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Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Tenant's Dilemma (3)


I was very happy about my landlord's rethink about the quit notice. I saw it as a miracle and I thanked God for it.
"God will surely bless him for his kindness to us," I prayed. 
"Amen o!" my wife intoned. 
"So, you just went to beg him again and he agreed to give us more time?" I asked my wife once more.
She nodded.
"Yes. He took pity on us. Besides, he said he knows you are a responsible man and that you will surely pay him whenever you get a job," she added.

I felt happy at the turn of events. It was the impetus I needed in my search for employment and I put in more effort. One day, I got a letter to attend an interview. It was one of the applications I had earlier written which I had not put much hope on. I attended the first interview and I scaled through to the next round which was to take place after a few weeks.
I did very well in the second and I was quite confident I would be among the successful candidates. But a few months after with no response from the company, I decided to forge on. Then, a school mate of mine, Frank who resided in Port-Harcourt called me one day out of the blue. We had lost contact and had not heard or seen each other for many years. I knew he was in the Garden City but did not have his contact.
I was happy to hear from him after all this while and we spoke for a long time. Apparently, he had got my number from another of our mates whom he had run into while he was in PH for business.
When I told him a little of all the difficulties I was facing due to my jobless state, he was very sympathetic.
"Just endure for a while. I'm sure things will work out," Frank assured me. He promised to be on the look-out for any opening in Port- Harcourt for me.
About six weeks later, he invited me to come down to the city concerning a job in a company where a friend of his worked. I quickly made arrangements and travelled to see him. With the little resources available, I made sure I left enough money with my wife so the family could at least eat while I was away.
I planned staying about a week but was delayed by the several appointments I had in regards to the job. Thus, I ended up staying longer than planned. It was almost two weeks before I finally returned to Lagos. Frank promised to give me regular feedbacks concerning the job so I left with much hope that all would be well.
***
Back in Lagos, life went on with the usual struggles for survival. I was preoccupied with my job situation but that did not stop me noticing a few changes in my wife. The first was her attitude towards me. Vero had always been an assertive, outspoken woman, always ready to speak her mind on any issue. But it reached a stage where she became over assertive, to the extent that she wanted to dominate me, her husband!
If I made any suggestion concerning the home, she would shout me down, insisting on her way. It was like I was no more important; I was just there, a nobody of much use, a worthless person. She would shout and flare up at the slightest provocation and was always picking faults with whatever I did. Now, I'm no angel. I have my faults like any other human being. But from the way she talked about me, one would think I was the worst husband in the world.

There was a day, one of her younger sisters, a girl of about 21 who had come for a visit had stayed out all night and only returned home the following morning. As a concerned in-law, I had spoken sternly to her on her conduct, that it was not proper for a young girl to be out in town at night especially in a big city like Lagos. 
 To my shock, Vero had taken the sister's side, wondering what was my business if her sister stayed out of the house even for days. 
 "Or do you want to marry her too? You can't even take care of the only wife you have, you are now eyeing another one! I wonder what kind of bad luck I have to be married to you!" And she went on to start counting her friends whose husbands had sponsored them on trips to Dubai and London for shopping and holidays. "Do they have two heads? Why is my own case different? I'm stuck with a man that can't even give me money to retouch my hair or buy my undies!"
 To avoid quarreling with her, I left for my bedroom to cool off.
  I was at a friend's place one Friday when I got a call from Frank.
 "Congrats, Ekene! The list is out and your name is among those selected. You've got the job!"
 "Frank! Are you serious?" I asked excitedly. I could not believe my  ears. Me, a job? It was a miracle.
 Frank confirmed the good news, then said I had to be in P-H as soon as possible.
  "You will be resuming next month so you need to come over to sort out some things," he stated.
 "No problem. I will tell you when I will travel down. Thanks so much for your support," I said happily.
 As I went home that day, I was full of joy. My jobless days were over and I couldn't wait to get home to break the news to my wife and family.
 I was on a street near mine when a neighbour that lived near my house came up to me. The woman, an elderly lady was quite friendly with me and my family. We stood chatting for a while then she told me something that nearly gave me a heart attack then and there.
"Madam, is this a joke or what? What are you trying to do, cause problems between me and my wife?" I demanded angrily when I heard her words, getting worked up. The euphoria I felt at the news about the job was gradually fading, to be replaced by confusion.
 My wife and my landlord having an affair? How could that be? How? I kept wondering.
  "It's been going on for some time now. Nearly everyone on our street and in your compound know about it," she stated quietly. She then told me about the period I was away in Port-Harcourt, that the man used to come to the house nearly every day to see my wife. 

  "They were not even hiding it but flaunting their affair for every one to see," the woman said.
  She said a lot of other things but my mind was in confusion and nothing was sinking in. My own wife with my landlord! Was that the reason he decided not to eject us from his house anymore? So, he was using my wife as replacement for the rent? How could this be? Was my neighbour speaking the truth? Could she be trusted? 
 I had known the woman for some years and she had always come across as a responsible person. Besides, what would she gain from lying against my wife, I thought as I made my way home. My mind was in a turmoil and I was not thinking straight.
 My first thought was to go home and confront Vero about the allegations against her. But along the way, I changed my mind. I called my elder sister who lived in Festac with her family and narrated what the woman had told me.
 She advised me not to do anything rash until she had seen me. So, I changed direction and went to see her.
 "This is a sensitive issue so we have to handle it carefully," she stated on my arrival at her place.

  I nodded, not speaking. I felt weak, like a boneless being. How could this be happening on a day I should be celebrating my new job, I thought gloomily.
 "It had better not be true, Sister or I will surely kill her!" I said threateningly.
 "God forbid! You are not going to kill anybody. We need to confirm the woman's story first before deciding on what to do about the situation," she advised.
 Her husband, when he heard the story of my wife's affair, advised the same thing.
  "Your neighbour said he comes to the house whenever you are away. Let's work out a plan that will help confirm the story. Wait patiently for the right time to strike, ok?"
 I decided to take their advice. On getting home that day, I said nothing to Vero concerning the matter. I didn't even tell her about my new job. I acted as if everything was normal. But inside me, I was boiling with fury.
 Two days later, I informed my wife that I was travelling to Port- Harcourt to follow up on the job I was seeking there. She wished me safe journey and after hugging my little daughter tightly, I departed.
 But unknown to her, I had other plans. My younger brothers that stayed with me had travelled home to visit our parents, leaving only my wife and daughter in the house. There was a boy in my compound that used to run little errands for me from time to time whenever my younger ones were not around. I told him to hang around and monitor my wife's movement for me. Then I went to my sister's place from where we kept in touch through phone. Later that day, the boy called and informed me that my landlord was in the compound, in my apartment.
  My sister and her husband drove me down to my street. The little boy, my accomplice reported to me that my landlord was still in my flat. We all climbed the stairs quietly so as not to attract any attention from within. 
 I opened the door and was confronted with a scene that would stay with me for the rest of my days. There was my half-naked wife straddling my landlord right in my living-room, her large bum bouncing up and down as she rode him hard! I was so shocked, I just stood gaping, my hands on my head...
   ***
 Aftermath (three months later)
 As I write this, I'm in Port-Harcourt where I have resumed for my new job. I should be very happy to be working again considering the number of years I had spent on the ever growing labour market. But how can a man in my situation ever be happy again? 

How can I ever derive joy in life after catching my wife in such a compromising situation? This is a lady I loved so much, more than any other thing in the world. What she did broke my heart. So much so that I doubt I can ever love or trust another woman again.
 As for Vero, I have not seen her again since that fateful day. After I had caught her in the shameful act with my own landlord, my sister and husband had taken me and my daughter to their home. They practically had to drag me away or I would have committed double murders that day. That was where I stayed till I moved to PH for my new job. My daughter is still with my sister, pending when I can make arrangements for her to join me.
 As far as I'm concerned, my marriage to Vero is over. Imagine my own wife sleeping with my landlord right under my nose! Just because the man has money and properties all over the place and I didn't have a job. It was a bitter experience that would take me years to get over.
 Anyway, I thought I was through with Vero but last week, her elder sister and brother came to see me, pleading on her behalf. They want me to forgive her and take her back, stating that she has realized her mistake and wants me to forgive her. Even my friend Frank wants me to do the same thing.
 But my family, especially my mother don't want her anymore. My mother has specifically told me that she would disown me if I ever take my unfaithful wife back. That's my dilemma now. I don't want my child to grow up in a broken home. On the other hand, I can't go against my family's wishes.
So, what should I do now? I need advice, please. Thank you!

The End!

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.



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