Tuesday, 2 September 2014
I DID Episode 02
Theresa sighed as she ended the call. She had just finished speaking with her father. He was feeling a lot better than before and it gave her utmost pleasure that she could take good care of him now. Her father was her backbone, her box of wisdom, her anchor, her confidant...and she could tell him anything, except that her husband hit her a few times, and was now a very changed man.
It had taken a series of fights and lots of pleading to convince him into letting her marry Dehinde. He had said he didn't want any man treating her less than she ought to be treated just because she wasn't from a rich home. Theresa had vouched all she could for Dehinde. He was the sweetest and most humble man she had ever met. She didn't know how to tell him that things were heading south now.
Just as she ended the call; the only thing that had given her some pleasure that morning, she heard the door of the room open wide. It was her husband. He had come to get his clothes for the day. Dehinde for the past couple of months had moved out of their bedroom. He now slept in the other bedroom opposite theirs; the room where he had out of excitement said would be the nursery for their first child. It never became a nursery however.
Their marriage was thirty six months now...and there was still no Nursery. Instead, there was now a bed and a sofa and a shelf of books, with a flat screen TV hanging on the wall.
Sometimes, she wondered why she had agreed to have her first pregnancy terminated. She remembered the whole experience like it was yesterday. She had come home so happy to inform her husband about the good news. Dehinde had smiled and kissed her but then, he told her he didn't think it was the right time for them to have children. He wanted them to enjoy their marriage for a few more years together as a young couple, before kids came to interrupt the flow of things. Theresa had been shocked. She always saw having kids as a big blessing but her husband didn't think it was time to be blessed. He had flown abroad with her to have the abortion done in the hands of trusted doctors in a safer hospital. After then, they had spent two weeks together on vacation, as though the vacation was the gift for terminating the pregnancy.
He opened the door of their bedroom. He had nothing but a large towel around his waist. Theresa looked at her husband and despite how cold he was being to her, she still was attracted to him. She noticed his abs were more obvious than the last time she saw them and his muscles were well pronounced. She wished he would hold her and kiss her and show her love like he used to.
"Good morning, Babe." Theresa said, smiling.
Dehinde had his phone in his hand. He was scrolling through it.
"Erm...there's a function tonight at the Balorama restaurant. We are hosting the silver jubilee of the holding company. So I want you to get dressed and be ready for 8.30 PM. Make sure you look presentable. Family and business partners and friends will be there. I transferred some money to your account so you can buy a new dress custom made for you from a designer. And get your hair, nails and all that done." He said, not looking at her once.
"Oh great. Thank you." She smiled. She was pleased.
Going to Balorama again meant she would see her old colleagues and friends. Her closest friend, Jennifer had been one of the waitresses. She still worked there. They kept in touch some times. But she was more pleased that he was taking her out. It had been so long they went anywhere together. He usually went to everywhere with his P.A.
"Please wear something classy." He added. "And you could maybe read a thing or two about current affairs in case you might have to engage in an intellectual conversation."
She swallowed, trying not to say anything. But she couldn't.
"Dehinde please give me some credit. I'm not a dull woman." She said, trying not to cry.
"Just clean up." He said and walked out.
After she had taken a bath and had breakfast, she brushed her hair and braided it into a small pigtail. She loved her natural hair. She wished she could just style it and not have to fix weaves on it. But Dehinde wouldn't have that. She got her things together for the salon and then grabbed her iPad so she could keep herself occupied while the beauty salon staff did their thing. She would also stop by the boutique to get a new dress. She decided to get the dress first, and then head for the salon. She locked the doors of the bedrooms so the domestic staff wouldn't wander in. She stepped outside and then got into the SUV. The driver started the engine and drove out.
By 7.15 PM, she was ready. She looked at her reflection in the long mirror which hung on the wall of their bedroom.
"I think I look pretty." She smiled, admiring her self in the silver maxi dress with a high slit and mesh insert back. Her Funmi hair looked beautiful as the curls fell on her oval face. She had picked the dress at a boutique in Lekki. She didn't want to go to one of those designers who would charge high prices for a simple dress. She wanted to save some money so she wouldn't have to ask Dehinde and go through another round of ridicule when she needed money to get something done next time.
She took a picture of herself and then got her clutch then hurried down the stairs so she could get into the car in time. Dehinde had sent a text and asked her to come early enough so that they could walk into the restaurant together. He would wait for her before he went in so people would think they had come together.
As the driver approached the restaurant, her heart beat faster in anxiety. A host of different things clouded her mind. She wondered if the old manager still worked there. She knew the manager still had the impression that she was a slut and gold digger who had forced her self into Dehinde Roland's life. She wondered if truly, she would have to engage in intellectual conversation with some of the partners or their spouses. What if one of them brought up a topic about World news and conflicts, or sports, or even Nigerian politics. Well, she knew a little about Boko haram, Confab, and she knew about Ebola.
The driver parked the car and Dehinde's call came through. She wondered if he had seen them already. She saw him climb out of his Range rover. She took in a deep breath then got out of the car to join him.
"Hi dear." She smiled. She knew she looked beautiful and she hoped he would say something. Even the driver had told her she looked dashing.
"So, first things first. I want you to just smile or laugh when someone says something funny. You'll be sitting beside me so i'll give you signals or just cover up for you if something technical is said..."He started.
Theresa rolled her eyes.
"Can you just stop! Dehinde! Why do you do this?" She raised her voice.
He held her hands, looking around.
"Keep your voice down."
"I want you to apologize." She said.
"No time for jokes. Let's go inside." He said.
Their table was for eight people: Dehinde and Theresa; Jide Roland, Dehinde's cousin and the co-owner of The Balorama restaurant, and his wife; and two other couples who seemed like very important people. An A-list jazz band was performing on stage as the guests filed in and took their seats. Shortly after, Chief Roland, Dehinde's father, walked in with his wife, Madam Anne Roland in his arm. Theresa had to admit the man looked very dapper in his white tuxedo despite his protruding belly. Madam Roland was dressed in a bespoke burgundy dress with matching shoes and purse. The M.C announced his presence and then people started to troop around him to exchange pleasantries.
Dehinde's youngest sister read the opening speech and after every one applauded the recent Harvard graduate, a couple of board members and business partners as well as M.Ds of subsidiaries took turns in saying one or two things about the company and how successful it had become over the last twenty five years.
"Your father is indeed a great man, Dehinde. To think he started this company by himself in a rented shop at Mile 2. You know, I have had the opportunity of being advised by him a couple of times, and I ended up feeling I ought to have paid for the chat sessions we had. They seemed like inaugural lectures!" Mr. Okafor, one of the men at their table said.
His wife nodded in agreement, not saying a word, and Theresa instantly felt the woman was probably doing what she was told as well. But then, the thought was short-lived. Mrs Okafor opened her mouth and spoke.
"He encouraged me to pursue my doctorate degree in Economics when I felt very frustrated as a banker. Now I wouldn't trade being a Financial consultant for anything. I just got an offer to give a lecture at a London University next week." She said.
"I'm honoured to hear these things. Congratulations, Mrs Okafor. Besides, when you talk about my father, you should know the apple doesn't fall far from the apple tree." He laughed. The others laughed too.
"So how is the plan for Balorama in Ghana coming?" The other man asked Jide, Dehinde's cousin.
Jide sipped his wine and then talked about buying over an existing restaurant in Accra and also the plan to branch into South Africa where his wife would be heading that branch.
"Oh, great. Means you should be getting ready for probably the next one in Dubai." Mr. Okafor said, looking at Theresa. Theresa didn't know if the question was directed at her but it seemed like it. She didn't know what to say.
"Oh we aren't looking at Dubai for now." Dehinde said, laughing. "She's focusing on the plan for another branch at Ikoyi. I don't want to take the Madam too far from home. She's going to be managing that branch. She's very good at management. That's her field of expertise." He said looking at her and planting a kiss on her cheek.
Theresa didn't understand what he was talking about. They had never discussed anything about a branch in Ikoyi.
"That's nice. Where did you get your degree?" Mrs. Okafor asked Theresa.
The M.C called Dehinde's name. It was time for his speech. Theresa saw the look in her husband's eyes as he stood up. She knew he feared that she would embarrass him.
After he left, Theresa heaved a sigh of relief. The conversation would probably be focused on someone or something else now.
"So, Theresa, I'm listening..." Mrs Okafor said again.
"Um..." Theresa stared eyes wide at the woman.
Jide's wife cut into the conversation.
"The rate of the spread of this ebola virus is crazy. I have sanitized my hands practically about twenty times today. And I don't have OCD." She laughed.
Every one laughed too then they started to talk about the disease. Theresa noticed it was just her who hadn't said anything.
"I think the disease has put the consciousness of being clean in every body's subconscious at least." Theresa said.
"I absolutely agree with you, Theresa." Mr. Okafor said.
In a little bit, Dehinde was back.
"Great speech love." Theresa smiled and kissed his cheek. He smiled.
"I was telling someone the other day about how auditors sometimes wreck a business instead of guarding against wreckage in the first place. I mean, when you take a look at the financials of a company and..." The other man started.
Dehinde was enjoying the conversation. He was contributing with utmost keen interest.
The servers had started going round to take orders.
"Jennifer!" Theresa said, recognizing her close friend who was one of the servers slash waitresses. Jennifer came to their table and was about hugging Theresa when she saw Dehinde and Jide; the main Balorama bosses.
Dehinde looked at the Jennifer and then looked at Theresa. Jennifer smiled, immediately took the orders and left hurriedly, trying not to get into any trouble.
"Someone you know?" Mrs Okafor asked.
Theresa smiled, nodding but Dehinde opened his mouth to speak.
"Please excuse us." He said. "Honey, please come with me." He held her hand, pulling her.
They went outside the restaurant and Dehinde pulled her to a corner.
"Are you out of your mind! What did I tell you about messing up?" He tried not to raise his voice.
"Dehinde, I just want to leave. I feel...uncomfortable. I'm not enjoying the discussions about Israel and Gaza and Ukraine and Crimea and all that..."
"It's because you are not smart. Gosh...how did I find myself here!" He muttered under his breath.
Theresa heard him. She tried not to let her tears fall.
"What do you mean, Dehinde?" She said.
He shook his head.
"I'll tell them you're sick. You have to go home." He said.
"Then you have to behave!" He said, dragging her back in.
As they went in, he smiled at the others. Theresa smiled too as she took her seat and sipped her glass of wine. What she actually wanted to do was to gulp it.
A top Nigerian musician came on stage to perform. Her back up dancers were dressed in silver dresses. Then before he could say anything, Mrs. Okafor opened her mouth.
"Wow, you have the same dress as her back up dancers. Who makes your dresses?" The woman said.
Theresa didn't say a word. Dehinde's look of disappointment shut up her voice box. She already knew what he was going to say...that she didn't get a bespoke dress like he ordered.
"Please say something, Dehinde." Theresa said finally. He had been so cold and silent and it pierced her heart deeply. She was scared that she had disappointed him. He hated that she was wearing the same dress as the singer's back-up dancers.
He had forced her to leave immediately and had gone with the original excuse that she was sick and had to leave.
When he got home, she hadn't changed her outfit. She just sat in the living room, waiting for him. He sat in the living room too, looking at her but not saying a word.
"You want me to say something?" He finally spoke, breaking the loud silence.
"Yes!" Theresa said, with eagerness in her eyes.
"Okay. I want a divorce." He replied, his eyes not blinking.