“It’s not you, Nneoma, it’s me. I fell in love and I can’t help it,” the man I called my father said. “I’m tired of playing hide-and-seek. I want to marry her.”
“I’m not stopping you from marrying her. I just don’t want her in my house,” my mother started with tears in her eyes.
“In your house? In your house, you say? This is my father’s compound! This is Okonkwo’s compound and the land I inherited from my father!” he barked in defense.
“I built this house, Ekene, with my sweat and blood. I built this house with all my savings and suffering. You contributed nothing!” my mother shot back with a slight tremor in her tone.
“That’s your problem! This is my house! Whether it was built with your money or not, it is still in my compound! I am not asking for a divorce or anything. I just want to marry someone I love. I care about you and my kids but I want Nkechi too! Can’t we all live together?”
Those were my parents arguing. My dad had been caught several times with another woman. After many confrontations, he finally came up with the news of his desire to marry her. We all talk about not knowing what women want. But we forget to ask what men want.
My parents have been married for twenty-six years, and my mother has been the breadwinner of the family since I can remember. Not for once did she ever complain about that burden. She was a level sixteen civil servant who earned enough to support a family of four. My father always moved from one business to another without much success in any.
My mother never disclosed to anyone outside our family that she carried the responsibilities of the family. I got to know about all these when I turned twenty. My mum would always take out her tithe from her salary and ‘submit’ the rest of the money to my father who in turn shared it to meet the needs of the family. She never made it known to my brother and I that she was the one footing the bills in our home. According to her, she never wanted us to see our father as a failure.
For every piece of property she bought, it was in my father’s name; even the house we live in which she built with her money, the documents were in my father’s name. And till I went into the university, I never saw my mother disrespect my father in any way.
I thought them to be a perfect couple as they would argue one minute and make up the next minute. From my mother, I learnt that being submissive to your husband and allowing him to take that honour as the head of the family irrespective of where the source of income came from brought peace to the family.
But I was wrong. I was all wrong.
With everything my mother did to maintain peace, it wasn’t enough! My father still looked for another woman. With lovely kids and a good wife, what else did he want?
While I listened to my parents argument on the issue of bringing another woman into my mother’s house, I poured in a good amount of rat poison in Mr Ekene Okonkwo’s food. Thanks to Avila Spices, the smell and taste were not noticeable.
I would be able to spare some tears for him when his remains would be lowered six feet under.
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