THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED- GRACE OCHIGBO
The car was barely at the gate when the gate flew open. It was as though Ocholi couldn’t wait for them to return or better still he had been standing at the gate all along. Whatever the case was, really mattered much right now. He hurriedly pulled down the hook of the huge black iron gate and inserted them firmly in their holes on the ground before running underneath the canopy where the Ford Endeavour, that just drove in, parked. It parked beside Aunty Udale’s. The Peugeot hasn’t been returned yet, so the parking lot allocated to it was left empty. Because of the isolation in this environment they live in, the fence was built so high up that it almost swallowed two-third the height of the seven-bedroom storey building. That’s aside the barb wire that aligned the top of the fence so much so that any robber would be electrocuted, at the drop of a hat, if he/she dared to even climb the fence midway. Matthew has always been the ‘prim and proper’ kind of man right from his youthful days. In fact, Udale practically learnt how to pay deep attention to tiny details from her husband. He didn’t literally teach her in that sense, she was compelled to learn by example. So much for marrying a cool, calm and collected husband. For her, anything goes and she was so happy to be in love with him, except that he could be a brutal and merciless animal whenever his anger issues came over him.
“Where is she?” Matthew questioned as instant as Ocholi got to his side of the car, before the latter could say a welcome, before the former switched off the ignition.
“In the sitting room sir” Ocholi responded quite politely. He wasn’t much interested in responding to his elder brother as much as he was in looking through the window of the car for something or… someone only him seem to be aware of. Matthew finally killed the car, got down and headed straight for the entrance door.
Udale looked on with gross confusion written all over her face when she saw her husband’s actions. In fact, everything about Matthew to her has been pretty strange lately; including all the stunts he has pulled right from the morning they left here for the village uptill now. Even after waiting patiently for him to get off the call he screamed from earlier, the only answer he could give Baba and her was: “everything is under control. Udale, we are leaving immediately”. She remembered how Baba had to give up asking when he perceived his son in-law wasn’t ready to put them in the know of whatever was happening. She couldn’t help but wonder who the ‘she’ in her sitting room was and she needed to go find out. God help her today she wouldn’t be giving someone a hot pepper bath.
“Ocholi, take those things into the room. Laibe you too, join him” Udale ordered as she hurried after her husband who just entered the sitting room.
Ocholi stared at Laibe as she appeared extremely exhausted again, yet she was smiling. He remembered all the drama that ensued with the poor girl right from the road yesterday to this moment. He admired her spirit a lot. Her spirit is indeed the fighting one.
Bundling her back to Ofabo the way they left this morning?
If it were some other girls, she wouldn’t have agreed to return back, and sincerely if he was to be the one he wouldn’t have taken any of the attitudes his brother was dishing out.
Something definitely inspired her. Something must be driving her with this so much grace and courage and he couldn’t wait to find out what that is.
Laibe bent over to pick up the ógèdé – bunch of bananas, which a woman gave to her aunty as they were about leaving. She tried to lift it in futility for a while before turning tired eyes to her ‘crush of life’. Ocholi let out a mischievous laughter before holding up the ógèdè from the trunk. Laibe marvelled at that; at the way the young man held the large bunch like a child would hold a broken pencil. She own strength, or maybe used to own one. She normally carried about four of that size of bunch from the farm back home in her wheelbarrow. Why she seem to be so weak today beats her imagination.
Yes! It could be the way she woke up this morning. Waking up abruptly and in fright has a way of giving anyone migraine all through the day let alone the unplanned return journey. The so much laughter her friends caused her, running round the tree so as to dodge hugging Omachoko, running back home in fright when she was told Baba and her aunty were looking for her and the peaceful elation that filled her heart when her aunty told her to sit in the car as they were all going back to Ankpa together – all these were tasking.
With joy, she almost jumped on Baba after hearing her aunt but she refrained herself to just a light hug. Baba held her hand and prayed for her. When he was done with the prayers, he dropped an adage that got her thinking “Laibe, ànyàjà à kèdó ófù ñ” which means, despair has no meaning where there is faith. Of course she knew the meaning of the adage, he had heard Baba use it a lot of times especially when her mother was still alive. The only thing she had a difficult time in fathoming was the relationship between that adage and her going over to stay at Ankpa with her aunty. It was an important punch line because Baba didn’t say it like some of those words he voiced out just for the fun of it. He had that deep crease on his forehead, squeezing his face into a fiercer form while sounding with the notion that he meant every word and anytime she joggled her head to decipher its meaning, the migraine doubles. It is true and said in Igala that what an elderly man sees while sitting on his chair, a child, even when he climbs up to the top of a high mountain, may never see it. She hoped and prayed silently in her heart that no bad omen would confront her here this time. She lurched as a startling sound brought her back to reality. It sounded like something moved inside the handle of the car she just partly closed. Her frightful movement was so intense that her aunt’s bag almost fell off her hand and before she could gather her strength she heard Ocholi laughing really hard,
OK! Now that was beginning to get embarrassing. It wasn’t his normal welcoming and warm smiles, this was real ridicule and she hates much more than anything else to become an object of mockery.
“What?” she yelled.
That took Ocholi aback. For real? Did she just yell? Her face contorted into a grossly irritated one. Well, Laibe looked so innocent no one would think she would get angry or irritated with anything. Ocholi stopped laughing, pressed down the ‘lock’ button on the car’s remote again and the car doors made the same sound as before but this time Laibe did not jerk, she only stood transfixed to the same point. She felt like hitting herself on the head for feeling scared in the first place. Perhaps, her thoughts necessitated that, but truly again, she wasn’t seeing cars with automatic remotes often, so she shouldn’t be blamed for her ignorance. As all these thoughts patronized the market of her head, she felt the impulse to laugh, just smile and release the face that she had all of a sudden formed into a horrible frown. Her friends tell her she looked horrible whenever she frowned. How could she have done that before her crush? How on earth did she raise her voice at him? Will he now become like Uncle Matthew who doesn’t speak at all to her from now? All these questions begged for sincere answers in her head.
“Laibe…” Ocholi called out for the second time. They must be something on this girl’s mind that makes her go ‘offline’ at every given interval. It was weird. He may be just five years older than her – he wasn’t sure though, but one thing he knew of a surety was that when he was her age, he had nothing bothering his mind. He had just how many more times he should eat in one day to worry about.
“Erhm! Uhm?” Laibe stammered her response.
“Let’s go drop these things please, I have something important to show you!” He said and starting walking into the house.
Laibe took a deep breath before following him through the back door that led directly into the kitchen.
Matthew followed Udale into their bedroom. She had walked in on Angela hugging him cheerfully. Angela was so excited to finally see Matthew after a very long time so much so that she forgot her heavy condition and jumped on him. Matthew had nothing to worry about, he was powerful and huge enough to catch twice the size of pregnant Angela. Of course, if he could raise his rotund wife off the floor with only a hand, there was practically no woman he couldn’t carry. They only both got into each other’s arms when Udale opened the door and walked in. He looked at his wife’s eyes and they weren’t friendly at all. In fact, if eyes carried guns, Udale’s would have shot the both of them dead with her stares.Women and insecurity! For reasons not tangible in the sight of Matthew, Udale just walked on towards the stairs without responding to any of the greetings falling on deaf ears from Angela.
“Is anything the matter?” Angela turned back to face Matthew with a babyish look when Udale snubbed her attempt at giving a hug.
“Just be comfortable. I’ll be back” Matthew replied, touching her smooth and well powdered cheeks lovingly before following his wife.
“What do you think you are doing Udale?” Matthew confronted Udale immediately he was sure the door was firmly shut behind him.
“She is beautiful and gorgeous and I’m sure your baby in her would be as handsome as you are too” Udale responded while sniffing in the catarrh that was flowing down her nose. She let out a sarcastic giggle in-between her statements as she only let her robust form drop unto the bed in frustration.
“Baby? Handsome as I am? What do you mean?” Matthew questioned her in return, sounding really marvelled.
“What if you had told me earlier? Would that kill your ego as a man?” she asked. Her voice was rising initially until she finally let it break out and the ocean of tears poured uncontrollably “…only for you to announce it before my father this morning that you were taking a second wife… What can be more disgraceful?”
Matthew started laughing. He was still standing at the wardrobe in the room, very close to the entrance door, but he laughed so much that he didn’t know when he walked to the edge of the bed and took his seat on one of the side drawers.
“Sweetie, I told you and Baba that the statement was a joke. I mean, we settled it there and talked about other jovial things, so what’s all these about?”
“Yeah! Joke indeed! It would have been cool if you deceived just only me, but saying a done truth was a joke to my father and denying it in my very before is worse than taking a knife and cutting my head off right now, Matthew!” Udale lamented bitterly. One could feel the agitation in her voice and if she had her way, she would have screamed out the many harsh words her mind had collected for Matthew. But she didn’t have the energy to use a loud voice this time though, she sobbed quietly while her mouth talked on.
“Matthew just kill me” she broke down into full uncontrollable tears, “Kill me now…” Her hand reached for Matthew’s hand and she pulled him towards herself vigorously.
Matthew has this issue with women; very emotional and unnecessarily close to tears. It irritates the life out of him a lot. He tried to cuddle his wife, even if he didn’t know which was the best words to use first, he wanted to get her stabilised all the same but she yanked off his hands immediately he placed it across her shoulders. That got him more vexed.
“You should have at least let me introduce her to you before concluding” Matthew said with the calmest voice he could gather at the moment.
“Keep your stupid explanation to yourself Matthew. Oh! You impregnated one of your concubines and even had the nerves to bring her into my house? I see… you will have to kill one of us to survive in this house. The both of us cannot live under this same roof Matthew. Over my dead body!” she yelled at the top of her lungs now with pain tearing out through it.
“Damn!” Matthew exclaimed, hitting hard on the wood he sat on and getting up,
“That woman is Angela, Boyega’s wife. I couldn’t hear whatever Boyega was saying over the phone because of the stupidly poor network in your village. Ocholi called to let me talk with her. I was only shocked she could locate my house, that was why I screamed that way. There was no big deal, there is still no big deal. She has a screening tomorrow morning in Lokoja and she is coming from Aba. She is aware I work in Lokoja so would only hitch a ride with me down tomorrow morning. That’s all” Matthew narrated with increased provocation. Hitting his clenched fist on the wall beside him, he paused and glanced at his wife’s direction. The sobs were lighter now, not as loud and pitiable as they were when she started out. He rolled his eyes in disdain.
“Maybe, I wasn’t joking about taking a second wife after all but I wouldn’t be taking another man’s wife. She is definitely not Angela” he added and drew closer to the bed, displaying his intimidating huge form. His voice still sounded very much irritated.
Udale wiped her eyes quickly and turned to face Matthew. For the second time today she preferred her ears didn’t hear clearly instead,
“Not Angela? Who then?” Udale asked, popping her eyes wide open as though they would fall off their sockets. Well, she wasn’t particularly expecting her husband to respond. She knew him better than that and just when she wished today could be an exception, Matthew only eyeballed her coldly before walking out of the room and closing the door gently behind him. He had left her to figure out what to believe as usual. Her heart however didn’t completely buy her husband’s tale regarding the pregnant woman in her sitting room. She pulled herself together from the large bed as a scene came into her mind. It’s about time she displayed some of her acting skills.
To be continued,
The Wife I Never Married – Episode Eleven
THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED- GRACE OCHIGBO