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Thank you TM David-West of lifeandspices.com for this adorable cover back.
A HOLD FROM THE PAST
After a moment of not getting the response she had anticipated, the giggle died on her lips while the hand dicing the green peas paused as she lifted her gaze to her husband who was seated across her in one of the dining chairs engrossed with his phone.
Lillian Fadeke’s brows furrowed into a frown and when he smiled and the corners of his mouth turned up a little, the frown on her forehead deepened at the stir of jealousy laced with the irritation in her.
Without thinking, she marched off to the part of the counter where the bowl of fried chicken was.
Lillian could imagine the horrified look on his face even as she heard the thud of his phone on the table and the click of the chair on the floor as he rose to his feet.
Then she went ahead to snatch the bowl containing sliced cabbage, carrots and peas from the top of the cabinet, and tossed its content straight into the dustbin.
They were both inside their kitchen. A large and perfectly accessorized room befitting the couple where the wife was a consultant in aeronautical telecommunication engineering with obsession for perfection while the husband, a consultant ophthalmologist in the federal medical centre and owned his private practice.
“What is wrong with you for God’s sake?” Matthew demanded.
“You’ve gone wrong with me Matt!” Lillian retorted, eyes blazing. “How can you be seated there chatting away with that girl while I’m here slaving away?”
“What girl are you talking about?” His forehead creased as beads of sweat rose on his forehead. “Why are you like this? Why do you keep doing this to me?”
“You are doing this to yourself!” Lillian hurled, slapping her hands on her waist. “I am at the mercy of trauma from a knife while you are there chatting away with that girl.”
Matthew muttered an expletive. The eyes he had fixated on her looked murderous. But Lillian didn’t care. “Lillian, you have to stop this nonsense!” He ground out. “I was only reading the latest edition of the Community Eye Health Journal, besides I have done my share of the chores. I washed those vegetables, parboiled and fried the chicken. Now they are all in the waste bag and you know my friends will be here soon. Why are you like this Lillian for Christ’s sake?”
His injured look made her feel guilty but Lillian stubbornly refused the attack of conscience. “It was your fault. You didn’t answer my question immediately.”
He shut his eyes briefly and drew in a long and deep breath. “I didn’t answer your question immediately and so you threw everything into the bin not caring the money, time, energy not the considering the fact that we promised a month ago to host my friends?” Matthew stared at her with disbelieving eyes.
“If you are so pained, I will replace them.” Lillian retorted, firming her lips into a stubborn line.
Matthew swore again and after a long minute of just staring at her, stormed out of the kitchen.
Lillian winced at the slam of the front door. If she knew, and God help her she did, he was going off to talk to his friends. Matthew was like that. He liked to confide… he liked to share. That too was a problem between them. Lillian sighed and pressed a hand against her eyes. Another hasty judgment. Another failure to get her temper under control. Another fight… the third in just this week alone.
She sighed. It wasn’t her fault alone was it? He always set her off.
The essence of him being in the kitchen with her was to give her attention not his phone, journal or not, wasn’t it? She let out another sigh and bent to pick the broom.
Maybe he shouldn’t be here, Matthew didn’t know. His head hurt, with his suppressed rage. Gosh, she made him mad. What full-grown woman acted like a child with a temper tantrum? She just did have an expert idea of what to do to ruin his mood and send him running out of his home, every time. He heaved a sigh and massaged his forehead. Had he made a mistake in marrying her? Had he? He felt palpitations and suppressed a groan. He couldn’t have, not with the knowledge that beneath her tantrums, she was kind hearted, smart, intelligent and loving. She was a fruitful woman, a woman who was fruitful with her brains, hands but not yet with her womb. He would ensure that soonest God willing. He was looking forward to his child, their child and he could have smiled but how could he when she was killing him with the fruit of her lips and character?
“We were surprised when we got your call cancelling.” The voice of Uloaku, his friend’s wife jolted him out of his reverie and he sat up as she set the tray containing a bottle of cold water and a glass on the table.
“I am surprised myself.” Matthew heaved out a sigh. He was comfortably seated in the exquisitely furnished sitting room.
Bidemi sat having strolled in closely at his wife’s heels was watching him with eyes narrowed in contemplation. He was his friend of ten years. “Is Lillian okay?”
“She is at fit as a butcher dog. So fit she is the reason the meeting had to be cancelled.” He knew his tone was filled with sarcasm but couldn’t help it.
Uloaku exchanged glance with her husband who she was now seated beside.
“Matt what is wrong?” His eyes didn’t leave his friend’s face.
“Lillian just has a way of driving me nuts every time and I am getting really tired.” He replied with a voice laced with exasperation.
Bidemi rolled his eyes.
Uloaku nudged her husband. “Is that all you’re going to do? They have been married for barely four months. It is too early to get tired.” The tone of her voice was mollifying when she addressed him. “You can’t be tired Matt in spite of whatever she has done. We need to be careful of what we say as Christians so the devil doesn’t take advantage of what we say.”
“I am tired Aku. Really.” He heaved burdened.
“Let’s go to the sturdy.” Bidemi kissed his wife. “I wouldn’t mind swallow and that lovely ora soup. I’m sure Matt wouldn’t mind too. We need to talk privately.”
“All right Sweetie.” She beamed.
Bidemi stared at him, Matthew knew he was trying to process the information he just heard. “Are you trying to tell me she threw everything away just because you didn’t answer her question promptly?”
“At this point in time I could almost agree with men that beat their…”
“No…” He waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t think about, don’t try it. Never okay, no matter what? You are an ophthalmologist and should know better knowing the percentage of eye injuries that have resulted from such eventualities that could have been avoided.”
“I can’t even if I wanted to. I don’t have it in me.” He sighed.
“Good. I really don’t understand why Lillian is behaving this way. Maybe my wife and I would invite over to talk to her.” Though they were both thirty four years of age and were both ophthalmologists, Bidemi had been married for five years.
“No man… don’t go there. She would tell every ear how I was inviting third parties into the marriage. At the slightest opportunity, she is going to sing it, rhyme it, dramatize it, chant…”
“Remind me why you married this woman; I don’t want to believe it is just her look.”
“Of course not and you know that!” He ground out. “Lillian is a fabulous person but she is quick to draw conclusions. Imagine her thinking I was chatting with Cherechi.”
“For goodness sake! Is it not the same Cherechi that was our junior and your friend that you told me refused to see you anymore because of Lillian’s attitude and that her spirit eventually told her to cut off friendship with you?”
“Yes o my brother, the same Cherechi that I have not seen nor contacted for a year.” He gestured emphatically with his palms. “I have explained everything to her and allowed her access to my phone innumerable number of times. I have explained to her in English and Yoruba. What else am I suppose to do ehen? I am getting tired of this issue. When we were dating, I sometimes complained to her parents and she becomes cool headed for a period after she is talked to. Is it not too early too early to burden her mother with such news as her husband recently passed?”
“I think she has insecurity issues. We need to prayerfully believe for a change and you really need to be patient with her.”
He glanced momentarily above. “Heavens know I am trying.”
“All will be well.” He stood and placed a hand reassuringly on his friend shoulder. “I’m sure you must be hungry, let’s go douse that anger with some tantalizing food.” He beamed as he glanced at the wall clock. “We have to hurry so we don’t miss the match.”
Matt glimpsed at his wrist watch before following him out. Who ever said venting to a friend wasn’t therapeutic? The palpitations had stopped though he felt burdened but he believed it would eased too by the time the match was over.
Matthew was six foot, two inches tall, fair skinned, baby faced, hairy and soft spoken, so soft spoken that it had endeared him to the female folks and in his profession.
Matthew carefully and slowly swallowed the morsel of amala already dipped in a bowl of vegetable soup not comfortable with the fact that his wife stood behind her dining seat tapping her feet intermittently. He was used to eating dinner alone except on weekends since she ate dinner before 7 pm and couldn’t retain any meal after that time.
He bit a chunk of goat meat deciding to ignore her till his stomach was filled until she hissed long and hard.
Slowly he dropped the morsel of amala back in the soup bowl and looked up at her. “I am trying to eat here dear wife. I had a busy day at work, what is my offense that can wait till I finish eating?” He asked calmly suppressing his irritation.
“You had a busy day at work abi? How many were they in the hotel room and who were they, patients and nurses or was it Cherechi?” Lillian spat.
Resting his forehead on his left palm with eyes closed, he muttered. “Lord Jesus, please help me.”
“You’re going saintly on me now ba?” Her laughter was hysterical. “Matthew if you don’t spill what you were doing in Classic hotel at about two pm today, the Lord Jesus won’t be able to help you.”
He stood having washed his hands. “Since you’re now stalking me, next time come in and find out what I was doing or ask whoever you’re paying to do so to go the whole nine yards.” He hissed and head up the stairs. Just when he was thinking of having a conversation with her later when they were cuddled up.
“You won’t say what you were doing abi?”
He ignored her but not the thud of the ceramic plate containing his amala hitting the rail of the stairs shattering and its pieces bouncing off and almost hitting him made him impulsively shield his eyes yet a piece hit his palm.
He glanced at his palm having felt the prick but there was no blood. “Have you gone nuts?” He charged down the stairs.
“You are the one who is nuts!” She retorted before fleeing into the kitchen, slammed its door, he heard the door lock.
He exhaled deeply swallowing in the expletive that was on his lips. What I have gotten myself into? He wondered for the umpteenth time and blinked severally as tears stung his eyes. He hate being choked up…he hate the way she kept pushing him. He hated it… he hated it passionately as a matter of fact and even after telling her she seemed determined to choke him. He hated conflict. Heading upstairs once more, he decided to spend his night in the guest bedroom.
Few minutes later, he gulped down the sedative tablet and took more water to down it.
At least most people had few years of peace before the storm in their marriages why was his different? He sighed as he adjusted the pillow and lay supine.
The storm of his marriage had started right from the wedding day.
He was a better dancer than she was. It had started with her complaining about it as soon arrived at the suite for their honey moon, how it had made him the centre of attraction, how people had sprayed more money on him forgetting about her and how he had also abandoned her in the course of showing off. He had done everything he knew to make her feel better, all to no avail. The more she talked, she more she remembered minor imperfections at the wedding ceremony and blamed him, the bitterer she became. It was so bad that their marriage was not consummated until a week later.
He must have loved her; after all, love was patient and tolerant. He turned to a side. To most people, they regarded them as still in the lovey-dovey phase, all soaked in honey and stuck in the moon. He exhaled. How wrong were they! He couldn’t count the number of time they had quarreled, the number of things she had broken in their new home even if he focused and tried to remember but he could say without thinking the number of time they had made love.
He yawned. To think that the plate could have hit him on the head or the fragment could have flew into his eyes. He expelled a long breath. He was running out of ideas on how to walk on her egg shells and his patience was pining away on daily basis.
He stifled a yawn, adjusted himself to lie prone and close his eyes.
Now in a see-through barely below her buttocks lemon-green night gown, she knocked on the door. “Honey…” she waited and tried opening the door. It was locked. “Sweetheart I’m sorry, please open the door.”
She waited knowing her husband was not a deep sleeper. “I am very sorry Matt, please come to bed.” She sang sweetly and waited, her ears practically elongated in anticipation for padding of feet but there was none.
Few minutes later, she walked to the master’s bedroom disappointed. She had no answers to her suspicions and no satisfaction for her body.
He must have been very angry with her just because he was angry doesn’t mean it wasn’t his fault. It was his fault, if only he had given her an explanation rather than ignore her like she was some chatter box.
She turned off the lights and drew up the duvet.