“ I’m not having an affair with Ngozi !”, he literally spat the words out.
Ngozi is our downstairs neighbour, mid-thirties, very pretty, a flirt and recently divorced. She’s like that with men and makes a hobby out of finding them, using them and then dumping them when they’ve outlived their usefulness. I believe its her third marriage that has just gone up in smoke. And she was looking for another man to get her claws into.
My husband of fifteen years stood there across from me in the living room all dressed up. In fact, we were both dressed up. His agbada matching my iro and buba as we were going to a naming ceremony as a couple even though the word ‘couple’ is in dangerous territory right now. My gut feelings telling me something was terribly amiss.
“ Look me in the eye then and say you’re not having an affair and I’ll believe you”.
He looked me straight in the eye, holding my gaze for as long as he could, repeating his denial. We were like two kids trying to outstare each other.
He was lying. I knew he was lying. I didn’t need him to take a lie detector test for I’ve been married to him for so long to know when he’s lying.
The gossip machine in the building had been gong at full blast. There have been tales of secret rendezvous , stolen kisses and embraces behind my back and most audacious of all – him sneaking out of her apartment when I was away for the weekend. But yet again it was all gossip or was it ?
I changed the topic,”…we had better be going before we’re late…we’ll talk later”. As my mother would say an allegation is baseless in the absence of any proof. So I had to take his word for now. Just for now.
The party we were going to was just downstairs in our compound so we didn’t have far to go.
Mr Oyewole, our downstairs neighbour, had just had twins and was throwing a naming ceremony party for everybody in the building.
As was to be expected Ngozi was there flirting with a man half her age who was equally all over her like a bad rash. Despite her age she looked strikingly beautiful and young in the tweed trouser suit she had on. Only she could pull off such a fashion coup like that as us frumpy middle-aged women hid all our ugly bits under our iro and bubas.
After handing over our presents to the two new arrivals, sitting down to a meal together, hubby and I soon drifted off in different directions, mingling with the other guests as you do in parties.
The night wore on and the party which was scheduled to end at 10 pm was fast turning into an ‘overnighter’. More people started to arrive, more food and drink was brought out and the live band was gearing up to play all night.
I bumped into Busola, my friend, who holds the infamous title of chief neighbourhood gossip, and settled own for an evening of being entertained about who’s been up to what behind closed doors. Hopefully my husbands alleged trysts with Ngozi won’t come into the conversation.
The gossip was juicier than I thought. After about an hour with the drinks still coming, Busola was getting tipsy and suffered a bout of verbal diarrhoea.
So and so was a lesbian and the woman she introduced to us as her sister was actually her lover ! The police were investigating Mr Ade over an alleged armed robbery. Miss Florence funded her lavish flamboyant lifestyle through drug smuggling, Mr and Mrs Adekunle were divorcing and Mr Azik had lost his job…..
She wouldn’t shut up ! She went on and on and on ! Given half a chance I bet she could go on till eternity!
By 11 O’clock I was tipsy and Busolas words, as she was still rattling on, went in through one ear and straight out through the other one. I had already heard enough and there was no more room for anymore gossip in my head.
Just as I was about to start nodding off in came Ronke.
Ronke was always the wiser one. She looked fresh and radiant having turned up at the party late, about an hour ago in comparison to those of us who’d been here for hours and were already sizzled on the cheap wine being served.
As usual Ronke was dressed to kill. Her cream coloured aso oke iro and buba had sequins sewn into it glittering like little diamonds when ever she moved. She had a multi-coloured damask gele on which stood proudly on her head like a mini-Cocoa House. And to finish her glamorous look she had various pieces of jewellery adorning her fingers, wrists and neck.
She was a welcome distraction to the chatty Busola and I settled down to have a real proper girlie chat with her. I hadn’t seen her since she got back from Rome a month ago and we had a lot of catching up to do.
My husband was nowhere in sight. He’s probably half-drunk somewhere discussing politics, loudly, with his friends.
It was shortly after midnight when I decided to finally call it a night. My eyes were bleary and I was beginning to slur my words. I had had enough.
But I wasn’t going anywhere, said Ronke, until after we’ve taken a selfie. She had this new Samsung phone and was dying to show it off.
All three of us group together, flashing our pearly whites as she held the camera aloft.
The Samsung camera-phone whirled into action going ‘click’, ‘click’, ‘click’ as it took a succession of pictures.
Job done and she looked at the ready self portraits of us she had taken.
“ Oh dear…”, she began putting a hand up to her mouth,”. we’ve been photobombed!”.
“ Let me see!”, said Busola nearly snatching the phone out of her hands, eager to see it. Her face dropped as soon as she looked at the picture. She then handed it to me and looked away, not saying a word.
I took the camera and looked at the picture and my heart skipped a beat.
We had been photobombed alright. In the top left hand corner of the photograph, a bit fuzzy and slightly out of focus, was the image of a couple locked in a very passionate embrace.
It was my husband and Ngozi.