He sat there on one of the five very well designed sofas in his living room, an empty bottle of wine stood on the stool before him with a half-empty glass. His name was Emmanuel – God is with us but he didn’t quite feel the presence of God with him right that minute. His eyes were red, blood red – he had either been smoking something strong or he had been crying.
He let the tears flow freely, as he thought about his wife, his lovely wife. He wondered if he could still call her that – if she would still refer to him as ‘my husband’. He still loved her. He shouldn’t.
He almost smiled when he remembered the first time they met. It was a restaurant – one of those where the conflicting scents of baked foods and fried fish struggle for the attention of your senses. He was having
lunch with Bayo and she was with her boyfriend at the time, Mohammad, they were on separate tables. Mohammad was a tall Kanuri boy with a sturdy middle eastern look, which girls found attractive. She was breathtakingly beautiful. With a small oval face and bright eyes which lit up every time her man said something. Emmanuel stopped listening to Bayo’s ramblings, his thoughts became cloudy. He wanted to stand up and walk towards her table and dismiss Mohammad, but he didn’t, he couldn’t; all he did was make eye contact with her as she left with her boyfriend.
He went to that same restaurant everyday for the next two weeks in the hope that he will find her there; he would say what he did not get a chance to say the last time. He never found her there.
Three months passed before they met for the second time, at a wedding ceremony. The way she smiled when she saw him, it was evident that she had been looking forward to seeing him again the same way he had.
‘My name is Amina. You?’ was the first thing she said to him, even before he said anything. Her smile was the same brilliant, lovely, pulchritudinous one that he had imagined over and over. It was the same one he could not erase from his thoughts. Everything about her was perfect. She wore the pink skimpy dress that every other member of the bridal train wore. He only needed to have a chat with her for five minutes to realize that he would spend the rest of his life with her. They got married 6 months later. Bayo was their best man.
His tears had started flowing down again with vigor. He took the half-empty glass that stood on the stool, and stared at it as if he did not know how it got there. Suddenly, in a fit of rage, he threw with all the force he could muster. He heard the shatter and watched as the liquor stained the perfection of the white walls. He wished he had not gone to the laboratory. He wished he did not know what he knew now.
His eyes caught a framed picture that hung on the wall. A four year old boy he loved so much. A boy that his wife had made him believe was his son, he wondered whose son the boy really was. He hoped it wasn’t Bayo’s.
He looked at the wall clock next to the framed picture: ‘2:15’. Any moment now, Amina would bring home their son, her son from school.
‘Emmanuel, are you okay?’ Amina asks when she arrives. She sees the the white wall that has been designed with splatters of red wine, shattered glass shimmering on the floor.
He looks at Junior, their boy, her boy, and he manages a smile. For the first time, he sees how unlike him Junior looks.
‘Good afternoon, daddy.’ Junior says.
He smiles again when the boy says ‘daddy.’ He sees how dirty the boy’s white uniform has become, my uniform was never this dirty when I was in school, he thinks.
‘How are you, Junior?’ He finally asks.
‘I am fine.’ Junior replies.
‘Junior go inside.’ Amina says, ‘and watch your step. Don’t step on glass’ Junior walks gingerly out of the sight of his parents.
‘Whose is he?’ Emmanuel asks quietly with a wry smile, looking straight into Amina’s eye. The light he always saw inside, the one that made him love her- gone.
She wrinkles her face in confusion. ‘What?’
‘Junior is not my son. Whose son is he?’ He says. The little trace of friendliness in his face is quickly disappearing, changing into something else… viciousness?
‘What do you mean by that? Are you accusing me of adultery?’
Emmanuel spreads his lips, showing his teeth. A very strange smile covers his face, a smile that means something tragic is about to happen.
‘Don’t you dare lie to me.’ He says, as he begins to walk closer and closer towards her. ‘I have been to a lab, the results show that I am incapable of getting any woman pregnant, so don’t you dare lie to me.’ These words come out of his lips unsteadily, as if it’s being accompanied with tears.
Amina is scared. She has never seen her husband like this. Tears move to the corner of her eyes and then down her face. She looks at him now – wondering why she said ‘yes’ to his proposal five years ago. She was not ready to get married at that time, she was too young. But she thought she loved Emmanuel, she found out when they got married that she really did not.
‘Answer me.’ He roars. His domineering voice is intense and impetuous.
‘I’m sorry,’ She cries.
‘Sorry? Really, you are sorry?’ He shouts. His right palm is gradually moulding itself into a fist, he’s going to break the only rule he has ever kept sacred – never hit a woman.
Then, he hears a sound, ‘Daddy?’
Emmanuel and Amina look in the direction of the voice. Junior. Amina rushes to him and hugs him. Neither of them knows how much he has heard. She rubs his head and looks into his eyes. ‘Mummy and daddy love you.’ She whispers into his ear. ‘Everything will be alright.’
She turns around to look at her husband to see if the sight of Junior has calmed him down. Emmanuel is not there.
He is broken. He may or may not return.
Photo Credit: thegrio.com
Bomi Ehimony is from North Central Nigeria and he likes to write. He tweets @_champking and blogs at diaryofbomiehimony.blogspot.com