Susan knew what Tunji was about to do, yet the hole created by the impact of his fist on the dining table, coupled with the loud sound given off, made her back into the wall in fear, closing her eyes and tightening her fist over her ears trying to block out what she didn’t know.
His blow to the table had broken the silence created by her accusation. An accusation which even she, knew was stupid.
This was the first time Tunji had ever shown any sign of anger since their wedding day. He had always been gentle, patient and calm with her, even though she knew many of the smiles he gave off were strained.
What was worse was that Susan knew she had riled him into this.
“I am going to walk out of here now,” Tunji said with clenched teeth, “When I return, I am going to act like you didn’t just accuse me of having an affair. I am going to ignore how funny it is that you would accuse me of going after other women when you would not even let me touch you as your husband.”
The bang of the door alerted Susan to Tunji’s exit out of the house, that was when she loosened her fist.
Sliding down the wall, she sat on the floor and cried.
She seemed to be doing a lot of that lately as she didn’t seem know what else to do.
She loved Tunji, she knew she did, but for some unknown reason, she couldn’t stop hurting him. She couldn’t bring herself to submit totally to him.
This was almost three years and there was still apart of herself she held back from him. The part she was supposed to have submitted to him, considering that they have been married for three months.
She always had abstinence until marriage as an excuse to why she would not allow him show her any physical affection, while they were courting.
Since their wedding night, she ran out of excuses.
As the tears flowed down her eyes, she cursed Tunde over and over; he was the cause of all her pain. She could not even allow a good man love her, because of the wickedness shown her by a bad man.
“May God punish you immensely,” she said out loud, the bitterness audible in her voice. “May you also feel this pain I feel, Tunde. May your marriage be disturbed the way your wickedness is disturbing my marriage. May you know no…”
Her heavy words were interrupted by her ringing phone. Getting up from the floor, she hurried to pick the call before it stopped ringing. She hoped it was Tunji calling, even though she knew the possibility was slim.
Tunji had once jokingly accused her of not loving him enough since she did not have a special ring tone for him. Her ring tone on his phone was ‘My Everything’ by Michael Bubble.
She saw no need to give him a special ring tone, she had told him. If the need arises, she would give him one. She had acted like she didn’t see the hurt in his eyes which he had quickly smiled away.
[nextpage title=”episode 2″]
She seemed to be able to hurt him effortlessly.
She searched for the phone in her bag which contained too many useless items she found hard to dispose, and the phone had stopped ringing by the time she found it.
It was not Tunji. It was an unknown number.
She dragged herself to a sofa and slowly sat down. She looked around uniquely decorated parlour, but she saw nothing but Tunji’s efforts to make her happy.
The colours didn’t match, but she loved it. The walls were painted cream-coloured, and the furniture, which comprised of black leather sofas, a couch, and a glass centre table were all her idea.
Tunji had asked her opinion before he furnished his house. Everything, from the maroon coloured rug and curtains down to the kitchen wares and appliances had all being done for her, from their first meeting, Tunji had told her he was going to marry her, but he was going to court her first so they could get used to each other.
Three years after, she was yet to get used to him.
The phone rang again, drawing her out of her reminiscence.
Shaking her head, as if to ward away the sad thoughts, she picked up.
“Hello,” the voice, which Susan recognised immediately, said
“Susan! Thank God I finally remembered the number correctly,” Rose said excitedly.
“Is this really Rose?” Susan asked, doubtful. “This is not the number I have, though the voice is hers.”
“Susan it’s me. How did you recognise my voice after a long while?”
“You don’t forget the voice of the only person who loved you despite your demons,” Susan thought.
“I don’t know,” she said out loud. “I guess I just recognised it. Where did you disappear to? I repeatedly tried your number, until I got tired. I wanted you to be my Chief Bridesmaid, had to ask a girl I barely knew.”
“It’s a long story. We need to… Wait. Did you just say Chief Bridesmaid? You are married?” Rose asked, and before Susan could reply, she gave a shout of joy causing Susan to put away the phone from her ear.
“At least someone is happy about it,” she murmured as she waited for the shouting to cease.
It was like the years of absence in their friendship melted away as Susan listened to Rose’s excited voice.
“Please tell me it is Tunji, please. He is a good man from what I remember”
“It is Tunji.”
“Yes! So how is he? How long ago have you guys been married? I hope you are still having on your honeymoon? You deserve to enjoy being with a good man after…”
Susan’s sudden burst into tears ceased Rose’s chatter. “Susan are you okay? Did I make you remember Tunde again? I am sorry. Please calm down. You are married to a good man now. so…”
“Rose,” Susan interrupted
“Yes?” Rose was beginning to feel she made a mistake in calling at this time, until Susan’s next words told her otherwise.
[nextpage title=”episode 3″]
“It’s not you. I think I made a mistake in marrying Tunji. I am thinking it’s best we divorced.”
Tossing her phone on the couch, Rose heaved a sigh of release, as she went to get something to eat. Hearing about the strained marriage of her friend made her suddenly famished.
How did Susan get into this? How could she have gotten married when she was not ready to submit to anyone emotionally?
Quickly deciding to have cornflakes while she boiled some yam, she thought of everything Susan told her while she ate.
She didn’t get to tell Susan that she had travelled abroad to study, first psychology and then guidance and counselling, all because she had seen the effect the rape had had on her back in school.
She had decided to help as much people as possible, and when the opportunity to study abroad had suddenly presented itself, she had taken it and travelled before she could change her mind.
Now it seemed that the main reason she changed her career was still waiting for her to solve it.
She wondered how Tunji was holding on. It was hard enough for a man to remain celibate because of some belief on abstinence until marriage, but for im to still be celibate three months after his marriage had to be frustrating at the least, especially with a reason like that of Susan’s.
As she rinsed the cereal bowl absent-mindedly, Rose already knew what was going to happen.
She would have to make Susan’s case her first case in Nigeria.
She also knew that she would have to invite a male counsellor into the case because of Tunji, and since there was only one male counsellor she trusted enough to invite into her friends secret, she knew she would also be facing her fears.
She would have to stop running.
She was going to be calling up Chinedu. She still remembered how she had told him she didn’t want to have anything to do with him again.
Minutes later, after eating the yam without noticing the taste, she dialled the number which, though she deleted over a year ago, she could still remember.
“Hello,” she said, for the second time that day, to long a lost friend.
“Hello,” the voice on the other end answered sounding preoccupied.
“Chinedu, it’s me Rose.”
She was greeted with a silence so still, she could hear the ticking clock from the other end.
“I need your help,” she continued with a false confidence.
[nextpage title=”episode 4″]
The reason Rose chose Serene Hotels for the meeting was forfeited.
Serene Hotels lived up to its name, having an atmosphere that makes her relax once she steps into its environs.
She discovered it when she came back from her study overseas. Needing to pamper herself after all the hard work of getting an accommodation, getting it decorated and setting up a new life for herself, she had turned to Google for help.
She typed the words ‘hotel with a serene atmosphere’, and was surprised to discover there existed a hotel called Serene.
She visited and was not disappointed.
It was a bit on the pricey side, but it was worth it.
Flowers greeted its visitors, filling the air with lovely perfume. The workers were always with genuine smiles, which made Rose wonder if they had no personal problems.
Stepping into the lobby, one is forced to sigh in bliss. The lights and colours directly in view of whoever steps in, provokes instant calmness. The music which is always present in the air also added to the calming effect. Rose was yet to see the hidden speakers.
The lights, sounds and smells all made the hotel live up to its name.
Which was why Rose asked Chinedu to meet her here, so she could at least be calm while they discussed, but calmness was the last thing she felt; she was in a turmoil. All she could think of was the last time she saw him and the look in his eyes. The look of resignation.
She chose a table which allowed her see the door, so she’d know when he arrived.
She looked at the door, wishing he’d appear already, even though he had called her to let her know he would be late due to an emergency.
Glancing around at the other tables, she noticed a couple who looked perfect together. The man was fidgeting, while the woman was speaking excitedly. She watched for a while and saw that he was about to propose as he was holding a jewellery box under the table, away from the view of the lady who seemed to be talking at a speed of about seventy words per minute, increasing his uneasiness.
Watching the lady a bit longer, she concluded that the lady knew the man was about to propose, and was feeling excited and nervous, hence her talkativeness.
She shook her head at the games women play, knowing yet acting oblivious. She smiled to herself and looked towards the door again and caught her breath. Standing there and looking directly at her was Chinedu.
“Wow,” she thought. He looked more handsome than she remembered.
Saying a silent prayer of thanks that she had taken extra care on her appearance, she forced a smile as he walked towards her.
He was also more confident, more aware of himself. She noticed that people watched as he walked towards her, yet he fixed his gaze on her, not returning the smile until he got to the table, when he gave a bright smile.
Standing up, she extending her hand for a handshake which he ignored, and walked to her side to give her a tight hug, leaving her flustered.
“Wow! How long has it been since we last saw each other?” he asked as he took his seat. “You are looking as beautiful as ever, only now you are more confident of your beauty.”
Rose didn’t miss the coincidental fact that she had thought exactly the same about him.
“Thank you. You also look good,” she replied.
“Thank you. This place looks really great,” Chinedu said glancing around. “How did you discover it, considering that it is not very popular?”
Rose was about to launch into her story of needing some pampering, and turning to Google when they heard cheering and clapping.
Turning their heads, they found the couple Rose had noticed before, smiling widely. Obviously the talkative lady had said yes.
Rose joined in the cheering and clapping, happy to witness the beginning of what she hoped and prayed will be a happy journey for the couple. As the excitement died down, she turned back to Chinedu to continue her story but caught him gazing at her in a strange way.
“What?” she asked before she could stop herself. She didn’t want him to know she was uneasy around him.
“Nothing just glad to know you still have your kind heart. I’m sure you wished them well as you cheered.”
“I’m happy for them ni!” she replied defensively with a slight smile on her face. She was not surprised that he read what was going on in her mind.
Back in the days when they were together overseas, Chinedu had accused her of being too kind, saying it was the reason she needed him around to protect her.
The waiter interrupted before Chinedu could reply.
After they ordered, Chinedu got suddenly serious. Too serious.
“So why or rather, how do you need my help?”
Frowning slightly at his sudden demeanour, Rose told him about Susan and her marriage, starting from their school years.
The waiter brought their order, so they ate as they discussed, Chinedu asking questions where necessary. He asked the right questions, reminding Rose why she liked him back then. He was quite intelligent.
After a while, they ate in a comfortable silence.
Rose faced her meal as she ate, making sure she didn’t look up from her plate. A part of her told her Chinedu was looking at her.
When they were done eating and the waiter cleared their plates, she knew she had to look up, only this time Chinedu was frowning at his phone.
“So much for thinking he was looking at you,” she told herself.
She reached for her purse, about to pay the bill, when he spoke:
“Don’t even think about it.”
“What?” she asked, then realised what he meant. “I set up this meeting, so it’s my treat.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. Maybe next time,” he said and dropped the money on the table so the waiter could come for it.
Putting away her purse, Rose smiled. “You have not changed.”
“Yeah and neither have you.”
The tone in his voice had Rose looking up sharply. She saw the look in his eyes which said he still had questions about their breakup.
Not ready to revisit the past, Rose quickly looked back down and was preparing to end the meeting when Chinedu spoke again, his voice normal.
“I think you should first call your friend asking her if she wants the counselling. She would also need to inform or convince her husband.”
Nodding her head at the truthfulness of his words, Rose picked up her phone and dialled Susan’s number. She knew she was in for the hard work of convincing her friend.
When she heard Tunji’s car, Susan breathed a sigh of relief.
This was the fifth day since she made him react in anger. Since then she waited for the day he would start coming back home late.
It was yet to happen and for that she was grateful
She had what she hoped was good news.
Rose had convinced her of the need for counselling, saying she and another counsellor were ready to counsel her and Tunji.
She hoped Tunji will agree. She wanted to be his wife in the real sense of the word, and if it meant going to counselling, she was ready.
Clearing her throat, she pasted a smile on her face and welcomed him as he stepped in to the parlour.
She ignored his look of surprise.
“Hope your day was great? I prepared your favourite. Just go and have your bath, it will be ready by the time you are done.”
Looking at her oddly, he obeyed.
Happy he had not ignored her olive branch, Susan quickly set the table, and thought of the best way to present her suggestion. She didn’t want him thinking she didn’t think they could work things out on their own.
By the time he came down, she had decided on the manner of approach.
She was happy he seemed less angry at her today. The previous days, she had just served his food so he could eat when he returned from work, but today she was with him. She should have thought of this before.
Pushing away her plate, she decided this was the best time.
Going on her knees, she faced him. “I’m sorry I accused you of cheating on me,” she started before he could comment on her kneeling. “I have no excuse except that I missed you. I know we are husband and wife, but I missed my friendship with you. You seemed to be avoiding me, and I couldn’t handle it.”
She watched as he swallowed. She saw the battle within him. He moved to hold her, then remembered that she hated being held tightly by him, and stopped midway.
Strengthening her mind, and reminding herself that he wouldn’t hurt her, she crawled intto his arms.
“I hold nothing against you,” Tunji replied, warning himself not to hold her tightly. “I am just confused on how to help.”
“I have the idea. I want to be your wife in everyway. I think we should see a counsellor.”
“A counsellor? Are you sure about this? I don’t want you uncomfortable.”
“Yes I am sure, besides one of the counsellors is Rose. You remember Rose right? My friend from the University days.”
“I remember Rose. I am open to it if you are,” he replied. “I just want you to trust me.”
“I trust you. At least my mind does. My body don’t trust any man yet.” She explained sadly, as she stood up and sat down.
Tunji had no reply to that. He only hoped the counselling session will make a change.
That night, Tunji saw the beginning of possible change when, thinking he was asleep, Susan snuggled into his arms. Though she didn’t allow it surround her completely.
He was okay with baby steps in as much as they were going forward.
[nextpage title=”episode 5″]
They agreed on the sessions being every weekend, since Chinedu and Tunji had jobs that took their time during the weekdays. Also they hoped that the weekdays would give the couple the chance to work on the directives gotten during from the sessions during the weekends.
In all, it looked like a great idea.
The drive to Rose’s office for the first set of sessions was done in silence, no word was exchanged between Susan and Tunji, though it was not a silence of hostility; each was lost in his or her thoughts.
Susan wondered how the session would go. Would she have to relive the whole experience before Tunji? Would Rose really understand? Would Rose and the other counsellor, Chinedu. She remembered that Rose had referred to him as Chinedu. Would Rose and Chinedu blame her for the whole thing when they get to know the whole story? Would she ever be able to get back to her normal self? Not that she knew what her normal sex life would have been like, considering that Tunde had raped her while she was a virgin.
As she watched the scenery move by swiftly, she could still see that day. She could still see, hear and smell everything.
She could still smell Tunde’s sweat as he grunted above her, with his palm across her mouth, stifling her cries of pain, helplessness and anger. She could still see her blood on his bedsheets. She could still hear the loud music he had playing in his room, so even when she bit his hand and he released her mouth, her cries where overshadowed by the rock ‘n’ roll band playing over the stereo.
She could still remember how he had laughed at her before he left the room, leaving her crying. She remembered how she had hurried out in fear that he had gone to call men like him to come and rape her too. She remembered her guilt, her shame and anger which made her keep mute about the whole episode. She remembered the fear she had felt for the following six months when she had to wait for the pregnancy and HIV tests respectively.
Tunde had changed her life forever, and she remembered everything.
Fixing her gaze outside the window by her side, she allowed herself shed what she hoped will be the last tears for Tunde. She was tired of being controlled by someone she had not seen since his wicked act, about seven years ago. She was tired of being afraid. She was tired of everything. She hoped this would work, so she could be free.
As he drove, looking straight ahead, Tunji knew that Susan was in tears. He’d heard her sniffling, but decide to give her some privacy. She obviously didn’t want him to know that she cried.
His hands tightened round the steering wheel, wishing he could just spend two minutes with the idiot who raped her. He would disfigure his face with blows.
He wished there was something, anything, he could do to elevate the burden and take away pain she felt. If he had known she was still this badly affected, he wouldn’t have married her. Yet.
The burden of the hurt he felt each time she refused him touching or holding her was another thing she had to deal with.
Listening to her sob was heartbreaking. He sent a silent prayer for the counselling sessions to work. He thought Susan lucky to have a friend who cared enough to go out of her way enough to help her, even inviting someone else to work on the case.
He would have asked God why He allowed such tragedy to befall Susan, but he knew there was grace in the fact that she had people who cared for her, trying to help her. It could be worse.
He tapped the steering with his fingers. He was impatient to get to the office, he wondered why Rose had to get a place so far from civilization.
Throwing a glance at Susan, he discovered that she had cried herself to sleep.
“Thank God,” he thought. At least she would stop torturing herself.
He increased his speed.
Rose looked around for the umpteenth time to ensure that the office was welcoming.
She had rented a two-bedroom apartment as her office space.
She had chosen a neighbourhood far from the hustling and bustling of the city. There were more trees than structures, and she loved it so. She needed a calm atmosphere to be able to concentrate, and she also wanted her clients to be calm.
Blaring horns and screaming conductors didn’t make anyone feel calm. It just made people hurry.
She hoped her clients would not find the need to hurry, so she had to get an office space at a location that was yet to catch up with the normal hurrying nature of Lagosians.
The parlour was to serve as the reception area and the waiting hall, while the rooms were to be the offices.
She had the rooms painted orange and maroon. She had read somewhere that a mixture of the two colours uplifted the spirit.
She hoped it was true. She had wanted something bright, but felt that white was too formal and gave a pristine look.
Her clients were going to be anything but pristine, and she also thought white paints are best for ceilings and hospitals, so she settled for orange, red and maroon.
The chairs were red, and the tiles were cream coloured.
She used a jasmine flavoured air-freshener in each space.
She was taking no chances. She needed her clients to feel calm, and her first client happens to be her best friend, so she needed to take extra care.
She heard a car drive in and hurried to welcome Susan, but it was Chinedu.
She lost what remained of her calmness.
She had hoped he would come when Susan and Tunji were around so she won’t have to be alone with him.
Straightening her spine, she took the receptionist seat. She was her own receptionist for now.
She had barely taken in calming breath when Chinedu strode in.
“Sorry I’m late. Good morning,” he greeted.
“I actually didn’t expect you this early. Good morning,” she replied.
“We need to discuss.”
“What about?” she asked, hoping he was not going to bring up their past relationship. She only wanted to focus on Susan for now.
“Seriously? What about? We are supposed to present a united front to them. We need to choose our method.”
Rose was sure her sigh of relief was obvious, even though Chinedu didn’t react.
Mentally scolding herself for her unnecessary conclusion, she decided to tell him her plans.
“I think we should listen to them as a couple first, then we listen to them individually, then we split up, listening to one or the other.”
“Okay, so we take individual notes and compare after the sessions?”
“I think so. Do you have a better idea?”
“No. I actually like it. It helps us view things from our own perspective.”
After that, an awkward silence settled over the hall, as Chinedu took a seat on one of the sofa in the waiting area and glanced at his phone.
Rose briefly wondered if he was chatting with his girlfriend, before she reminded herself that it was not her business.
She was greatly relived when she heard another car drive in. Hoping it was Susan and not someone from or for the neighbouring apartment, Rose went to the balcony to check. She almost shouted in glee when she saw it was Susan.
This was it. This was her first client in her counselling career. This was her opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people.
“They are here!” she exclaimed to Chinedu, obviously excited.
“You are really happy aren’t you?” he asked with a mocking laugh.
Deciding to ignore him, she walked back into the hall, took her work stationery to one of the offices, and came back out to act as the receptionist.
She welcomed Susan and her husband. Genuinely happy to see Tunji again. He left a good impression on her when they met years ago. To her, he was a good man.
After the pleasantries where she introduced Chinedu, she ushered them into the office.
“So,” she started, “we are going to ask you one question, to get us started. That question will be the bedrock of what we are going to be doing here for as long as it takes.”
“I- I ha- have a question before we get started,”Susan said stuttering.
Rose frowned as she nodded at her to ask her question. Susan never stutters.
“Are we going to be talking to you together? I mean are we going to do it all in the same room?”
Before Rose could reply, Chinedu did. “Yes, for starters. You are a couple, so we need to start with you together, and also end with you together. In between the whole counselling plan, we split.”
Susan said nothing, but the look in her eyes had Chinedu and Rose looking at each other. They recognised the look.
It was a look of fear, bordering on terror.
Chinedu’s eyes also asked Rose a question: what is she afraid of in a counselling session?
Rose had no idea.
[nextpage title=”episode 6″]
“I need to know why you are afraid,” Rose said without preamble once she took Susan to the balcony. She was beginning to think that there was something else Susan was not telling her. “Is there something else I should know?”
“No. It’s just that…” Susan trailed off, licking her lips nervously.
“It’s just that I don’t want to lose Tunji,” Susan said in a rush as she turned away from Rose. She didn’t want to see what she was sure would be the condemnation in her eyes. “If he hears of the whole episode, he’d see how it is my fault and see how dirty I truly am.”
“Susan! I don’t think you know how much Tunji loves you. He will not…”
“Well we don’t know that he will not turn away!” Susan said heatedly, cutting Rose short. “I know I have to do it because you believe it will help me heal, but I just need some time to gather my wits together.”
“No you don’t have to do it. At least not immediately. We can start the individual discussions first. Is that okay?” Rose asked softly, seeing how much damage had been done to her friend by a single act of stupidity and wickedness.
At Susan’s nod, she walked in and told Chinedu of the change of plan.
He obviously had some questions, she could see them in his eyes, but she was grateful when he didn’t voice them out.
Susan breathed more freely the moment Tunji and Chinedu left to go to the other office. She would not miss Tunji’s searching gaze. She knew he was worried about her, but there was nothing she could do.
“Let’s start,”Rose said, breaking into her thoughts.
“Susan, we are going to pray first,” Rose announced, “I don’t know about you, but it helps me. I know we need this if we are going to achieve positive results.”
Susan listened to Rose pray, wondering how come she seemed so comfortable talking to God. She never felt that way. She always felt like He was frowning at her, so she went without praying for months. Maybe Rose had not done anything to make her guilty.
Rose’s ‘Amen’ alerted her that the prayer was over, so she echoed it too.
Rose sat up, looking directly at her, her book and pen on her lap, and began. “So I will ask you what I asked before. Why are you here? I know I pleaded with you, but why did you agree to this? Why did you convince Tunji to come with you?”
“I want to be free. I want to be normal again,” Susan replied after a slight pause. “I dont know if it is possible, but I want to stop seeing intimacy with a man as a threat.”
“I want you to remember this reason whenever you feel this is not working,” Rose said with a nod. “I believe that with patience, and prayers, you can live normally again. You just have to be patient with yourself first, then Tunji, me and Chinedu. There are times you will feel like we don’t understand what you are going through, and you will most likely be right, but we expect that you explain to us what we are missing, because the fact is that we are on your side. We are also angry with Tunde. I’m sure you know that about me, but I want you to know that is also true for Tunji and Chinedu. Always remember the reasons you started this journey. Can you do that?”
“I will try.”
“That’s all I can ask. So, I want to to tell me about Tunde, how you met, what you liked about him, and if possible, tell me about the rape incident too. Tell me as much as you can remember, and as much as you want to. There is no pressure.”
The silence that followed Rose’s words had her wondering if she should change tactics. She was thinking on what else to do when Susan started slowly, her gaze fixed on somewhere behind Rose.
It was obvious she was no longer in the room, but was reliving her life seven years ago.
“I met Tunde on one of my walks back from school. It was during my SSCE and I was happy that I will soon be done with Secondary School.
I was mentally preparing for the next day’s paper when I bumped into him. He just stared at me while I apologised, until I became uncomfortable. I told him it was rude to stare and he laughed, saying I obviously had no idea how beautiful I was, and he would only forgive me for bumping into him if I will allow him take me out.
I was flattered by his words. I had never had a boyfriend, or even considered having one. My classmates’ taunts, that I would never get a man with all my nerdy behaviour, sometimes got to me but I was determined to get out of school with the best result possible.
I didn’t give him an answer, just told him I had to get home to prepare for my next paper the next day.
He stood at that same spot for the next few days, asking me out. It was like a game we played. He would wait there, say sweet words, make me laugh, but I would not voice an answer even though my eyes said everything he wanted to hear.
Then suddenly, I didn’t see him for a whole week. By then I was writing NECO exams.
When I saw him again, I barely held myself from running into his arms. Until, then, we stood at arms length while we played our game.
He had been sick and had been hospitalized, he told me. I believed him. I had no reason not to.
I was so sorry, I bought him some beverages and fruits the next day. I think that was when he knew how much effect he had on me.
He reminded me that if I had known where he lived, I would have known that he was ill, and my care would have made him get well faster.
A little more pressure, and I went to his place with him. It was a single room apartment, and in my eyes it was the definition of freedom.
I knew he was not much older than me, maybe five or six years, and here he was, being able to live as he wanted without any hindrance from his parents. It didn’t occur to me then, that that was the usual way when one is in the university.
I envied him, and fell a little more for him.
He soon convinced me how immature it was that we met on the streets before the eyes of everyone. He suggested that he come to my house to visit me, knowing I would not agree, since my parents were strict against such.
I ended up going to his house every other day. I believed it was the mature thing to do, and since I just finished from Secondary School, I felt matured enough.”
Looking at her, Susan broke the bubble which showed Rose what seven years ago was like to a younger Susan. “Please can I get some water? My throat is dry.”
Rose nodded and hurried to the kitchen, mentally making a note to herself to always keep a jug of water in the office during sessions.
As she walked towards the kitchen, she heard low voices from the other office, and hoped all was going on well in there.
She let her mind wander to what Susan had shared with her, between pauses. She had seen different emotions running across Susan’s face.
Susan had had plans in her head for Tunde. She had obviously expected it to last forever, and that made disappointment the bedrock of all other negative feeling that came after the rape.
While Susan drank, Rose wrote down her thoughts in her notebook. She will need to show Susan that Tunde had been playing a game with her, and was not who he had appeared to be.
Susan’s next words told her that Susan also believed she had gotten all the warnings she had needed.
Rose added guilt to thye list of emotions Susan felt.
“My first warning should have been his kind of friends. The calibre of people who came to his house were not the kind of people I would expect from the kind of man he portrayed himself to be. He explained to me that they were his course mates, ad they helped each other with school materials.
I believed him and saw him as a serious student.
He was a four hundred level student of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.
My second warning was our first kiss, and how he told me I was acting like a child by ending it too soon.
He told me I had a lot to learn, and he was willing to teach me, but if I don’t give him a chance, he would leave me in my ignorance.
I apologised repeatedly to him, not knowing I was digging my own grave…”
[nextpage title=”episode 7″]
“So, why are you here?” Chinedu asked looking at Tunji who looked lost seeing that his wife was no longer in the same office. “Tunji, why are you here?” he asked again, trying not to notice the awkwardness in the room.
He wished he knew the guy before now, then he could have known his thinking pattern. As it is, he had no idea what to say to a man who is married to a rape survivor.
There was only one way to find out, and that is to keep asking questions.
Tunji shrugged. “I don’t know. I just thought Susan needed help, and since I don’t know what to do to help, I figured I should support her since Rose is willing to help.”
“So what’s in it for you?” Chinedu asked again, with a slight frown. “I mean, apart from the fact that she might agree to sex with you, what do you hope to gain?”
Tunji looked up sharply at the accusation in Chinedu’s voice. Did he just insinuate that the only reason he was here was so Susan could allow him have sex with her?
“Wait… What?!” Tunji asked, sitting up from his slouching position on the sofa. “You think I am here because I want her to have sex with me? Do you forget that she is my wife, and so it is normal to want to have sex with my wife?”
Chinedu almost smiled at the agitation he knew Tunji felt because of his direct questions, but he had to establish some truths. Replying with a deliberately condescending voice, he said: “No, I didn’t forget, in fact I think we are saying the same thing, she is your wife, and she has denied you sex, so you figured that you should support her in what may make her relaxed enough to have sex with…”
“Don’t. Don’t you dare reduce my wife to a mere sex object,” Tunji said with clenched teeth.
Standing up, he walked close to Chinedu, who thought he was about to get punched in the face. He knew he deserved it for pushing the man to the wall.
“Don’t you ever insinuate that all I care about is sex with her. You have no idea of the deep pain I see in her eyes each time she rejects me, and that hurts more than the rejection itself. I want her, yes, but I want her healed too. I want that pain to leave her eyes. I want her whole. I have only known her in a broken state, and yet I find her irresistible. I wonder how wonderful she would be when whole, and I want to find out. So don’t you dare define me as being shallow, at least I married who I am in love with, whereas you kept stealing looks at Rose as if she would bite you if you told her how you feel.”
“What? How did the tables get turned?” Chinedu thought. “Is it that obvious?”
Clearing his throat and mentally chiding himself, he spoke up with false confidence. “Please sit down, Tunji.”
He waited until Tunji was seated before he continued speaking. “I needed you to know why you are here, so we can work with that. Before I asked you the question, you didn’t even know why you were here, which is why you felt lost when Rose took your wife to the other office. I need you to remember this, and more importantly, I need you to act it out to your wife.”
Tunji didn’t reply. He just stared at him.
Feeling uncomfortable under Tunji’s steady gaze, he decided to be sincere, ditching the whole professionalism act. “Look Tunji, your wife is hurting. Thank God you know, but you don’t understand it. You are the most important person to her, not me, not even Rose, but you.”
“No you don’t. You were the first person she told about the incident even if it was before she saw you. She married you, even if she didn’t want anything to do with men. Despite her fear of intimacy with men, she married you, risking her peace of mind. You have to understand that she needs you.”
“Okay. What do I do?” Tunji asked, feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility Chinedu seemed to be piling up on him. “How can I help her?”
“Do you think she is to be blamed for being raped?” Chinedu asked, hoping the question would sound incredulous to Tunji as it does to him who asked.
“What? Are you okay?” Tunji asked frowning. “When did it become a lady’s fault that she was raped? She is yet to tell me the whole story, but as a man, I know there is no excuse for raping a woman.”
“You answered correctly,” Chinedu said. “But did you tell her that when she told you she was raped? Did you tell her you don’t blame her for anything, and that she did no wrong in loving the wrong man? The truth is most, if not all the ladies who are raped blame themselves on some level. They need to know that whatever mistake they made does not give a man the right to rape anyone. I think you should tell her that.”
Tunji slouched deep into the sofa and leaned his head on his palm, giving the impression that he was deep in thought.
Chinedu wondered at the chain-reaction in the world. Here was a good man suffering for another man’s misdeeds.
“I think we should take a break,” he said to Tunji who only nodded and kept staring at nothing.
“How do you mean you were digging your own grave by apologising to him?” Rose asked, interrupting Susan’s words.
“I shouldn’t have apologised to him. I did nothing wrong.”
“If you know this, then why do you say it with so much guilt?”
“I should have known then.”
“How could you have known Susan?” Rose asked sounding surprised. “You were what, sixteen, seventeen? This was your first crush, you didn’t have a previous experience. Don’t be too hard on yourself Susan, you are no superhuman. It was not your fault. You were not to blame in anyway.” She gave a slight pause where she got herself together. She was getting too emotional. She felt like weeping for the teenage girl who lost her confidence, innocence, and virginity because of some idiot who could not control himself. Taking a deep breath, she continued. “You didn’t know any better, if you did, you would have done better.”
But Susan was no longer listening. “It’s not my fault?” she thought. “It is not my fault. It is not my fault. It is not my fault,” she repeated as a litany. She hoped it is true, she wanted it to be true.
“I think we should take a break,” Rose said, leading her out of the office.
Outside the office, Rose saw that Chinedu and Tunji were already on a break. Sending a frown towards Chinedu to ask him why, he only shrugged and turned back to his phone. It was beginning to annoy her that he always seemed to prefer looking at his phone to looking at her. That is not a gentlemanly way to behave.
Ignoring the voice in her head asking her why it bothered her so much, she went back into her office to peruse through her notes.
Tunji was at the balcony, staring at everything and nothing, when he heard someone approach. Turning around to see who it is, he hoped it was Susan. He wondered how she was doing.
“Hi,” she greeted with a weak smile.
“Hi,” he replied searching her face for any distress.
She seemed tired, but not distressed.
She sat down by his side on the bench.
“How are you?” he asked, wanting to hold her hand, but afraid of her withdrawal.
“I want to tell you something I should have told you long ago,” he said turning to look at her. He almost stopped talking when he saw the alarm in her eyes, but he knew he had to say it now. “I don’t blame you for what happened in your past. I don’t know the whole story, but I know you are not to blame. It is not your fault Susan, and I would never blame you.”
She froze and stared at him, before unexpectedly bursting into tears.
The only ting he could do was to take her in his arms and sooth her.
It was about five minutes later, when Susan had cried to her heart’s content, that Tunji realised this was the first time he was holding his wife this long. This was the first time she didn’t stiffen under his embrace.
[nextpage title=”episode 8″]
“What is it like?”
“What is what like?” Rose asked, looking up from her notepad with a confused frown.
They were back from the break, and she waited for Susan to continue her narration of what happened with Tunde.
“What is it like having sex with the right person?” Susan expatiated
“Err..” Rose started with a nervous chuckle. “I don’t think I am the right person to ask that question, seeing I am not married, and I don’t think I have met ‘The One’ yet.
“I felt comfortable in Tunji’s embrace today. It is the first time I have ever let him hold me that long.”
“That’s good news Susan! So how did that make you feel?” Rose asked, hoping the awkward questions were over.
“I felt safe. It felt good to be comforted by someone stronger than you.”
“I’m glad you feel better already, enough to relax in Tunji’s embrace.”
“Yes but I think I need to tell him what happened,” Susan said with sadness. “I think he deserves to know.”
“Susan, you don’t owe anyone any explanation. You don’t have to tell him. You should tell him because you want to, and not because you think you owe it to him.”
“Are you sure?” Susan asked looking hopeful. “I am already tired of talking to you about it. It is energy draining. I wish I could forget it and start a new life altogether.”
“it is possible, but it is not easy. I asked you to tell me because you bottled it all up inside and it is eating you up. I just wanted you to share it and let it go.”
“I truly feel better from talking about it,” Susan admitted. “It felt like a secret, and its power was strong enough to make me seclude myself. I used to think that someone would find out from a way I talk or act. I just kept to myself.”
Rose decided to let her talk. She obviously needed to. She would only nod where necessary.
“I knew no one would want to get close to me if they knew what happened,” Susan said, and Rose knew she had to interfere.
“Wait a minute, what do you mean by that? What do you think will happen if people knew?”
“I don’t know, but they would see how dirty and…”
“Dirty?!” Rose exclaimed, getting a glimpse into the negativity Susan had wrapped around herself and her experience. “Where is all these coming from? I thought we agreed that you are not to blame?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was made unclean from the… the incident.”
“Wow!” Rose thought. She had no immediate answer to that.
“I know Tunji also sees me as dirty, that’s why I cant bring myself to allow him make love to me…”
“Okay, hold it there Susan,” Rose cut in, not able to hold her tongue any more. “At this moment, I am your friend and not your counsellor. Are you crazy?”
“What? I am saying the truth.”
“What do you know as truth? You have painted yourself as the cause instead of the survivor. You see the whole thing as something that is all your fault. You just belittled Tunji to an idiot who is with you because he is stupid.”
“You know what? I am going to ask him to come in here. You can tell him to his face that you know he sees you as being dirty. I want you to see his expression.”
Rose stalked out of the room before Susan could stop her.
Susan winced at sound of the banged door. Rose was obviously angry. She hoped Tunji would not be this angry. She just wished she didn’t feel so dirty about her experience.
She still felt Tunde’s groping hands on her body as he forced her legs apart. She could still see as he wiped away the seat of his face and used the same had to close her mouth.
She still felt his sticky body over hers, she still felt the dried blood on her thighs which she couldn’t get home fast enough to wash. She felt the eyes on her as she hurried home from his room. She still felt the questioning looks from the hospital when she had gotten the confidence to go for tests.
She felt it all and they were within her painted black as night. A night she was trapped in. She seemed not to be able to move past it.
The sound of the door opening brought her mind back to the present.
It was Tunji.
“Hey,” he greeted. “Rose said you had something to tell me. She looked…angry. I am wondering why a counsellor is angry.”
Susan gave a slight smile. “She stopped being my counsellor and went back to being my friend.”
“Oh. So what’s up?”
Susan stood up. Sitting down while Tunji stood made her feel a bit vulnerable. She wanted to be ready for his answer, besides standing will also give her a better view of his eyes to know if he lies.
“I have a question to ask you,” she said. “And I want an honest answer from you.”
“When you met me, knowing I was raped, didn’t you realise how dirty I am, I mean considering…”
“Dirty?” Tunji asked, interrupting. “You thought I saw you as dirty? What is going on in that head of yours Susan? You obviously don’t undersand how much I love you. I don’t even understand you.”
“I just wond…”
“Stop wondering Susan.” Tunji sat down and looked at her until she sat also. “Just stop wondering and see what is before you. Sometimes the way forward is by counting your blessings, and yes I consider myself as one of your blessings. You were raped, but thank God you didn’t get pregnant, thank God you didn’t get any diseases. You had Rose who had your back even when you pushed her away, and finally, you have me. Count your blessings and stop looking at what went wrong. Stop looking at what you could have done, but look at what God did for you. That is the only way you can move on. By looking at what God did. The idiot Tunde is heaven knows where, and here you are still under his spell. He might have even repented and started enjoying salvation. I never have, and never will see you as dirty. Never. I am here, married to you, but I think you need to do what you should have done long ago. Set yourself free from the prison of your mind. Only you can.”
Susan looked through tears filled eyes as Tunji stood up and left the office, and wondered if he was right. Was she the one holding herself captive?
Chinedu looked at Rose as she paced angrily. He wanted to act like he didn’t care, but he could not stop himself.
“Calm down and give yourself a break,” he told her. “She will be fine. I think what she needs, more than this sessions, is a heart to heart with her husband. She just needs to believe what she knows is true and only by Tunji reiterating it to her can she begin to believe it.”
He watched as she stopped pacing and bit her lip, a sign that she was thinking on what he said.
He felt like hugging her. She was obviously emotionally spent. She put in her emotions in whatever she believed in, which was one of the many reasons he loved her.
Yes he still loved her, he acknowledged to himself.
He wondered if he should try asking her out again.
Before Chinedu could act on his thoughts, Tunji came out of the other office also looking angry, though a lot less angry than Rose.
Chinedu waited for Susan to follow, when she didn’t, he knew he had to go talk to her. Standing up, he stared at Rose for a short while, then he walked to the other office.
He would make his move another day.
[nextpage title=”episode 9″]
“I’m your last option,” Chinedu said, attempting a joke as he entered the office. “So please don’t annoy me too.”
His heart broke as he watched Susan quickly wipe away her tears and force a weak smile. She clearly had not expected anyone else to come to her.
“It’s okay. You will be fine,” he soothed as he walked to her and rubbed her back.
When she was a bit calmer, he went and took Rose’s seat, he had an idea which, though would make him remember what he didn’t want to, he hoped would work.
“I have a story to tell you, but first you will have to stop crying,” he joked again. “I cant be telling a story and you will be crying. It makes an ugly sight.”
Nodding and sniffling, Susan quickly dried her eyes and wiped her nose. “I’m fine now.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want you bursting into tears again.”
Susan smiled as he hoped she will. “I am fine.”
“Good,” he said then clearing his throat started. “What I am about to tell you now, have never been shared by me with any other person, not one.”
His plan was obviously working, as his words got Susan’s attention.
“My elder sister was raped, while in the university. She was on her way to an all-night choir rehearsal with some friends when they were attacked. She couldn’t run fast enough as her other friends. She was raped by two different men. Men she could not recognise. She got pregnant and shocked us all when she decided to have the baby. When we found out, we were her bedrock, even though our heart broke. We helped her cope, and we let her know she was still our ‘wonder woman’, that’s what we call her. So Susan before I continue, do you think it was her fault she was raped?”
“No. Why would anyone think it was her fault?” Susan replied vehemently
“Well she was asked to study in school and not join the choir. Also she knows better than going out that late at night.”
“We can’t blame her for that. She had to do what she loved, besides how could she have know what would befall her?”
“So why do you think you were at fault? Did you go out with this Tunde guy because you hoped to be raped?”
“So what makes it your fault?”
“Before you answer, remember what you said about my sister.”
Susan swallowed her words.
“Why are you so eager to be gracious to someone you don’t even know, but refuse the grace yourself?”
Susan had no answer.
“Another question. Don’t you think my sister is dirty, I mean two different men raped her. Maybe she should have shouted loud and long enough if she really wanted to be free.”
Susan knew where he was going this time. She gave a shameful smile. “We both know she is not dirty.”
“Then why do you consider yourself dirty?”
“I don’t know…”
“I do,” Chinedu said, interrupting her. “The first reason is self-pity. You pity yourself. That is a very dangerous place to be. You have refused to look at the truth, instead you allow your negative feelings to rule. You were a victim, but you must start seeing yourself as a survivor, or you will never move past that piece of your past.”
“I want to but I can’t.”
“You can,” Chinedu disagreed. “Everything is possible. You just need the right amount of strength. God is available, and you need to push yourself. When the panic attacks come, talk yourself out of it. I literally heard my sister giving herself pep talks when she had to meet men for dates. When she met her husband it was worse. She knew she was falling in love with him, and so he might be the one she would end up with. She knew she might hurt him, but she was determined to live as normal a life as possible, and not hinder her own self from progress. Today, she has two son’s for him. Her daughter from the rape, Chimamaka, is mow seventeen, and she just got admission into the university.”
“Yes wow. I must tell you though, it is not easy, but it is possible. The most important thing is for you to stick with your source of power, which to my sister is Jesus. She is a staunch follower. Nothing cones between her and Him. The second is the willingness to keep trying no matter how hard.”
“So how do I start?” Susan asked feeling suddenly motivated.
“I have not finished the story.”
“Oh. Okay. Contunu.” Susan said with a laugh.
“When she got raped, she came back home and told my parents. Little by little we the younger ones understood what happened. She faced it. We fought with her, so she knew she was not fighting alone. The love we showed her made her focus on getting through school with the pregnancy. We were her backbone, she knew we got her back. You are yet to tell your parents. I think they should know. Your fear of being blamed by them has made you hold on to the blame you gave yourself. Telling them is a necessary step in overcoming this.”
Susan gave a nervous humourless chuckle. “I hope you are not suggesting I tell my parents, because I can’t do that.”
“You should, you can, and you will. You need the closure. Trust me.”
* * *
“Are you ready?” Tunji asked, drawing Susan’s gaze away from her parents house. She made a note to herself to call a painter and a carpenter. The house looked like it was in dire need of new paint, as the old paint cannot be recognised. It looked like a mixture of red, brown and orange, the different shades of red dust which settled on the wall with each passing vehicle.
The roof looked like something that would leak when the rains start. She knew her parents were used to managing. They always have something better to do with money.
The important thing was once her education. They sacrificed a lot for her, which was why she was sorry that she had to break their hearts with the news.
If she had not called them and told them of their coming, she would have run back home.
They have been parked for about five minutes, and she knew it would not get easier with each passing second, it is now or… Now.
“I’m ready,” she said, replying Tunji’s question.
Her parents loved had Tunji on sight. She hoped his presence would calm them down.
As they walked to the door, Tunji took her hand in his and squeezed, she squeezed back.
Her mother opened the door and gave her such a warm hug, Susan felt close to tears.
After the greetings, she stopped her father from bringing out one of his special wines, and her mother from serving them what she specially prepared for them.
She looked at her hands which held one of Tunji’s as she told them what happened about seven years ago. She didn’t want to see the shame, anger or hurt in their eyes. She was ready for their slightest rejection. She would understand.
What she was not ready for was the speed with which both her parents rushed and enveloped her in a hug.
Her mother kept repeating: “You didn’t have to bear this alone. You should have told us. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”
Susan let her tears flow down freely. She had been unnecessarily ashamed.
She was loved.
[nextpage title=”episode 10 the last”]
“Do you, Rose Amaka, take Chinedu Stanley to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health…,”
Rose wished the Pastor would hurry up through the vows, she can’t wait to be able to refer to herself as Chinedu’s wife. She smiled up at Chinedu, her heart, missing a beat when he smiled back.
“…for richer or poorer, forsaking all others, from this time forward till death do you part?”
“Do you, Chinedu Stanley, take Rose Amaka to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, forsaking all others, from this time forward till death do you part?”
“I do,” Chinedu replied.
Before the Pastor could pronounce them man and wife, and ask them to kiss, the doorbell rang.
Wait. A doorbell? In the church? What was going on?
Rose woke up to her phone ringing.
“I should have known it was a dream,” she muttered. She didn’t know if she should be happy or sad at the interrupted dream.
She wondered who could be calling at … She looked at the wall clock, it was seven minutes past ten o’clock P.M., barely an hour since she went to bed.
Reluctantly picking up her phone from her bedside drawer, she saw that it was Susan.
She quickly answered, a bit worried. Since Susan told her parents about the rape incident, and saw that they didn’t blame her, she seemed determined to overcome whatever attack the incident started, and she began making good progress, but Rose knew from experience that sometimes, a slip happens, and she hoped that was not the reason Susan called.
“Hello,” she said into the receiver as she sat up. “Susan are you okay?”
“Yes, yes,” Susan said, sounding excited and worried. “I just…”
“Just what? Susan talk to me”
“I don’t know. I have been showing signs to Tunji that I want us to try making love, but he seems oblivious to my moves. It’s either that, or he is avoiding me. I am beginning to feel ashamed.”
“No, no don’t be,” Rose said getting out of bed, relief flooding her body. “He is your husband. His body is yours, and yours his.”
“I know, but since I denied him in the past, maybe he has changed his mind?”
Rose detected slight fear in Susan’s voice.
“Susan, remember what we said about the past? It is in the past. Where is he now?” she asked. Maybe a direct approach is best.
“He is in the bathroom. He has been there for about ten minutes. I think he is hoping I would be in bed by the time he comes out.”
“Okay let’s not conclude and get ahead of ourselves,” Rose said as she walked to her fridge and took out the juice. She always got hungry when dealing with Susan’s case outside the office. “What you define as signs may look normal to him. Besides you and I know how you withdrew when he made moves before. Maybe he does not want to hurt you?”
“Hurt me?” Susan asked, sounding hysterical. “He has been hugging me tightly everyday as if he wanted more, and now I want more and he is afraid of hurting me? You said my moves may not be clear enough? Well I have done things like rubbing his arm, and other things I am ashamed to tell you, and he quickly leaves the place. Maybe I should just go to bed, since he does not want me.”
The hurt in Susan’s voice almost made Rose happy. Her friend was truly ready to get intimate with her husband.
Forcing herself to focus on Susan she said the first thing that came to her mind.
“Get stark naked and wait for him right in front of the bathroom door. He can’t stay in there forever. Get a chair if need be, but you will wait for him until he comes out then hug him without letting him go. Let’s see how he will ignore that.”
“Rose! What if he comes out naked?”
“Perfect then. I think he will carry on from there. But be sure you are ready. Don’t start what you can’t finish Susan.”
“I am ready.”
“Good. So I expect your call in the morning.”
“Okay. Wish me luck.”
“You won’t need it. You are becoming Tunji’s wife in the right sense tonight.”
“I know!” Susan said, excitedly. “One last question though. How did you know about this move, and when will you make your own move towards Chinedu?”
“Susan, go and seduce your husband and leave me alone,” Rose said quickly and ended the call before Susan could go further in her disturbing question.
Saying a silent prayer that the night goes well for Susan and Tunji, Rose finished her juice and walked back to the bedroom. She knew sleep was nowhere close.
She picked up the Sidney Sheldon novel she bought recently, ‘Bloodline’, and hoped it would take her mind off Chinedu.
Five minutes later, she gave up.
She decided to send Chinedu a text. She knew she was taking a stupid risk, but if she could ask Susan to take a risk, maybe she should also take one.
She quickly typed the text and sent it before she could stop herself.
To cushion whatever blow might come, she switched off her phone when it showed delivered.
She would get her answer in the morning.
Chinedu sang R. Kelly’s ‘Storm Is Over’ along with his stereo, as he worked. He knowingly brought back some work home to keep his mind busy.
Getting to sleep had become a hard thing to do recently.
His time with Rose was coming to an end since Susan was getting better at handling her attacks. He was yet to try asking her out again. He was not sure he wanted to be rejected again.
His phone rang and he chided himself for thinking it might be Rose.
“Hello, Chinedu it’s me Tunji.”
“What’s up. Hope no problem?” He didn’t say the rest of his thoughts, but he knew Tunji understood.
It was few minutes to ten, quite late for a ‘normal’ call.
“I’m sorry. I know it’s late but I don’t know who else to call, and it is also your fault.”
“What is the matter Tunji?” Chinedu asked, his mind wandering to different things that could be his fault.
“She is all over me!” Tunji exclaimed. “I don’t want her to think I followed her to the counselling sessions because I want her to make love to me. I’m not sure how much longer I can avoid her. You must realise I am not used to this kind of move from her…”
“Hold on Tunji, you lost me at the first line,” Chinedu interrupted. “Who is all over you?”
“My wife na. Who else would I be with by this time?”
“Sorry sir. She is crying all over you?” Chinedu asked with a frown. Was there a problem? Does this mean he would get more time with Rose?
“Oh God, no. Where is your mind?! I think she wants me to sleep with her.”
“Oh!’ Chinedu said, disappointed. “And why is that a problem?”
“I don’t want to scare her again, and beside you said…”
“Where are you now?”
“In my house of course.”
“No, I mean where in your house are you? Is Susan by your side?”
“I ran into the bathroom, before I do something…”
“Tunji are you mad?”
“I’m serious and you…”
“Answer my question,” Chinedu interrupted impatiently. “Are you mad?”
“If you know what is good for you, you better go to your wife now,” Chinedu said, almost angry. “Do you know how many men are hoping that their wives would make the move? Your wife who has never been with a man the normal way is making a move and you left her to come and be telling me what I said. Forget whatever it is I said and go love your wife.”
“What if she withdraws again? Tunji asked, sounding both worried and afraid, Chinedu calmed down.
“She won’t. She is ready. Just let her set the pace, and don’t rush her. When she doesn’t know what to do, calmly show her. Generally, be patient with her even if it kills you.”
“Okay, so I should…”
“Tunji, go and make love to your wife. Leave me alone.” Chinedu said and ended the call.
“Madman, he muttered as he turned back to his computer. “You have been waiting for her for months, and now you are almost running away. If you like…”
A message alert from his phone interrupted his muttering. Ready to ignore him if it was Tunji again, he was shocked when he saw it was from Rose. He almost shouted for joy when he saw the contents.
Can I take you out tomorrow? Like on a date? At Serene Hotels by seven P.M.
Forgetting that he had work to do, he tried calling her. It was switched off.
Without checking his schedule, he replied.
Yes! Definitely! See you tomorrow.
He smiled through the rest of the night. Things were beginning to look up.
* * *
The sound of the door opening had Susan looking up from her hands which she had clasped on he naked thighs.
She saw the surprised look in Tunji’s eyes on seeing her naked.
She was happy he had a towel tied round his waist. She might have run away.
Getting bolder, she fought the urge to cover herself and stood up, walking slowly to where he stood transfixed.
Standing on her toes, she put her hand around his neck and kissed him.
He didn’t move away, but neither did he respond or hold her as she hoped. The only sign that he was affected by her was his erratic pulse which she could see closely.
She didn’t know what else to do, even though she felt the kisses all the way to her toes.
“Can you please hold me and at least kiss me back like my husband should?” she demanded.
She smiled at the speed with which he obeyed.
The moment her husband’s arms went around her, Susan knew she was home.
She looked forward to the rest of the night, in deed she looked forward to the rest of their life together.
For the first time, she could she the future clearly. She turned her mind back to seducing her husband.