Who Are You? Part 2

She never got out of bed until she heard the distinctive sound of his car as it drove out of the multi-car carport in the large compound. Thank God we don’t share a room anymore. She groaned as she sat up – her body felt like someone had taken a hammer to it. She ached all over from the night before. Even though her husband no longer found pleasure in her body, he continually demanded his ‘marital rights’. It was no longer an act of love, but one of possession and control. She always felt soiled afterwards – used – because she knew he only wanted one thing from her: children. I wish I would just get pregnant…everything would be so much better, she thought wistfully.

Was there something wrong with her? She had always dreamed about having a family – a husband and children. She had been so happy when she got married and she had imagined that her dreams were finally coming true. Her husband had loved her then…in the beginning. And she had loved him. The first few months of her marriage had been happy and her husband had sung her praises to anyone who would listen. In those days, she had made sure she prepared his meals herself, even though he had a cook. She had found pleasure in taking care of him and he had always enjoyed her cooking.

“Ah, nnem”, he would always say affectionately. “Nobody can cook egusi soup like you.”

Then, she had loved him. And she believed he had loved her. Then. Not anymore. Now, every day was a new day in the nightmare that had become her life. After the first few months, he no longer touched her with love or affection. He was desperate for children and he meant to have them, one way or another. He touched her with anger and desperation. She could almost hear the questions he didn’t want to face: what if there was something wrong with him? He had been married before – for ten years, and had been unable to have children with his first wife. And now with a second one? She could feel the heat in his gaze as he poured his anger and frustration into her.

If only I could get pregnant, she thought again. Her father always said that children were the heritage of the righteous. Maybe she wasn’t righteous enough. Is that it, Lord? She had prayed and fasted, sometimes for days at a stretch. But, nothing. No telltale nausea, no chronic fatigue, no swelling belly. Nothing happened. She tried to hold onto hope, but it was hard. Very hard. She had thought about running away so many times, but where would she go? Her mother would never let her come home, and her father believed in the sanctity of marriage – he would not support a divorce. He had looked at her searchingly the last time she came home, but she had smiled and re-assured him that she was fine. She had taken a chance and confided in her mother and she still felt raw from her mother’s reaction. What would her father do? Would he react the same way, or would he swoop in and save her? She knew she would be heartbroken and lose all hope if he reacted the same way her mother had done; and she would die if she completely lost hope. So, she lied to him with a smile and was rewarded with a hug. She still had hope. If my father knew about this, he wouldn’t stand for it. The thought brought a rare smile to her face. No, he definitely wouldn’t. She lay back and imagined her father charging to the door and planting a fist in her husband’s face. Yes, that would be nice.

***

Nkasi laughed at something the cook said as she scrubbed the kitchen floor. Oga liked the house to look spotless and she had to scrub and mop the tile floors twice a week. She usually liked to start at the crack of dawn so that she would be done with the floors and take a break by lunchtime, but she had gotten off to a late start today because she had woken up late. The same thing yesterday. And day before. Hope I’m not sick. Her bedtime routine hadn’t changed, but she had been waking up late for the past few days. She felt unusually tired and sluggish and she wondered why. She didn’t want to get sick and jeopardize her job.

A noise at the backdoor caught her attention and she looked up. It was Tony, the driver. He took off his sunglasses as he sauntered in with a smile.

“Hello, Nkasi. How you doing?”

She smiled carefully. He had warned her about the severe consequences she would face if anyone found out. “Who do you think Oga will believe? Me, who don drive him for many years now or stupid girl like you”, he had asked scornfully.

She knew who the master would believe. She knew because she saw the way he treated his wife. A man like that would never believe her.

“I’m fine, Oga Tony”. She hurriedly finished cleaning the floor and ran upstairs to clean Madam’s room. She was cleaning the toilet when a spell of nausea overcame her. She wildly thought about running downstairs to the guest bathroom, but the vomit bubbled through her before she could even think. She knew madam was in her room and tried to be quiet. But, she failed.

“Nkasi, what’s wrong? Are you sick?”

She turned quickly and nodded her head. “Yes, madam. It just started yesterday.”

The woman looked at her house help and knew there was more to it. The girl had a shifty look on her face. She looked at Nkasi carefully and noticed the slightly fuller look of her face, and she looked like she had added weight. When her eyes met Nkasi’s, she knew the truth. This girl is pregnant! What would she do with a pregnant house girl? How would she tell her husband? She would receive a beating for sure – and Nkasi too. As she and Nkasi stared at each other, an idea began to form in her head. It was wild…and crazy, but it could work. Yes, it could work. She smiled to herself. Maybe God is finally smiling on me.

Onyih Odunze

Who are You? was supposed to be a stand-alone story, but we got a great response to it and have decide to turn it into a short series.

We will be back with Sonia in a few weeks…..Thanks for reading!