My mother stared at me as if I was mad.
“Crystal, have you been drinking or what? What did I just hear you say?” she asked sharply.
She had come visiting from her home in the Woji area of town. We were in my small sitting room upstairs where I had my sewing machine and other stuff I used for my sewing. After I left school, I had learnt fashion designing and I did a little sewing once in a while to keep busy and not for money.
I placed the blouse I was sewing for her on the table and turned to her.
“Mum, you heard me. I’m filing for divorce from Aloy,” I repeated patiently as if talking to a child.
“A divorce? On what grounds? What has your husband done to you that you want to leave him?” she demanded.
“That’s the problem, Mum. He doesn’t do anything! He’s hardly around in the name of work. I’ve endured it for over five years and that’s many years of my life wasted on an ’empty’ marriage.”
My mother shook her head, looking at me in a pitying manner.
“I can’t believe this is coming from you. You want a divorce because your husband is hardly around because of his work? Are you crazy or what? Are you the only one in such a situation? What about the many women around whose husbands live and work abroad while they remain in Nigeria? Have they all filed for divorce from their husbands?” she demanded, her voice becoming angrier by the minute.
I did not care if she was mad at me or not. It was my life, my happiness at stake here. Whatever she felt about the matter would not dissuade me from what I intended doing about my situation. It was a choice I had to make between my husband or my lover.
It was obvious that my marriage to Aloy had grown stale, caused mostly by his long absences from home. Ok. He made a lot of money which enabled us to live a certain lifestyle. But was money everything? What about love, companionship, commitment- vital ingredients in a marriage all of which were lacking in mine?
It was my affair with Benji that opened my eyes to what had been missing in my marriage. Before Benji, it was like I was just existing, just going through the motions of living. He opened a whole new world to me which I would be crazy not to hold on to…
“Look, Crystal,” my mother was now saying. “I don’t know who’s putting these silly ideas in your head, making you think of leaving your husband. The person is just deceiving you! He doesn’t wish you well!
“How can you talk of leaving a man like Aloy, who has been so good to you and our family? Have you forgotten so soon the assistance he rendered to us after your father’s death? Who trained your younger brothers up to the university level? Who’s still supporting us till today? The same man you want to divorce! You should stop whatever you’re drinking so you can come back to your senses!
“You want a divorce! Go divorce him let me see! Silly child!” she fumed. And picking up her
hang bag marched towards the door.
“Mum, wait! Your blouse is almost ready…”
She ignored me and left, banging the door angrily after her…
I tapped my feet to the poignant notes of the guitar as Benji strummed and played for me. It was one of his favourite songs.
We were at his friend Ken’s place where we often met when we did not go to the guest house. Ken was a music producer/promoter who had all kinds of musical instruments in his house.
I did not know Benji could play any instrument until our first day at the house. He had picked up a guitar and played me a touching song he had even composed ‘especially for you,’ he had stated.
He had chosen Coldplay’s The Scientist to play for me that evening.
‘Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start’
“What a sad song. It’s like he lost somebody,” I stated softly when he stopped playing.
He placed the guitar by his side and said:
“Relationship troubles, more like.” He paused.
“Such as we would have if your mother has her way.”
He was right. About a month after our argument at the house, my mother, having found out about Benji had explicitly told me, no, ordered me to end the relationship before, ‘Aloy finds out!’
“Whatever you have with that man must stop!” she had said vociferously on the phone. “What has come over you, Crystal? You used to be the reasonable and level headed one among my children. Now this! Dating another man, one who happens to be your husband’s tenant? What do you think your husband will say or do if he finds out? You better stop the affair before its too late! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
“She doesn’t want me to see you any more,” I now said.
“And what do you want?” He gazed keenly at me.
I drew his head close, resting it on my chest.
“You. I want you, sweetheart. All of you.”
“That’s good to hear. Because I want you too,” he said, cuddling close to me on the settee, his had slipping inside my top…
I refused to listen to my mother and continued to see Benji. I was in love with him and not ready to let go no matter the opposition. In fact the more opposition we faced, the more I stuck with him.
It reached a stage where I decided to start the divorce proceedings so I got a lawyer. My intention was to inform Aloy about it the next time he was home for his break from work. Once I was free, the plan was for Benji and I to leave the country and start a new life together.
Things were going well until one evening when I got a phone call from a strange man who asked:
“Are you Crystal, Mr Aloy’s wife?”
To be continued