Nneka’s eyes shimmered with joy as she gazed at a delighted Tobi, reciting every word, right as the Registrar spoke them. The big unwavering smile on her red painted lips did not quantify the jubilation that was taking place in her heart, as her hands stayed held in Tobi’s.
They were not alone, several other couples stood with them, each to his own, but in this dream of hers that was finally becoming a reality, Nneka did not care about any of the other couples, no one but her Tobi.
Their love had begun two years ago, and like every new relationship, it was exciting, ecstatic and almost uncontainable. Right off the bat, they filled their days with hot steamy sex sessions, sessions they had wherever they found themselves – at his office, at her apartment, at random hotels in town, at the gym and even at restrooms of the restaurants’ they secretly visited.
He cared for her in a way no one else had done in recent times – lavishing her with the money she needed, spoiling her with gifts, giving her his time and taking her on journeys to beautiful destinations, and so in return, she gave him her body – in whatever manner he desired to have it, she didn’t care if she was not the only one, as long as she had him, too.
She gave him her heart – a decision that was not planned from the start but at 35 years old with no history of a husband, marriage nor a child, she told herself that she had to pour herself into him, completely, if she was going to get the status she so desperately desired and so she loved Tobi, in every way she knew how.
She became his peace, his confident. She cooked him meals that ensured he kept coming back for more.
On one of those days when he had just finished a plate of what had now become his favorite food – Owo and starch, Nneka led him to her bedroom, and there, she handed him a little colorfully wrapped box.
“What is it?” Tobi had inquired, curiosity dancing in his eyes.
“Open it” she grinned.
He arched a brow playfully at her and she set off chuckling, “It’s yours, open it”
“Alright.” He pulled the ribbons loose, tore the box open and frowned in confusion as his eyes met with white booties.
He lifted his eyes to her face, trying to understand what was going on when Nneka gushed, “Congratulations, you’re going to be a daddy!”
Tobi’s jaw dropped
“Yes!” Nneka nodded, chuckling happily
Tobi shook his head unable to believe his ears. How could it be? How could something he had wanted for ten years now be given to him in just two years with zero energy lost? Goose pimples clustered his skin and his head continued to shake, mouth hanging open in total disbelief.
“Yes baby” Nneka laughed, watching the tears gather in the corner of his eyes, “You’re going to be a father” she cried, along with him.
Tobi pulled her into his embrace and locked his arms tightly around her, “Thank you,” he cried, “ah baby thank you!”
All those sacrifices now seemed worth it as they stood face to face, grinning from ear to ear, listening to the Registrar declare them husband and wife.
Applause rang through the crowd and Tobi, pulled her into his embrace and slid his tongue in between her lips in a deep passionate kiss.
“Hmnnnn” Nneka groaned smilingly, stretching her arms above her head as she came awake.
“Good morning sunshine” Tobi said.
She turned her head to Tobi, standing over her, buttoning the cufflinks on his wrist and smiling down at her.
Her smile instantly melted down as she noticed his complete outfit, “Leaving Already?” she inquired.
His smile broadened, “Yes baby…”
“It’s our honeymoon” she complained, “Can’t you at least stay for another day?. This one time, please stay with me” her eyes pleaded.
Tobi lowered himself to the edge of the bed, leaned forward and kissed her forehead, “you look so beautiful” he remarked, gazing lovingly into her eyes.
“Thank you. Baby stay with me, let’s just stay in bed all day, watch Netflix, order in, make love..” she climbed her fingers up the ironed sleeves of his blue shirt up to his neck.
Tobi grabbed her hand down, “I want to, you know I do, but Shola is expecting me, I told her I will be back in four days and today is the 9th day, I can’t think of any more excuses..”
Nneka squirmed her face, “I’m your wife too now you know” she baby-talked, “I’m your legal wife..”
“Yes you are, but she’s still my wife of fifteen years, please understand, okay?” he brought his fingers down to her face and began to caress her cheeks, softly stroking all the way to her cheekbones, “It’s you I love, you know this right?, hmmn?, right baby?”
Nneka heaved, and then nodded her head, “I know”
“Good” he broadened his smile. He planted a kiss to her forehead, then another on her growing stomach.
“I love you” he spoke to her belly.
She touched his head, “we love you too”
He pulled his body up to her face and kissed her lips, then embraced her tightly.
That evening, Tobi pulled up into the compound of his home.
He put off the ignition of his car but remained seated in the vehicle.
Shola was waiting for him on the other side of those walls; he knew that, probably seated on the dining with the table fully set with the foods she prepared, waiting for him to join her.
His heart stung with guilt, but he quickly reassured himself that he had done the right thing – he had been patient with her for ten years, ten uneasy Months. Now that he was 45 years old and she 42, he could not afford to wait any longer, he needed this baby with Nneka, he had to have his own child…
“Whew!” he exhaled, dropping his head to the headrest behind him.
Shola was a good woman, he even loved her… maybe it was best if he told her the truth, she had to understand – soon Nneka would bear his child and he would not continue to hide her forever, especially not after the baby arrives
He had to tell Shola
She must understand
With that decision, he opened the door of the car and alighted from the vehicle, he would go in there and face Shola, she just had to know, it would hurt her, she would cry but he was too happy to continue to hide such great news from everyone, after all, Nneka was now his wife too, his Legally married wife. Shola just had to understand.
He turned the door knob of the front door and pushed the door open. The sweet aroma welcomed him from the door and he knew that Shola must be at the table waiting for him.
He shut the door after himself and walked into the house – it was so quiet, always have been and he hated it, but now everything was about to change because Nneka would bring the cry of a baby into his home and into his life..
“Smiling to yourself?” Shola cooed from the dining table.
He didn’t realize that he had been smiling, “Oh yeah, it’s just being a good day at work. Hi baby” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead then went round the table to the chair and helped himself unto it.
Shola was grinning, happy to have her husband back, “How was your trip” she asked.
Tobi opened the covered food before him, “it was good, great actually. Looks good” he smiled up at her from the bowl of beans.
She blushed, “thank you.” she stood on her feet and walked to his end of the table. She made to dish the food into a plate for him when he held her hands, stopping her, “There’s something I need to tell you” he said to her.
“Okay? There’s something I need to tell you too, I was hoping it would wait until after you eat”
“No, it can’t wait..” he said, his eyes staring up at hers, “w-why are you smiling so much?” he observed.
“Because of what I want to tell you..”
His brows came together in a frown, “Okay?, sit down then” he let go of her hands and she pulled out a chair and sat face to face with him.
He could see the excitement in her eyes, he had not seen her glow this way in a long time, “Did you get a promotion?” he asked.
“No” she laughed.
“So, what is…”
“I’m pregnant!” she announced.
His brows shot upwards in shock, “What?”
“I’m pregnant!” she clapped and then broke down into tears of joy
Tobi’s heart dropped, “What?”
“I’m pregnant, I’m three Months gone! With all the miscarriages of the past, I didn’t want to say anything, I was waiting to be sure before I told you…it’s happened Tobi, finally” she laughed, tears of joy streaming down her face
Tobi buried his face in his palms and he wept, bitterly.
Mistaken his tears to be that of joy, Shola leaned into him and she cried happy tears.
“No!” yelled Nneka, her entire body pulsating from shock “no Tobi, you cannot do this to me!”
“Babe I am as confused as you are”
“Tobi, don’t you dare leave me to raise this baby by myself,” she firmly stated, shooting a finger at him.
“Babe calm down” He said. He tried to hold her but she dodged his arms. “I’m at a crossroads here, she needs me…”
“And I need you too” she emphasized, slapping her chest.
“It’s different. Shola and I have been together for ten years, searched for this for ten years, I can’t….” he paused, then, he heaved, “Babe, it’s still early….don’t you think you can…don’t you think you c-can tak-ke it out?..”
“You can’t be telling me this right now, Tobi you cannot be serious. I love you, I am your wife!” she cried, her lips quivering.
He said nothing and she moped at him with disbelief in her eyes.
There he stood in the center of her living room, unsmiling. His hands planted to his waist, his chest rising and falling unsteadily, his eyes… empty, so empty yet locked with hers.
Where was the Tobi that made her endless promises? Where was the Tobi that promised her forever? Where was her husband, where was he?
She watched him tighten his jaw when he said, “I’m sorry. I choose my wife”
He turned around and began to walk out of her apartment and Nneka waited, she waited for his feet to step out of her door, she waited for the sound of the door to close behind him, she waited for him to be gone, determined to hold unto whatever dignity she had left, she would not break, not before his eyes, not to his hearing, not at all before him.
The door clanged shut and she collapsed to the floor and wept. Her heart completely broken, never to heal until it took the life of her child… and hers.
Written by Kylie Joy Terundu.