WHY does a seemingly happily married woman go off the rail? â€œWell, ‘seemingly’ is the right word if youâ€™re thinking of Labakeâ€™s marriage,â€snorted Benny, a friend who dropped by to discuss the break-up of Labakeâ€™s 24 odd years of marriage. Weâ€™d all been classmates and have kept in touch over the years. Labake had always been flighty, she simply loved being â€˜chasedâ€™ by men.
Marriage hadnâ€™t really dampened her flightiness, but one would have thought that after all these years, her loyalty would be to Mark, her husband – and their three lovely boys. You know how it is that when youâ€™re gnawing at a particular topic, up comes tiny jig-saws to help you complete the puzzle?
A few days after my discussion with Benny, who should I run into but Mark, and at my neighbourhood supermarket of all places.
â€œWhat are you doing here?â€ I challenged, pretending I didnâ€™t know the latest episode of his life story. â€œHey, C, fancy meeting you here!â€. The poor man was actually glad to see me.
When you run into these men at any market, they either make quickly for the check out without finishing whatever shopping they had come to do or discreetly disappear whilst youâ€™re still browsing. But Mark tagged along and even offered to pay. Iâ€™d discreetly narrowed my purchase down to two items, so the poor man wouldnâ€™t break the bank trying to please me. He then followed me to my car.
â€œHeard about what happened between your friend and I?â€ he wanted to know. I told him Iâ€™d heard and that they should both be ashamed of themselves for throwing in the towel after all those years of marriage.
â€œWere you told what she did?â€ he quizzed. What could she have done that could be so bad! Realizing I was on my way back to work, he followed in his car. Here we go again, I groaned! About time I started charging for this agony aunt lark.
â€œAnd to think that I was the one who introduced Labake to Smart,â€ he continued, after weâ€™d settled into the confines of my office. â€œWe were classmates just like you lot. But he was a renowned footballer in our school days and went on to be a newscaster. He then left to found his own advertising agency but my wife didnâ€™t even recognize his name when I introduced them.
Is he important?â€™ she wanted to know when I chided her for not being with it. I told her Smart was a sort of celebrating. It was a fund-raising event for our old school and later that evening, I saw Smart looking around the hall. I smiled at him. He started smiling back but his gaze was over my shoulder – at my wife!
She was smiling right back at him, politely. For a moment I wondered then shrugged. We had been happily married for 23 years, what could a what looked like stranger to her now do to us? Yet he had a bit of a check eyeing my wife in my presence!.
â€œMonths later, I started smelling stale cigarette smoke on her, it was very strange indeed as she hated smoking. Was she from a club or something? She denied it of course, but the stale smell became a regular thing – she gave no explanation and I became suspicious.
One evening, she told me you lot were having a girlie do for one of you that just became an associate professor. I knew of the promotion and was happy for her to go. When it was almost mid-might, I became worried, sheâ€™d taken her car because it was less flashy and I was concerned sheâ€™s had an accident.
I was so worried that I drove to the venue of the party but there were no cars parked outside. Instinctively, I drove past the bungalow Smart used for his office and I saw my wifeâ€™s car parked in a yard next door to Smart. I followed my instinct. I walked up to her car then hopped over a fence into the back of the bungalow. Two of the windows were lit up.
I edged along the first window and peered inside an office room. Nothing, I edge along to the second window and could see into a bigger office. It was as if Iâ€™d stepped into a nightmare.
â€œI could clearly see the back of an office couch. Above it, two heads were moving together as if they were having sex. Then, as if the scene was being played in slow motion, the couple turned towards me. I was looking at two sweaty faces and the faces were looking back at me.
One was Smart. The other, my wife. I hammered furiously on the window and my wife started grabbing her clothes off the floor. She then fled quickly to her car. I ran to the front of the house but she was already in her car, with all the doors locked. â€˜I didnâ€™t do anythingâ€™, she yelled at me as she sped off. By the time I got home, sheâ€™d disappeared.
She called from her sisterâ€™s house the next morning and wept that Iâ€™d gotten the wrong end of the stick. That Smart was trying to force himself on her after luring her to his office from the party. Her sister was quite distraught and told me she was quite unhappy and had assured her nothing happened between them.
In the end I relented and agreed for her to move back home. `Thank God, Markâ€™, she cried, `Iâ€™ve missed you so much…â€™
â€œThe following day, I was in the office when a friend rang. What he told me made my blood boil. How I made it till closing, only God knows. Labake was already in, trying to make dinner when I grabbed her by the throat: â€˜A friend saw you at an hotel two nights ago with Smart.
He knows both of you, so thereâ€™s no denying anything.â€™ She started to cry. I squeezed her throat tighter and she confessed it was true. I left the house and warned if she was still there when I came back, I would kill her…
Labake and Smart are now an item. But my life is in shreds. To this day, Iâ€™m still haunted by the image of them that night. I will never be the same again…â€Â I looked at Mark with a lot of pity.
Yet that is life. It might be true that you canâ€™t help who you fall in love with – but it is the height of irresponsibility that you end a marriage because you want an adventure with your husbandâ€™s classmate…