It has been 9 months now; time enough for a child to have been conceived and born, time enough for farmers to plant and harvest, time enough for new wounds to have become old ones… except what ails you is a heart wound.
He is 8 pounds lighter than when she left, a pound of flesh for every year she was his. She has scrubbed her online presence so he can not take perverse pleasure in knowing that she misses him as much as he does her, if she too has lost the weight of their love.
He knows better than to linger on this road. She is a woman empty, bone dry…with nothing to offer him. He is a titled man with the burden of generational expectation weighing down his otherwise strong shoulders.
‘Marry someone else Kola. I don’t mind. At this point, I don’t mind sharing. Get someone else pregnant. Have a concubine. Anything else but this silent hatred that grows between us by the day,’ Uloma had said in the 7th year of their being, the 1st year of his knowing.
‘What? And become my father? Continue the curse of polygamy? And become the cliche African male? And because of what Uloma? For you? Because you were evil enough to have lied to me all these years?’
It would take another 6 months for her to leave but leave she would. 6 months of daily recriminations, 6 months of his badly hidden anger and bitterness, 6 months of drunkenness … that and 5 weeks of a renewed addiction.
It was the crack that finally did it. She had come home one Sunday from the Pentecostal church she started attending in their 4th year of their being and found him passed out in the living room. She had worked as a hospital adminstrator once and knew the tell tale signs of a high nothing natural could have accomplished. When they first met, neither of them had paid much mind to their inherited religion or its deities. Kola blames the church as much as he blamed Uloma. He believes it was in her finding God that they lost each other.
He tried to fix things after that episode but she stayed one step ahead of him, out of reach.
It was Enebeli, their friend that put things in perspective for him.
‘And if she came back today Kola, what would that mean? Would you stop wanting a child? Would she stop wanting to give you one even though she knows she has no capacity for such?’
They had met at Jevnik 3 weeks after Uloma left. Enebeli was a messy eater, slurping all over the bowl of Nkwobi while Kola cried into his.
‘I remember when Susan first met you and Uloma. She said to me later that night that a love like yours was too good to be true. That it was a love ‘in spite of’. You both loved in spite of…in spite of your families’ resistance, in spite of your different religions, in spite of society’s reservations, in spite of your kingship and her commonness…for your love to continue it needs to continue to be ‘in spite of‘. Right now, it longer is.’
‘Can you love this woman in-spite of the fact that she can never birth you children? Can your marriage exist in-spite of what you now know about one another? That she was once a prostitute with one too many abortions? That you were once a crackhead and susceptible to running back to crack when your problems loom large and fierce? Is your love for her strong enough to be in spite of the many other pitfalls that will come your way in the future? In-spite of the many lies that are yet to be revealed. In spite of the truth? ‘
It took him a while to answer these questions, 8 months and 1 week to be exact but finally last night he had written out the his responses in an email and sent to the address Enebeli had finally got Susan to divulge.
It has been 12 hours since. In that time, he has lived in seconds, waiting for the exact moment the email alert would go off on his phone with her response.
When you left, Enebeli asked me a couple of questions i found unable to answer. Time has passed since and with it the murkiness of my soul. Things are clearer now.
I have no right to ask you anything so all i can do is hope you read this and find your own answers and if they look anything like mine (in bold), would you please think about coming home baby? Please.
1. Can you love this woman in-spite of the fact that she can never birth you children? Yes!
2. This is a 2 part question- one mine and one yours: Can your marriage exist in-spite of what you now know about one another? That she was once a prostitute with one too many abortions? Yes! That you were once a crackhead and susceptible to running back to crack when your problems loom large and fierce?
3. Is your love for her strong enough to be in spite of the many other pitfalls that will come your way in the future? In-spite of the many lies that are yet to be revealed. In spite of the truth? Yes!
Yours in-spite of,