“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
With the dawning of the morning, came the realisation that I was pregnant. I know. Life’s a bitch, isn’t it? And of course, we both knew that the baby wasn’t his, seeing as we hadn’t had sex in over four months! What a way to complicate things. And Ope wonders why I don’t believe in God?
I mean, if God really wanted to help me, to help us, why would He let me get pregnant for another man? How is that going to help anything? It’s not like we didn’t use protection. I’ve been having sex for 20 years and I’ve never gotten pregnant, and then when I’m thinking about really working things out with my husband, gbam, I’m pregnant for another man. If this is God being funny, I’m not laughing!
I should have known something was up though, because my boobs have been tender for some days now, but I just thought it was my period coming. Then I woke up feeling nauseated. Ope found me throwing up in the bathroom at 8am this morning. At first he came to me to ask if I was okay…maybe I had eaten something bad yesterday. But I knew it wasn’t anything so innocent.
“I think I’m pregnant,” I told him, wiping my mouth with a towel.
He stepped back from me so suddenly, like I just waved a butcher’s knife in his face. The expression on his face was of pure pain and dread. I’m sure there was a part of him that hoped I was mistaken, but the very mention of pregnancy, and possibility that I could be pregnant for another man, was a stark realisation of the great evil I had done in giving myself to someone else. Whether or not I was actually pregnant, our relationship was in a precarious condition, by the risks I took in my sexual escapades. If I could be pregnant, then I could also be infected. I was a danger to him, and we both knew it.
I took a home pregnancy test, and the two blue lines confirmed my suspicions. I showed him the stick without remorse. It was too late to act like I cared or that it made a difference. Hopefully now, he would let me go, I thought.
I wasn’t sure what to expect after revealing to him that I was carrying another man’s baby, but his reaction broke me more. He crumbled to the floor and wailed in front of me. Neither of us said anything, he just cried and cried, and I didn’t have words nor the inclination to console him.
I left him in the corridor and went to our bedroom. I started to pack again, thinking I would be moving back in with Tony. Then it dawned on me that perhaps Tony wouldn’t want the baby either. I’m quite certain he hadn’t planned to take on Daddy duties, when he invited me to live with him. What if he wanted me to abort the baby?
I didn’t really know how I felt about that, but I didn’t want to think about abortion now… If I had the baby, at least Ope will know that our marriage is over and give up. But if I abort the baby, he would still be carrying hope for us. So for now, I am keeping the baby. When I get to Tony’s place, we will figure it out.
“Where are you going?” Ope asked, looking at me as I packed a new bag.
“I’m leaving. I’m going to stay with my Baby Daddy,” I told him, coldly.
“I’m the baby’s Father. You are my wife,” he replied.
I looked at him as if he had finally lost his mind. “Are you out of your mind? This baby is not yours, and he will not be torn between two fathers. I’m leaving you, Ope. I haven’t been your wife for many months now. I think it’s time you face the truth.”
“Why are you determined to ruin your life? Do you really think that man loves you? Or that he will give a damn about that baby? You are just running, and you know it!”
“Yes, I’m running! I’m done! I don’t love you anymore, and I am willing to have this baby just to spite you! There, I said it.” I didn’t know what had come over me, but it sort of felt like I was at the gates of the prison about to taste freedom, and he was still putting up more barriers preventing me from leaving. I would have said anything to break down his walls and flee from the stronghold of our marriage.
“You don’t mean that, Promise. You don’t mean it. You’re just afraid.”
“Stop telling me what I mean or that I’m afraid. You don’t even know the half of it. You think you love me, but you don’t even know who I am or what I am capable of! You live in a fairy tale world, with happily ever afters and angels and all… If you could really see me…the real me, you would run!”
“I’ve told you, I’m not going anywhere. And neither are you.”
“We’ll see about that!” I retorted, exasperated. What sort of hell was this anyway? Since when did I become a prisoner in my own home?
Ope didn’t go to work as I had expected. It was as though he was standing guard, to prevent me from leaving. Even with everything that had been said, he still managed to prepare breakfast for both of us. I pushed my plate away, complaining that I didn’t like the smell of the eggs. But I was lying. I was starving. I just didn’t want to give him any satisfaction.
“What do you want to eat?” he asked me.
Great! A chance to place a ridiculous order that he would have to go to the shops to buy. That should give me some time to leave. I told him I fancied prawn and mushroom sauce with sweet potatoes, knowing we were out of prawn, mushrooms and sweet potatoes.
“No problem,” Ope said. He pulled out his phone and called his PA to get me my breakfast. Aaarrgh! So he thought he was smart.
“I need to go to the hospital for a check up,” I told him.
“We will go together later, when you’ve had your breakfast and bath.”
Thirty minutes later, I had my special order, and ate it with slow pleasure, thinking about what my next move would be. It seemed the only way I was going to get out of there was to inflict a fatal wound, that he would not be able to recover from. He needed to know who he was dealing with, and I was happy thinking of how I would break his world and shock him to reality.
Was I going mad? I don’t know, but I was getting much buzz from the conniving thoughts going through my mind. When he was well and truly broken, I would be free to walk away.
At the hospital, while doing my vitals, Ope was sat in the waiting area. The actress in me came out.
“Please help…” I muttered under my breathe.
The nurse, Gbemi, looked at me curiously. “Are you okay?”
“My…my husband. Please help.” I looked about, as if I was afraid he would hear me.
She came closer. “What did your husband do?”
“I’m scared. Oh God,” I said dramatically. By now, I’m sure she too was terrified of my husband. “I can’t tell you. If I could speak with the…police.”
“It’s okay. You’ll be safe,” she said. She looked over at my husband, and then back at me.
After she was done, I went back to sit with Ope, and cowered beside him like a frightened woman. As I hoped, Gbemi alerted the Doctor that there was something curious between me and my husband, and that I was frightened of him.
At the Doctor’s office, he stressed the importance of gentle care and consideration for my condition, as a pregnant woman. Ope, oblivious to the Doctor’s implications, nodded and promised that I would receive the best care. He asked for the results of my blood test and, to both our relief, I was clean.
When we exited the Doctor’s office, the Police were in the waiting room. I was honestly surprised that I had been able to elicit such a response. Especially in Nigeria, when Police are the least dependable social service; even worse than electrical supply!
“Excuse us, Mr Olamisan. Can we have a word?” the lady cop asked.
Ope looked at me, surprised. “What is this about?”
“This will not be long, Sir. We just need to verify the safety of your home for this woman and her child. Please come with us.”
“Promise, what are they talking about?” Ope reached for my hand, looking at me hurt and confused.
I stood frozen, with my head down, pretending that I was afraid to look at him.
“Sir, please just come with us now,” the male cop said.
“No, I am not going anywhere with you, until I know the grounds for this embarrassment.”
“Madam, you can tell him. He can’t hurt you here,” said the lady cop.
Oops! I actually hadn’t thought this one through. What will I say now? That my husband loves me enough to want to take care of my illegitimate child? Should I confess that I had been pretending, so I could get away from him?
“I think there’s been a mistake,” I said at last. “I was a bit emotional with the nurse this morning, because my husband and I had an argument. I’m sorry for the scare. We are fine.”
“Are you sure, ma’am?” the lady cop asked, looking at me suspiciously.
I nodded. “Yes, I am. Thanks for checking.” I could feel Ope’s stare, and I didn’t dare to look at him.
“Ok, ma’am. But if you want to report anything, don’t hesitate to come to the local station,” said the male cop.
“Thank you. If there is a problem, I will remember to,” I said, and watched as they turned around and left. Gbemi was looking at me with what looked like both unbelief and concern. She probably thought I was covering up for my husband.
Even though the alert I created didn’t result in my great escape, it did create some suspicion about my husband, and that was always leverage for later. If I was bolder to charge him of any crime against me or my baby. So, it wasn’t a total failure.
Ope drove me home in silence. When we got home, he looked at me and said, “I didn’t know you hated me that much. Have I done anything to deserve your hatred, except honour our vows and love you unconditionally? Why won’t you desist from trying to leave me? I never knew you could stoop so low.”
I didn’t have anything to say. I wasn’t exactly proud of myself. I was actually beginning to scare myself…the lengths I would go to break free. Just as he was discovering who I really was, I too was discovering the depths of my wickedness.
In the early afternoon, Ope decided to go to work after all. I think he finally realised that he couldn’t be with me 24/7, and he would just have to trust that I would stay of my own volition. I had other plans.
I wanted to make sure that when I left this time, he wouldn’t come after me. I had to plan my betrayal well, a brutal blow from which he will never recover. When he returned home tonight, I would be ready, and he would see the real me. He will see Promise for who she really is – no angel at all. And he would run. That I was sure.
I picked up my phone and dialed an old number I hadn’t dialed in a while. “Andrew, yeah, I need you.”
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