By Bunmi Sofola
CHINYERE,34 and a mother of a young daughter is a purchasing manager at a leading department store. She has a good brain, dresses well and, to all outward appearances, is a confident career woman. She has travelled several times abroad for her company that she has learnt to be at ease in first class hotels and enjoy the good things of life. We use her services from time to time and she’s never let me down.
For the past three years, she’s been involved with a married man. It suits her, she told me, but then the relationship isn’t that perfect either. “I simply don’t believe that a single girl ever becomes a man’s mistress out of choice,” she said. “I would defy anyone who says she is happy to be the other woman! I started the relationship by being tough, believing I could handle it as an affair that would suit me.
You see, when I was 26, I got pregnant. My fiance and I were to be married soon after I made this discovery but he died in a ghastly motor accident about a month to the wedding. I didn’t have the heart to get rid of Chukwudi, my daughter. And I ‘ve never regretted my decision to have her.
“After I started my affair with Mark I discovered I was not tough at all where my emotions were concerned. Women simply aren’t made to be that calculating. Not if they really love the new man in their lives. Unfortunately, after a short while, I became sick of taking second place in Mark’s life.
I became sick of the subterfuge and lies, and the knowing glances from his friends whenever we went out. I thought I could take it all but I found out that there is nothing like the little gold band and having a place in society as a wife and mother!
“Don’t get me wrong. Mark had hinted several times that I should have a couple of kids for him. That he could afford a second wife any time I was ready. But his wife knows about me, has taken the pains to thoroughly investigate my background, and judging by the snide remarks Mark said she always made about me, she hates my guts and envies my success.
“Getting permanently hitched to her man might cause a lot of hassle. Things were in this sea-saw position when I met Hilary. I’d just had a blazing row with Mark and he kept away from me, which was another thing that riled me in our relationship. Any time we had a tiff, Mark was back with his family while I fumed until things blew over.
“Anyway, it was during one of these frequent tiffs that I met Hilary. He is only four years older than me, and very successful. He is an architect in the civil service but has his own private practice. The first night we went out to dinner, my heart wasn’t really in it. He had been after me for ages to go out with him and now that he had succeeded in dragging me out, I didn’t feel much enthusiasm.
We went to one of these fancy and expensive restaurants that are constantly springing up in Lagos. On the ground floor was a well-stocked perfumery and I was surprised when he edged me into the shop. I gaped at prices of the stuffs they had in there. I knew how much those stuffs cost abroad but the shop was asking almost five times the original prices.
Hilary asked me for my favourite perfume. I told him. Then he proceeded to buy the perfume and a set of matching lotion, soap and God-knows-what. I cringed a bit when the machine totalled up the whole lot—they were ridiculously expensive!
“We had a lovely dinner. The best on the menu. The best wine. By the time we both staggered home, I was bewildered by it all. The following day, he told me he usually did his shopping on Saturdays; did I want to come with him? I went because I didn’t have much to do in the house. By the time I came home, two boxes were filled with goodies he insisted on buying for me.
Casually, he asked when my car would be due for its next service. I told him and his driver was around to take the car for me. I felt a bit rushed by it all. I liked him. He was very jovial and had a lot of really lovely friends. The pride in his voice as he introduced me to them made me a bit cautious. I was being rushed off my feet and I didn’t like it.
“Then he started talking about marriage and I knew that it all had to be called off. He was a likeable person but I didn’t love him and we never even had time to make love more than a few times. I often pushed him away if he as much as touched me after that. Anyway, he was a spend thrift.
Constantly, flitting from one expensive hobby to the other, and restless with it. A permanent relationship with someone like him would drive me round the bend. I told him all these and he really agreed to change. He had his head in the cloud that one! I told him to grow up, and next time he met a girl he liked, he should not rush her.
“He said I was special and he was never that eager with his other girl-friends. I wanted to believe because he could really be a nice person. Anyway, Mark came back and that was it. Hilary knew about Mark and he’s never had anything good to say about him. Why should I waste my time on a married man when I could have a single man as my husband if I wanted?
“That’s just it! I didn’t want just any man. I wanted Mark with all the handicap. If I were to be sincere with myself, being with Mark is like eating my cake and still having it. I don’t have to play at being a wife. I know when he’s visiting and I can plan my time around him.
I have time for my business too and don’t have to comb the market all the time looking for foodstuffs. I go out with my friends when I feel like it, travel when I can afford to yet give a quality time to my daughter. I’m a bit set in my ways and I know Mark might just be the type of father that I believe my future children deserve.”