Nkechi knew when she married Philip all of nine year ago that she was getting married to a ladies’ man. “His best friend who introduced us described him as a naughty boy with the ladies”, confessed Nkechi, “but I thought I was special when he asked me to marry him.
We were reasonably happy for the first few years until high-tech mobile phones became the status symbol of he rich.
“Around the time high-tech mobiles became popular, Philip, chartered accountant, was lucky to get a job with one of the airlines. We’d had two lovely children by then and Philip was obviously having the time of his life in his new job. Always with the latest mobile phones, he was constantly phoning and texting even whilst he was at home to check the staff and if possible, given passengers help and advice.
Inevitably, he started keeping late nights and no matter how bitterly I complained, he didn’t change his irresponsible habit. It was by a stroke of luck that he left his favourite mobile phone on the dining table that fateful day he was in the bathroom. I picked it up and checked his messages. ‘Hi! I hope you’re still dreaming of the time we had last night’ one message read. It was from someone named Kayode. Shortly after, there was a bleep and the text read. ‘Coming round later? I have a tasty meal waiting for you. Very tasty … yummy!’ This message was also from Kayode – very strange messages indeed for one man to send to another.”
“I quickly wrote down the number. Then I left the phone with the last message still on. As soon as Philip saw it, he froze. I looked him straight in the eye and told him what I thought of him. He couldn’t wriggle out of the evidence staring him in the face and lied that it was from a colleague named Bose, playing pranks. He just met her and according to him, `she showed me a few jokes she had stored in her mobile and I asked her to forward some to my phone’. But why did he store her name as Kayode if things were that innocent? `Because I knew you’d get suspicious if you saw a woman’s name’, he lied.
“After he left for work, I decided to do some detective work. I rang the strange number all day but there was no answer. I tried a few more days without success and was almost giving up when I got a response. “Hello?” I yelled down the phone, “so, you finally decided to pick my call?” “Who is this?” she said, visibly annoyed. I wasn’t going to be put off that easily. “I’ve been trying to ring you for days. That is Bose, isn’t it?” `It’s not’, she spat, I am Mariam. I quickly put down the phone. Philip had obviously lied to me. There was no Bose. But I have a new name – Mariam. As soon as Philip came in, I wanted to know who Mariam was. Quick as a flash, he replied she was one of the airline’s supervisors. I didn’t believe him and I told him so.
In the meantime, I had to go to Abuja for a week on an official assignment and I told him when I would be back. I took the children to my mum’s and was lucky to get through my assignment a day earlier. Instead of using the extra day to relax as I often did, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the mischief Philip had been up to lately. So I packed my bags and headed for the airport without telling him. I walked in and put down my suitcase. The house was dead quiet. The meals I’d painstakingly prepared for him stayed untouched in the freezer. Philip hadn’t stayed much around and it was obvious by the state of the bedroom that he hadn’t spent that much time in it either. Instinctively, I picked up my mobile and dialled a number. It was Mariam’s and I asked to speak with Philip. She passed the phone on to him but as soon as he heard my voice, he switched it off. I called his own number and this was switched off as well. Uncontrollable rage rose up inside me. Who did he think he was? What did he care about our marriage? Still mad with rage, I yanked open his side of the wardrobe. All the designer shoes and clothes he had acquired since he joined the airline were brought out of the wardrobe and taken to the back door. Still shaking with rage. I doused them in petrol and lit a fire. I had set the whole lot ablaze.
“My next door neighbour came running, thinking the house was on fire but, when he saw what was burning he looked at me as if I’d gone mad. And momentarily, I’d gone mad. “I’ll kill the cheating bastard, I yelled as he scurried off. His wife came back to take me to their apartment. We’d been fairly close and I told her what had been going on. It was when she asked after the children that I suddenly remembered them. In my rage, I hadn’t even cared about the welfare of my own children.
“When I called my mum, she assured me they were all right and I spoke with them. Philip had called on the phone to ask after them, but he hadn’t visited. He was obviously more concerned about his love nest! It was much later that I realised what I’d done. Was this what it felt like to go mad? It was a bi frightening to realise I could exhibit so much hatred. I sent a text to Philip’s phone that I’d burnt up all his clothes and that our marriage was over. He would get the message whenever he decided to pen up his phone.
“I was, therefore, surprised when I got home the next day and found Philip in the living room looking very rough. He held out his arms, full of apologies. I was shocked. But I still cared about him and let him hold me as I cried out the frustration of these past months of his infidelity. It was when he came home and saw the extent of the rage he’d provoked in me that he realised what an unfeeling man he was. The affair was nothing but a mad fling, he assured me, and it was over.
“We’re now trying to patch up our marriage. I even got Philip some new clothes and shoes, but the ones I burnt were his real pride and joy. But secretly, they wee worth the sacrifice. As much as I wouldn’t recommend the same treatment for couples with problems if I hadn’t lost my senses at that moment, Philip might still have believed I would be strong enough to absorb his infidelity’.