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BN Prose: When Things Change by Olajumoke Omisore

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I turned my head away from Temi. It took two days of deep reflection to reach this acceptance stage.
But here they were, Temi and Tayo, exhausted from their day at school, yet with eyes alert from the questions that have remained unanswered for two days.
“When is Daddy coming back?”
This time the question came from Tayo. His voice was shaky; absent of the confidence my seven year old boy usually speaks with.
I passed them their spoons and asked them to eat their jolof rice, avoiding Tayo’s face.
He and his father are the type who can walk into a room and no explanation is needed as to their relationship.
Without looking at him, I knew he would be frowning. The same way Femi frowned when I told him I knew about his pregnant mistress. His secretary, Efe – who happened to live on our street and shared people’s news with the same energy most people dedicate to breathing – told me. The girl was rushing off to the toilet every hour.
My shoulders dropped when she told me. I knew she was one of those gossips who could spread stories with the creativity of artistes but she was also the sort that verified her stories. Garnishing the telling, not the stories. “Liars will go to hell,” she would say.
The water’s tepidness mixed with the fragrant soap in the sink made washing-up less of a chore, but all I could see in front of me was Femi’s face when I told him to leave. He left without much in his bag, taking with him, instead, the zeal and strength that once made me a good mother and doctor.
I watched him walk out because I didn’t believe he would leave me for his office girl.
Was that what made it worse?
The fact that my husband of nine years left me for the office assistant or the fact that he said he didn’t feel the same anymore.
“Maybe it happened because I got tired of coming home to a woman that brings work home, Gbemisola. My patients this, my patients that,” he said as he threw his things in a weekend bag. “I am tired of sharing you with that hospital and competing for your affection. I used to love your independence… now, I’m just tired of living with an iron lady. Tired of feeling like you don’t love me.”
I didn’t realise my top was wet until I felt its dampness against my skin. It reminded me of how Femi and I used to play fight with water before the routine of work and the responsibilities that come with marriage turned us into cohabiting adults that barely talked about important things. Reduced instead to sharing the small things: Tayo’s football skills, Temi’s love for words on pages.
“Gbemi…” Father’s voice forced me to the present. “Let the housekeeper do that.”
My eyes filled up when I turned to Father. The tears fell when he arrived from Ota this morning. Fearing that I would turn into a weak woman, the sort that goes to pieces when their husbands catch a cold, I ran upstairs.
***
After reading to the children that evening, I still couldn’t tell them. Something solid that wouldn’t shift forced itself in my throat. I kissed them goodnight, praying they wouldn’t ask the dreaded question.
They didn’t.
Later on, I called their father from what was once our bedroom.
“You will have to come and tell them yourself,” I forced myself to breathe, even though pain racked my ribcage every time I pushed air in. “I tried to tell them Femi…”
“I’m sorry I put you in this position. I will come on Saturday.”
He went quiet after that and I wondered if his mistress was beside him. Kemi told me this morning that I would have to make all the arrangements now. That as soon as Esther gives birth to her child, things would get worse.
How could they get worse? The love of my life had embarked on a journey to delete my part in the dreams we shared. Dreams he will now share with a woman that couldn’t possibly love him like I do. And I do love him, although I am good at protecting my heart. This is what he said a few times. I disagreed. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t need him. That my life, our home could survive without him.
“Did you get the envelope I dropped off this morning? I called to see if you got it. Listen, I am sorry but…”
“I have been too busy to check anything,” I said and disconnected the call.
I saw the envelope when I went to drop the children off at school. Thinking about it turned my stomach into knots.
Wasn’t it too soon for him to be discussing divorce?
How could this happen?
My husband never seemed the type to cheat. Nor did he seem the type that women clapped eyes on and wanted to seduce away from home. With an average height, a stomach that made him look as if he was four months pregnant and the habit of spending on just necessities, Kemi said he was no sugar daddy material.
“Gbemi,” Father’s voice called from the other side of my door.
I waited until I heard his footsteps moving from the door before I let myself breathe.
I was that girl again. The girl that waited in school for her father to surprise her and pick her up. The girl that had to babysit her little sister whilst her mother sold nails, locks and latches to carpenters and labourers.
Mother cried for days when Father married his second wife. The tears turned to songs that sounded more like mourning dirges when he stopped coming home. His new wife’s flat became his new home.
Mother still walked about with empty eyes and a mouth that churned out songs of sorrow years later. That was why when a car ran her down on Orile Road and the witnesses said Mother didn’t see the car coming, we believed them.
I found the envelope on the table downstairs. I clutched it to my chest, ready to be strong for my children. I heard Father’s shuffling feet before I saw him and forced my face to smile. He made mistakes but he didn’t cause this.
“My daughter, you need to know, enh… I came to see your Aunty all those years ago,” Father began. “I wanted to take you and Kemi home with me. She told me to let you two stay with her. She blames me, you know.”
“That was a long time ago. Everything is fine now, Dad.” I didn’t want to talk about the cold vacuum that was fashioned in me when he didn’t fight to have us.The coldness, I thought, had been whipped warm when life got easier.
“Your aunty really did well,” Father said. “I hope it is not too late for me to help.”
I pushed the envelope towards him, tired of pretending to be strong. “Divorce papers.”
We moved to the sofa after fetching Father’s glasses. I curved my neck away as he ripped open the envelope.
He was staring at me as if I had just changed skin colour when I turned to him.
“What does it say, Daddy?”
Father’s face curved.
Was it because I hadn’t called him Daddy for almost twenty five years? He passed me the handwritten letter in the envelope. It was my husband’s scrawny scrawls.
My soul mate,
I know you will probably never forgive me. I have to ask anyway. Not because my hotel room doesn’t have your laughter to bring it alive but because I have wronged you. We drifted apart and I wonder why I let that happen. Would I have let my soul drift away without a fight?
Please, forgive me. I will cherish you and your strengths for the rest of my life if I get one more chance.
PS. – Esther is not pregnant.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Danie Nel

Olajumoke Omisore was born in Hammersmith. She is currently a student at the University of Central Lancashire. As a school girl, she lived in Abeokuta with her family. Her brothers and sisters had the task of explaining to their friends that she existed because she was always holed up in her bedroom, reading or writing. She finds fiction writing a blessing. Her work has appeared on African Writer and scheduled to appear in the Kalahari Review.

43 Comments

  1. justdeywakapass

    March 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Just let out a looooonnnnnggggg sighhhhhhhhh. This is miscommunication of the highest order and is very common among couples today. I tell myself, when love goes sour, hold on to the friendship. It does help solve some of those unspoken issues. Beautifully written. Thanx Jumoke.

    • Fob

      March 11, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Me too It was until the end I realized that I had been holding my breath…good write up

  2. Vicky Aima

    March 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Wow beautiful write up

  3. missusK

    March 10, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Oh goshhhhhhhhh. I feel so bad for both of them. The pain, the intense feeling of betrayal. Men think it’s easier when the mistress isn’t pregnant, but to me that’s not the worse part. It’s the feeling of how could you do this? How could u betray our vows this way? How could u put our family in jeopardy ‘cuz of a fling?

    Hopefully both of them have learnt their lesson and realise their home should be priority number 1. It’ll always be the truth that men like to be needed. As much as they want independent women, they also like to feel useful in the homefront. Nice writeup 🙂

  4. Kehinde

    March 10, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    It touches me when i read stuff like this, my family is an example but worst u can imagine the damage it cost i and my brothers…. Thanks u can actually change a couple life with this….

  5. Taiwo

    March 10, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Jumoke!!!!!!!! You almost killed me!! Wow! I love love love this story!!!
    Girl you are good!

  6. always happy

    March 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Assumptions always makes a fool of folks since 1900BC, its still a thriving entity for those who lack the courage to confront issues rather than accept assumptions.

  7. jefka

    March 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    at least he had the decency to write a letter.
    and this is a lesson to all women, jst bcz ur hubby isnt good looking doesnt mean he is not a possible catch to hungry, devious and plotting women out there.
    infact study has it dt, fugly men give better TLC
    and to men, pls use protection biko………..ds desperate women r very fertile, one shot n u will v stories to tell

    • Psalm

      March 11, 2015 at 8:53 am

      yes o…Very Fertile..

  8. Sugar

    March 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    The Breakup of a relationship is dreadful talkess of a once peaceful marriage going through a divorce. I went through a horrible breakup a year ago and even up till now anytime i talk about it, it brings tears to my eyes. that feeling of betrayal makes it worse because this is a guy who i never thought would cheat on me. He cheated and didnt feel any remorse about it, you know when ure been cheated on and the guy even goes ahead to break up with you.
    Its a very horrible experience but thank God i didnt end up in a psychiatrist ward because i was so so close to it. I dont pray any woman goes through a divorce or experience that cheating husband stuff imagining him been with another woman and not giving a hoot about you.

    • Dunai

      March 11, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      I had similar experience with Sugar but thank God I’m still standing.

  9. x-factor

    March 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Wow….very good story

  10. MAry

    March 10, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Ok i didnt see that end coming…. lol thank God sha.
    Nice writing.

  11. oj

    March 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Beautiful story.

    Sadly, this is very common in marriages today. Couples drift apart to the extent one or both of them seek comfort and intimacy from outside. It”s very important that couples spend time together to avoid situations like this.

  12. Monique

    March 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Snif! I love it so much! Le suspense courre entre les lignes, et on se demande quand est ce que la souffrance va atteindre son apogé. L’auteur nous met en spasme et nous garde en alerte! Belle plume!

    • Dr. N

      March 10, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Come back and translate biko. It sounds so romantic but we can’t read it, lol.
      At jumoke, I loved it! X3 sef!

  13. ACE

    March 10, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Wow! Beautiful write up. Just goes to say never assume , just ask first. It might not be as bad as it looks. Never assume.

  14. NaijaPikin

    March 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Did he make up the whole thing to wake her up?
    Did he cheat but the babe just wasn’t pregnant?

    Either way, I liked the twist at the end.

  15. Ibukun

    March 10, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    This piece actually made me cry.

    • Momo

      March 11, 2015 at 1:31 am

      You are such a softy. I was relieved. I love hope.

  16. Ahubi

    March 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I held my breath….. I cried….. I prayed…… I let out my breath…….. I rejoiced. looovely story.

  17. jane

    March 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    A beautiful and suspense-filled work you have there….

  18. Mz Socially Awkward...

    March 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Ghen ghen! Oya oh, what next? Does she kiss and make-up? Will she harangue him, all the same, for cheating and still continue to examine her options? Na wa oh.

    Very nicely written and I’m sure it’ll resonate with more than a few readers (either due to their own personal experiences or those of others that they’ve witnessed)

  19. billionaire in grace

    March 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Nice I always look forwarf to BN Prose

  20. Ife

    March 10, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Very captivating story…the end was indeed unexpected! Good job Olajumoke

  21. Ib

    March 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Thank God…i was actually praying that they come back together. Welldone Jumoke

  22. Dimibe

    March 10, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Very good story

  23. goody

    March 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Jumy, your write up is ……………………..

  24. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    March 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Raw and very evocative.

  25. Abster

    March 10, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    awww I Love happy endings… 🙂

  26. Cynical

    March 10, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Very nice…..was captivated till the end. And to think that this is not purely fiction,many women have gone through this before. Choi,but how does one handle a situation like this?????? She’ll have to forgive for the sake of the kids they have together.the question is can their relationship ever be salvaged??? And all these single girls that have or attempt to have kids for men who already have a family,I’m not sure I know what to say to you people.

  27. TKAY

    March 10, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    One of the best stories i have read……the suspense. my heart skipped all the way. i will love to communicate with letters.

  28. nwa nna

    March 11, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Great story by the writer. In any relationship, once either party starts to take things about the other person for granted it typically leads to splitsville. As life happens, we’ve to constantly figure out what our priorities are going to be, misplaced priorities are never good for any relationship. People just don’t drift apart overnight, it’s subtle so we don’t realize it until the damage has occurred & we find ourselves asking how did we get here.
    From personal experience, make what is important to your mate just as important to you as well & vice versa, the toughest thing to regain once lost is TRUST!!! Once trust has been violated, shit ain’t never going t be the same anymore, sure you can forgive but the forgetting is going to be the toughest part….

  29. Jaygirl

    March 11, 2015 at 3:54 am

    Beautiful piece….

  30. bimpe

    March 11, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I like this

  31. anonymous

    March 11, 2015 at 11:20 am

    i went back to read the title then i read the letter again..whew1 there is hope

  32. Ephi

    March 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Jumoke, you write so beautifully!
    As so many others have pointed out, sadly this is the story of a lot of Nigerian women (minus the twist at the end). It’s quite a shame really that people treat their marital vows like a piece of cake. .

  33. Aduke

    March 11, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Just wiping tears ….. This is a wonderful piece of writing. I felt sorry for the kids initially. This is beautiful.. God bless you

  34. Omotayoadeniji

    March 16, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Fantastic prose Jumoke…you keep me in your story till the end ..look forward to reading from you soon..

  35. Dd_poet

    March 17, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Hmmn, BN, pls how can I send my short stories across?

  36. busayo

    March 18, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Waow Jummy,nice prose!!!!!!! I’m proud of you lil sister.

  37. chayoma

    March 31, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Haba! This is one-in-a-milla. How I love *happy endings* Go on Jummygirl!

  38. ariyike

    June 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans…happy endings we all pray for..

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