It was hurtful to see Alice in pain. Marvin had felt like sinking into the ground that day at the restaurant and at the post office. His confusion was really ridiculous, he knew. But he did not want to complicate things.
It was true, the feelings and interest and attraction between him and Alice had grown with time. And quite true that his own reactions to her were just as strong as hers were to his. But that didn’t mean he should complicate things, at least not when there were two HIV infected children involved.
That was something that could change the outlook of a romantic relationship. With children like his, you shouldn’t have the freedom to follow up any interest that could endanger the mental state of the sick children. As a parent, Marvin thought, he owed Tomiwa and Tunmise more security in their future than they had in the past. Sooner or later, they would have to face the challenges of their status and he wanted to be there to help them and guide them for as long it would last.
Can Alice really stigmatized my children? Marvin thought. Oh, he wished someone could have an answer to those questions. How he wished he could tell Alice the truth. How he wished he could make things right but it was too late. Alice hated him now and she was even pregnant. Could it really be his? Marvin was not certain of the possibility in spite of all the tell-tale signals. There was still the issue of his infertility problem. His gaze went through the eatery again while his mind went to that day Sean had called him. It was a surprise indeed.
“Hello Sean. What’s happening?” Marvin had said.
“Oh please stop it. How could you? How could you do such a thing to her,” Sean had raved at the other end. Marvin’s chest had tightened and his throat ached. He had decided he wasn’t going to tell Sean too. He would only tell his sister and the whole thing would become a bigger mess.
“Look,” Marvin had said, not sure of what to say, “I know why you are angry but it’s really not like that. There is more to it.”
“What do you mean there’s more to it,” Sean had asked, “It would have been better if you told her. You preferred lying to her and you claimed you loved her.”
Before Marvin could control himself, he had told Sean everything. The entire secret he had been keeping from Alice since they started. He had felt like a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders. It had felt better and pleasing but he wasn’t sure what the outcome of it was going to be now that Sean knew.
“Sean?” he had said into the phone, “Say something.”
“Why didn’t you tell her?” was all Sean could say then.
“I know, but I was confused. I don’t know if she could deal with the fact that I had kids and they are HIV infected,” Marvin had replied, biting his lower up. “I really don’t want her to know until I sort things out. Moreover she has someone now.”
“What are you talking about? What do you mean by she has someone now?”
“The one that got her pregnant,” Marvin had replied.
“Listen to me. It’s yours; the baby is yours Uncle Marvin. There is no one else. I promised not to tell but you have to know,” Sean had did him.
Sean had told him everything that happened and Marvin was too happy then to argue, though he controlled himself. Kemi’s memory was still fresh in his mind. It also started like this after all.
“You owe it to your kids to prepare them for the worst. What happens when someone says it to their faces? Let me tell you a little secret,” Sean had continued.
“Okay,” Marvin replied.
“My girlfriend, Brenda is also HIV positive. My sister doesn’t know yet. Brenda has HIV and I’m going to marry her all the same,” Sean had said determinedly. Marvin had closed his eyes and sighed.
“Sean?” he had said moments later. “Are you sure you want to do that?”
“I’m more than sure Uncle Marvin. The truth of the matter is that I fell in love with her before I know she has HIV and I just can’t dump her because of that. We will find a way around it to have a fulfilled life.”
“What will people say? What will Alice say?” Marvin asked.
Sean had said he did not know and did not really care, not when it had to do with his emotion. Marvin had felt proud of Sean. He had liked the way he handled the situation. He promised to keep it a secret until it was okay to tell Alice.
“The babies are due soon, you have to make peace with my sister before the children comes,” Sean had said.
“Babies? Did you just say babies?” Marvin asked.
“Yes. She is going to have twins,” Sean answered.
“Thank you for calling Sean. My regards to Brenda,” Marvin had said and disconnected.
Marvin jerked as someone entered the eatery; it was a girl in a petrol attendant uniform. He ignored her and went back to his musing. So, the baby could really be his. Marvin decided to do something about it after all. He had wasted enough time moping around about Kemi. He didn’t have to be married or divorced to be a father. He just had to love his kids enough and give them all he could.
“I’m a fool,” he grimaced as he continued sipping his coffee. He decided there and then to take his destiny in his own hands. He didn’t want to wait anymore. The meeting he had would have to be shifted to another day. He paid his bill and went out into the morning sun.