Jide Babalola woke up every day of the following week with the same thought pulsing in his head.Why did I give in to temptation?He knew the genesis of his problem was allowing Anita’s blatant s£nsu@lity to s£duce him. With the floodgates of sin opened, it was no surprise that he had graduated to fondling and kissing his secretary.
And even though he wallowed in self-pity sometimes and blamed Anita for bringing temptation his way, deep down inside he knew there was only one person responsible for how terribly things had spun out of control.Him and no one else. “Patricia. Hey. Good morning.” His wife did not look up from where she was seated opposite him on the dining table. Her eyes flew over the lines of text on the laptop screen in front of her, the keyboard making crisp clicks that filled the perpetual silence she was always carrying around with her. Jide sighed inwardly. The recent weeks when they hadtried to patch up their marriage now seemed like a distant, fond memory. Patricia’s attitude had taken a downturn again. And this time, it was even worse.Jide soldiered on, ignoring the fact that hiswife had not responded to his greeting. “I know things are bad at the moment, but I was thinking… should we still go to the hospital to see the gynaecologist?” Patricia’s typing paused and she raised her eyes to his. Jide winced. Since the fight with his wife, it wasn’t only their relationship that had unravelled. Patricia didn’t seem to care about her looks anymore. Her hair was unkempt and uncombed these days, and he wondered again if she had decided to defiantly twist her hair into the dreadlocks he had disapproved of. But a style change did not explain the fact that she spent whole days without bathing and threw on whatever clothes she felt like. Even from where he sat across the table, he could smell the sweat that wafted his way whenever she moved. It was obvious that Patricia just didn’t care strongly about anything anymore. Jide was shaken at the realization. Had his infidelity affected his wife’s sanity?Patricia’s gaze dropped and she returned to her typing without giving him a response. But the look in her reddened eyes had been enough answer for Jide.What was the point of going to see a gynaecologist if he would not be touching his wife anytime soon? If ever?I would be better off fixing an appointmentwith a psychiatrist,Jide thought ruefully as he deposited the dishes he had been eating from in the sink. He spared another glance at his dishevelled wife, her face taut with repressed fury.Or a pastor.At least she was feeding him, which was a good thing because Jide couldn’t even boilwater. But her worsening behaviour was beginning to affect even that. Jide was uneasy at the thought that despite how angry his wife was, she was still cooking religiously. Every day, since their fight, Patricia would slip out of bed silently at six a.m. to fix him a delicious breakfast and whenever he returned from work, there would be food waiting for him.
The truth was that he was too scared to refuseher food. “But shouldn’t I be more scared of even eating at home?” Jide told a colleague a few hours later during his lunch break. Bayo was an acquaintance he was not really close to, but the stress at home had pushed him into baring his soul to someone and after some thinking, he had decided he could trust Bayo to be fairly discreet, since his friend was an unrepentant Lothario himself. “Women can do and undo o. Hmm!”They were in a restaurant close to the office, tucking into steaming plates of fragrant jollof rice heaped with stewed chicken. Bayo had a disgusting habit of talking with his mouth full, but Jide forced himself to sit through the ordeal. It was a small price to pay for his ‘sins’. “My brother! Just be careful o.” Bayo advised, a few seeds of rice falling out of his mouth and back onto his plate. “It’s the silent ones that are the most dangerous. She hasn’t even reported you to your family or someone like a pastor abi?” Jide shook his head and Bayo mirrored the movement. “Hmm! You should be worried o.” Jide pushed his plate away, appetite takenaway by a combination of worry and Bayo’s eating habits. “I don’t even know how to get through to my own wife. Things are just falling apart.”“Are you the first man to make a mistake?” Bayo scoffed. “She should get with the program jare!
African men are wired to be polygamous. The only bad thing is that she found out. Did you kill someone ni?” Jide frowned at his colleague’s words. Usually, he would have launched into a fervent rebuttal, supporting the ideals of fidelity and damning male privilege, but his conscience kept his lips sealed. While he did not agree with Bayo, disagreeing openly would be hypocrisy on his part. “If it were me eh, I wouldn’t stop doing the ‘do’ with Anita Bankole o.” Bayo continued, eyes gleaming as he paused to wrestle with a piece of chicken. A drop of sauce from the chicken landed on Bayo’s tie, but Jide said nothing, watching the oil soak into the silk. It was better than watching Bayo’s mouth as he chewed noisily while talking. “That woman is a grade A catch. Rich, sexy and all that. What more could a man ask for? Give me permission to take over, you lucky b—–d.” Jide scoffed. “You have my blessings. But I don’t think oil on your ties will appeal to her.” Bayo glanced down at the stain and grimaced, then attempted to clean it off, smearing it further. Jide sighed and looked away, reminded he had not seen Anita for a while and glad about it. he assumed after she had vengefully sent thepictures of them together to Patricia, she seemed to have accepted the fact that he was no longer interested in her and backed off. He was also relieved he had not mentioned the drama with Florence Iheanacho while pouring his heart out to his colleague. Bayo would have probably spread the news, to other colleagues with loose zippers, that the secretary was ‘Take-able’. It was probably best to keep her out of this entire drama.
Jide smiled ruefully to himself. Despite the tension between them, he still found the sight of Florence seated behind her desk every morning, a great relief. It was soothing to see her calm face and long hair whenever he walked in and out of his office. He saw it as a sign that despite making a mistake, he could still get some things back on track.So his surprise was understandable when he returned to his office, walked past the secretaries with a smile, and sank down behind his table, only for a gentle knock to let Florence in. “Oh, is there something for me to look at?” Jide asked, frowning when he noticed her empty hands.
His own secretary, Nancy, was back on duty, so he was a bit confused. “Or did I forget something I told you to handle when Nancy had not returned…?”“We have to talk, sir.” Florence cut in stiffly. “And it’s not about work.” Jide’s heart sank. From the look on Florence’s face, he could guess what she wanted to talk about.And there I was, he thought ruefully.Thinking that cup had passed me by.
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