Jide Babalola remained frozen in bed, withthe duvet hovering over his legs as his wife’s question crawled around in his skull,awakening every iota of guilt he had been feeling for weeks.Jide, you’re cheating on me, aren’t you?
His conscience erased the question mark at the end of her query. All he heard was a statement of fact; there was not a trace of doubt in Patricia’s voice.Jide let the duvet fall from his numb fingers and pool around his legs, his mind racing as he debated his next course of action. “What?” he spluttered. His voice sounded unconvincing to his own ears and he squared his shoulders and sat up slowly, camouflaging his panic under a frown.
“What kind of question is that?” Patricia’s reply confirmed Jide’s fears. “The type that you can call rhetorical. I’m not looking for confirmation of something I suspect. I’m just curious to hear your excuse.” Her face was blank, a canvas waiting for Jide’s response to paint the colours of an emotion on it.Jide shook his head, trying his best to whip up some Nollywood skills. “maybe I’m slow tonight or just too mentally exhausted, but I don’t know if I have the patience for whatever games you have decided to play today. So, either say something sensible or ignore me as you have for weeks.” Patricia laughed humourlessly. “Oh! Is thatthe excuse? That I’ve been ignoring you? This is my fault, right? So I married a babyI have to breastfeed on demand and carry on my back all the time or else he will wander off and sleep with another woman…”“Stop it.” Jide snapped, his conscience bucking hard. The truth in his wife’s wordswas painful to hear. “I won’t take that tone of disrespect from my wife.” Emotion finally flitted across Patricia’s face and as Jide had expected, it was fury. “Disrespect? You dare to ask for respect when you have the guts to crawl into your matrimonial bed with me after doing God-knows-what with some husband-stealing strumpet? Is that respect for me, your wife?” Jide closed his eyes and leaned back against the headboard of the bed, head pounding with a sudden headache. He briefly considered confessing to his sins just so he would not have to bear the jutting pain as his conscience stabbed himover and over. “Is it respect when you make a fool of me in front of your girlfriend? I can imagine you both laughing over my inadequacies as a wife, enjoying my total debasement as you both relish your adulterous escapades. Do I make good office gist eh?Am I what you use to compensate for the boring hours you get at home?” Jide kept judiciously silent, but a mean thought went through his mind as Patricia’s voice went up a few decibels.Boring is right. Who wouldn’t look for gist outside? “When did you become this person, Jide?” Patricia asked, her voice falling as she slumped back on her pillow. Jide refused to look at her; afraid he would see tears in her eyes. “The man I married would never betray me this way.” Jide scowled as he thought of the many ways in which Patricia had changed too. Her refusal to be intimate, the growing distance she had fed with her disregard and rudeness, the way she had shut him out from her life. How come she felt so comfortable sitting there and playing the victim, heaping all the blame on him? Eventhough he knew challenging her for changing too would be admitting he had also changed and was guilty of her accusations, Jide opened his mouth to tell her just that, but her next words stopped him. “This is just the most embarrassing situation you could have ever put me in, Jide.” Patricia turned to glare at him, the dim light from the reading lamp beside hercasting her face in shadow.
Still, Jide could feel the heat from a glare directed athim. “How will I face everyone when word gets out that my husband is behaving like some typical Nigerian randy boss and is sleeping with his secretary?” Jide’s mouth dropped open in genuine shock as he tried to understand what Patricia had just said. He thought of plump Nancy, who had a six-month old baby and was happily married. He picturedher in his mind and almost laughed. Other than the fact that he had noticed that his secretary had a liking for wearing the mosthideous wigs he had ever seen and using some kind of black pencil to extend her eyebrows into Nike symbols, he had never seen any reason to even think about his secretary in anything other than an officialcapacity. What was his wife talking about?There was a thread of genuine humour in Jide’s voice when he spluttered. “Are you insane? Why would you think I am sleeping with Nancy..?” Patricia flinched as a laugh punctuated Jide’s response. She stood up from the bed and walked over to the light switch, flicking it on angrily. Bright lights filled the room and Jide winced as the pain in his head flared.Patricia’s tone was venomous. “This is funny? Adultery is funny to you? Are you taking me for a fool?” Jide was taken aback by the depth of anger in his wife’s voice and the animosityher body language radiated. Her hands were in the pockets of the robe she had on and the fingers of her right hand moved asthough she were holding something. For a moment, Jide felt alarm trickle down his spine. Patricia looked like she could and would gladly hurt him at that moment.Jide had never had to deal with a betrayedwife before, but now the popular saying went through his head and he held back a shudder.Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
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