By Bunmi Sofola

As Nikky made her way to her office that fateful Monday morning, she saw a group of some female members of staff clustering round the photo copiers and chattering excitedly.  When they saw her, the silence was eerie, and instead of scurrying off to their seats, they looked at her with defiance.

“I simply ignored them,” Nikky recalled.

“Ordinarily, I would have read the riot act to them, but I was in no mood for any petty accusations.  I shut the door of my office, got ready to say my regular office prayer when my intercom buzzed.

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“I wanted to ignore it but it was from a close colleague and she was persistent.  ‘Have you read the papers?’, she asked conspiratorially mentioning a particular tabloid’.  ‘No’, I snapped. ‘You know I don’t read trash like that, most of their stories are rubbish anyway’.

“’If I were you, I would have a look’, she continued: When I asked her why, she whispered.  ‘Better you read it yourself and phone me later.  Why don’t you send for a copy?’.

“I was really curious by now.  I sent for my secretary and asked her to get me a copy of this must-read magazine.  She told me smugly that she had one and gave me her copy, hovering for my reaction. I told her to beat it!

“With a lot of curiosity, I skimmed the pages, not knowing what I was to look out for.  Then close to the middle pages, I saw it.  Staring at me was a colour photograph of a man with a familiar smile – my husband! 

“Next to him was a woman, smiling up at him and the caption of the story read: “What I do to keep him at home”.  Hey?  What home?  Then I started to read the story and nearly fainted.  I read the opening again to make sure it wasn’t my imagination. 

And I read it again.  My husband of close to 14 years, the father of our three lovely boys was said to be the ‘loving husband’ of this fashion designer.  Not only that, they have two lovely children.  ‘She was such a good cook that I decided to marry her’, my husband was quoted to have said. 

“Marry her?  He was still married to me, and although we had our ups and downs, I didn’t believe things had degenerated to this level.

“As if that wasn’t enough shock, there was another photograph of the ‘Happy Couple and their children… I was filled with a range of emotions.  Shock, hurt, anger and humiliation. 

“The scandal obviously explained the cluster of girls I saw round the photo copiers – they were copying my humiliation to pass round other members of staff.  I was in tears and felt sick.  For five years, my husband had been building a new family and I hadn’t noticed.

“I phoned my colleague who first alerted me and she came over.  Her eyes were so full of pity that I broke down completely.  She confessed she’d known about my husband’s other ‘home’ and that a lot of our friends were amazed that I hadn’t twigged on. 

“How could I?  My husband is a top businessman who travels a lot.  Obviously, most of his ‘travelling time’ was spent with this woman and their children.  And why had they chosen this cruel way to let me find out?  I couldn’t give the office staff the satisfaction of leaving because I was hurting, so I put a brave face on. 

“But throughout the day, I felt surrounded by people staring at me.  Some were pitying, others were scornful.  I had never felt so low in my life.  I mean this callous man had professed to love me once.  Now, he had turned me into the next piece of juicy gossip to hit town.

“At present, he was away on one of his ‘trips’.  My colleague told me to fight back.  She phoned one of the staff of the magazine and told him what was going on.  He put him on to the writer of the story who said he was surprised to hear of a genuine wife.

“He was obviously excited too as he asked for me to be interviewed.  I told him all the facts and sent him photographs for their next edition.

“When my husband eventually surfaced, I calmly showed him the magazine.  I was expecting him to bluff his way through, but I wasn’t prepared for him prostrating fully on the bedroom floor and begging for my forgiveness. 

“He’d seen the offending story, he said, and couldn’t believe the nerve of this woman for hitting the tabloid with it.  He admitted he had an affair with her, but she was a single mother when they met. 

“It was only her last child that was his.  All the things he was quoted to have said in the papers were from her.  In fact, he’d been trying to live down the embarrassment himself as most of his clients were fairly conservative.  Having an affair was one thing, but flaunting it on the pages of the papers was the height of irresponsibility.

“I was floored by how contrite he felt.  It was a bit of a relief too. 

“When I told him I’d told my side of the story, he agreed that that might douse the tension a bit.  He, however, assured me that this woman had really gone too far. 

“He would cut her off from his life and would only be responsible for her child.  It’s not a happy-ever-after ending though.  I still feel hurt and thoroughly disillusioned. 

“What a shocker to happen, to knock you off your smug pedestal!  I’ve always said you shouldn’t believe all you read in the papers.  Well, thanks to this particular paper, my family life will never be the same again!”

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