“I’m so mad at him right now!” Mina exclaimed, with a quick shake of her head. “When I came home from work yesterday evening, I spent a long time in the kitchen making his favourite meal and then cleaned up real nice just to get his attention. He didn’t get home early and by the time he managed to, he had the nerve to tell me that he wasn’t hungry without even thinking of the amount of work I had done. I didn’t even know what to say to him, really. To make matters worse, he just took a shower, turned out the lights and slept off immediately without a glance in my direction; So much for buying new lingerie to spice things up.”
Rolling her eyes, she added, “Sometimes, I think that man was put on this earth just to annoy me.”
Azuka started laughing and at the look of irritation Mina flashed her, she raised both hands and said, “Please don’t kill me with your eyes, madam. I wasn’t laughing at you.”
Mina rolled her eyes now and Azuka laughed even harder, “I’m just really amused at the way you said all of that. You do have a very dramatic way of telling these husband tales.”
“You can laugh all you want o! Wait till you get married and your husband changes like mine did, then you just might go all dramatic,” Mina replied. Sighing deeply now, she said, “Seriously, Zuky, I envy the freedom you have to just be your own person; I don’t even understand this sudden obsession of yours to sacrifice that.”
Adaora had been watching her two friends with a smile on her face. She noticed the sad look that flashed across Azuka’s face. She wondered if she had imagined it because it was quickly replaced by a mischievous smile. “I wan be like una naa,” Azuka said, winking at Mina.
“Besides that, there’s a need in all of us for some sort of exclusive friendship and companionship. Everyone doesn’t yearn for that at the same time or at the same pace but once in a while, it hits us that we can actually be more with other people,” Adaora said. “I don’t see Azuka’s desire to be married as either sudden or obsessive. I think she’s gradually come to that point where she needs more in her life, that’s all.”
“Zuky has so much already!” Mina disagreed. “She’s young; she’s very beautiful and she’s also very successful in her career. She gets to do exactly what she wants and when she wants to too. In my opinion, she has it all o! Look at me naa, I was once like Azuka. I had wanted to get married like it was going out of fashion. When Baridi proposed, I was over the moon because he was everything I needed in a man, or so I thought. We’ve been married for only two years and already, I ask myself a lot of the time what had possessed me to marry him. He’s so different from the man I fell in love with. I’m not even sure that he loves me anymore. If I didn’t believe in the ‘for better and for worse’ ideology, I would have left my husband since o!”
Taking a sip from the glass of juice in front of her, she continued, “I’ve always wondered how you do it, Ada. You’ve been married for over six years and I’ve never heard you say anything negative about Dozie. There’s this easy going friendship you share with him that I envy. Anytime I spend time with you guys, I go home determined to make my marriage work out really good. Both of you make marriage seem so easy, kai.”
When Adaora sighed without saying a word, Azuka asked, “Ada, are you alright?”
Sighing again, Adaora replied, “I’m not sure I am, Zuky. I’m a doctor so I’ve always known that nothing good comes easy but lately, I haven’t been very willing to work hard at certain things. Mina’s right about a good marriage being the result of a lot of hard work. So many times, it’s just easier to let things slide.” She ran her right hand through her hair. Adaora had been friends with these women since they were all kids so they knew that whenever she did the hand-hair thing, she was very worried about something. She stayed silent for a while till Mina asked quietly, “What’s going on, Ada?”
“It’s nothing, really. I’m just going through some stuff right now. When I’m done working them out in my head, you guys will be the first to know, I promise.”
Mina and Azuka exchanged worried glances. Azuka said gently, “Ada, are you sure you don’t need to talk about whatever that has got you this bothered?”
“Honestly, it’s not a subject I would love to discuss till I sort it all out in my head,” Adaora said with a quick smile. “Mina, you look amazing! There’s this glow you have. I remember you looked the same way when you were…”
Her eyes got wide as she looked at a nodding Mina, “Wow! You’re pregnant again? Congrats, darling.” Getting up, she went over to Mina and hugged her. Adaora held her friend an arm-length away and glanced at her belly. “Your tummy still looks so flat. Those exercises you’ve doing sure work! How far along are you?”
Azuka came over to both of them and saying, “It’s my turn now,” she nudged Adaora aside and hugged Mina too. “I’m so thrilled for you, sweetie and Ada’s right, you look very beautiful. Before you start getting any other ideas in your head, just know that I am godmother this time.”
Laughing as they took their seats on the round table, Mina said, “Thank you, girls. You sure do boost my self-confidence. Baridi, certainly, has a way of sapping it all up. From my calculations, I should be only about seven weeks gone now so I guess that’s why my tummy’s still flat. If this baby gets as big as Soprinye was, I don’t expect it to stay that way for too long, though. Zuky, you are definitely the godmother this time. You made it easy for me to choose Ada as Soprinye’s godmother by being conveniently away on a business trip.”
“I, definitely, am not going anywhere any time soon. Soprinye’s a cute boy but I want a goddaughter, biko. Girls are so much easier to spoil,” Azuka said, laughing.
“Yeah, I’m hoping it’s a girl too,” Mina said, getting all dreamy-eyed. “Immediately I found out yesterday, I started thinking of the baby as a girl o. I’m calling forth things that are not as though they were.”
Laughing, Adaora said, “You sef. The baby’s sex can’t be ‘called forth’ after the fact.”
“Abeg, madam doctor, allow me dream, jare. I have a feeling about these things. Didn’t I successfully predict the sexes of your children?”
“Yes o, you were correct all three times but ermm, I remember you saying that Soprinye was a girl.” Adaora teased Mina.
“Oh, well. That was just wishful thinking getting in the way of intuition,” Mina said and the three of them laughed.
“You see, children are another reason to want to be married,” Azuka said wistfully. “I know I can have a child without being married. These days, people don’t even frown so much at that sef. But, I truly don’t want to go down that route. At thirty-four, my biological clock is ticking really fast but I want to raise a child in a home that has two parents who love each other.”
“Zuky, I know what you mean, jare,” Mina said. “Even though Baridi and I seem to be like strangers a lot of the time, these days, there’s still this thing that gives me hope that if I keep trying, we’ll be alright, someday. But, wait o. Why should I be the only one trying to make our relationship get back the steam it used to have?” When she noticed Adaora was about talking, Mina raised her left hand and said, “Hold on a minute, Ada. I already know what you want to say, anyway. You’ve said it too often for me not to know. I know that I should always do my own bit, regardless of what Baridi does or does not do. That’s theory, sis. That’s not real life! Using last night as an example, can you tell me what I didn’t do right? I cooked real good food and I looked all hot just for my husband. But, he didn’t want any of what I had to offer. He didn’t even make an attempt at conversation. He just went to bed, without knowing that I had wanted to tell him that I’m pregnant. I went to work, same as him. I came home tired but I still did all I could to let him know that he’s a huge part of my world.”
Tears sprang to her eyes now. “For how long would I do the heavy-lifting in my relationship with my husband? How long am I going to be the one striving to keep us together and happy? Baridi hurts me in so many ways and doesn’t expect me to act hurt. I do my best to treat him nice but he pretends he doesn’t notice. He hardly pays me compliments about anything, even! I won’t be surprised if he’s cheating, really, because I don’t understand him anymore. It’s just that sometimes, I see a hint of the man I dated for two years. At those times, he’s playful and all over me and also allows me to be all over him, just the way it used to be. Sometimes, he gets all apologetic and tells me he’s all stressed up from work. I really want to believe that because, if I found out that he truly is cheating on me, I just would be crushed.” She accepted the handkerchief Azuka dug out from her bag and wiped her eyes.
“I hope we’ll be fine, really. I pray about that everyday,” Mina said quietly. “Enough about me, jare. What’s new, these days, with both of you?”
Laughing, Azuka said, “To hear you ask it like that, no one would know we talk on the phone almost everyday.”
“It’s not the same thing, jare,” Adaora said. “There are some things you don’t just say over the phone.”
“That’s true,” Azuka concurred. “Anyway, I’m going on a date tonight.”
“Yay, Zuky’s found a man!” Mina exclaimed, laughing. Turning to Adaora, she raised her right hand and they slapped their palms together. “How come we’re just hearing about that? One of those things you can’t say on the phone?”
“You’re really silly sometimes, Mina,” Azuka said, taking a swipe at her friend’s shoulder. When Mina responded with, “Ouch, you don’t hit a pregnant lady!” the three friends started laughing.
After the laughter had subsided, Azuka said, “I haven’t met him yet.”
“Oh, a blind date then. That’s interesting,” Adaora said, winking at Azuka.
“Hmm, a blind date? He had better not be a serial killer o!” Mina said.
Laughing, Azuka continued “Both of you sef. Technically it’s a blind date because we’ve never seen each other but we’ve talked so much on the phone during the past two weeks that I feel like I know him already. He’s that guy I told you girls, the last time we hung out, that my mother was trying to set me up with.”
“Oh, the obodo oyibo guy?” Mina asked. “I thought you said you were never going to allow your mother match-make you with anyone.”
“Mina, I’m just going on a date with the guy, biko. It’s not like I’m agreeing to marry him immediately. My mother just doesn’t know how to take no for an answer. She pushed and pushed till I gave in and allowed her give the guy my number. I enjoy talking to him, though. But, I don’t know him enough to say that he’s the one.”
“Na so e dey start,” quipped Adaora and when Azuka tried to swipe at her, she moved away and said, “Nne, you seem to be in a violent mood today.”
Laughing, Azuka said, “Well, that’s what I have planned for tonight. I’ll keep you girls posted, of course. And, Mina, he doesn’t live abroad anymore. He recently relocated to Nigeria.”
“I bet he has an accent. I like all those fone-speaking guys. If the guy come fine too, na correct package be that o!” Mina said to the amusement of her friends.
“You’re an old married woman o!” Azuka said.
“Abeg, I never old o. Moreover, being married doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the good things of life, biko.”
“Okay o, make e no pass appreciating, sha,” Azuka said laughing.
“Of course! Wetin I wan do before? Fear no go let me do more than that naa. Besides, my Baridi’s a hunk,” Mina replied, causing her friends to laugh again.