“Let’s get a divorce.” I placed the papers which had my signature on the table in front of him. He looked up from his iPad and gave me an incredulous look.
“Let’s get a divorce,” I repeated.
“Are you mad?”
“No, Kanayo, I am not mad. I just want a divorce.” I folded my arms in a defensive motion.
He took off his glasses and picked up the papers. He looked at the first page confirming that it was indeed a divorce document. He flipped through the pages that had my signature scrawled in blue ink, then flung it on the table, “What is this nonsense? What the hell is this, Azuka?” He stood up. “Where is this coming from?”
“I don’t want any problem, Kanayo. Just sign the papers and allow me to go. This marriage, I cannot continue—”
“Will you shut the fuck up!” He was getting angry. His veins were bulging. I was not afraid though, because I was sure that he wouldn’t raise a hand on me. He slowed his breath in a bid to calm himself down. He sat down, pulling me along to sit beside him.
“Babe, can you tell me what is going on? I am confused as shit now.” He looked at me, taking my hand. I pulled it away. I wanted no physical contact with him, not until he signed the papers. But the look in his eyes, the same look he had given me when he had went down on his knees in front of me and asked me to marry him, the same look in his eyes when I had wanted to break up with him some three years ago, before I got to know him, before he asked me to marry him.
He demanded me to tell him. But how could I tell him all that had transpired in the past weeks? how could I tell him that I had come to the sight of him on Efe, our housemaid, that I had watched for a while, and that a burning rage had filled me? how could I tell him that I had rushed downstairs to the kitchen in anger, that I had a knife in my hand as I climbed the stairs? how could I tell him that the picture that I had imagined in my head could only be compared to how the Fulani herdsmen butchered poor villagers? I had seen myself cutting off the object of the crime from his body, cutting it into little pieces the same way Efe cut the cow liver used to prepare fried rice. After that, I would cut out his hands, the hands that kept on touching Efe, running his hands on her back, touching her annoyingly voluptuous breasts. And then, I would cut off his tongue, the tongue in the mouth that had kissed Efe, that moaned her name, that mentioned sweet nothings to her. But I wouldn’t kill him. I was a loving wife, I couldn’t bear to kill my husband. I would leave him so handicapped that he would never think of looking at another woman except his legal wife.
I couldn’t tell him how I had imagined dealing with Efe. That I wanted to cut off her breasts, breasts way bigger than the small tomatoes on my own chest that had refused to grow since I was 15. I would use the small knife in the kitchen, the one she loved to use to peel oranges, I would use it to scar her face. To destroy the beautiful face that always attracted men, including my poor husband. And then, I would pour pepper in that place between her legs, the depths that opened up to receive my husband. And after that, I would arrange for some ‘area boys’ to finish the job my husband had started. To give her the pleasure she wanted to get from my husband.
But I couldn’t carry out the wicked schemes in my mind, because I was scared; scared of the truth, that my husband was cheating on me. And so I decided to turn a blind eye to it. I sacked Efe the next day after all the meat mysteriously disappeared from the soup I cooked. Meat that I had given to the dogs, and they had finished it leaving no trace at all.
No matter how I tried to erase the evidence of my husband’s sin from my mind, the picture kept flashing back, playing like a HD movie in my mind. And with it came anger, anger that I couldn’t do anything about, anger that I kept suppressing. And when I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I took the path any other person would have taken, revenge. Revenge in the sense that I did what he did, I cheated on him.
Of course, I couldn’t tell him that I had slept with his friend, Gary; his best friend, the man who had been the best-man in during our wedding. I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t once that I slept with Gary, it was more than once, more than two times, but the number of times didn’t matter. What mattered was that I had slept with a man that wasn’t my husband, that I had enjoyed it, and the worst thing was I didn’t regret it. Because at that time it was just me carrying out my revenge.
I often watched foreign movies where someone would live all his life for revenge, and most times, the movie would end after the main actor had carried out his revenge mission. But there was a question that always lingered on my mind after the movie ended. After revenge, then what? What was someone who had lived his whole life plotting how to kill this person, or how to destroy this family supposed to do after he had killed the said person or destroyed the family? That was what faced me after I had carried out my revenge plan.
I had been hit with a series of emotions—shame, depression, and of course, the anger was still there. If Kanayo hadn’t slept with Efe, I would never have the thought of sleeping with Gary. But the deed was done. I found it hard to look him in the face. I carried out my wifely duties, I cooked for him, took care of the house and when he wanted to touch me, I pushed away the shame and anger in my heart, but it was always there. As he ran his hand over my body, as he kissed me, as he plunged his length into my depths. I moaned in pleasure, pleasure that made me feel shame after the deed had been done.
It was this shame that pushed to make this decision. I couldn’t take it any longer. The suppressed emotions were eating me up. And I had called my brother, a lawyer to draw up the divorce papers.
I couldn’t tell him all these things, because it would destroy the respect we had for each other. It would destroy the friendship that held our marriage. I couldn’t tell him, I didn’t want to tell him, but I felt my mouth opening of its own volition to say those words,
“I’m sorry, Kanayo. I cheated on you.”
I watched the change in his expression. The pleading expression was first replaced by confusion, comprehension and then disgust and anger.
He stood up abruptly, pushing me away. “What did you just say?”
There was no need to explain. I didn’t have the mental ability to do so, so I pointed at the paper on the table, “Just sign it. Let us go our separate ways.”
He looked at me as though he had never seen me before. “Who the hell are you? Because the Azuka I know is not like this. The Azuka I know will never let another man have intimate access to her body, she would never let a man that wasn’t me touch her.”
“That Azuka died the moment she caught you on Efe,” I said softly, making sure that he heard it.
He looked at me in shock. “You knew? You fucking knew? But you said nothing? And then what? You went to sleep with another man, to get revenge? Are you sick?”
I had already gotten enough torment from my conscience. I couldn’t take anymore from him. “Kanayo, just sign the papers and let me go.”
“Get the fuck out of my house, Azuka,” he suddenly said. “Get out of my house, out of my life. I never want to see you again. Get out.”
I suspected that it would come to this point. That was why I never wanted to tell him at first. Blame my stupid mouth, I thought.
The same stupid mouth asked again, “What of the papers?”
His hand hit the table with a bang that made me jump in fear. He picked the papers and tore them into pieces. “I said: Leave. My. House.” This was the first time that I saw an angry Kanayo, and I knew that it would be better for the both of us if I left at that moment. And so, I picked up my bag and walked out of my matrimonial home. That was the last time I stepped into the two-storied building that had housed I and my husband for the past three years.
It wasn’t because I was angry, or I was guilty. That would have been better, because it would always be there—the exotic potted flowers that decorated the compound, the ash-painted wall, the home we had spent both time and money to build together, the house that was more than a expensive house, rather it was a warmth that we both longed to return to after hectic days of work or long journeys outside it.
The next morning, I got a call from Ifeanyi, Kanayo’s elder brother. The house had been burnt down, a very strange case because houses like ours were at least seventy-percent fire-resistant. But somehow, the house had burnt down, the worst area being the master bedroom where I was sure he had slept in, where I had found him having sex with Efe, where we had slept together for the past three years. I didn’t need anyone to tell me, I didn’t need the police reports, I knew that he had set the fire himself. And he had done it in the night, when the estate would have been asleep and by the time the fire was noticed, it would have been too late.
I wondered if the story would have turned out differently if I had told him that I was carrying his seed. And that there was no confusion about whose child it was because I was three months gone. Three months ago, we were still blissfully married. There was no Efe, and there was no Gary. It was just I and Kanayo and the seed he had sown.
Maybe this ending was better for the both of us. I ended up remarrying Gary who felt that he had a responsibility to the child in my womb. I and Gary were not in love. We just had someone in common, someone we had cheated, someone we had killed. The guilt was there everyday, until Onochie came into this world screaming and howling. He gave us something to look forward to, took away the guilt in our hearts, because just as his name suggested he came in the likelihood of his father.