Bukky was busy giving the big bedroom a long overdue clean. She was running the vacuum cleaner over her husbandâ€™s side of the bed when the flex caught the corner of a partially opened drawer. It had been loose for months and Mati, her husband, hadnâ€™t come round to fixing it yet.
As she crouched to free the flex, something shoved amongst the odds-and-ends in the drawer caught her eye.Â A long brown envelope of the type school reports came in.Â Whose report could this be?Â She opened the envelope and saw the surname was her husbandâ€™s, but the first name was none of their five children. She went on: â€œI slumped on the bed and stared at the piece of paper. Suddenly, realization dawned -Mati had another child!Â In spite of the fact that Iâ€™d ignored one or two of his indiscretions, the result of my husbandâ€™s affairs now stared me in the face.
The report was from a private secondary school. The child, a girl, now in her teens, had been born just after we had our second child!Â Way back when I thought we couldnâ€™t be happier. Bastard! Did he still see the mother?Â Is this the only child from her?Â Heaven knew how many other women were holding on to his children!Â Suddenly, everything about my marriage Iâ€™d held dear looked like a sham.
â€œI wanted to get to him, to demand for answers. But he was away at a family do. As soon as he came in, I threw the school report in his face. Apart from the report, there were other incriminating documents in the drawer and he had no choice but to confess. The mother of the child was a professional with her own financial means, he told me. They had had a relationship and she wanted the child. Sheâ€™d promised she wouldnâ€™t be any trouble to my family and had kept her words. Most of the financial expenses of raising the child had been borne by her. As he made his excuse, it seemed as if he was bragging, that he was proud to have fathered the child of a rich woman desperate to have her own child!
â€œI donâ€™t know what hurt more – discovering my husbandâ€™s bastard child or his keeping in touch with mother and child , been supportive father to their daughter – and keeping the sordid secret from me. Part of me wanted to confront this woman – but Mati refused to tell me where she lived because he said he was scared of what Iâ€™d do if I saw her.
â€œNot knowing more shock was in store for me, I called the three eldest children and solemnly told them what Iâ€™d just discovered.Â They didnâ€™t look surprised.Â On the contrary, they looked quite relieved, as if a huge burden had been lifted from their shoulders.
My first daughter said theyâ€™d known about this girl all along.Â Their dad had told them and had sworn them to secrecy.Â How dared he involve my children in this stupid charade?Â I was furious that my children could even agree to such a deception.Â Were they actually happy they had a half sister?â€™
â€œDays later, my daughter, an undergraduate, came to have a word with me. I was sure it was at the insistence of Mati. Their father wasnâ€™t a coward, she pleaded, rather he wanted to spare my feeling.Â You can always regret an affair, but could you really wish away a child?Â All I know is that Iâ€™m still hurting. There is nothing as depressing as knowing that whilst your husband is lovingly trying to make a baby with you, he is doing the same thing with another woman behind your back!â€
As bitter as Bukky was, I made her realise that once a secret was out in the open, you do your utmost to live with it.Â Cases like hers abound and, short of snuffing the life out of her step-daughter, she had to acknowledge her existence just like her children had. â€œStep-daughter?â€, she shrieked, â€œyou do take your liberal attitude a bit too far at times.Â As for my children, I just prayed nothing like this happens to them in future. It is then theyâ€™ll feel my painâ€.Â What pain was there to feel?Â This poor girlâ€™s mother is loaded. All she wanted was for the father of her daughter to acknowledge her existence.Â What if the mother had been one of these scheming gold diggers who deliberately go after well-heeled men so their children would have a slice of the pie when such men croak?Â I asked Bukky to put herself in the position of a step-daughter who will for ever be on the outside looking in.
â€œAnd it is that outside sheâ€™ll beâ€, she spat.Â â€œLet both mother and child stay in their corner, Iâ€™ll stay in mine …â€