Waking up on Monday morning with a throbbing headache and a morose look plastered on her face was not the best way to start her morning. Her head slowly turned to the side of the bed where Tunde had lain. It was now a dent on the pillow. She heard him moving around the room early in the morning getting ready for work but preferred to feign sleep. It took her a few minutes to get out of bed thinking of the long and boring day ahead.
BY midday, Priscilla cleaned the house as always. There was nothing better to do and her mother did not seem the best companion now. Cleaning the house took her mind off things but it could not ease the uneasy feeling inside of her. Frustrated, she walked languidly to the salon in the sitting room, pouring herself a bottle of scotch she sat on the high stool. The marriage was already gone, she thought sadly.
“How can I get pregnant when my husband can’t bear to touch me?” she said to herself. “How?” She said, gulping down the scotch feeling the uninviting sizzling sensation in her throat. She didn’t even have a clue of what he liked and what he didn’t like. How could she fix a marriage she was sure she didn’t want to be in? At that point, Priscilla thought sadly and finally decided that she did not even know what would even make her happy. She felt so empty with her mind twisted into knots. Her eyes closed, she plunged into a dark abyss hearing the faint sound of hymns from the church not too far away, and it filtered into her mind.
“God give us Christian homes…”
She found herself humming to the tune that now clouded her mind and a strange peace seemed to settle within her. How long had she seen the inside of a church last? Anyway, she excused herself never being the church going type. She gave into the music absorbed in the moment of tranquility; it was tempting to just sit there like that: away from the troubles, away from the uneasy feeling, her husband’s disapproving eyes and her mother’s horrid suggestions, wrapped up in just the soft comforting tune. The music stopped. There was an intrusion. Her eyes fluttered open as she was really disappointed until she realized someone was knocking on the door of the flat door.
She got up reluctantly and walked to the door “Who is it?”
What could she want now? Priscilla steeled for a minute and opened the door. Folake, her husband’s younger cousin, walked into the flat barely taking notice of her. Folake stopped and turned round to look at her as she shut the door gently. She had her little duffle bag held closely to her chest.
“Good afternoon Priscilla. I am sorry for the disturbance”.
At least she was courteous enough to speak to Priscilla first… without looking snobbish.
“Good afternoon Folake” she stammered a little moving past her to the other end of the room. ”Tunde’s not in.”
“I know that.”
Folake was good at hiding her irritation she noted. “I called him at work yesterday”, she sat down, eyeing the empty glass of scotch. “You don’t go to work?”
“No”, We both prefer it that way” she quickly added, setting a defiant chin. To her surprise, Folake laughed.
“Did I say something funny?”
No” she replied still smiling. It made her feel uneasy … an Ariyo never smiled at her.
“It’s just…” Folake continued clearing her throat “You seem to get defensive easily.”
Priscilla flushed feeling a bit embarrassed “I’m sorry.”
“Tunde asked me to stay for a few days before I travel back to Minna. Just till Friday.” Folake added hurriedly as though she sensed Priscilla’s reluctance.
Priscilla slowly nodded, her heart sinking further down to her chest.
“Tunde didn’t tell you?” she eyed Priscilla cautiously under her thick lashes.
“Its fine”, as though she had a choice “I just have nothing prepared” Her husband was definitely the most inconsiderate man alive. She shook inwardly, annoyed at Tunde.
“I hope it’s not a bother? I…”
“No” she replied hurriedly with a forced smile cutting Folake short “You are very much welcome. So when are you ending your leave then?”
They both stood there for some minutes not knowing what to say.
“You could show me to my room if you don’t mind.”
They walked through the corridor to the first room hearing Folake’s soft footsteps behind her.
“Do you want any food?”
“Later, thank you” her tone was clipped. Priscilla hurriedly walked out of the room shutting the door behind her. She wanted to wail, angry and frustrated. Why did Tunde want to humiliate her so? She hissed to herself entering their matrimonial bedroom as she sat on the dressing table stool, fuming. It took her a long while to pull herself together wondering how much more she could take but it was enough to make her desperately want to have her peace of mind.
…VOICES came from the sitting room; it took a bit for Priscilla’s senses to assimilate where she was. Clearly, she had slept on the dressing table; she got up, her eyes still drugged with sleep. Their voices seemed clearer now that she approached the door of the room, it was Folake and Tunde’s muffled voices sounding in the corridor. She squinted to look at the time on the clock hung on the wall beside her, it was already past eight. Tunde must have come home about an hour earlier. They seemed to be hiding something, sheer instinct and curiosity had her leaning on the door with her ears pressed to it.
“..Did you see her again?” asked Folake. Priscilla’s ears perked up; she could guess this was about that woman. There was no response from Tunde.
“Did you?” Folake asked again
“Yes” came a withdrawn answer. She almost kicked the door in frustration, her chest heaved up and down and she was tempted to open the door and catch them in the conversation but it was better to be patient.
“She came to the office and we went for a drive.”
“This is the fourth time. Is this a routine? She comes to the office?”
“Most times” he sighed, a sigh of resignation
“What are you doing? You’re married now Tunde” she said softly “You need to forget this”
He scoffed “Married? We both know that’s hardly a marriage, Folake”
“I just don’t want you hurt because I know how Karen can be. She can be ruthless if she doesn’t have her way”
“I know Karen better than you,” Tunde responded as though trying to sooth his cousin but his tone was soft, it made her feel nauseated.
“What about Priscilla?” Folake chided on “Does she know?”
She could tell he shrugged. One of his indifferent shrugs.
“She cares enough to be fearful of her money”
Priscilla closed her eyes at the sickening statement.
“If she finds out, she could cause serious trouble”
“It’s her mother not her, she’s too fickle minded to cause any trouble” he grunted, “The woman can sell her daughter’s life for money sometimes I wonder if she was her mother!”
Her brown eyes glistened with tears, refusing to hear more of the sordid discussion she stepped away from the door almost tempted to cover her eyes as if it could block out the words playing repeatedly in her head. What was left of her dignity? Her pride, her name? If she ever came out of this marriage in one piece, she deserved an award.
The door opened suddenly and Tunde came in, not even caring how she stared at him, full of conceit.
“I heard all that you said” her voice was shaky
And for the first time in a long time, he stopped what he was doing to look at her
“What about it?”
The atmosphere turned suddenly cold Priscilla wrapped her arms around her small waist “Your meetings with Karen?”
He was silent for a minute and then continued what he was doing. She wanted to hit him, God, she so wished she could hit him.
“You can’t even look at me when I’m talking to you?”
“What do you want me to say? What should I say to make you shut up?”
“You could start by telling me why I deserve this humiliation. If I went about flaunting lovers in your face …”
“You’re so quick to judge. So quick to jump into unnecessary accusations”
“So,” she said tearfully “has this marriage crumbled so much that I have to suffer this humiliation?”
“Ah!” he cursed loudly, his eyes were ablaze with anger “You really are a fool!” he grimaced. “The way you sit around acting like a wounded animal and waiting shamelessly for money you don’t work for” she flinched but Tunde continued. “Now you sit around looking like a maid, throwing accusations at me for cheating. Am I not justified for cheating? Is this a marriage or are you so blinded with money you can’t see?”
The statement was so unexpected that she was dumbfounded. It felt as though she had been beaten physically. Her body hurt and her head felt like it would explode trying to absorb all that her husband spat. She did not realize he left the room until she heard the loud bang of the door of the main entrance to the bungalow. The house turned quiet with only the sound of her sobbing. She sobbed like a child for hours on end and drifted off to sleep; wishing things would be different when she woke up.
To be continued next week Sunday.