Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON ONE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
Why did I ever get married? Oh yeah, she was pregnant! Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but she can be REALLY annoying sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time!
It was cute while we were dating, but now, not so much. She doesn’t seem to understand the pressures I face and lives as though we have a goldmine in our backyard. I know she’s used to having a lot. Being the only child of her rich parents, she’s used to having whatever she wants. But I always thought she wanted me more…
Chuka sighed to himself. He had been thinking negatively about his marriage a lot lately. They were approaching their fourth anniversary, and Ijeoma had been dropping hints about what she wanted him to buy for her and do for her. The message was loud and clear, “You have to top last year!”
They hadn’t really done much last year, because they were broke. They had spent all their money on hospital bills for their third son’s birth, and Ijeoma couldn’t resist getting all the cute baby things, even though they already had enough children’s clothes and toys to open up a store!
He had decided to recreate their first date by ordering food from The Place and eating at home. She hadn’t found that funny at all. She had called him cheap and sulked for days.
The most annoying thing was that she had now begun to compare him to his best friend! “Ifeanyi does this for Mary…” “Ifeanyi cooks!” “Ifeanyi bought Mary a car for her birthday.” Jeez…
If he had known he would spend the rest of his life being compared to his rich best friend, he would have respected himself and gone and married a poor woman, who would appreciate what he had to offer.
It was as though nothing he ever did was good enough. Well, except in the bedroom. He had no complaints there. Sometimes, when she drove him mad, he would just silence her that way. She never could resist him.
But then, there were times he just couldn’t get it up or perform. Usually when she’d said something really stupid, and he would recoil from her. She always acted like she didn’t know what she had said, as though she didn’t even know how to control her tongue.
Those incidents were becoming more frequent, and it was starting to bother him. If they didn’t have sex, what did they have? Three screaming kids and a mortgage?!
But he couldn’t help it… He wasn’t as attracted to her as before. It wasn’t that she had let herself go. She still had a great little figure, but it was that mouth of hers. He had never noticed it while they were dating.
He would find his eyes roaming now, even when he was with her. He was bored and irritated, and most of all, disrespected. He wasn’t unattractive, and the fact that he was married alone, meant that there were always girls keen on his attention.
As a marketer at Zion Bank, it worked in his favour to flirt with his prospective clients, but he had always dialled that down, out of respect for Ijeoma. Now, it seemed it was the only fun he had left. Whenever he flirted with a woman, he could pretend that he wasn’t married and actually forget about all his troubles.
He remembered the day he had met the beautiful Amaka Nkechi, almost four months ago. She’d walked into his bank, when he was leaving for a market run, and they had nearly bumped into each other. He was the one who recognised her.
He’d recognised her from church and, of course, the newspaper article about her divorce from Jamie Solomon, whose father ran the bank that was their major competitor. Apparently, he had thrown her out for cheating, and she’d gotten nothing from the divorce. He’d called out to her.
She stopped and turned on her heels. She wore big shades. She didn’t appear to recognise him.
“I’m Chuka… Ifeanyi’s friend. From GTA…” he said, referring to their church, Grace and Truth Assembly.
“Oh, hi,” she said, hesitantly. She clearly still didn’t recognise him.
“Do you have an account with the bank?” Chuka asked, keeping her attention with a steady gaze.
“No… I want to open one.”
I see. He wondered if they had closed her account at Solomon Investment Bank. Chuka beamed to himself at his luck. “Well, you can talk to me; let me help you get one opened.”
“You work here?” Amaka asked.
“Yup.” Amaka relaxed. “Come with me. It’s lucky I spotted you. Do you know the type of account you would like to open?” he asked as they headed upstairs to the office he shared with three other marketers.
Since the day they first met, he had met Amaka about a dozen more times. Half the time in a professional capacity, and other times at church when he would make the effort to say hi. He had fallen under her spell and couldn’t stop thinking of her. He knew of her past with Ifeanyi, and that was enough reason for him to be cautious with her. But he felt he could freely indulge in his fantasies, knowing that that was all they were and would ever be.
However, now he needed to fantasise about Amaka more and more, just to perform with Ijay in bed. He knew that if they didn’t do something about their situation, it was going to end in a bad way. He didn’t know how he would begin to broach the subject with Ijay. She was in constant denial over the fact that they had issues. And that was part of the problem.
As he packed up for the day, Chuka spotted a letter on his desk. It must have come in after he had left for marketing that day. He picked it up, opened it, and was completely stunned by what he read: “We regret to notify you that you have been retrenched…”
“What?!” Chuka exclaimed. He had bigger problems than he had even realised. How was he going to face Ijeoma tonight?
What’s keeping Chuka? He’s supposed to be home by now. Maybe he’s got a new client. Hopefully, it’s one big multinational company! The peanuts he’s making in that bank can’t keep us afloat much longer. I don’t know why he’s too proud to accept help! I can’t believe I even agreed to move to Gbagada. My parents would have given us the difference to buy that four-bed house in Ikate… Men and their foolish pride!
Four years, and he still hasn’t even taken me on a proper honeymoon. Jos! Jos, of all places… He better have something decent planned for Valentine’s Day, oh. I should have known better than to use that date for our wedding too. I thought it would make it easy for him to remember. Now, he doesn’t even make the effort, when I deserve DOUBLE celebration. For goodness sake, where is he?!
Ijeoma looked at her watch for the sixth time in five minutes. It was after ten. It was unlike Chuka to be returning home so late. Had something happened to him? With that horrible Third Mainland Bridge traffic, she always feared for his safety on the road. She never wanted to be caught on the bridge past 6 pm at night. She’d called him several times already, and now, his phone was switched off.
Ijeoma bit her lower lip anxiously. She hated to admit it, but she feared that he could be having an affair. She’d heard enough stories about bank marketers to be concerned. Of course, she knew she shouldn’t be. He was Christian. But then, that hadn’t stopped Ifeanyi, his best friend, from cheating on Mary. Even though Ifeanyi was probably the world’s best husband now, she knew she couldn’t put it past Chuka. He never could resist imitating Ifeanyi.
She sighed. She’d seen that Amaka woman in church a few times. When she first saw her, she pitied Mary. How did she ever get her confidence back, knowing that her husband had been in bed with a woman like that?
Mehn, Mary was one strong woman. She even went out of her way to be friendly to the woman. Ijeoma shook her head. She knew it was the Christian thing to do, but she also believed God wouldn’t give her more than she could take…and being friends or even friendly with the woman who slept with her husband was pushing it!
Ijeoma checked the time again. It was now 10:30 pm. She was tired of waiting up for Chuka. She picked up the remote control and switched off the television. That was when she heard his key in the door. At last, he was home. She watched, as the door opened, and he stepped into the three-bedroom bungalow they owned.
“I’ve been calling you all night. Why are you just coming home?” she immediately confronted him with questions.
“Please, Ijay. Can I put my things down first?” Chuka said as calmly as he could.
Ijeoma sighed and went to open the door fully for him, wondering why he was heavy laden. “What’s all this stuff for?”
Chuka carried his things into the little store room and dropped them there before turning to his wife. “They are my things from work.”
“When did you start bringing your work home?”
“When they retrenched me!”
“I beg your pardon? What do you mean?”
“I was laid off today, Ijay. And please, before you say another word, think of how I feel!”
Ijeoma opened her mouth to ask more questions, but she saw her husband’s distressed face and felt sorry for him. “I’m sorry, Chuka.” She went to him and hugged him. She couldn’t help asking, “So, what happened?”
Chuka released himself from her embrace. “Please, I just want to shower and go to bed. We can talk in the morning…”
Ijeoma watched him as he walked away. She knew she shouldn’t press him, but she couldn’t help herself. She deserved to know. “Okay… But why are you just coming in? You didn’t even pick my calls or call me back or anything.”
Chuka ignored her and went into their bedroom. He started to undress. Ijeoma stood at the door watching him. Why was he so eager to wash off?
“Is there somebody else?” she asked.
Chuka turned to her and gave her a dirty look. “Seriously?”
“I don’t know, Chuka. You’ve not been yourself lately. I feel like I don’t know you anymore.”
Chuka shook his head. “You haven’t been yourself for years! You know that we are struggling to stay financially afloat… You know I’ve just been laid off… You know what that news would do to me. Yet, you haven’t even offered me dinner! And you still continue to pester me when I told you to consider my feelings. Do you even care about anyone else besides yourself? Right now, this is not about you, Ijay.”
Ijeoma put her head in her hands and sighed deeply. “I’m sorry. Do you want me to warm your dinner now?”
“I’m not hungry,” Chuka replied before entering the bathroom for his bath.
Ijeoma sat on the bed and waited for him. She didn’t know how to deal with this. How could he say it wasn’t about her? How could him losing his job not be about her when they were one, and they had three children to think about? Why did he keep pushing her away? Was this still about his pride? Was his pride more important than his family?
Chuka returned from his shower, dried off, and put on a clean pair of boxers. He climbed into bed. Ijeoma sighed.
She turned to him. “Look, don’t worry. I can talk to my dad.”
Chuka grunted. “No! No, Ijay. Don’t bring your family into this.”
“Why? They can help you. They can help us. You can work in a good position at his firm–”
“Ijay, I’m warning you now… Don’t try it! If I need his help, I’ll go to him myself.”
“And in the meantime, what am I supposed to do?”
“Just be a good wife and support me.”
“I am supporting you, but you don’t want my support!”
“Support my decision. Stand by me. Trust me!”
Ijeoma stared at him as if he had just spoken in French.
Trust him? Trust him? Our children need money for food and clothes and school, and he is jobless, and he wants me to trust him? He doesn’t even have a clue! He doesn’t even know how I’ve been able to keep us afloat. If not for the money my dad has been sending me, we’d probably be homeless by now. Maybe I’ll just take the job myself…
Ijeoma watched him settle to sleep peacefully, while she was left to worry about what would happen to them. She had never known a man so proud in her life. Whoever told him he had to do it all on his own? He had even prevented Ifeanyi from continuing to give child support for Emeka once they got married, saying that it was now his responsibility as her husband.
She had been proud of him then and really believed in him too. But she soon realised that she couldn’t maintain the lifestyle she had been accustomed to while she was single and living with her parents. She had grown to resent him for all the things he denied her.
And now, what did he expect her to do? Sit around and wait for him to get it together while they survive on Indomie noodles? He’s got to be kidding, she thought as she also climbed into bed and switched off the lights...
To be continued...
Photo credit: www.canva.com