A SMALL WORLD – SEASON ONE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
This time last year, I had just delivered my baby girl, and was clueless to the fact that my darling husband had cheated on me. That Valentine’s Day hadn’t been ceremonious, because Abigail wasn’t even up to two weeks old then. My husband got me chocolates and flowers, and we ordered Chinese take out. We didn’t exchange gifts last year. Ifeanyi rather suggested that we offer the gift of praise to God, who had brought us together, and blessed us with three beautiful, healthy children.
I was actually not in the mood to celebrate motherhood. I wasn’t grateful for my blessings. I was overly aware of my new responsibilities to Abigail, and our family, which felt more like added burdens than blessings. I had hoped for a different kind of Valentine’s Day, that was just about me and my husband. He had become my everything, and I didn’t realise how that was stealing my joy of life.
Ifeanyi left the following day, and I found out that he had been unfaithful about a month later, when I also returned home. The pain was unbelievable, and incomparable. I thought it was the end of us…the end of me. But thankfully, it wasn’t. God taught me a lot about His love and His grace through that ordeal, and He gave me a new appreciation for my blessings, my children and my husband.
Though I wish it had never happened, I am happy for where we are now. I am happy that we have grown, and we have been purified through testing and trials. So this Valentine’s Day, I am thanking God for life, and love and family…
Mary paused in her writing. It wasn’t flowing right, she thought. She was working on a post to publish on her blog on Valentine’s Day, and drawing lessons from her life, as usual. She marveled at how her perspective in life had changed in one year. She had grown so much, that even her blog had become something else.
She was now working on her first book. She never knew she would become a writer. It had been a tool of healing, and now it was an avenue by which she was able to bless others going through so many different challenges in life.
Her book was titled: “Regaining Control and Surrendering Control”. In it, she talked about how she had regained control over her self and her mind, by saying no to sin and evil, and consciously choosing to do right and not be a victim of circumstance. Then she talked about how she had learned to surrender control to God, by denying herself and her will, and learning to trust and obey in all things. The book aptly summarised her experiences in life and the lessons she had been learning from God. She hoped it would help other victims of abuse take charge over their lives, and surrender it back to God.
Mary looked at her three children playing, hoping for more inspiration on what to write in her Valentine’s Day post. Uche and Chukwudi were working on building blocks, and Abigail was having fun carrying their toys out of the toy box, and throwing them back in. At times, she would pick a block and give it to her brothers, as if she knew they needed them. They seemed so coordinated, and it was nice to see them playing constructively and peacefully together. At times like this, she was a proud mom. Mary smiled to herself.
Abigail had turned one year old just twelve days ago. They had had a small barbecue, with close friends and family, to celebrate. The twins would be three years in April, and this year, they intended on having a proper birthday party for them, and inviting their friends from kindergarten too. She hoped Chidinma wouldn’t be too busy with setting up her new Event Management business to assist, as she usually did.
A call came through on her phone. It was Ijeoma. She decided to take a break from writing to chat with her friend.
“Hey, Ijay… What’s up?”
Ijeoma had found herself alone in bed, when she woke up that Saturday morning. She assumed Chuka had gone for his usual morning jog, even though she didn’t think that he would go that day, considering what had happened yesterday. When he didn’t come back for breakfast, she was worried. Was he still avoiding talking to her about it?
She had been thinking about what he said last night about her having changed. Had she really? How?
She knew she wasn’t as passionate in the Faith as she had initially been. She figured that was normal. As life got on, things cooled down. And she had been so used to doing without God in her life, that she didn’t even realise when she had slipped into her old patterns. Was that what he meant?
It wasn’t as though he was a stellar model of holiness. He was after all the leader of their home, and… Ijeoma knew she was making excuses. Whatever her husband’s faults, her own spiritual development, or lack of, was her responsibility and failure.
She admired her friend, Mary. Mary had gone through hell, and came out smiling. Her marriage was an inspiration. How did she do it? When Mary talked about God, He felt more real and personal. Ijeoma often felt like she didn’t know Him at all…
But was that the problem in her marriage? Was Chuka really without fault in the matter? She knew he was trying to be a man and provide for them. She always thought they were partners, and their marriage was a joining of their assets. So why was it a big deal for him to enjoy the benefits of her family? Her parents had no one else to splurge on, and they didn’t mind… Why was Chuka so reluctant to receive their support?
Ijeoma busied herself with her children and prepared a scrumptious meal, anticipating that Chuka would be home by lunch time. However, he also missed lunch. She tried his two lines, and they just rang. She was upset, and worried, but distracted herself with other things.
When Chuka hadn’t returned home by 4pm, and hadn’t returned her calls, Ijeoma realised that there was really a problem in her marriage. She remembered what he had said about supporting his decision, standing by him and trusting him. She was still struggling with accepting that.
It made sense, especially when she considered her marriage vows to honour, obey and follow him wherever he went. But she always thought that it was within reason!!! If he was acting foolishly, would she also follow him? That’s what it means to trust…
The voice wasn’t her own. Ijeoma realised that God had connected with her. She wanted more of His wisdom. So she prayed.
“Lord, please forgive me for forsaking our relationship, and doing my own thing. My marriage has lost its sweetness, and I don’t know what to do. I feel angry a lot of the time… I feel disappointed, even though I know that I have much to be thankful for. Chuka has been such a good husband to me, even marrying me, when I was already a mother to his best friend’s child.
“We started with you, Lord, and we need You to take control of our marriage again. Please, help us to speak to each other with love and understanding… Please teach us how to honour each other, and even when times are hard, to respect and trust each other. Please, Lord! We need Your help! In Jesus name I pray, amen.”
Ijeoma sat for a while, humbled, but still uncertain about how to handle Chuka’s loss of a job. It seemed they had had an unspoken agreement that she’d stay home and look after their children and home, while he would fend for them. Maybe it was time she found something profitable doing. Would he feel offended that she was seeking to contribute financially? Or was that the sort of support he wanted from her?
Ijeoma needed someone to talk to, and she didn’t know a better person than her friend, Mary. She wasn’t sure if she was putting herself and her marriage out there by confiding in someone other than her husband. She’d heard it said often not to discuss your marital problems with friends. But she knew Mary wasn’t just any friend. She was godly and would keep her confidence. She decided to call her.
Chuka had driven to the Ikoyi-Lekki bridge to jog with other joggers that morning. He normally jogged around his neighbourhood in Gbagada, but he liked to jog on the bridge once a month. Today, he wanted to clear his mind, so he thought a combination of driving and jogging would do him good.
He was right. The space cleared his head. The breeze soothed him, and the exercise distracted him. After an hour of jogging, he was too tired to drive back, so he decided he would stop off somewhere for a bite to eat before heading home.
As he strolled down the bridge to where he had parked his car, he met an old friend, Gbenga Oluseyi, from his University days. They were happy to reconnect. Gbenga invited him over his place for a mid-day barbecue. Chuka thought he may not be able to make it, since he had to go home and change. And he was also thinking about his pending discussion with Ijeoma.
“No worries, mehn. You can shower at mine! It’s been long… Let’s catch up.”
Food. Shower. Relaxation. No nagging wife. All pluses in his book.
Chuka couldn’t resist the offer, so he followed him to his home at Banana Island. It was conveniently close by. He needed the time out. He would call Ijay later to let her know he was okay. For now, she could stew.
Ifeanyi got home from a half-day at work, around 4:30pm. His children rushed him, and he picked them all up with much fanfare and giggles. He carried the lot of them up to his quarters, in search of his wife.
She beamed when she saw him. He had turned into a tree with many branches. He dropped the children on the bed, and went to kiss his wife.
“I missed you…” he said.
Her heavy heart flooded with love. “I missed you too. How was work?”
The children returned to climb on him, and Ifeanyi tickled them senseless. Mary picked up Abigail, and the boys continued to wrestle with their father.
“It was good! We got a new bank signed unto our platform today!” Ifeanyi said cheerfully.
It was a brilliant new innovation he was implementing. Mobile Banking with a difference. He had shared the idea with his father last year, and he was given charge over the department in his father’s Telecoms company. They were already nationwide, after just three months of operating. But he wanted to extend to West Africa, then Africa and, ultimately, the global market.
“That’s great!” Mary was thrilled for him. But her mind was weighed down by her discussion with Ijeoma. “By the way, have you seen Chuka today?”
“He hasn’t called you..?”
“No, dear. Is there a problem?”
“Ijay hasn’t been able to get a hold of him since he left home this morning. We just wanted to be sure that he was safe. Can you try him?”
Ifeanyi was already dialing Chuka’s number. It was switched off. He tried his other number and it just rang. He decided to try an old number he hadn’t called in a while. It rang. Someone picked on the fifth ring. It was a young woman.
“I want to speak with Chuka,” Ifeanyi shouted into the phone, as there was noise at the other end.
He went out to the balcony, because the children were being too noisy. The phone seemed to be passed, as he heard some chuffling sounds. Eventually, Chuka came on the line, his voice muffled and barely coherent.
“Are you high?” Ifeanyi asked, and Chuka giggled. “It’s the middle of the day! Where are you?”
“I don’t know… What address is this?” Chuka shouted into the phone. Ifeanyi retracted his ear.
“Please, pass the phone to someone who knows where you are…” The line went dead.
Ifeanyi returned to the room. Mary was looking at him expectantly. “Did you speak with him? Is he okay?”
Ifeanyi shook his head, bemused. “It sounded like he was at a party, so at least we know he’s alive. I’ll try him again, and try and get an address.”
He went to his wife and kissed her. The boys giggled. “Don’t worry, Babe. He’s a grown man. We’ll find him, and everything will be okay, alright?” They hugged, and Mary closed her eyes and said a silent, short prayer for Chuka and Ijeoma.
To be continued…
Photo credit: http://www.beyondblackwhite.com
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