Not anymore

Not anymore

© Folakemi Emem-Akpan


I stepped into the cool foyer, relieved to be home after a very long day of negotiations and tantrums. I could hear the faint whisper of a TV set, the dull roar of a toilet flushing, and Melinda’s snores.


These were the sounds of home, the sounds that I loved so much it made my heart ache. In the living room, George was multitasking as usual, watching the TV, IMing, doing his homework. He waved to me from his seat and went back to his chores.


My heart froze inside of me, like it did every night. There was a time he’d be flying across the room, a time when he would entwine his skinny arms around my neck and pepper my face with sweet little kisses. Not anymore.


In the hallway, I cracked open the door to Melinda’s room. She was fast asleep, curled in the fetal position, her mouth slightly open, the room awash with the pings and pongs of her snoring. There was a time she’d stay awake till I returned from work, her hair smelling of fruity shampoo, her mouth of toothpaste. The smell of girly innocence. Not anymore.


In our room, my wife came out of the bathroom when she heard the door. Her face was scrubbed clean of make-up, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, her body in a modest nightie. In the past, she would be wearing fresh make-up, would be wearing a see-through negligee, would be waiting with a chilled glass of wine. Not anymore.


The sad truth I had to live with was that it was all my fault.


“Hi there.” Betsy reached up on her tippy toes and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek. I wanted to hold her close, to lose myself in her, to be one with her as before. Instead, I replied with a hi of my own and dropped my suitcase on the floor. As I loosened my tie, she told me my dinner was sitting in the oven, could she warm it up for me?


Betsy still did all the things a wife should, only that they were now empty chores. She cooked, she cleaned, she listened when I spoke, and we still had a sex life albeit a sporadic one. Everything was there. Everything but joy.


I couldn’t remember when the process started, but it must have been when I got the promotion three years ago. I was working hard, then harder, then hardest than I had ever done in my lifetime. Motivated by thoughts of being able to provide my family with all that they desired, I took on more responsibility than I was assigned, got home later and later, was too tired to sit up with my children, too tired to listen to them, too tired to appreciate Betsy, too tired to be a family man.


They tried really hard. The children were extra careful not to fray my already frayed nerves, Betsy gave me rub-downs to ease the tension in my back and forearms. I receded further and further into myself.


They got the message. The children found lives separate from their father’s, my wife’s bubble laugher finally faded into nothingness. I buried myself up to the neck in work.


The food was served, the water was poured. Betsy slipped under the covers, her back unconsciously turned to me. I ate slowly, not because I was savouring the meal but because my mind was a whirlpool of thoughts. I wished I could turn back time. Yes I would still have taken the promotion. But no, I wouldn’t have allowed my job to consume me. I wouldn’t have pushed my family away. I wouldn’t have.


I cleared the plate without even tasting its content, washed the plate and tray with warm water, finally climbed into bed beside my wife.


Even though she was asleep, I held her and promised that I would change things.


She did not hear me. And perhaps she wouldn’t have cared.


30 thoughts on “Not anymore” by Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

  1. I just so love this. Brilliantly written.
    Grips your heart in a subtle way.

    Many times we miss those things that are no more. Some we can change. Some we have to accept and live with.


    1. @theo, thanks for your comment. Happy you enjoyed it

  2. Hmmmmm….. So sad a situation. There is more to family life than providing all they ever needed or wanted. Atyms, there is the need to serve yourself as the food required i.e. put aside the work, the chores and the career to take on ur most crucial assignment which is the FAMILY. Any man who succeeds in all and fails in the family has failed in all.. Wish all career driven men can read and ponder on these.

    1. @gmoney, yes there is more to life than providing all tge family wants. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Rhoiy (@Roy-journals)

    Beautiful!!! It’s a good thing he realized his mistakes, and a greater thing that he feels the need to fix it. Most families are so used to adjustment and endurance so much that they don’t even know when there’s a huge shift in their lives. They categorize it under changes that come with growth.
    I can relate to this on so many levels.
    Really good stuff.

    1. @roy-journals, thanks for your comment. Yes, thank God he is willing to fix the problem

  4. Nicely written. The message, so true.

    I only struggled with these sentences:
    I ate slowly . . . I cleared the plate without even tasting its content.

    1. @namdi, thanks so much for your comment. I meant that the character finished the food on his plate without even tasting what he ate. Cheers

  5. @folakemi this is nice, I just love the way you write honestly.

    1. @ameenaedrees, i am happy you loved it. Thanks

  6. I like this. It’s quite didactic. I wish people read and learn.

    1. @chime221, I like that you like. Thanks for reading and commenting

  7. So true of most marriages.

  8. Another superb writing from one of the prolific writers I know #winks* This story of Betsy and her hubby still occurs till date, the marriage is no longer what it used to be; everyone still playing their role well as Betsy is doing. I pray the patching up thing work out for them eventually.

    1. @shovey, thanks so much for your comment. unfortunately, the story of betsy and her hubby is becoming the norm in our society rather than the exception.

  9. Brilliant piece @folakemi. This is the sad paradox of a man who loves his family: he loves them enough to want to give them the best but then, the harder he tries, the farther he stray from them emotionally. It is a balancing act, really.

    1. @mscnol, thanks. it truly is a balancing act

  10. U works are nothing short of beautiful. I love the way you write.
    This is a nice piece, and one with a great message too. Write soonest! I want to read…

    1. @chijy, thanks for your comment. Okay, will write soonest

  11. He has made the decision to CHANGE, so has his action CHANGED my perspective too…
    @folakemi , you share so many messages that need to be sent out for the world to hear..
    Keep up the good work, keep writing.

    PS: (Lemme coin this) More Ink To Your Quill..

    1. @praize, thanks. More ink to your quill too…or more taps to your computer. lol

  12. Ladyzizi (@Ngozi-Ebubedike)

    A common occurrence in most home, but written in a brilliant way..
    Thumbs up (@Folakemi

  13. Very good writing

  14. I have been offline for a while but on my return I hurriedly checked your posts.Reading your posts serves me as treats to a hungry mouth.please are you resident in will be nice to meet you, learn from you as first hand.thanks

    1. @himalone, welcome back. I have also not been very active in recent days. Unfortunately, I am resident in Lagos, not in Uyo. Cheers

  15. Family is everything!

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