse what I did, nothing. When I said for better or for worse, I meant it. Our childlessness didn’t bother me and I know I got careless but we all deserve redemption when we err. I don’t care if you ban me from our bed – even though it will hurt me bad – all I care for is that you at least forgive me. Yell at me – don’t curse – but eventually forgive me. Nothing else bothers me but you. How will my whole world look like if you cease to love me?”
“Don’t think you can use words to soften me.” I was softening up, this man was going to be the death of me but I couldn’t help it and yes, his scent had a hand in it.
“No, mere words can never be enough. I will do all that is within my power to make you forgive me.”
“Have you considered a paternity test?” I still hadn’t told him about my pregnancy, I couldn’t bring myself to, not now, perhaps later but not now.
“Yes, immediately after the baby is born.”
“And what if the baby is not yours?” He tried to hide the hide the brief pain that flashed across his eyes, but I still caught it.
“Babe,” he said slowly standing and drawing me close to him; “let’s get to that bridge first.”
They all sat there…silly people, my God! I was really turning into an abusive monster but I just couldn’t help it.
“Ekaabo Daddy mi. Awon ara ile nko?” I greeted Bee’s uncle as he came in, filled with self-importance. Bastard! He probably was the one behind this.
“Eh Ronke, pele…how are you?”
“I am fine daddy.” Stupid man, he had kept us waiting for a full awkward hour but he was the head of the family and so the meeting couldn’t start without him.
After greeting everyone seated, he sat down and took time adjusting his entire frame.
“Daddy, should I get you something?”
“No…for later perhaps. I want to welcome everyone and apologize for my lateness; you know how tiring these grandchildren can be sometimes. Ehen… Adebiyi…Omoluabi…Omo Adesanya…”
“Hmm…Adebiyi in as much as I can’t spank you for your act…I can see how you wanted to do a little confirmation to keep your mind at rest, not so?”
Thank goodness Bee had the good grace not to respond, we had come to a fragile agreement and that was to present a strong family front. I was going to remain supportive in the eye of the public and he was not going to gloat about his act but act contrite and remain supportive of me as well.
Not getting his answer, the old man continued to speak. I tuned out and instead settled my gaze on the ‘creature’ perched on my couch. She dressed modestly – I guess she was aiming to score some points- and was careful to look down all throughout. I suppose I should feel some sort of pity for her but I couldn’t just bring myself to allow that kind of vulnerability into my heart. All the stories I had heard of mistresses, wicked second wives…God forbid, did I just think of having someone else call herself my second? Get thee behind me, Satan!
“…I hope you have heard Ronke?” Everyone’s gaze was on me. What was I supposed to have heard?
“Where did your mind wander to? Or is this gathering not important enough for your esteemed self?”
“Sorry sir,” from the corner of my eyes, I saw the ‘creature’ smile. Ha, Biyi…what have you done?
“I said and listen properly our culture and tradition is supreme. We do not throw away children and because Morenike is carrying one, we cannot throw her away too…or maybe for now. She has told us that she has nowhere to go, having been driven from home by her parents and because we would want someone to keep an eye on her, we would want her to stay here…”
“Ehn?!” I couldn’t hold it in, it just came out.
“If not for the fact that I know how painful this whole thing is for you, you would have had to pay for that tone you just used.”
“How does anyone know what pain is? Why am I even here, since you all can take a decision without taking me into consideration? Have I demanded she abort the baby? No! Have I moved out of the house in annoyance? No! Have I wronged any of you? If I went to a party and came back pregnant, will you call me ‘omoluabi’? Will you tell Biyi to accept the pregnancy? So why do I have…” My voice had risen and I was rising as well, ready to walk out and leave the gathering.
Perhaps Biyi must have guessed my intention because he jumped up from his seat, holding on to me and trying to whisper into my ears about my need to calm down and remember our agreement. Ayo also stood up, perhaps feeling the need to remain in my good books and came to talk some sense into me. After I had calmed, I followed Biyi’s pull back to the couch.
“If my wife has offended you daddy, please take it out on me. She hasn’t been herself of late and neither have I…Ehn sir, can Morenike not stay in a rented apartment or even with you and mummy…at least till my wife and I can come to terms with the situation?”
“Rara o…stay with us ke? You slept with her, Biyi; I didn’t.”
“Were you not aware – as we all were- of her pregnancy long before now? Why didn’t you inform your wife so that you both could carry out your adjustments? How do you think Morenike feels as well? And just because your wife is not comfortable doesn’t mean we all should be uncomfortable?” That last jab was meant to hurt me and it did. “No one is saying, you should marry her for now, if after you see that the child is yours, you want to have Morenike as a second wife then we would have no choice than to support you as well.”
Lanre had been quiet all through and was the only one who seemed aloof from it all. I had decided not to call my uncles – since I was an orphan – but I now saw that I should have. Someone should at least had fought on my behalf or made a pretense at doing so.
“Ehn… daddy, I think for peace sake. We should tread softly carrying everyone along.” Ayo said, speaking up. “As much as it aint’t easy for Ronke, I know as matured as she is once she is calm, she will see reason with what you have said. Sister Ronke, please just try and show that accommodating nature we know you to have. Nobody is happy with Biyi but short of killing him, what do you advise we do?”
They were wearing me down. This was so unfair. I nearly blurted out that I was pregnant too and deserved all the attention but I couldn’t. In the furor of the entire event, it must have slipped Ayo’s mind as well and I wanted it to remain that way; I was going to speak with him to that effect later.
“I am sorry if I have been so difficult, what woman won’t be? If she is to stay with us, fine; but I hope no one is saying that boundaries cannot be placed so that everyone respects them?”
“Rara o,” Bee’s Uncle replied. “I would have been too suspicious if you opened your arms wide to welcome her in, now that we have settled this little matter, I think you should bring us something to chew then we leave you, your husband and her to settle the house rules. As for you Morenike, do not think that any misbehavior would earn you any sympathy from us. Ronke is highly respected so don’t get any ideas into your head, s’ogbo?
“Beeni sir…e seun, modupe gan. Aunty Ronke, thank you very much. Uncle Ayo, Uncle Lanre…thank you.” The ‘creature’ said kneeling.
Is it me or did I notice a glimmer of satisfaction in those eyes and why didn’t she greet Bee…oh my God! She couldn’t call him uncle because she was used to calling him Bee…
In the kitchen as I was stacking the used plates for my sister to wash later; the ‘creature’ came in – calling her that is my own way of coming to terms with the whole matter – and opened the fridge, humming a little.
“Please Aunty Ronke, where his the bedroom? Bee said he wants to drink water.”
TO BE CONTINUED