Fortunately, we’re 85% done with montage, editing and packaging when the operatives arrived. The only key thing left was voicing over. But we’re sure any good broadcast journalist could read my script and have an editor slap report over footage. There, however, was that unvoiced fear among my gaffer, rigger, editor and driver that I was being abducted. There was no way I could allay their fears; I did not want to tell a lie either so I left them to fester in their fertile imagination. They sought to suggest I should call that politically aligned senior journalist to apologize to him because they thought he might be behind the invitation. I told them that journo could stew in his pot for all I cared. Their suggestion and my tailored rebuff emboldened me the more.
“You’re wanted,” they announced.
“How far are we going?”
“We cannot promise you.”
I followed them to their car and enquired for my lawyer about the invitation but was waved off, a decline. When we got to the hotel, one of the soldiers directed me upstairs without emotion- his bland face was one of disinclination. I was not perturbed in the least. I assured myself that I was not guilty of any offence. After all, a guiltless conscious ricochets acquisition without recourse. Should I be killed as a worst form of occupational hazard that journalist were prone to, I wished to die slowly through agony so I could appreciate the peace and tranquility I might have ever taken for granted since my childhood.
Upon arrival at Room QB415, I purposed a masculine knock but was shortchanged by the soft surface of the door which reduced a vociferous thumb to a mere peck. And that brought my surprise number one: I was received by Ghana’s finest pilot, Capt. Honesty Mayqueen Arqhu-One, all by herself.
“I sent for you”, she greeted.
“Great,” I grinned.
We walked to the rooftop bar in silence, watching the goings and comings. It still looked like a student-teacher relationship.
“Were you scared?” she quizzed.
“Nothing scares me,” I assured.
“I shouldn’t have asked. I know you too well.”
“The reason you’re a rough rider”, that was Olivia. And they both laughed.
I was surprised Honesty laughed in my presence but judging by the conspirator glances they exchanged I could surmise what’s amiss. In fact, her laugh jolted no surprise like the magical appearance and intrusion by Olivia.
How did Olivia make it into Honesty’s exalted circles? Was this prearranged or something? They were no friends in high school, … I could vouch Honesty kept decent company. The self-search for answers raged wide.
“Rough driver?” that’s my counter.
“Yes,” Olivia iterated with truculence that made her sound surer than was socially appropriate.
I was scandalized as I sought to plumb the full and true depth of this mild accusation. This should be considered pragmatically ill placed but one had to take it in his stride by waning a smile. When I realised she felt my suppressed shock, I lowered my headteacher gaze. I must relieve her.
“Sir was none such! I could bet my life on that,” Honesty volunteered plaintively.
“Thanks, dear. But I’m…….”
“… You don’t know him well. Fact is we, his students, never knew his downside.”
“Sir, is that true?”
“I’m retired. That’s history,” I rebutted.
“You were the best.”
Olivia was one student leader I enjoyed working with as a teacher. She had everything one would look for in a juvenile leader and more. Our relationship hit a snug when she, after her final examinations, asked me out. She dated me to pork and beer. On the day, she drank more Guinness at a siting than was courteous to mention. I then excused myself and left the premises after settling the bill. Later, she went on an assignment to find out what type of girl I liked. In any case, she was misled by one of my social media posts which sought to suggest I liked bad girls and was to spend the next eleven months scheming debauchery. I truly loved Olivia but won’t eat my own words by dating my past student in a typical sense of the word in local context.
“But you’re unfair.”
“Who’s the proponent of your fairness theory?” that was my first bold demand of the evening.
Her throat run desiccated and patched; one could hear her gulp a swallow of blob. She felt the joke was stale and beyond her social pay grade. In any case, the social barrier between us remained unaffected from my dashboard.
Honesty was long noted for her innate social mixing feat, her ability to zero out class and ideological differences stood out. And this was her time to shine again, a time to make peace. But she was funny about it.
“Olivia, you’re peeved my favourite teacher refused to date you?”
“Do not deny it. I read it in your diary.”
I felt vindicated and decided to celebrate by victory with golden silence. I now see why the joke could not cut its intended niche in this social intercourse…it’s musty and tasteless because it’s long expired.
“Can we make ourselves comfortable?” Captain requested.
When the waiter came, Captain introduced herself and that was all. The waiter excused us and left. Captain told us she had a surprised for us and for the rest of the wait time that we waited for the waiter, Olivia waited to be talked to. I also got engrossed in the conversation to the extent that I forgot to tell my crew I was safe.
“Turn all professional gadgets off.”
“I know your shock.”
“I thought you’re…..”
“….. a mathematician….”
“We, mathematicians, are capable of anything science.”
“I thought you’re……”
“….. a linguist……”
“We linguists are capably of anything…”
“How’s your wife?” Olivia shocked us.
“Not too bad.”
“Who’s that lucky one?” Olivia ventured again.
“Are you a bully?”
“A domestic terrorist?”
“What are you then?”
“A social democrat and a good lover of cargoes.”
A spurt of laughter with gusto.
“You did not go overboard.”
“So I failed to complain.”
“Bad for axle load….”
“Healthy for the piper.”
“You have not changed a bit,” that’s all Honesty could say.
“You have a Chelsea or Arsenal then..?”
“A good buy.”
“No. She’s unlucky.”
“You mess up paaa-oo.”
“She told me.”
Then it was my turn to quiz Captain.
“Your gold ring.”
“My second nature.”
Silence. Olivia had a call and left us. Good riddance! I was later told she was the receptionist on duty when Captain checked in, that’s the only connecting rod plausible. So they used the opportunity to connect.
“And what made you opt for Emirates ahead of Qantas?
“Turn all microphones off. We’re unwinding.”
“Yea. Emirates. My boyfriend’s advice.”
“How’s he now?”
“Almost… How did you know? ….. I almost forgot.”
“Who’s that lucky man to you?”
“You don’t wish…?”
“…wish…? … no!”
“Well, information about him is copyright protected.”
“You’re the custodian.”
“No, his lawyer is.”
“You pay the piper, so you can call the tune.”
“He pays her.”
“A certain Kweku,” she volunteered.
“You bet it’s not Kweku Shakespeare?”
“I can neither confirm nor deny that.”
“What have we done this time?”
“Who told you?”
“Whistle blower identity protection mode activated.”
We’re gelled now. She could now look me in the eyes and speak. The social distance between us was now evened and we could crack level jokes. We ate, wined and dined and danced and jammed, teasing each other all along.
It was our first major interaction after she left school. Now we’re real friends, and out of the hundred and one journalists, I was the one she chose to hang out with that evening. She too said she’s happy seeing me change my career. And we’d both go joking like real colleagues.
“I never dreamt you’re a journalist. I’m happy for you.”
“I want to buy you another beer.”
“Don’t you drink three beers a night ever?”
“No more than three on Tuesdays.”
“You’ve had only one.”
“Suspense account mode activated.”
Presently, a police officer approached Captain. He introduced himself and his mission.
“Tell him I’m unable to move to another table.”
“Should he come?”
“Probably. If he’s keen.”
“Consider it done.”
The Minority Spokesperson on Aviation came over to our table in the bar. He had a band of bloggers, tabloid journalists and reporters from some mushroom radio stations and YouTube channels. Everything about him reeks of cheap popularity. We watched him seat himself and shake hands with Captain amidst the clamouring of camera flashes. She was tactically patient.
“Good evening, Boss… Captain rather.”
“Good evening, Honourable. How may we help you?”
I’m a Member of Parliament …erhmh.. Minority Spokesperson on Aviation.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
“You’re a hero.”
“I’m here to dialogue with you.”
There’s an air of pomposity and overrated self-importance around the dude.
“I read aeronautic engineering.”
“I have two research degrees.”
“Boss. Can we have beer?”
“Don’t you drink beer?”
“I do. But not on Tuesdays.”
He could have continued till Christmas. Captain showed she’s not interested in a conversation but her cosmetic cabin smile goaded this blind dude on.
What actually saved him embarrassment was the presidential alert.
CAPT. HONESTY MAYQUEEN ARQHU-ONE
When she appeared on the gangway, two miniature Ghanaian flags flew about her, each worked into an epaulette. Her crew sandwiched her as she came down the gangway with excitement. Halfway down, she stopped to acknowledge cheers from the crowd and for a first time raised her head and tipped the visor of her cap. And there was no mistake about the shock: Captain Honesty Mayqueen Arqhu-One. My heart bubbled with excitement. I happened to be one of the few journalists who knew her before now: she was my student years earlier. There were, however, those who knew close to nothing about her but had to fictionalize their knowledge about this fine lady in order to look important. Indeed, little knowledge does intoxicate. I kept my calm.
The press briefing was indeed brief. The Aviation Minister and her Chief Director, both women, came to meet Captain Arqhu-One and led her to the VVIP lounge. Security was tight. I couldn’t be sure but the Minister looked like one Etornam I knew, and her Chief Director was Sefakor. After preliminary talks and politicization of national efforts to project the ruling government, Captain Arqhu-One gave a picturesque account of the whole event.
Though aviation had its own set of idioms meant not for the uninitiated, Captain took her time to explain in a layman’s language what the problem was. She ran the briefing like the way a mathematics teacher could explain the concepts of differentiation and integration in calculus to a 9 year old pre-IG student. She spoke so fluently of the Rolls Royce engines and the technologies used, the aerolon, lift force, angle of attack, torque, spoiler, centrifugal force and what have you. She was able to make sense with all these so that when she was done, there was basically no technical question for her.
She informed us that the troubled jetliner was travelling from Murtala in Ikeja, Lagos State to JFK on a 10 hour 26 minute journey and had barely done an hour when the emergency reared its beautiful head. They thus contacted KIA, which was not the nearest but the only facility with functionalities to land a super jumbo jet (A830). She said they had over 807 souls aboard and at takeoff, the aircraft weighed nearly 1,265,000 pounds, with fuel weight in excess of 200,000 pounds.
She enumerated the problem by saying they detected an unfamiliar vibration in the cockpit just after takeoff and were trying to manage it. The immediate suspect, she intimated, was the throttle which straightaway was retired but its retirement undid nothing.
As to why they came in slowly but had to pitch away with a yaw, only to return at a fast sinking rate, she explained that their weight then was an unsafe landing one for Kotoka, and that’s why they went over the Atlantic, ostensibly to dump fuel, yet when all efforts to reduce weight by dumping failed, they were allowed to land. She made a lot of sense with this explanation. She told journalists she had had over 24,000 flight hours and was prepared to land the aircraft, no matter how heavy it was, save that she was prepared for the little turbulence anticipated. Captain said she was surprised the fuel systems were not responding and many of the control knobs had long gone dead. At this point, you could hear a pin drop.
She confirmed to journalists she was terrified by the sink rate before touch down, and that happened as soon as she reduced speed. She also confessed rudder control went sluggish, therefore, leveling and navigation became a challenge. She admitted she was not stunned only half of the brakes worked, because the plane was not designed to land that heavy. She narrated how she engaged the trust reverse force to increase the drag. Captain shared her experience pilot-testing the Beluga 3 XL which weighed way heavier than A 380, just to buttress the point that she was more than experienced to handle the emergency.
She teased her copilot who got terrified by the grief and turbulence from the ovoid CCTV so they had to mute sound on fuselage images hence distraction became minimal. She said she was shocked all buttons and knobs responded positively again after hitting the runway and that they nearly succumbed to the temptation of taking to the skies again. We were finally taken through the parking procedures and that was all.
For a moment, she benefited a standing ovation. There was practically no question for her. It was difficult coming out with a question immediately, unless one wanted to be mischievous or advertise ignorance. And a CBS photo journalist did.
“Madam, how do you feel being an African on this day?” he ventured.
“What exactly do you mean?” Captain beseeched.
“An African in charge of a large aircraft and being able to save…” he blurted out like someone suffering a verbal diarrhoea.
The gathering booed and hooted. Everyone wanted Captain to go gaga over him. We’re expecting either a Mugabe or Kagame response, but this was a lady.
“Or I see. Now, when Richard de Crespigny managed the Singapore Qantas airliner to safety in 2010, saving all 469 passengers on board, who questioned him about his skin color or country of origin? The world’s oldest university is in Africa. I hope I have answered you.”
Silence. Then there was another and another and another. There was nothing like regression; she treated every journalist by the attitudes in their questions and voices. The press briefing was rounding up before I caught the moderator’s attention.
“Captain Akudeka, … sorry… Arqhu-One, what was your greatest fear when dropping faster than usual, and how did you manage it?”
“I dreaded my passengers might fear the worst and panic, and knowing their panic might affect our collective judgment as it did my colleague, we muted sound on the CCTV that displayed images from both decks, I mean from both top and bottom decks”.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, that was the last question. Thanks for coming”, that was the moderator.
We were disappointed. I had two follow up questions but….
I was bagging my equipment when two men in military uniform came for me.
……To be continued
[MADAM SECRETARY GENERAL ARRIVES]
Today was Tuesday, a humid summer Tuesday. The Turkish-born maiden female Secretary General of the United Nations, Mrs. Ecrin Gogovy was visiting Ghana for a first time since assuming office. The nation went agog because she was the first female to occupy that seat, and being married to a Ghanaian, her acquired surname made everyone count her Ghanaian. She, indeed, was Ghanaian, was she not? And that, sort of, made Ghana the producer of a second Secretary General of the world union. After all, how many paused to question Mrs Gogvy’s maiden name?
The Ghanaian population bore this visit with a sense of pride. They were ever so happy her husband’s surname had dwarfed her real identity. They were at their political best, trying to speculate which of the two main political parties played a part in her appointment. As usual, a panelist on a morning talk show was funny enough to daydream that Dr Gogovy and his wife were likely to vote for his political party because they bore a name that suggested they hailed from his political party’s stronghold, but his conjecture was rebutted.
I could not recall how it happened, but I found myself leading a news crew from my Grandpa & Sons Multimedia colossus to the airport to cover a historic event of this sort. I was for a second time reporting for a medial house I owned. The last time I used knowledge from journalism school was when I covered the arrival of Komla Dumor’s corpse from UK. I questioned myself then why Africans always glorified the dead, only the dead. But today, we’re celebrating another Ghanaian achievement: Dr Gogovy, Ghana’s finest husband, married right. I took a cursory look at my silver wristwatch: 10:13 am. Mrs. Gogovy was still more than an hour away, I assured myself. I switched to rehearsing my last-minute notes on Turkish phonetics and phonology because I was certain to say a word or two in Turkish, most assuredly, “You’re welcome,” and I intended to get it right.
Around me, there was a new outpouring of journalists from all sides of the globe, positioning and trying to reposition their equipment when we’re 33 minutes from receiving Mrs. Gogovy. And that was when a full load of Airbus A380, with Emirates colours appeared in our airspace. The sheer spectacle of it communicated something awry. For one thing, the arrival schedule for KIA did not have Emirates that hour. It was a bit melodramatic. Journalistic perceptiveness led the way; this was indeed a newsworthy occurrence so we followed it with all sensorium.
At first it came in, descending uncharacteristically slowly. Yet as it approached the runway, it made a U-turn mid-air. That was the very moment the KIA bound Boeing 737 Max Lufthansa airliner carrying the UN Secretary General also announced its intent to land. Control tower acknowledged them. The next moment, Emirates went over the Atlantic and was soon out of sight, and we supposed that was the end. We presumed it had been declined landing permission.
Presently, the UN Secretary General was also disembarking. To everyone’s surprise, journalists moved to T3 to cover a blow-by-blow account of how the world’s largest passenger aircraft landed unscheduled at KIA. The main purpose for which cameras and microphones were bussed to the airport was momentarily shelved. Or rather, reporters were caught wanting because as they moved their equipment to T3, the behemoth airliner yawed away. They were undecided whether or not to return to the coverage of their primary assignment. When the wait became protracted, they returned to base only to realize Mrs. Gogovy was in the middle of a news conference. There was now a new definition for a newsworthy event. National television, however, kept faith with viewers by doing a cross cut into parallel actions. For sure, they had dispatched more than two teams to the airport and could therefore afford the luxury.
Mrs Gogovy’s arrival was given a political colouring that took longer than expected to fade. As Dr and Mrs. Gogovy made their way to the top of the gangway, that radio station was still having their discussion of the Secretary General’s arrival. The opportunist who thought Dr Gogovy would buy stale information from tribal political rumour mongers was reminded that Dr Gogovy was more a Fante than Ewe at heart. Secondly, he was told Dr Gogvy had no time for their polytricks and tribal political tomfoolery.
From afar, I could now see those international media icons I used to admire. There was BBC World Service’s Zeinab Badawi, the Sudanese-British television and radio journalist, then came Lyse Doucette and Julian Marshal. I saw also two faces of BBC that I reckoned destroyed the image of Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole: Joseph Winter and Will Ross. I could not blame them much. Of course, every media neophyte knew that reporters’ news angle was dictated by press house editorial policies which, in turn, were shaped by some territorial ideology or philosophy of the regime. They were just doing their paymaster’s bidding. The unmistakable face of Christine Amanpour was there. I saw Bilkisi Labaran of BBC Pidgin Service, Naija and of course Peter Ndoro. Then the man who insulted me few years earlier when I was seeking a BBC Pidgin Service reporter job. He told a colleague they could not hire me because I was hitching on an underarm crutch. There he was with a neck brace and an elbow crutch to match. At the press briefing, I greeted him politely.
“Hope you’re well,” I said sarcastically.
“Sorry, but I don’t know you.”
“Yea,” Bilkisi affirmed. “You’ve recovered fully now,” she courtesied.
“Yea, my sister,” I reciprocated.
“You’re in crutches too,” I jabbed.
“Sorry to say… I’m”, he cried.
“For the fun of it?” I mocked.
“How possibly? That’s rude!” he hollered.
“You denied me a reporter job on the grounds of physical disability. You now realize one does not pay to get fixed with a broken limb,” I smirked.
“Sorry,” he begged.
“Sir, when we unconsciously become what we, with clamour, fight or are unable to escape the contagion in what we vociferously mock, we unwittingly end up touting our failings like a boy does his utopian ideals,” I philosophized.
“Do you know who I am? I’ll show you where power lies,” that’s his threat.
“I’ll be waiting. Here’s my call card, in case you know not where to locate me”, I proffered.
… to be continued
Curiosity had the better part of me because I became restless in the kitchen. Faïda saw it but played smart. She allowed me to stew in my own pot. I wished she could ask me what the issue was but all this was a vain wish. I could have rather waited for Christmas. I raced to the bathroom to place six un-answered calls to Evans’s phone. When I returned, Faïda had left the kitchen. I was oblivious of the fact that Evans’ phone was with Faïda.
When eventually Evans returned to the house again, alone, Faïda asked him to answer his missed calls before going back. He unlocked the phone in the presence of Faïda and that was it. He checked only to learn all calls were from me; his face dropped. I wish he could at least answer my calls or messages. Faïda couldn’t understand Evans’ unexpected mood polarity and was sure to investigate.
Evans pocketed his phone and was about to leave when Faïda tasked him to do something for her again, I didn’t know what. I was monitoring them from the kitchen. I now sent him a text and on the sound of the alert beep, he removed the phone to check who. Worse, on his next exit, he inadvertently left the phone on the table right under Faïda’s nose.
. . . to be continued
Aunt Faïda never would disappoint us; she came on that Wednesday as promised. She was particularly happy because I gave her twin brother twins after their own nature: one boy, one girl. She drove in with Collin Raye’s country hit: “One Boy, One Girl” blaring from her car speakers. Her delight on the day was Ghanaianly gargantuan. She scampered over to the cots and spoke to them simultaneously.
While she did that, Evans and I exchanged secret glances. Of course, it was his first time seeing them in another person’s company. He was a bit nervous and jealous so he had to keep a respectfully reasonable social distance. He was a good boy, was he not?
My type of twins are a case, a real case study in the sub region. We’re told they’re called superfecundation twins. The boy looked like his father, Evans while the girl took after James. James had no share in the boy he liked so much, but he was the last person to suspect me of foul play, even if his guardian angels made a clean breast of it to him.
Faïda played with niece awhile and decided to switch to nephew. Because I knew the hazard in there, I was trying to thwart her effort, but too much of it would give the game away, because Faïda was a smart lady. It’s her smartness that had impacted Evans, though she’s not his real mother. She now lifted the boy from his crib, turned him over to slap his back, a mischief she played so she could hear the baby cry. I knew the looks on her face as she saw the baby boy but it worsened when she instinctively lifted the shirt off the little boy’s back to be able to slap him. She could have done so without lifting the shirt. And that was the doom. The birthmark on the baby’s back was too hot to be handled.
“Evans”, I mumbled out of stupendous shock.
“But you called him.”
“I did not ask you to call him.”
“Yes, coming,” that’s Evans.
“Who’s fooling who?”
“Rebecca, this is strange.”
“The birthmark on the boy’s back. It’s on Evans and the father. A family thing.”
“Don’t be silly, Faïda.”
“How dare you?”
“Do you know the marks on my body and those that run in my family?”
“Do you want to drag this?”
“Don’t be silly!”
“Do you want to drag this?”
“I really want to. How dare you?”
My children came out of their room leaving their play. We both realized we were creating a scene so we wised up. But I knew Faïda too well; she was more than capable of putting all of us on a plane to South Africa for a paternity test. I only took consolation in the fact that she would never tell her brother what she saw, unless there was an urgent need, so I prayed that urgent need never came.
Moments later, James came home. It was a few minutes before 4pm, and one wondered what brought him home that early and even without his car. He was clutching two huge polythene bags that were perspiring: frozen food. He might have shopped on his way home. Later he explained he had a flat tyre some 300 yards from the house and thought he should bring the items home before they defrosted and deteriorated.
Evans was tasked to chauffeur him to the car and help, if necessary. Faïda and I now busied ourselves in the kitchen. One strange thing about us, we’re like male friends: our fights were over as soon as they’re over. I was glad because I was making a meal for my husbands. My school choir soprano was resurrected. I sang off key but cared not. I was noted for singing anyway. That’s what I liked to do anytime I had a fight with James. Faïda joined in when she knew the hymn.
Later, the two men drove in, chatting heartily and laughing. They must have found a common topic of interest. James did not like soccer but Evans did. James liked politics but that infuriated Evans. Later, I heard something like “Martina Hingis”. James’ voice boomed with the mention of “Pete Sampras”, and Evans said “Andre Agassi” and something like “Novak Djokovic”. I was still clueless until the mention of Serena Williams and her sister. That’s when I got to know they were discussing tennis.
They talked about tennis medals: the Olympic, USA open, France open, slams, patterns and so forth. How could my husband know so much about tennis but keep it away from me? I was shocked! The songs died on my lips.
I went to the bathroom to text Evans to be careful because he was dealing with a man smarter than he could handle, and that text was the catalyst that triggered our divorce. It went not only to ignite and rejuvenate suspicions but link all dots in the jigsaw.
……to be continued.
I was rushed to hospital by my loving husband. It so happened because my sickness had worsened, and he was the cause: that he woke me up when I was beginning to fall asleep and that I was not supposed to be standing up talking to him as the sedatives in the pain relievers were too powerful for such stunts and he had to save me from whatever. And he felt so bad. I knew the cause. I was not in the least sick. In fact, I thought him a fool as he negotiated those bends in a hurry with rare monologue. He was confused: talking to me, talking to himself, talking to God and insulting taxi drivers all along. At a point, I nearly asked him to slow down, but I kept my calm until we got to the hospital. As they brought forth the stretcher to stretcher me away, I could not hold it any longer. I jut up, pretending I did not know what was happening.
Evans sensed danger and came back to the kitchen. He cleared after us. He took my bra and undies away because there was nowhere in the kitchen to hide them. When he finished, he locked the doors with his spare keys and left. He took my phone which I had left on the kitchen sink and deleted all our chats and conversation before depositing it on the dining table. We were only lucky that the children were spending the mid-term break with their grandparents and could be coming back during the weekend. A job well done. I gave him a wild present for that.
My husband was surprised to learn he drove me to hospital without my underwear. He registered his bewilderment but the woman’s tricks worked better. I played the top dog. I told him I fell asleep after having my bath so… He agreed with me but I knew he did not believe that explanation. Then he asked who could have turned off the lights he saw in the kitchen when he…. I offered a one-off explanation. It’s my sister who lived nearby. She in fact had our spare key. We intentionally left the key with her in case the children misplaced theirs on their way from school. I had to call my sister to coach her. She suspected a foul play but could not betray me. Then my husband’s next question which I was never able to answer. He claimed to have seen Timberland™ footwear prints on the kitchen titles and they crisscrossed in a crazy way before edging out through the front door. I then suggested my sister. But I realized I was making sense, not even to my own self so I shut up. I told him perhaps it was a spirit that came to the house after we had left and that it was good he took me out of the house earlier. He believed me although he knew I was telling a conscious lie. I suggested we changed all door locks, so we did. I went to buy the locks so I made spare keys that got to Evans, long before the locks were changed.
The spark returned to my marriage life after we had left hospital. I made arrangements to see the counselor because as it stood, there was nothing medically wrong with me. I confided in the counsellor how I had been starved and she urgently booked a session with my husband. The feminine connection couldn’t have worked against me. We were both told to resume love making and we did.
Strangely, I found myself pregnant at the end of that month. The issue now was who could be responsible. Something told me never to tell Evans and if he found out, he would dismiss himself but I failed to keep to my own promise. The temptation was great.
James married me a virgin, so Evans was the only point of comparison I had. In fact he had more verve, strength, ruthless punches and slaps, a longer reach, and an abusive way of playing his game. He was rough in action and that’s what I became addicted to. We were more than compatible; in fact, we gelled.
James became not only a bore and a mere responsibility but a lesson on tolerance, yet in his holy soul, he was being gentle to his wife. I could not instruct him to do otherwise. So the two men watered the seed whose sower I was not certain about. Sometimes, when I engaged James on the farm or when he opted to water the plant, I had to imagine Evans in that role before anything meaningful could occur. I knew I was courting trouble.
It all went this way until one wet evening when the unfortunate nearly happened.
In a hurry, Evans left behind the parcel labelled “To Kojo, my chocolate cream hero on his birthday.” It was an unexpected but unavoidable hurry. Days later, my husband saw it, and that’s what made the difference in my marriage of thirteen years.
Chocolate was my weakness, and I wondered why. I just needed to scent it and all hormones for the effectual cross-fertilization of warm human collaborative emotion starters came alive. James, my husband knew it. He used chocolates to lure me, when I was a teenager. He used to steal from his mother’s shop to feed my huge appetite. Later, when he realized bars could not satisfy my avid hunger for the product, we switched to the cream.
For years on end, a bowl of chocolate cream was never absent in our home. During our honeymoon, I had a chocolate painter and I was a canvas. A bowl of chocolate cream found its way into our bedroom. James got himself a paint brush and set himself to work. He painted all edible parts of me with the cream. Later, he said it was all a mistake so he was going to apologize.
Well, before I could accept his apology, he had to rid me of all art work, and he had to do this with his gustatory operative. He grumbled and walked off but came back like an obsequious sentinel in kilt. I was a sadist because I enjoyed the punishment I gave him. For minutes, I was screaming, asking him to stop because I was at the point of passing out.
Thirteen years into the marriage, the chocolate consumption frequency curve just slumped out. I couldn’t even remember the last time he bought me a bar of chocolate. In a sense, he’s justified; he claimed the chocolate and my sedentary life made me obsess. So now he bought either Milo or Chocomilo for breakfast only, insisting I could make a chocolate meal or its cream from what he’d bought.
It’s true I’m fat, very fat today, after having our third child. I had a surgery to suck fat from my system but that really aggravated the situation. Now there’s a great change; I could not fit into the front seat of an ordinary sedan. And the other time I went to Accra Mall with him, climbing the stairs was very difficult for me so he, as usual, helped by holding my hand but that brought my regret on the trip. A female gossip just mocked, “This man really loves his mother”. James told her to mind her own business. He should have left her to me. Yes, that’s one thing I hated about James.
In fact, my attempt at cheating on him didn’t materialize early. In the eyes of the world, I was a darling. He held the gate for me when we went out, served me at buffets, held my hand and so on. He would open the car door for me, and after opening, wait and shut after me, but as soon as we entered our bedroom, it became a mouse and cat game. I chased after him and he ran away. He would be in the toilet for ages. He sometimes went to the children’s room and taught Kobby a topic in anticipation of a class exercise and homework in the weeks to come, all because he’s running away and avoiding one thing.
So I called him a hypocrite expecting him to become angry; he just smiled. I did all to see if he was cheating, negative. My cousin tapped his phone line for me and monitored him for six months but she got nothing. We tried to see if he had another phone line, negative. I planted a recorder in his car, negative. While placing him under surveillance, I denied him his monthly homage for five months hoping I would push him to the wall to cheat with vigor so we could catch him, negative. Even then he did not change his behavior towards me.
Now I felt ashamed I’d accused him wrongly. I went for my monthly grant and was denied. No saliva meal, no. Nothing happened for nearly a year now. Well, after the five month suspension placed on him had elapsed, he decided to extend it without any explanation. Hurtful. He’s keeping up appearances. If anything, he’s enjoying his marriage, not moi. So he pushed me to the wall to do the unthinkable.
I recalled Evans, my husband’s sister’s step son who came to spend the weekend with us some eight years earlier. He was a teenager then but was a blessed debonair lad. Even then he was a senior to James. Putting two and two together he would be in his late twenties now and he would be able do a better job than James. I craved him three days and three nights. I meditated on having him until he showed up one wet Wednesday morning when I was on sick leave. I faked the ailment, and trusting me was easy.
I was in the porch when he arrived. James had just left for Takoradi minutes earlier. He had no reason for coming; he just felt like seeing me. Asked why he didn’t go to my workplace, he only stared blankly. There and then, I sent him to buy me a small bowl of chocolate. Of course, he was amazed how I warmed it in the oven and applied it before asking him to work. And he did, in stupour. Indeed for the first time in more than a decade, I saw pure joy. So we’d been doing this for three years.
I took advantage of the fact that, James was an elder in church and that he wouldn’t miss Wednesday evening service for anything. Evans was due for maintenance work so I faked that feminine tiredness and slight headache again. James was at his caring best surprisingly. I managed the verisimilitude of my drama script in order not to make James choose a nursing role over church that night. He bought me pain relievers and set me to bed before leaving for church.
Our home was in this new residential area we’d moved to, our own house. It’s isolated and un-walled. Our dogs provided security yet those dogs knew Evans too well. As soon as James left, Evans who had been waiting in the nearby bush came in through the kitchen door. We were far too ready to need preparation.
We tried a plastic chair and it broke. So we became the headmaster and the school girl on a kitchen tool. Evans of course was the headmaster and, I the school girl. We lost count of space and time. We only heard the hum of a car whose engine we could not say we knew not, and toots that asked the dogs out of the way followed.
Evans went the same way he had come in. The shock was too real to bear. James back home? I met him at the front door as usual but with disheveled hair.
“I smell something,” he said.
“You closed early”, I said nervously.
“You’re worried about me. I was sleeping….”
There was a drawn pause. the world stood but was not still. A trade of glaces, followed by the unleashing of the sixth sense. I exhaled and sneezed in a quick succession.
“I smell something”, he repeated.
“You and your hypersensitive senses”, I womaned.
“Head Pastor said he dreamt someone came in and raped you while I was away at church.”
“Jesus!” I blurted foolishly.
“So I’m here,” he assured.
“Serious… and who?”
“He said the intruder came in through the kitchen door”.
James made for the kitchen.
“James! I’m dying”.
James came over and I fainted in his arms.
……to be continued.