Ten Things His Mother Told Me: Number 4

Number 4 {Pray Through}

Make prayer your watchword; pray always, no matter how busy you are.

Mind reeling, Chiaka tried to digest what her husband was saying. Somewhere in the background, KT was crying and grasping her legs, asking to be picked up. She absently picked him up and patted his back, trying to soothe him.

Her mind rang with questions. Why didn’t you tell me? Don’t you trust me? Didn’t you think I deserved to know? She found it hard to believe that Obinna had been out of work for three weeks and she hadn’t known. So, where had he been going every morning? Getting ready for work, leaving the house with his briefcase and customary cup of coffee? Why had he kept up a charade for so long, and deceived her so thoroughly? If her husband couldn’t trust her enough to share things with her – both good, and bad – then what was the point? Wasn’t the marriage relationship supposed to inspire intimacy, trust, friendship?

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Finally, mind still whirling, she asked the first question that had screamed through her mind “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Obinna hung his head “I’m so sorry, babe. I wanted to, but I didn’t know how. I suppose I was in denial. I never expected to get laid off, and I didn’t want to believe it at first.”

“Yes, but that was three weeks ago”, Chiaka said pointedly. Shouldn’t he have gotten over his denial after three weeks of lying to her?

Obinna nodded and released a pent up sigh. “I know”, he said quietly. “It just got harder and harder to tell you as time went on.”

“Why was it so hard to tell me? I thought we were supposed to be able to tell each other anything. Why did you keep lying to me?”

“I’m sorry, babe. I’m sorry.” Obinna reached across and held his wife’s hand. “I have no excuses. I guess I thought I would get another job really quickly, and it would be a moot point.”

Chiaka shifted, trying to get more comfortable on the sofa. KT had fallen asleep in her arms and she clung to him, staring at her husband and wondering if she ever really knew him.

A pained expression crossed his face when she pulled her hand from his grasp, but she didn't care. She couldn't deal with his hurt emotions right now. What about her emotions? Who could she trust if her own husband and supposed best friend could lie to her with a straight face?  Was it right that she felt betrayed? Maybe he had a right to keep some things to himself, in an effort to protect his family, keep her from worrying. But, didn’t she have a right to know about something that would affect her life, her son’s life? How would they live? She knew they still had some savings, but overwhelmed by caring for their son, she had asked Obinna to handle the household bills and finances for a while.

"I probably have to get a job”, she said after an uncomfortable silence.

“What about KT? I thought we agreed that you would stay home with him for a few years?”

“Yes, we agreed. But, now that you’ve gotten yourself laid off, that won’t be possible anymore, will it?”

Obinna recoiled as though she had slapped him. Like any married couple, they’d had their share of misunderstandings, but she had never spoken to him like she just did. Derision dripped from her words, and she held herself off from him as if she couldn’t bear to touch him. He shook his head. He was hurt and disappointed, but remained stoic. He knew she would be upset because he had kept something so serious from her. 

"So, where have you been going everyday when I thought you were at work?" 

"Umm....I was at Starbucks, filling applications." 

Obinna saw the emotions flickering across his wife's face and his heart sank. He knew he should have told her the minute it happened, and the longer it went on, the more difficult it became to spill the truth. The thought of losing her trust scared him, but something else loomed even larger in his mind. She had looked at him with disgust just now...would he lose her love too? 

***

 One month later...

Chiaka sighed as she stared at her inbox...waiting for emails that just wouldn't arrive. Things were getting desperate at home. Their joint savings account was shrinking, and along with it, any semblance of peace or love that previously blanketed their home. Tempers were short, patience non-existent. Obinna seemed to take offense at every little thing and sometimes Chiaka felt like she was living in a war zone: she always had her guard up and was ready to fight. She needed a job. He husband needed a job. But, weeks of what felt like interminable applications hadn't brought any prospects.

"What are we going to do?" she wondered aloud. If one of them didn't get a job soon, they may have to move. She looked around the bedroom she had worked so hard to decorate - like she had the entire apartment.  Maybe it will come to that, she mused as she looked at her sleeping son, sprawled out beside her on the bed.

A feeling of helplessness came over her and she leaned against the headboard. They had both agreed that she should stop working right after KT was born. It had felt right at the time; Obinna had a great job and she welcomed the idea of raising her son at home for a few years without the added stress of a full time job.  Neither of them could have foreseen what would happen less than two short years down the line. She made up her mind then that it would never happen again; she would find a job and this time she would keep it. KT would go to childcare, and they would never find themselves high and dry ever again.

The other day, Obinna had flushed with shame when she asked him to pick up some diapers for the baby. She knew their savings were running out, and she got some perverse pleasure from watching him squirm. Silently, she thanked God that she hadn't pooled all her money into their joint savings after she stopped working. Her secret stash was proving to be a very valuable lifeline. But, it wouldn't last forever. 

As she reached across the nightstand for her phone, her fingers bruhed her Bible. She picked it up and turned the pages unseeingly. It had become difficult to make out time to read it and reflect on it. Running a household and keeping an active 18-month old in check was more difficult than it sounded. Plus, with everything going on, her heart just wasn't in it. She sighed and put it down. Maybe tomorrow, she promised.

She unlocked her phone and flipped to her contacts. For some reason, she had never deleted his number. And now she was glad she hadn't. He owned a construction company that was doing really well. At least it had been when she knew him. Fervently hoping that was still the case, she scrolled down the 'D's and pressed the 'Call' button.  

*** 

To be continued 

Onyih Odunze

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