The alarm’s continuous beep was quite annoying. It was the first Sunday of the week and I didn’t feel like going to church. Seeing that I had a lot to be thankful for, I didn’t understand my reluctance. Perhaps it was because I had been shopping all throughout Saturday getting ready for the surprise party I was throwing for my husband today. Snuggling deeper under the covers, I dragged the pillow and inhaled my husband’s scent. I use to tease him about his scent and how I sometimes missed the scent more than I missed him and then he’d kid me about leaving me someday and leaving his scent behind since I was so in love with his scent. My ringing phone interrupted my thoughts.
“Hello good morning,” I mumbled sleepily into the phone. I knew who it was, only one person had a different ring-tone from the rest.
“Morning babe, you are still asleep?” My husband’s deep voice rumbled into my ear. Aah! I guess I forgot to mention that I was crazy about his voice as well. Always without fail, it made me tingle all over. The kind of tingle one got when a voice whispered huskily into your ear in the process of doing wicked things to you…yes, that kind of tingle.
“Something close to that…”
“I’m still thinking about it.”
“Are you also thinking about wishing me a happy birthday?”
“Gosh! Is it today?” I could swear my pretend act was top-notch but the man did not just fall for the bait.
“Yeah right! And what would my babe be thinking of that took her mind off me for just a teensy weensy bit?”
“Well, your scent of course. What else?”
“Oh poor me, I guess I forgot about that. I was thinking of postponing my trip back.”
“Adebiyi Oluwatobi Adesanya! You better not dare me!” I exclaimed before catching on to the fact that I had just fallen for his bait. His laugh made me groan all the more. No man with that kind of voice should laugh that sexily into the ears of his wife that early in the morning especially not when she was horny as hell.
“Seriously babe, I’d rather just look at your picture all day long here in Abuja than to come home to being the second best.”
“Try it and stand the risk of getting castrated. Did you know that our neighbour’s daughter Nkechi is pregnant?”
“What?! Has she been having sex?”
“Obviously, how else will she have gotten pregnant?”
“Well, we have heard of one case where it happened to a virgin perhaps her case might not be different as well.”
“Babe! Watch your mouth and stop being judgmental. Mistakes happen and can happen to anyone.”
“I hear you. You should get up and go to church babe. At least offer prayers on my behalf, thank God for me, for us and for everything.”
“I will and I guess I have to one more thing to add as well.”
“What is it?”
“Don’t worry; it can wait till you return.”
“I also have something to say as well, but I am afraid it’s not good news. You see…”
“Hush babe. Why not leave all that till you come back? Bad news shouldn’t be delivered over the phone. What if I swoon and collapse, who would know?”
“You can’t swoon; you are lying on the bed.”
“Whatever babe, keep the news till after we have at least made love, that way, it won’t totally be bad. I tell you mine and you tell me yours.”
Sighing my husband agreed. He didn’t know I was going to give him the news we have both been waiting for since the last 10 years. Nothing was wrong with the both of us, the doctor had said and we had tried and tried; methods, styles, everything. I guess it finally just happened in due time.
“So love, I have got to go, will hopefully see you later this evening. I will call Lanre to come and pick me.”
“I love you a million times, missed you all week and when you come back perhaps I might just force you to resign and be a house husband so that I will have you all to myself.”
“What happened to the woman who had always been proud of being an engineer’s wife?”
“I guess she got bored, lonely and horny.”
“Hmm…don’t get me too excited babe.”
“Why shouldn’t I? That should propel you to the airport fast enough and into my arms.”
Laughing I disconnected the call. Yes, I had a lot to do today.
The evasive looks started just as I was putting the finishing touches to everything. It suddenly came to me that everyone had stopped chattering and was acting weird. Even Tara, the sweetest sister-in-law I have ever known rebuked her daughter who wanted to watch her favourite cartoon on television.
“Must you be childish always?!” Tara sharply rebuked Bimpe.
“Haba sister T, it’s just cartoon.” I said in a bid to make light of the situation.
“No, it’s just not cartoon Ronke, it’s just not fair.” With tears in her eyes which she quickly dabbed, she evaded my eyes and instead motioned to my younger sister to lead Bimpe out.
“What is it sister T? This is so unlike you.” I asked as I dropped the knife I was using to chop the last of the carrots. We were almost done in the kitchen.
“Nothing…you know,” sobs “you know…how our hormones make us cry over nothing sometimes.”
“Are you sure? This happened just after you received a phone call.”
“Really? I think not though. Come to think of it, I saw Hauwa my friend and she said she saw you at the hospital, were you ill?”
“No, I wasn’t,” smiling a bit shyly, I turned away; “just had some things to take care of.”
“Oh my God, you are smiling! Does that mean what I think it means? Jesus, Ronke! Gosh, oh my God!”
“Is that excessive joy or what? And here I thought that would cheer you up.”
Just then Ayo came into the kitchen; he must have heard his wife’s wail.
“Tara! What’s with the tears? Why are you behaving this childish?”
Now something was really wrong. Ayo rarely shouted at Tara, he was his name personified always laughing and taking things lightly. Were they having marital problems, should I leave them to settle it or try and settle it?
“Look guys, I hope there is no problem. Today is Bee’s birthday; I would want everyone to at least for his sake either solve any problems now or keep it till after the party, please?”
“Sorry Ronke…it’s just that…”
“Please excuse us,” Ayo said effectively interrupting Tara and dragging her out with him.
Now something was really wrong but I wasn’t going to dwell on it, perhaps Bee and I would laugh about it later but I just didn’t want anything to go wrong now.
Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was nearly 5, it was quite late, I should have heard the horn at the gate many minutes ago or perhaps they have been held up by traffic. Dialing Lanre to make sure that he didn’t forget our deal, I saw Tara’s blackberry notification light blinking. I hated those toys; I couldn’t imagine being disturbed every second by notifications, pings and all that. No sir! Thank you very much.
I was getting the busy signal from Lanre’s phone, good, they must be on their way down and Lanre probably didn’t want to let the cat of the bag. I needed to notify everyone to get settled and ready so I left the kitchen and that is when I heard…
“I don’t know how we are going to tell her…God knows I hate this very day and wish I hadn’t woken up today.” Tara was saying
“How can you say that? We have to be strong for her.”
“I don’t know…baby, she is even pregnant?”
“What? How did you know? Of all the damn times in life, it’s now, why?”
“I don’t think it’s her fault or anyone else but…”
“What’s going on here?” I didn’t like the secrecy anymore especially not when they were talking about my pregnancy and why were they whispering on how to be strong for me?
“Erm…dear sister Ronke, I think we should sit down.”
“Nope, I think I like to stand. There is nothing too heavy for the mouth to say and for the ears to hear. Bee would soon be here and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.”
“There’s something we have to tell you…”
“Aunty Ronke…can I have more juice?” Bimpe asked running in and interrupting everyone.
“Yes baby, come before your mum yells at you.” It sounded callous but I didn’t care and to tell the truth, I was a bit scared.
In the kitchen while pouring some juice for Bimpe, I picked up my phone and dialed Kay’s number. It rang and I heaved a sigh of relief. At least, it was not what I was thinking. The plane crash three weeks ago had gotten me jittery, any other bad news was better than death…abi?
“Yes hello, we would soon be home. Please do not …” The line got disconnected as he was talking. Silly MTN and their network problems, at least my hubby was safe.
Tara came in, apologized and tried to laugh off her moments of madness but I caught her looking oddly at me twice.
The doorbell rang just as I had finished freshening up and was coming down the stairs. I had told everyone to make themselves scarce so I went over to open the door. Perhaps my Mother-in-Law had decided to come after all. She had been down with fever and had said she wouldn’t make the surprise party but would call once the party was in full swing. Others had come in, some of Bee’s colleagues and mine as well and a sprinkle of our neighbours. Lanre had been told to honk twice just so we’d get fully prepared.
I threw a quick glance round the sitting room making sure everything was okay before opening the door.
“Hello, good evening. How may I help you?” I smiled at the stranger on my doorstep.
“Hi, I ham looking for Biyi,” the unconscious ‘h’ that I faulted the yorubas with, did not really bother me much – I was lucky not to have that accent- but what did a well-dressed lady need my husband for on a weekend and calling him by his first name?
“Yes, ‘my husband’ is not around.” The emphasis was intentional.
“Okay, hi will wait for him. Hi have tried his line.”
It would be too rude if I told her to go away, she couldn’t have known that we were about to have a celebration and yet I couldn’t just invite her in and tell her to wait, could I?
Tara came in just then perhaps because I hadn’t come to show her how I looked after freshening up.
“Aunty Tee, good evening,” The strange lady greeted Tara, curtsying.
“Morenike…what are you doing here?”
Oh, did this mean I still had in-laws I didn’t know about? And yet Tara hovered nervously around. It was as if they both didn’t want me there, but this was my house, I wasn’t going to stand the games anymore.
“Who is Morenike?” I asked, directing the question at Tara. By now, people had started to troop into the sitting room after making sure it wasn’t Bee at the door. I wanted to tell everyone to go back or better still go home but I couldn’t.
The honk came twice and everyone rushed out again, save the three nay four of us, Ayo had also stayed back. No one spoke as the car drove in and we still stood that way as Lanre and Bee chatted to the door. The chatter stopped as soon as they saw us standing as still as statues. I sought Lanre’s eyes but he evaded my gaze and mumbled something about checking the car. Bee looked shocked as he approached the front steps.
“Morenike…what do you want here?”
“Good evening Bee, hi have been trying your line since.”
Oh, she called him Bee?
“Listen, you have to come back later. As you can see I am just coming in.”
“Where would hi go?”
What? Did she just ask that?
Obviously everyone had come in after hearing the honk but the ‘surprise’ yell died even on the mouth of the little ones. The tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife and yet I stood by the door not budging, reminded me somewhat of a captain seeing the world for the last time before his boat sank.
“Who is she?” I asked Bee since Tara had refused to answer. The voice that asked definitely was not mine, it was more of a croak; so definitely could not have been mine.
“Please babe, let’s talk about this later. Morenike, you have to leave now!”
“What would happen to me, the baby?”
Oh my God! I should say something. I should yell, throw a fit, hit someone, do something and not stand mute with my mouth agape. I was the woman of the house and shouldn’t have this tears streaming down my face.
This was not the time to be weak, this was the trial they always preached about and how strong we should be when it happens; but no one ever said, how it would hurt so bad I’d hardly be able to breathe or how the world that had seemed so solid would suddenly have me sinking, hopelessly never to be saved.
TO BE CONTINUED