Coming Back Home III
“How was work today?” Adaobi asked as she nervously puttered around in the kitchen. Hearing no response, she turned around in time to see Eze sneak a second piece of meat into his mouth; at the same time try to replace the pot cover quietly. She burst out laughing.
“Oga, at the rate you’re going there won’t be anything left for your son to eat o,” she said, still laughing.
Eze stopped chewing and looked at his wife with mock seriousness. “Me nko? I no go chop?”
The humor on Adaobi’s face vanished cleanly as if wiped off with a towel. “You…you want to eat…my food?”
Eze looked indifferent while inside he cringed. “Why is that news? Is it strange that a man wants to eat his wife’s food after a hard day’s work?”
Adaobi walked over to Eze and hesitatingly, touched her palm against his forehead. Eze closed his eyes, enjoying the cool feel of her hand. It felt so soft…so warm, as it lay there.
It felt like a stranger’s hand.
Her voice penetrated his closed-eyes-created darkness and warmed him gently and softly like a lover’s caress. “Nna, are you okay? Is something wrong?”
She was worried. Genuinely worried.
Swallowing the meat he was chewing, he opened his eyes and found himself looking into hers. There were a lot of things in there – things he did not recognize. Things that looked like they were running after each other in a race they couldn’t win. Suddenly he grabbed her arms and asked, “Adaobi, what happened to you?”
Adaobi shook off his hands so violently she staggered as he involuntarily let go of her. Reaching for the cooker to steady herself, she whirled almost immediately and stared at Eze angrily.
“What happened to me? What happened to ME?!” she started shouting, tears springing out of her eyes making her face look like an overfull pure water sachet. “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?”
Eze looked away guiltily. “Why are you asking me that?”
Adaobi, her chest heaving with an emotion he couldn’t – didn’t want to identify, responded; “Are you okay? What is this – what are you doing?! You don’t eat my food, you don’t touch me – you don’t even look at me for almost…” she stopped, emotions overwhelming her. “And then suddenly…. What are you doing? Who are you?!”
Eze felt ashamed. What am I doing? What went wrong with us?
But bros – you know na. Why you dey ask Jamb kweshun?
Damn conscience. But it was right.
“You never forgave me for Chika. And though I really tried to…” she stopped, quite sobs shaking her shoulders. “You said it was a mistake to marry me…” she stopped and wiped her face with the back of her hand. The gesture oddly reminded Eze of crying children – and he thought about the last time he had seen it.
There are no kids anymore o. They grow too fast.
And whose fault is that?
When she told him she was pregnant it was like everything became dark. He had suddenly realized how empty words like ‘I love you’ and ‘I’ll always make you happy’ were – easy to say; hardly ever meant.
He hadn’t been able to see that it was his fault as well as hers – in fact it was more of his fault. He refused to agree that there was a better way to have handled the whole thing. All he could see was that he had become a father overnight; a husband over the next few weeks – something he wasn’t ready for. Sure, it had cost him his job as a business manager, but they had not died, had they?
He thought about the cliché – that one about how loving their mother is the best gift a father can give his kids. He thought about the fact that he loved Chika, loved the boy enough to do anything to protect him. But is it fair to love the gift and not the giver?
He looked at her now, the mother of his son, the woman he had stood in front of before God and witnesses and promised to love, honor and obey. Even though he had spat out those words in fury – even though he had been eyeing the bridal train as he was making those vows, should he not have tried to be a better husband?
What kind of man am I raising my son to be?
Who cares? If you know say you sabi ask redundant questions, why you no go work for JAMB?
“Adaobi, I made a mistake…but it wasn’t by marrying you. It was by not trying. See, I blamed you so much – and it’s almost as though I needed an excuse for it not to work.” He moved closer to his wife and carefully put his arms around her. The iron rod in her back remained erect for a few seconds, and then slowly it unbent and became a human spine.
They held each other there, standing silently until Eze’s body started to inform him of some biological reactions. This is awkward; he thought to himself. I finally start to fix the holes in my life and this…this shameless thing just wants to plug a hole.
Adaobi sighed contentedly, innocently moving her hips closer to her husband’s. Eze’s sudden jerk back made her head come up from the shoulder in which it was nestled. “Is something wrong?” she asked. Eze had to clear his throat twice before he could speak. “No…nothing,” he said, heart thumping like a konga drum at work. It was enough she accepted him this much. It would be better if he did not push his luck.
Adaobi looked at him – Adaobi who, somehow within the past few minutes had gone from plain to being the most beautiful woman he had seen a while; smiled at him in that way that used to tickle his ears. “Nothing, shey?” she said.
Eze swallowed and nodded. He had no idea what was coming.
Adaobi suddenly wedged her left thigh between his legs and softly bumped her hips against his groin. Eze exhaled noisily and almost fell down. His wife steadied him, laughing happily.
“Hmmm,” she said when they were standing properly again. “Seems we have a dilemma here.”
“What dilemma is that?”
“Your body is saying it has missed mine – but your mind is saying you’re moving too fast. And you don’t know if you want to go that far all in one night; you don’t know how I feel about it.” She looked like a kid with unlimited credit in the Shoprite sweet section. “Am I right?”
Eze nodded. “It’s…a lot to take in at once.”
“Well, here’s my feedback!” Adaobi said, and grabbed her husband’s most intimate part suddenly but gently. Eze’s knees became pap in a nylon bag and he fell on the kitchen floor, Adaobi sprawling across him and laughing at the same time. He kissed her throat; slight glimpse of her azure bra strap peeking from underneath her blouse testing his control.
“Mummy I’m hungry,” a voice said from the doorway. The grownups scrambled off their feet hurriedly to see a sleep-infested Chika rubbing his eyes.
“Okay baby,” Adaobi said, hurrying to the boy and hugging him. “Let’s get you eating.”
As she carried him past his father, she whispered in his ear, “I’m coming back for you, honey. Don’t think you’re safe.”
She winked at him and kept moving. Eze swallowed and smiled.
He needed a drink.