The minute she first laid eyes on him, Funke knew she could never go back to Bode. Femi was tall, broad-shouldered, lean and thick all at once; his torso dripped with ripped abs and well-toned muscles. He reminded her of the hammer-wielding Norse god – Thor – except that this one was all hers: African and rugged and burly. When he spoke in that gruff, masculine voice, it had varying effects on his audiences. For his peers, it inspired as much awe as dread; for her, it inspired fire and warmth in places best left unspoken.
As intimidating and daunting as he appeared in public, he was the most gentle giant behind closed doors, when he crawled into their bed at night and became her knight, her king, her muse, her baby. People often wondered about the dynamics between them. She was as tiny as he was large, as fragile as he was sturdy; some of her friends had even been so bold to ask if she always took the top position whenever they copulated. She never answered nor discouraged their questions. She would smile evasively, reveling in the enchanting mystery that her marriage to Femi Akani provided. As intrigued as they were, they could not deny their little tinge of jealousy at the way Femi idolized her.
He basically kissed the ground on which Funke walked. It wasn’t so much the material gifts that he showered her with, but that he genuinely loved to be with her. This was unusual because most of the friends in their circle had ceremonial marriages: husband and wife could hardly stand each other, much less go out of their way to be with one another. But Femi, her Femi, would schedule his meetings around dinner time with her.
All their friends knew this- you didn’t pay an impromptu visit or plan any important activities on a Sunday if you expected the Akanis to attend. It was couple’s day in the Akani household every Sunday, theirs and theirs alone; as though it were a holiday recognized in heaven and declared by the federal government. No one could understand it; heck, Funke herself couldn’t understand it sometimes. They had been married for almost five years and yet he still looked at her like he did that first day in Ife many years ago when she broke Bode’s heart without a moment’s thought. They had been attending a function- one of those numerous ‘owambe’ parties that you couldn’t recall who was celebrating or who had invited you- where she and Bode engaged in a minor tiff after he informed her that his mom would be visiting the following weekend for which she wasn’t prepared. She walked out of the hall pissed and wearing a scowl when a smug Femi walked up to her and spoke in the most animated manner she’d never forget.
“I will never be the reason for that frown on your face. Instead, I will pay the best artist in all the world to immortalize a portrait of you smiling, one that will rival Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.”
That singular statement, and the genuineness with which it was spoken, marked the end of Bode’s era, and the beginning of Femi’s reign. From that moment, the name Mona Lisa took on a significant meaning for her, and she purposed to give her first girl the name. Alas, five years into their marriage, the dream of a child was still just that- a dream; and it was the more reason why many were astonished that the relationship between Femi and her remained ripe with love and affection. He did not have the slightest reputation for being a womanizer either.
Sometimes, Funke wondered what vice the man held; he wasn’t given to any of the usual addictions that plagued men of his generation; even though it really didn’t matter, because they knew their souls were sealed together whether in this life or the next. Femi had given her the best years of her life and she was counting her blessings after they returned from a trip to Tuscany where she had tasted the best wines ever known to man. Everyone knew about her fondness for good wine; every important guest to their home was taken on a tour of their growing wine cellar, ‘Funke’s Spirits,’ they called it.
So on the Tuesday morning when she glided about her beautiful home, a celestial smile pasted on her face, setting throw pillows and photo frames to perfect alignments, the last thing she expected was her world crashing down before her eyes in one fell swoop. There was loud pounding on the huge mahogany doors and the sound of someone wailing. Funke was at the door before the butler would get to it. Her neighbor and friend Jennifer was in hysterics, hugging and clinging to her, repeatedly apologizing and cursing on their collective enemies. Funke couldn’t understand a word of what she said.
“Calm down Jenny, what is it, what has happened?”
The wailing woman paused for a few seconds and regarded her clueless counterpart. “Oh, you mean you haven’t heard? They haven’t called you? My husband just called and informed me now with instructions to come check on you, make sure you’re alright.” Jennifer replied.
“You are scaring me Jenny, what is it?!” Funke asked, clearly frantic by now.
“Where is your phone?”
They both stared at each other and immediately, Funke ran in to find the contraption while her friend tailed closely. They located the phone in the master bedroom upstairs with at least twenty missed calls and several text messages. She was still trying to make sense of it when another call came in. It was from their family lawyer. She picked after one ring.
“Hello Barrister, What is going on? Are you aware?” She blurted rapidly.
“Mrs. Funke, please are you seated? I need to know you are seated before I continue.” He replied.
She took a seat at the edge of the bed before confirming to him.
“I don’t know a nicer way to say this but I must tell you. Your husband Femi was just picked up from his office and taken to the police station on multiple rape charges. He asked me to call you and tell you not to worry, it’s all a mistake and will be sorted.” He paused when he observed absolute silence on the other end. “Hello? Mrs. Funke are you there? Please I need you to respond so I know you’re fine. Do not worry about this, it will be sorted. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, yes I hear you.” The voice that spoke back to him was barely audible; the stillness of the sound prickled the hairs on the surface of his skin.
“Femi also asked that I tell you not to call or talk to anyone about this until you hear from me or him. I’m on my way now to the station to sort out this mess and will be in touch with you as soon as possible. In the meantime I need you to stay put, can you do that?”
“Yes.” She hung up the phone before letting out a piercing scream that frightened the rottweilers few meters away where they lay in their cages, who equally let out howls of their own.
That was just the beginning.
Femi was released on bail pending a court trial and during the three months prior to the trail, many allegations flew out of the woodwork, with several girls springing up to file charges against the saint of a husband she’d known all these years. Of course she didn’t believe them, they were all desperate, gold-digging scums of the earth who had nothing better to do with their lives than latch on to someone else’s oiled lamp. Femi told her repeatedly that he was innocent and she believed him. How could she not? A man who had done nothing but treat her like a queen since the moment she met him. She would stand by him, support him, and together they would brave the storm that was splashed all over the media.
During the course of the investigation a few weeks to the trial, a police team arrived at her doorstep with a search warrant to defile the sanctuary that was her home. Femi was out. She let them in and watched as they turned over the entire place, reining in her angry emotions the whole time. After three hours of an uneventful search, they left as quietly as they’d come. As soon as she saw the gate close on them from where she stood at her bedroom balcony, she turned and slowly walked back into the room, towards her walk-in closet, heading straight for the sprawling shoe shelves and for a particular shoe. Picking up the black suede pump, she broke off the heel from which a slightly shiny object fell to the plush rug. She picked and swirled the object in her hand- a gold-plated necklace with a locket that held the pretty face of a young unassuming girl- a necklace that wasn’t hers, a necklace she found in Femi’s trouser pocket that Tuesday several months ago when her world first came crashing down.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang