“I want a divorce.”
The words hung in the air like a thick mist – filling his ears, roaring in his brain. He shook his head vigorously and asked – “Divorce? Did you just say divorce?”
He felt it everywhere – the shaky voice, the sweaty palms, the constricted throat, and most of all – the fear. How could he lose the mother of his kids, the stability of his home?
His eyes misted over as he looked helplessly at his wife – who sat there in cold silence, rays of determination burning in her eyes.
She looked straight into his eyes and replied – “Yes Tonye, you heard what I said. I have filed the papers. I am requesting sole custody of the children but I am willing to discuss visitation rights. I want no spousal support, but I get to keep the house. We can split the cars equally. As for the landed properties, the joint ones can be sold while those…”
Her voice trailed off…at least in his mind. He felt himself drift, wanting to run within his soul and hide. But he couldn’t. Not anymore. Forcing himself to return to the present, he asked – “Why? What has gone so bad to cause you to decide on divorce? Separation I could understand, so we might have space to work things out – but divorce? Why so final? Is it so bad that you see no other option? Bibi…. Why?”
Finally he saw emotion from her. He watched as her eyes welled up with tears and followed a drop as it slid down her right cheek and rolled down into her bosom. He recalled vividly a number of times he had rested his head on her ‘Mouka foam’ as he so lovingly called it.
She bent her head and whispered; a whisper so faint he had to strain to hear – “I am in love with someone else. I am having an affair. I cannot continue to live a lie.”
If there was a way to define the living dead, it was him at that point. Money problems, trouble with the in-laws, work pressure, emotional issues, but it never once occurred to him that his wife could cheat on him. And to think she wasn’t just cheating. She was actually in love with someone else!
His head about to explode, he forced himself to speak calmly as he asked – “Who? What is his name?”
She sighed loudly, and then murmured – “Tony.”
As much as he had hoped he would be surprised, it turned out to be exactly who he had first thought. Now it all made sense. The furtive glances, the lingering stares, the whispered calls, the increasing comparison, the frequent business trips. Now it all came together.
Of course it had to be Tony. Smart Tony. Funny Tony.
Always there to help. Always there to share a cold beer over arguments about Liverpool and Chelsea. Always there to play tennis, share suya, and ogle fine ladies in their tight outfits at the various clubs they visited together.
The only one who knew about his bad habit of unwinding at strip-clubs. The only one who knew about when he had gone too far with the hooker and had sex on a dingy mattress. He had blamed it on being drunk, but clearly remembered Tony’s shock. He would never forget his outburst words – “How could you do this to your wife? Did you use protection? Don’t infect her with anything!!!”
Who made the move? Was it after the incident with the hooker that Tony made the move on her? Did Tony feel that the cheater deserved to be cheated on?
How much did she know about his escapades? How much did she not know? How long had she had an affair with Tony? Should he ask to understand or keep his questions to himself?
He just had to know. After quite a mental battle, he asked – “How long now?” – tensing himself for the answer.
She shrugged as she responded – “What difference does the length make? How does it change anything? It’s over and let’s move forward amicably. After all, you’re not a saint yourself”.
He saw red.
He wanted to hurt her just as much as he hurt. He wanted to wipe that smug look from her face. He spat out the words – “Frigid bitch! Let’s hope Tony knows what he is getting into when the dryness hits!”
The look on her face was priceless. Haha!!! He scored a point. He felt her recoil in hurt. He knew how sensitive she was regarding that condition which made sex excruciating.
She took a while to gather herself together, then responded – “That’s the beauty with Tony. It was never about the sex. It is about connecting with someone that appreciates me and listens to me; someone who talks to me, not down at me”. She swallowed hard and continued – “He makes me come alive – something you have never been able to do. It may be heady, it may be fleeting; but I will rather spend those fleeting moments happy than continue to suffer a loveless, dead marriage with you.” “It’s over Tonye. You’re not half the man he is. Say what you want and insult me as you like. It is over!”
“Bibi, I will fight you for every penny and die rather than allow you full custody of the kids. I am sure the courts will have a field day when your affair is exposed.”
“Bring it on Tonye. I am ready.”
At that, he stormed out of the room – leaving her sitting on the bed, looking all defiant and regal.
What had he done? What had he lost? What would he do now?