When David would still not respond, Nike left the room for the kitchen to see what she could prepare for him. Maybe after a meal of semovita and egusi soup, he would finally open up for a talk just as they always did. One of the blessings of her marriage was the flow of communication between them no matter how much they disagreed on an issue.
I know the way to a man’s heart, she smiled.
She would prepare his favourite meal and find a way to draw him out of his shell. She opened the freezer and brought out a bowl of meat sauce. Thankfully, she had some dry fish and ponmo left. She closed the freezer making a mental note of the things she needed to get at the market. Quickly she set to work, her hands working on getting the dirt out of the ponmo.
Did David change his mind? Had he realized his mistake and reconsidered staying back in Lagos? But he didn’t look happy and that bothered her slightly. When the eguisi was ready, she got set to prepare the semovita. Smiling at a job well done, she laid out the food on a tray and took it to the dining room.
David was coming out of the bathroom when Nike entered the room.
‘Your food is ready. I made semovita and eguisi.’
Nike was getting pissed. She stood in front of him.
‘Sweetheart, what is the matter? Don’t give me the silent treatment or I’ll have to go ask the Senior Pastor.’
At the mention of the Senior Pastor, he raised his jaw but avoided her eyes. ‘I’m back home Nike. Isn’t that what you wanted?’
Nike. Not dear or sweetheart. Just Nike.
‘The Senior Pastor asked me to return home. He said my ministry will not be fulfilled if I don’t get the support of my wife. So here I am, to attend to you madam.’
Nike didn’t know what to say. She sat on the bed and rested her hands on the pillow. ‘I didn’t say I wasn’t going to support you. I just need time to figure things out. Maybe I’ll speak to the Pastor so you can get back to Ipetumodu.’
‘I don’t see how that is necessary. It’s obvious you don’t want to go. Someone else is handling the work there. Pursue your career and lick your salary for all I care.’
Nike tried to stay calm. ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you. I had thought of taking two weeks out of my leave to come see you.’
‘Can’t you even learn from your friend Yemisi. The moment her husband told her about the mission work, she keyed into it immediately. What profit is stubbornness going to bring you. Marriage is about sacrifice.’
Nike flared up. ‘You know what? This conversation is over. I am not going to sit here and listen to you compare me with my friend.’
She stood up and left for the guest room. She tried to concentrate on a file she had brought home from work but couldn’t. There was the mingled feelings of anger and despair. Why would her husband compare her with Yemisi? If he wanted them to go their separate ways, so be it.
She returned to her room to get her laptop and a bedsheet. Right now, what she needed was to get out of her sour mood. Anything that would make her laugh was welcomed. She settled for ‘Pretty little Dummies’ and grabbed a bottle of cashew nuts from the table.
When she was done watching about 10 episodes, she stood up to see if her husband had eaten the meal she prepared. He hadn’t touched it. Annoyed, she took the tray back to the kitchen and emptied the content into the waste bin. She returned to the guest room to continue with the movie but enraged thoughts jarred her mind and finally she shut down the system and lay back on the bed.
For the next three months, Apart from ‘good morning’ or ‘welcome’ which she considered perfunctory, David went in and out of the house like she didn’t exist. If anyone had told her that her husband could give her such cold treatment, she would have sworn with her life that he couldn’t. Now that he had no job, the Senior Pastor had given him a place at the church office and from time to time, he was assigned bible studies at the church and got involved with outreaches within the city.
David returned home long after Nike had gone to bed. He never tasted her food. She stopped preparing his meals after weeks of loading the freezer with different meals she prepared for him. When she asked how his day went, he answered, ‘fine’ without looking at her.
After the bible study one evening, Nike returned home fuming. Her husband had handled the bible study that evening and she had been so irritated listening to him teach.
‘I can’t believe this. You mean, you could boldly stand before God’s people and preach a message on bitterness when for three months you have been holding a grudge against me? How can a blind man talk about the beauty of sight? Why are you deceiving God’s people.’
‘I am not deceiving anyone and I am not bitter against you. I just want to be on my own. Is that too much to ask? Leave me alone!’
‘Why did you marry me if you wanted to be alone. The evening you called me to Ikeja shopping mall, asking for my hand in marriage, it never occurred to you that you wanted to be alone. I am sick of your repulsive attitude. Do you want a divorce or what?’
David played with the remote, scrolling through the channels. ‘Who is talking about divorce here? Just let me serve God on my own. That’s all I am saying.’
‘You are pushing me David. It was because of you that Tony-.’ she paused. ‘Thank God it was just a kiss.’
David raised his head sharply. Nike had gotten his attention and for some reasons she was glad about it. In three months, he had not looked her in the face and she could kill to keep that glance.
She sat beside him and caressed his fingers. ‘David please. Let’s figure this out. You’ve not touched me in three months. You’ve not said anything nice to me. You’ve not tasted my meals.’
David looked away and stared at the TV. He turned it off and stared blankly, saying nothing.
‘If this is about the kiss, I’m sorry. It only happened one time and I was vulnerable then. But please David, let’s go back to the way we used to be. Please.’
He gave her a quick glance, pulled her hand away from his and walked away. Nike reclined against the sofa and wept. She knew by divulging that information, she had only complicated the relationship with her husband.
She picked up her phone and called the wife of the Senior Pastor. Mummy Adesina didn’t pick up but she called back when Nike was settled in the guest room with a pack of potato chips she had bought from work.
‘Nike bawoni, I missed your call.’
Nike’s voice was shaky as she spoke. ‘Mummy I am tired. My husband has not spoken to me in months.’
‘Yes ma. Since he returned from Ipetumodu, he has stopped talking to me. I explained to him that the news took me by surprise and I couldn’t just leave my job without having sometime to think things through.’
‘This is serious. Daddy is here. Talk to him.’ There were low whispers in the background and then the Senior Pastor’s voice came on the phone.
‘Nike, what’s the matter?’
Nike explained all that had happened including her husband’s resentments and the silent treatment she was receiving. Her voice shook as she spoke to him. The Pastor didn’t say anything for some seconds. ‘I’ll talk to him. Relax, everything will be fine.’
The following evening, David returned home early and sat in the living room waiting for his wife. Nike had barely entered when he lashed out at her.
‘You just want to ruin my ministry right? How could take our marital problems out of this house. You want to destroy my reputation before the Pastor abi? You want him to think I cannot take care of my own home? What exactly do you want from me Nike. I gave you the room to do whatever you wanted. Why won’t you just let me live my life? Remember the night we got to the hotel after our wedding, you looked me in the eyes and said you would support me in any way possible. How easy it was to say those words. Now that you have come face to face with reality, your words have dried up. If there is any issue we need to deal with, please let it stay here. I won’t be surprised if you have also tell your friends.’
Nike was too stunned to respond. Was this the sweet gentleman she married? She walked into the bedroom, picked a few things and left the house.
Lord, I can’t take this anymore, she muttered as she drove out of the compound.For the first time in four years she regretted marrying David.
She had the spare key to the rented apartment she had gotten for her mother somewhere in Ayobo. Nike’s younger sister had put to birth and her mother had gone to help out. The empty flat was what she needed to sit alone and think of the next step to take.
She remembered when she had first met David in the library, back on campus. She had stayed back at the end of the session to complete her final year project. That afternoon, She hissed as she flipped through the pages of her project where her supervisor had drawn lines on almost all the pages and at the last page, he had said, ‘Rubbish! Start again.’
‘Are you okay?’ David had asked. It was the first time she noticed someone sitting beside her. She bowed her head fighting the tears already welling up in her eyes. Why would her supervisor do this to her? Two months ago, in his office, he had asked her to wait behind after the others in her group left the office. He had then gotten up from his chair, perched his small frame on the edge of the table and stared at her.
‘You are beautiful and smart and I like that. I’d like a feel of your beautiful body.’
‘Excuse me?’ Nike muttered under her breath.
She wanted to march straight to him and give him a hot slap on his face. Instead she ran her eyes disgustedly over his compact body that had two bulging eyes and a bald head. He grinned and she could see that his teeth were a dark shade of brown.
‘I’m a Christian.’
He nodded. ‘I noticed. But that doesn’t stop me from getting what I want.’ He laughed sarcastically. ‘It’s sweeter with SU like you. Now I’ll give you today to think about it.’
‘There is nothing to think about. I can’t do it sir. Besides, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a married man with kids.’ The words had come out before she could stop herself. .’
He glared at her angrily. ‘Get out of my office! I will make sure you never graduate from this school. You don’t know me. I will frustrate you. Say goodbye to law school.’
‘I serve a living God.’ Nike didn’t know where the boldness came from.
‘Out!’ He screamed and flung her project file off his table. She picked it up and walked out.
David was quiet after Nike narrated the incident. ‘Maybe I should have pleaded with him.’
David shook his head. ‘I doubt if that would changed his mind. Let’s pray and trust God for intervention. I’ll speak to one or two lecturers who may be able to help.’
That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They pray and talked to as many people as they could. They had a major challenge. The fact that the VC was her supervisor’s uncle and the Dean of law a family friend made their efforts seem like pouring water on a rock.
A week before the senate sat on the results, he fell seriously ill and had to be flown abroad. All those with uncompleted projects under his supervision had their files transferred to another lecturer.
That morning as Nike rushed to the notice board to check the name of her new supervisor, she screamed for joy. Mr Ajayi was not just the patron of the Christian law fellowship, he had also been trying to help work things out for her. Within two days, her project had been approved and submitted.
When she saw her name on the law school list, she called David. He rushed to the department and as he alighted from the cab in front of her department, she ran to hug him, tears of joy running down her face. She stared at him for a long time and knew she had found the man she would spend the rest of his life with.
‘Lord, did I make a mistake? Was I wrong in marrying David?’ She stood by the window, thinking aloud.
She didn’t understand why she loved David very much and despised him at the same time. She had been so peaceful about her decision to marry David. They had both severed their friendship for a while so they could get their emotions under control while they prayed.. David always left her better and more energized every time they talked. Did David ever say he was going into full time ministry? No he didn’t, she concluded. He had wanted to get his MBA and pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
‘Lord, please help me. Please Jesus, I need you. I love what I’m doing. I know what you want me to do, but I have never thought becoming the wife of a Pastor in a local church in a remote village would be part of your plans. Am I supposed to just leave everything I love and sit with my husband in one village church? Please Lord, I’m tired.’
Nike didn’t get any response. God seem to have abandoned her at this moment. She rested her head on the arm of the sofa as fresh tears trickled down her face and gradually her eyes gave in to sleep.
Episode 4 comes up next week Friday.