Mimi hesitates visibly, dividing an unsure look between my husband and me. I urge her on with a look of my own.
“Uhm… Ok…” she falters. “Chio – I mean, Leticia was never a student at UNEC. Someone that knew her told me that she was just lying to everybody that she was a law student, and was living in the off-campus hostel. Then, somehow, the caretaker found out and asked her to leave the hostel. What she used to do back then was follow men around and stuff like that.”
“Okay…?” my husband says, obviously not seeing the point.
“What I’m trying to say, sir, is that she is a pretender,” Mimi says quietly. “She is not a good girl.”
“When did these happen?” my husband inquires.
“While I was in school,” Mimi replies.
“And how long ago was this?” my husband asks again, his face set in grim lines.
I know where this is going, and I don’t envy Mimi at all. Neither do I pity her. Shey na she wan do tatafo in front my husband.
“More than four years ago,” comes her reply.
“Hmm…” my husband grunts. “Very well, I have heard.” And he refocuses on Gabby, a clear indication that he is done with Mimi.
I flash a smile too bright to be genuine when Mimi looks at me. “Thanks for the information, dear,” I say to her, toeing my husband’s line and dismissing her too.
There is a moment of silence on our table after Mimi leaves, both of us chewing on the story in our minds, while chewing on our foods.
“This your friend is a gossip!” my husband finally bursts out. He has probably made up his mind on how to react to the story he’d just heard. “Why would one draw a conclusion with something that happened years ago?”
“I don’t know.” I shrug. “She probably just found out about it recently.”
“But there’s a possibility that she has changed,” he points out.
“And there’s also a possibility that she hasn’t,” I return, trying not to sound too eager to nail Leticia. “That’s a fact to be reckoned with, you know? People don’t always make such 180 degree turnaround.”
“Your breakfast is ready,” I say to my husband, breezing into the room to pick up my car keys to take Gabby to school the next morning. “It’s on the dining table. Let me go and drop Gabby off at school. If you’re not in a big hurry, I might meet you back here before you leave.” I hug him briefly from behind as he stands before the mirror, adjusting his tie.
“Uncle Donatus called me last night,” he responds. “He is coming to the house today.”
“Uh-oh!” I say. My hand drops to my sides, and I watch his face in the mirror. “Did he say why he is coming?”
“Yes. He said he heard something that he is not happy about. So, I’m guessing Ifeanyi went to him.”
“Don’t worry.” My husband turns and cradles my face in his palms. “It’s only talk that he will talk, and my duty will be only to listen and nod as required, hmm?”
“Ok. Is he sleeping over?”
“I guess so. Just prepare for that,” he says, and plants a kiss on my lips.
“Ok.” I give him a nervous smile, step out of his arms and move on out of the room.
This Ifeanyi’s yeye dey smell! I fume to myself on my way back from Gabby’s school. Of course, it is Uncle Donatus he’ll go and report me to! Yeye boy! I shudder a little as I recall Uncle Donatus’ reputation.
He is a renowned lawyer, practicing in Ebonyi State. He sent his wife away from his house because she dared to call him out on his philandering ways, and then kept their three kids away from her. Story has it that one time, she went to visit them in school during their recess, and he heard of it, and had her locked away in police custody for three days.
His wife works with First Bank, and is one of the bigger shots there. She has her own money, and has severally tried to fight for a divorce and the custody of her children, but ‘well meaning’ aunties (including my mother-in-law) has consistently dissuaded her from doing that. Their reason? ‘Does she want her kids to have a broken home? Does she not remember that God hates divorce? Does she not believe in the power of prayers? Has she forgotten that marriage is for better, for worse?’
Six years down the line, and they still do not believe that her home is broken, and of course, they are still praying. Uncle Donatus, of course, is carrying on with his philandering, and without his wife to answer to, he is waxing stronger in his ways.
Good thing for Aunty Donatus (lol, that is what my husband and his siblings call her), she has picked up the pieces of her life and moved on, getting herself a nice car (something her husband refused to get for her while they were married, even though he could afford it, even refusing her getting one for herself), and focusing on her job. I remember how pitiful she looked back when I was first introduced to her three years ago, when I was about to wed my husband.
I hail her in my heart for finding the presence of mind to bullshit the man who has abused her, but I am unhappy that she does not want to fight for her kids. I can’t bear to think of the horrors those children will be going through in the hands of their father’s numerous girlfriends and companions.
Uncle Donatus now swaggers up and down, boasting to anyone that cares to listen that he has the key to handling women and their excesses. Needless to say, I detest the man, and I have got zero respect for him. I wonder how I am supposed to keep a respectful mien in the face of whatever nonsense he intends to say when he visits. I guess I’ll have to keep chatting with someone on phone or playing a game, so that I don’t say anything scathing.
“Ah! Nwanyi oma!” Uncle Donatus calls out to me, washing his hands after a heavy dinner of pounded yam and egusi soup.
“Sir?” I answer, coming over to the dining table.
“Nri gi asoka!” he crows. “No wonder they say you have bewitched my son!” there is a jeering undertone to words.
Wearing a fake smile, one which has been on my face since he walked in through the door earlier in the evening, I reply, “Thank you, uncle.”
He pushes away from the table, patting his paunch as he gets to his feet. He picks out three toothpicks from the small case and waddles to the sitting room, where he drops heavily on a sofa, and proceeds to fiddle with the remote control.
“Is this your television set LG smart?” he directs at my husband as I clear out his used plates.
Several moments later, I am done with the washing and cleaning up, and start out of the kitchen. Then I stop when Uncle Donatus’ words carry from the living room to me.
“You should never let a woman control you, my son…”
I stand there, trying to make up my mind whether to sit at the dining table and eavesdrop or go into the bedroom and lie down, as I have not been feeling particularly good this evening.
He decides in that moment to take a furtive glance around.
“Woman, come and sit down, and hear what I have to say,” he commands, all the bewitchment of my food that he’d just eaten evidently cleared from his eyes.
“Are you okay?” my husband queries as I weave into the sitting room.
“I don’t feel good,” I reply, gingerly setting myself down on a sofa.
“How is it doing you?” he asks, concerned.
“One side of my head is aching and I feel dizzy…” I answer, amusedly noting the change in Uncle Donatus’ countenance.
“Oya, go in and lie down,” my husband says, and turning to Uncle Donatus, he adds, “Don’t worry, sir. I can answer any questions you have for her. She has not been feeling fine lately.”
Without waiting for him to agree or refuse, I rise from the sofa and gratefully make my way to the bedroom, all the while wondering if my husband actually noticed my indisposition, or he simply wanted to spare me Uncle Donatus’ wrath tonight.
Written by Adaku J.