It was their misery party. As a ritual, the three friends met at least once a month for it.
Isioma, the media consultant with a PR and advertising firm, who had made her way through life by her wits and beauty. Indeed it was a little known fact at her office that she had no formal higher education. The one time that information had made rounds, there was more than a few of her colleagues who dismissed it as idle gossip.
Chinyelu, a former colleague of Isioma before her husband got promoted to the executive director of his bank. It was then that she decided that after a decade and half, she’d had enough of salaried employment. Now she sold anything she laid her hands on – flowers, jewelry, cosmetics, you name it. If she heard that there was market for a product, she was on to it. Lately, she had started a bakery in her kitchen, an idea she picked up from Perpetua, the event-planner.
Perpetua did more than plan events. She also sewed bridals and on occasions, catered for ceremonies. Her recent discovery was the world of interior decorating, a field Chinyelu was secretly had eyes on. In truth, Chinyelu copied Perpetua and coveted all of her friend’s ventures. However, unlike Chinyelu who did it for leisure and could afford to lose money with business failures, Perpetua didn’t have a rich husband to fall back on. Actually, she was the rich wife who did the bailing. In her case though, Chris wasn’t into business. As it was, Perpetua couldn’t precisely say what he did. For all she knew, he goes to work in the mornings, comes back in the evening, and at the end of the month claims poverty!
While Chris was the designated Worst Husband among the three women, none of the other two were ecstatic about their own spouses either. Their monthly rendezvous was for whining about the rotten luck they had been dealt. Chinyelu’s exquisite mansion was the chosen place for their meeting. It was nicer, for one. And she was the only one who didn’t have to lose sleep over the cost of their letting loose. Bottles and bottles of assorted wine. Sumptuous food ordered from exotic restaurants. Professional maid service. And the twinkling reflection of light from a swimming pool.
“I’m in the image-making industry, for crying out loud,” Isioma had kicked off their last meeting, dangling a tall wine glass, in-between taking long drinks from it. “I can’t afford to look dowdy. I’ve to wear stilettos even though it they hurt like hell. But I’ve to wear them! Spas, manis and pedis are about investment, not fashion.
“My clothes, my hair, my shoes, every single thing about me have to be top-notch, aimed to impress. But God knows, not for men. I mean, these stinking old fools don’t get more attractive with money. If I’ve said it, I’ve said a million times to Tommy. So, why can’t he trust me, and stop suspecting me of cheating. And with my bosses! Aarrggh! I can barely stand those guys.”
“My dear, no too talk. You’re lucky you’re not married to a Naija man. You for dey hear am eh,” chipped in Perpetua, who always wished she could trade places with Isioma.
“Yes oh, man is man everywhere,” supported Chinyelu. Before settling down with Jideofor, she had dated slews of men from every country and tribe. “Jealousy is not a nationality thing. It’s a man thing.”
Isioma disagreed. “It’s not the same thing, Chichi. Do you know that when I’m with Tommy and a call comes in, I’m in trouble. If I answer it, na ten page query be that. If I ignore it, I’m hiding my sins. Your husband isn’t like that. I mean, you take off to God knows where at a spur’s notice, and it never bugs you what explanation would be deemed valid. Na who born me to dare that?”
“Would you rather you’re me? I take impromptu vacations because I hardly see my husband. And it’s not all office work that keeps him away. Do you know how many women call this house on a daily basis? How many can you fight? Every time I check Jideofor’s mobile, there are thousands of texts from girls. These days, we don’t do it anymore unless he uses a condom. Tommy is faithful, isn’t he?”
“We’ve a prenup. He can’t afford to screw around.”
Tommy had wedded Isioma in his home country. Although her friends wouldn’t openly admit it, they believed that the only substantial thing Tommy had had to offer Isioma was the US citizenship. They hadn’t been impressed to learn that he had insisted he would never live in America again; that Africa was his roots that he’d returned to.
“Prenup or not, de relationship don tire me joo. I mean, I’m totally sick and tired. Thank God times have changed, mehn. I mean, chicks no longer stay in marriages that aren’t giving them what they bargained for. If oga sir is not representing, madam is stepping. So, the clock is ticking for Tommy and I. Believe me, the clock is ticking. I’ve been patient. Too patient. Thinking, hoping, praying that he’d change. But that ain’t happening, mehn. And I can’t continue living my life like this. I mean, I refuse to.”
“Anyhow,” Perpetua, who had heard all that before, steered the subject back to their tirade, “You are ten times better off. If I have a hundred thousand, Chris steals forty thousand out of it when I’m sleeping. I use fifty thousand for the house – I pay rent, the children’s school fees, NEPA bills, I fuel the generator, and of course I give myself feeding allowance. Still, Chris must eat three square meals a day. And it’s not any how kind of food o. At least, two meats chunks each time.
“When he’s not stealing my money, he’s borrowing it and he’ll never pay back. If I say I won’t give him, his family will flood me with calls, calling me all sorts of names. They said I’m the one who made their son poor, that I’ve bad luck. Has their son ever been wealthy, I want to ask them. When we were dating, he’ll collect money from me and send home to his mother. I paid for that ungrateful woman’s eye surgery, and it was not ten kobo. His father’s rickety car, nko? I bought him the Honda hala he’s driving now. Now that I’ve so much more financial responsibilities, and can’t dish out cash like I used to, I’m the one with bad luck.”
“It’s you I blame, Pep. You spoilt him, spoon-feeding right from the start. Why?”
“Chichi, what was I to do? Chris was a beautiful man, every woman wanted him. I felt lucky that I was the one he wanted. Look at me now, short, over-weight. Plus at thirty-five, I’ve arthritics. It’s not as if I’m fine. Some babes are fat and beautiful, people hardly bother about their weight. I’ve nothing going for me physically. Do you know that before Chris, I’d gone three good years without a date? What were my chances of marrying? So, I took what I got, anyhow it came.” She hissed, getting exceedingly depressed.
That was last month’s conversation.
This month, Perpetua had no tales of woes to share. Chris was still pilfering, mind you, but Perpetua couldn’t care less. Since the last time she and her friends met up, she had ran into this hunk of a man. He was courteous, friendly, and generous with compliments. Perpetua was seriously toying with the idea of doing something about all that attention she was getting. An affair, perhaps. As she headed to Chinyelu’s place earlier on that evening, she was intent on asking her friends for advice. More really to replay every detail of her encounters with Solo, to hear their analyses of the hints she thought she was picking up from him were really there. She prayed she wasn’t imagining them, because she liked Solo. Moreover, hasn’t she earned the right to be unfaithful? She needed an outlet for all the pent-up resentment she had for her marriage. But then, she wondered, what was it with her and gorgeous broke men? Good thing she wasn’t going to marry this one, so she wouldn’t have the extra expenses from his family to add to her burden.
Perpetua would have had a tough time getting Chinyelu interested in what she hoped to do with her privates. Chinyelu, after all, had troubles of her own. Her eldest daughter had gone missing from her boarding school in the beginning of the week. The school proprietor had been beside herself, with numerous back and forth phone calls between her and Jideofor since Wednesday when Imelda’s absence was brought to her notice. It was the most trying time for Chinyelu. Jideofor was accusing her of aiding and abetting Imelda to run away. Why he’d think that, she couldn’t fathom. He was threatening the school with police arrest and lawsuit for kidnapping. In fact, for the past three days, he had gone insane. He was screaming at everyone and everything. Chinyelu nearly called up her friends to cancel their weekend routine. That was before word came of where and with whom Imelda was. It wasn’t good news.
As bad as Chinyelu had it, Isioma was having the rottenest fortune of them all.
“Tommy left me!” Isioma wailed. “He ended our marriage, the sonofabitch!”
She didn’t look pretty today. Her hair was disheveled, her mascara running, and her clothes smelt of sweat. Her face was swollen from crying too hard and too long.
“Take it easy, love,” Perpetua tried to console her, letting her exciting news take the back-seat.
“Why would he leave me? Why? I mean, I’m a good wife. I’m good in bed. I cook like a chef. I look damn good, my shape is tamtam. I’m tall like a model, have big boobs, big ass. I mean, who would look at me and think I’ve two kids? I earn good dough, I hold my own. I’m intelligent. I’m the total damn package, dammit! And I take his shit! I mean, I put up with his nonsense. Why would he leave me?” She cried, heart-wrenching sobs that almost brought Perpetua to tears herself.
“It’s ok, sweetie. Whoever he left you for can’t hold a torch to you, that’s for sure.” Perpetua said, meaning well, but looking over her shoulders at Chinyelu who was quiet all evening.
“No, he didn’t leave me for another woman,” screamed Isioma. “Why would you even think that?”
Perpetua was dumbfounded. “Well, I just thought –”
“Why would you ever think that, that’s what I want to know? Because that’s the commonest reason men walk out on seven years of marriage? Well, that’s not the case here.”
Isioma wasn’t done. “We were having arguments here and there. Little arguments about things that didn’t really matter in the grand scale of things, when you think about it. He said I have too much drama. I think he’s the king of it, but he just can’t see it because that’s who he is. Maybe it all got too much for him to handle, that’s why he left. Not because of another woman. But for you to actually think that, it tells me what kind of friend you really are.”
“Isioma, please forget Pep said that,” intervened Chinyelu, with a tone that bordered on nonchalance.
“Right. I bet you would say that because you thought the same too, isn’t it?”
“Well, like you said, it is the commonest reason.”
“I’m so disappointed in the two of you right now. I mean, I’m utterly disappointed. I’m going home. I didn’t want to come today, but I reconsidered as I thought I’d get sympathy. Gosh! Please, I’m sorry to have to do this, but I’m out of here. Good night.”
Neither Perpetua nor Chinyelu made an attempt to stop Isioma. As a matter of fact, the moment she closed the door, Perpetua eagerly went to sit next to Chinyelu on the ottoman.
“She doesn’t know?” she asked Chinyelu.
“I didn’t tell her.”
“Ha! Wahala dey oh. If she’s like this now, what will she then do when she finds out? Kasala go burst.”
Chinyelu waved her concerns off. “I’ve bigger problems than that, Pep.”
“Kai,” Perpetua hissed, shaking her head. “So, what’s the latest on Imelda?”
“Jideofor is furious, as you can expect. He says he’s not taking it lying low.”
“I can understand. My Chris would have skinned somebody; his daughter kwa!”
“Before nko. Tommy cannot seduce our seventeen years old daughter and get away with it. Jideofor doesn’t care what Nigeria says their age of consent is, he’s going to have Tommy arrested for statutory rape.”
Perpetua gasped. “Chineke me e. Isioma will just die!”
“Whatever she wants to do with herself is up to her, jare. I support my husband,” Chinyelu declared.
© Flourishing Florida