THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED- GRACE OCHIGBO
“Mummy, for months now, he has been acting up strangely. As if something is really wrong somewhere and it’s so painful I cannot wrap my hands around it. Firstly, he abruptly resigned from his lecturing job for God knows why, and for months ma, he was jobless. He had a lot of offers from public and private universities both here and abroad. You know he studied Crop production and processing…” she gave an inquisitive look, “I mean, teaching has been my husband’s life and passion all along, even before we got married. How the whole table turned so much so that he preferred remaining jobless to picking up a lecturing offer still beats my imagination. He was like that for several months until God started favouring him with contracts from this new administration. In fact, I don’t understand anymore, He’s like a shadow of himself these days” Udale explained with teary voice.
She was shaking like a chicken beaten under the rain. She was scared of a force that seems to be pulling Matthew away from her by every passing day and the most scary is her helplessness in the face of all of these. It’s quite unfortunate she personally had no privilege of motherly care right from infancy: Her parents, Baba that is and her mother got separated two years after she was born. Mama couldn’t live with Baba anymore because of reasons she referred to as ‘personal’. It had taken her mother five years after the birth of Ugbede, to give birth to Udale. Udale was so called as the full name is actually Ojodale which means ‘God vindicates’. So many mouths had begun to run, like defected pipe-borne water, regarding Mama’s inability to give birth to more children and Baba was even admonished many times to take another wife. Though Baba refused heeding their advice and kept holding onto faith alongside his wife, Mama felt it was being cruel on her own side to live rent free in the house of a man she has been unable to give ample number of children as she would have loved to. That was how Mama left the house leaving her little children behind. No one has been able to correctly tell what became of Mama after she left the village up until now.
Ever since then, Baba has been everything to Udale and Ugbede her elder brother. While growing up, Udale knew and was aware of practically all the stress Baba and her brother went through to take her through the nursing school that brought her to the level she is today. Although, so many times since their marriage, Matthew had his way of making her feel incompetent at everything altogether, especially being aware of the fact that she grew up with a single parent. He is the prim and proper kind of man, while she is the hyperactive go-getter and that has caused the both of them some harsh argumentative periods. One of them would have to step down humbly at one point or the other, only then can they reach a timely conclusion on vital issues and Matthew being the calmest did the stepping down more often than not. This recent drift she was beginning to feel however, was really much more than the case of individual differences. It sure feels much more than that.
“Udale, you have to be friendly with yourself even more now. There is nothing to fear in the face of our God. Jesus is on top of it all…” Pastor Lydia started out with scripturally backed up words of encouragement. Haven listened to Udale’s explanation about her husband’s deeds, she felt obligated to put a call through to him. Even after Matthew was called in Udale’s presence, she still held on to her own firm belief and that’s exactly what is getting the fair elderly woman, Pastor Lydia, the wife of the senior pastor of Kingdom Destiny Ministries, confused. She has been Udale’s mother and mentor ever since she lived with them the brief period after her graduation. It was a tough time trying to reinstate self confidence and self-esteem into the then young girl that struggles and poverty had made her lose her identity in a quest to finding herself. She didn’t know what she was worth; despite her mental prowess fetched her close to an automatic job, she still had doubt in herself and whether her life was going to make any sense or just be as irrelevant as it were. Pastor Lydia was instrumental to her marrying Matthew who was then a vibrant and dedicated brother in the church. Everything about the young couple was so rosy in the first few years but it seems the storm that had hit their ship is bringing Udale back to the state she used to be so many years ago. Pastor Lydia got up from her seat and walked over to sit beside Udale who only left her bulky self, scattered on the rugged floor. Udale’s legs were placed on the transparent glass centre table while her back leaned against the chair behind her.
“I need you to pull yourself together Udale, it isn’t the time to cry yet” Pastor Lydia patted her back lovingly as she said those words. Udale could not say anything, she has always known her susceptibility to tears whenever she talked about anything causing her so much pain. She had been crying since she was done lamenting, she hopes keeping quiet would reduce the pain.
“He makes those statements Ma, and you just know he’s sincere but the crazy part is that he would joke about it being a joke.” Udale said
Pastor Lydia started nodding her head in the affirmative,
“When I showed pastor the text you sent to me last night, he called Matthew during the early hours of this morning and he maintained his statement about taking another wife was out of anger and that you were the one that stretched him beyond limits.”
“I knew that would be his response yet he said nothing to me before heading out for Lokoja today with his pregnant mistress” Udale interrupted before drawing a long hiss- Mtcheew.
“No!” Pastor Lydia cut in, clapping her hands quickly, “…don’t say wrong things from your mouth Udale because you are sad and angry. We both know that other woman is not his pregnant mistress, he already explained things to you.” She continued rebuking her while Udale dropped her head and just let the tears flow out freely.
“I don’t know what to think anymore mummy! The pregnant lady yesterday was so innocent. In fact, a devilish mind asked me to pour peppered water on her face, but on getting to the sitting room and seeing she was still greeting me, even after I snubbed her earlier on, was quite thrilling. I didn’t expect that though but I’m not one given to pretence. I couldn’t pretend as if I was fine and accept her hug just like that. I left them and walked out of the house… I needed to clear my head. Whatever she ate and how she settled in to sleep was not part of my business…” Udale said in frustration, “…I need to know the other wife he is taking. Lemme know who my replacement would be. At least, I have every right to know…”
Pastor Lydia got up, dragged down the squeezed edges of her chiffon dress before moving a bit from where Udale sat,
“Well, some men have wives they never married” she said on a note of finality.
Udale felt like something hit her and immediately wiped her face with the back side of her hand, she didn’t understand what her spiritual mother just said. “Wife. Wife? Some men? Wife they never married?” she muttered to herself as though she wanted to totally absorb the elderly woman’s statement
“Mummy, what do you mean by some men have wives they never married? How can they be wives if they weren’t married?”
Pastor Lydia turned back to face her with eyes carrying further statements waiting to be spoken.
Matthew maintained a stern face even as Hon. Joshua Umoru walked past him to his seat. Back at Marist Brothers Ejule, where they both were secondary school mates, Josh, as he is often referred, had a great drive for politics. Everyone, especially Matthew who was his best friend knew about it. Josh continued through to Kogi state university where he obtained a Bachelor degree in Agriculture, pursued a lot of degrees and special courses both home and abroad. He had said, all those certificates were because of his political ambitions as he needed to have more than enough qualifications before the day opportunity would present itself. And the day really met him on the right ground. Though, his dream exceeds here, it was still wise to start up his political career from the level of a state commissioner for Agriculture. His appointment into this office by extension has been more or less an answered prayer to his best friend Matthew.
“See Mat, you can continue to run but you definitely cannot hide…” Josh started, bringing Matthew who looked very far away from the expansive office back.
“Clap for yourself Josh. She thinks there is something between Angela and I” Matthew replied in a subtle voice mimicking an attempt to clap his hands. Whether it was the voice or the statement, Matthew couldn’t really place what was so funny and made Josh laugh that loud. He continued looking at his friend with utmost astonishment and Josh knew better than to continue laughing with the stern glance he got.
“I’m sorry! I mean? Boyega’s wife can be an actress. That’s the issue with marrying all these American-bred ladies. She almost made me think she was crushing on me at a time with the way she behaved… Like she was seducing me right in front of her husband…” Josh started and had to pause as it was Matthew’s turn to let out a hysteric laughter.
“I remember that time you were just worried about what would become of our friendship with Boyega if his wife pushed you to herself that hard” Matthew commented, still laughing.
“Mehn! I haven’t seen such a lively and dramatic girl in the entirety of my adulthood. I don’t blame Udale for worrying. In fact, I would have been surprised if she didn’t.” Josh said with all sense of certainty.
“Well, I have a greater problem to worry over than her right now. Somebody has to leave, Josh.” Matthew said
“Really? But why? Of all your irrational sides I have seen in years, I never envisaged you not wanting to give shelter to a poor little girl.”
Matthew took in a deep breath, “You don’t understand Josh, do you?”
Josh calmed down seeing his friend was saying deep things that felt hard to gain expression.
“It gets worse by the day.” Matthew added with his head dejectedly dropped to the ground.
Josh stared bug-eyed at him for many seconds,
“For real? Hmmm! Mehn! You are in on some long train bro.” Josh voiced out as he fell back into the back rest of the rotating seat unable to believe his ears.
To be continued.
THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED- GRACE OCHIGBO