By Bunmi Sofola
It was a bit uncanny. I was at this seminar when a professionally dressed female executive flitted across the room and she reminded me of a younger version of Angela.
We were classmates in secondary school. Very intelligent and a bookworm, she did so well for herself that after getting a good job, she landed a husband that she thought was a catch. But we all knew Rasheed, her husband – there wasn’t any of us he hadn’t hit on.
A few had actually fallen under his modus operandi; fancy presents, cooking gourmet meals, and following them around like a lost poppy and giving them the impression that his life would end any time the affair ended.
Only, he was always eager to drop his latest find when an interesting piece of skirt showed up.
How Rasheed kept his romance with Angela under wraps was a surprise. When the wedding invitation cards surfaced, there was nothing we could do. But I’d been fairly honest with her in the past and tried to warn her of Rasheed’s dalliance with a few of the girls.
“He told me about them when we started being serious about each other,” she told me. “It was more as if these girls threw themselves at him. But he wanted us to start with no secrets between us, so he told me who they were and why they shouldn’t be invited to the wedding”.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to keep my opinion to myself when it comes to matters of the heart. An adult supposedly in love had already made up her mind about whom she chooses to be with, so telling anyone at all of their misgivings is a matter of information – not necessarily seeking their advice which may be what she didn’t want to hear.
So, Angela got married and right from the start, stories of Rasheed’s indiscretions continued to make the rounds. After almost 10 years, the marriage hit the rocks. None of us thought it would last that long and Angela virtually disappeared from the social circuit. When I next saw her, I was shocked by how disillusioned she looked. “I bet all of you are now laughing behind my back”, she accused.
I was amused. “Why would we laugh at you when there are many other interesting stories to cackle over?” I asked her. “You need to pull yourself together. Look around you, marriages are crashing left, right and centre; and no one is laughing at anybody because they’ve all moved on. Except you. What about your children?”
“They’re with me,” she said. “Rasheed chips in his bit, I must say that for him. And, he loves our three boys. My mistake was falling in love with a man I later realised did not love me enough even to stay in the same town with me – he relocated to Ibadan after we separated.
“I made a really bad choice in a supposed life partner and I’ll never reveal the reason for the depth of sadness I felt at the loss of my marriage. Thanks to a few friends, I’m trying to pick up the pieces of my life…” Years later, and a day after the seminar that I saw the lady that looked like Angela, I ran into her at a wedding.
The last I heard of her was that she’d relocated abroad with her boys. We were very pleased to see each other and after the squeals, I asked if she was back for good to Nigeria. “What would I be coming here for?” she asked. “I can’t live here on a permanent basis and can’t stand Nigerian men. They are a bunch of cheats and liars. You know I met another one abroad with whom I had a daughter.
“He was worse than my ex-husband and by the time I kicked him out, two women were carrying his babies. My current lover is a white American, who does a lot of business in England. He’s in his early 50s and has never married.
He’s filthily rich and whenever he comes to London, he spoils me rotten, takes me to the theatre where he always reserves private seats and takes me on short trips to Paris. “Doesn’t she want to re-marry?” “Why haven’t you remarried yourself?” she countered.
“You think it’s that simply? My new man has reassured me that with time we might get married”. And how did her children feel about him? “They haven’t met him”, she said a bit sadly.
“The last time he came visiting and they were in my flat, he paid for them to stay in a modest bed and breakfast so we could have all the privacy we needed. He said he wouldn’t want to unsettle the children by being a father-figure, only for the relationship to pack up.
“When we’re both sure of our feelings, we’ll tell the children. I’m sure that would happen soon-he loves me to bits”. I opened my mouth to offer my opinion but quickly shut it.
This new beau of Angela’s certainly has his head screwed on right. I mean, what man of over 50, who has never been married will now settle for a mother of four with all these fresh faced and fertile women flaunting their tong-clad bums all over the place? I wished Angela all the best and went to join Amina, a friend at another get-together. She had this slightly murderous look on her face.
What was eating her? She scarcely gave me time to help myself to some refreshment when she pounced. “It’s Joan,” (her niece who once lived with her and who used to help herself to some of Amina’s boy-friends).
“The last time I travelled, she phoned she needed some drugs for her child. Thinking it must be urgent, I gave the drug with some of the things she begged me to buy for her to Sunny (another boyfriend, another story?) to give to her as I still had some weeks to spend in London.
“When I came back, I went to Sunny’s office, had lunch that was brought in from a restaurant before leaving. As Sunny saw me out of his office, who should be waiting at the reception, but Joan? They both looked shocked. Sunny quickly pulled himself together when I asked what she was doing in his office.
“Before she could answer, Sunny came to her defence, gave me the cock and bull story about asking her to find out the prices of some things for him. I couldn’t make a scene as everybody in the reception was looking at us. Both her mobiles were switched off when I later tried to make contact, so, I went to Joan’s house in the evening. The husband let me in and she was all sweetness, kneeling down as if she were a respectable wife, the slut, and asking what I wanted to eat. As soon as her husband was out of ear-shot, she was on her knees, begging me to forgive her. There was no point lying that nothing went on between her and Sunny. She assured me it would never happen again. But do I believe her?”