He was in shock – of all the times for her to display her nonchalance, she chose now, and with this?
“But…I…we…” he stuttered.
He heaved, and breathed out, slowly. He steeled his nerves a bit.
“Are you sure?”
“You, the guy, is asking me, the lady, if I’m sure. Of all the cliché questions…thought you’d be more imaginative.”
He breathed in again. If this wasn’t huge, he’d have smacked her over the head already. He looked for a chair blindly with his free hand. Stumbling into one, he sat without looking, and, switching on his hands-free Bluetooth headset, he dropped the phone, and combed his hair with his hands: again, this was news. Huge news. And the gravity was sinking in more and more…
He asked a question that had been gnawing at him. “Who…Um…*sigh*…wow…have…have you told anyone else?”
“C’mon! Be serious!!” He realized he’d screamed that…relax…be a man…be a man…she didn’t reply.
“I’m sorry…it’s just…” he was lost for words. Which never happened. Even when his father-in-law had caught him snuggling with his wife when they were still dating – his father-in-law, the local gunsmith.
“I wasn’t joking, by the way: God was the first Person I told.”
“No. He doesn’t know yet…but that should change very soon…”
“No! No…” No one could know. Not yet. He didn’t realize it till now, but ever since she’d informed him she’d be having his baby, he had been twirling his wedding ring over and over…
The wedding anniversary photo on the sitting room table caught his eye…“10 years, and nothing hidden!”, his wife had jokingly inscribed on it.
“What?!” she replied incredulously. “How can’t we have secrets? We’re both humans that need some personal space…that space’ll reduce when we’re married, sure, but it’s still there, and needed.”
“It’s just…honey…”, he whispered as he drew her back in, “I don’t want there to be any…falsehood between us…I want our marriage to be strong, and free. I’d never hide anything from you.”
“Even your current account statement?” she teased.
“Even my credit card pin”, which he proceeded to write down in the sand beside her.
“As serious as I am about marrying you.”
She looked away, her eyes gazing over the bouncing ocean that, like her husband-to-be, didn’t mind being free and explorable. No secrets? She thought the idea ludicrous.
“Okay. Deal.” she sealed the deal with a kiss on his forehead. He was smiling like the Grinch, heart-three-sizes-bigger version.
She leaned back. “Our tenth anniversary photo should read ‘10 years, and nothing hidden!’”
“Ten YEARS?! Haba, we are not even married yet, and you are already seeing that far?!” Women…
Combing his hair again, what was in reality ten years now flashed in his mind…the grand wedding…even grander reception…incredible honeymoon…settling down…trying to have a baby…trying again…again…again… realizing the worst…
“No secrets!! NO secrets! THAT WAS THE DEAL!”
“And I agreed!” she was fuming so hard her night-gown seemed to be on the brink of combusting. “You think I knew?!”
“How couldn’t you have known? Is it not your body?!”
“You are the love of my life. Of all the things to hide from you, why would I do so with what I’ve always known means so much to you?”
“Ha, don’t go there oh! Which woman will candidly admit she can’t have a child, before the man says ‘I do’? OR EVEN AFTER?!” No, she doesn’t deserve this…but he was sooo…angry! Not at her exactly, true, but…right now, she somehow symbolized what upset him so, what he now realized he’d never get. And he was finding it harder to keep that feeling down.
“So ‘No secrets’ was a lie, too?! After I was, and still am, so open with you…”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this…”
“I can’t believe I have to say it!”
“I swear”, she was becoming inaudible due to all the tears, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know…” His instincts were forcing him towards consoling her, but the reality of the doctor’s report was still so fresh…he couldn’t think straight. He walked out to clear his head. She collapsed in a heap, sobbing till the next morning.
The rest? Painful memories of dashed hopes: how doctor after doctor had told them in continual medical jargon what they already knew…how every artificial insemination tried failed, though the bills never did…how eventually, his wife voiced the reality he was fighting: that they give up…how things had struggled to remain the same in their marriage since then…
…and, of course, the story isn’t complete without his wife’s good friend, who married 3 years later than they and already had 3 kids. “Practically a baby factory”, he’d half-joked to her once. She’d half-listened. And half-cared. Soon, they were talking…later, they were sharing…her marriage’s finances were beginning to sink…he needed something she’d already demonstrated she could provide…twirling his ring, he couldn’t believe it: he was the one keeping a monumental secret.
“I’m home”. His wife walked in, dropped her bag, stopping when he didn’t reply. “What’s wrong?” He didn’t meet her gaze. She walked up to him.
He finally looked at her. Trembling like a tuning fork, he held her shoulders, and eased her into a seat. “I’ve…uh…whew!…I’ve…hidden something from you…” he blurted immediately.
She steeled herself. He was never lost for words. This is big. Lord, please don’t let it be that... “What is it?”
His stammering and demeanor said it all. So he had done it. She’d suspected, what with all the clues he’d left in the house. He was a fool to think he could keep her in the dark over his affairs.
“Don’t say another word.” she shushed him. She closed her eyes. You said you wouldn’t…you assured me you wouldn’t do…*sigh* Why would you….the accusations seemed to spill out of her eyes, though she said nothing. He stared at the floor. So she knew all along? Then there’s no need beating about the bush anymore…
She quietly stood…she needed time to wrap her head round her husband’s foolish act. She walked towards the room, she just needed to…
“She’s pregnant, dear.”
She turned to face him, her face registering more shock than his when he’d heard the news. Her body began to vibrate, not sure whether to break down in sobs or pounce on him. Suddenly, faster than he gave her credit for, she was in the sky: pounce it was. He was in trouble.
“You…you…YOU!” was all she said mid-air. He caught her, his back bearing the brunt of it. She buried her face in his chest, pounding it with her balled-fists…
“It can’t be! How could you?! WHY?!” she was almost rambling. He was struggling to carry her. She finally lifted her tear-filled face to his…and then started showering him with kisses.
“Wait now, easy!” he finally pushed her off, then adjusted his back. “Don’t you want to hear more?”
“Say it’s true: say it’s true!” she was dancing like a school girl. It broke his heart.
“It’s true: I even still have her on the phone. Here:” He put it on speaker. “Please repeat the news, again.”
“I’m pregnant oh….haba, how many times I go shout am today?!”
His wife had never been this giddy. “You did a pregnancy test?!” she asked the brutally obvious.
“Your husband nko? Hope he won’t mind you…”
“I’ll tell him when he gets back from work. Besides, he once said he liked my ‘pregnancy beauty’: now he shall have it once more!”
“Oh thank you! Thank you!” she was sobbing.
“Sheesh! I’m cutting the phone before I start crying. Bye, you lovebirds.” She hung up.
He had kept a huge secret from his wife, but he was sure she wouldn’t mind now, what with her already proposing a dinner date to celebrate the in vitro fertilization that had succeeded on the third attempt – though she had warned him to no longer burn their finances on a hopeless case, he secretly gambled it. He was so glad it paid off – they were finally gonna have a baby!
© Adeleye Adeolu, 2012. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story must be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the author’s permission.