Learning to breathe

Archive for the month “April, 2012”


After getting my hair done with Amaka, I drop Ire at my mother’s house for the weekend. She mentions that I look healthy and asks if Sunmade and I are planning to make another baby soon.

My face goes hot.

I tell her that we plan to wait till Ire is 2.

She reminds me that I am getting older. I remind her that I am not even 30 yet.

Before she can attempt to lecture me, I hug her quickly and kiss Ire goodbye.

I get home in time to make Sunmade’s dinner before he arrives. I am going to prepare his favorite; Pounded yam and Egusi soup. Then take a long, hot, scented bath in anticipation for tonight…
I will make it up to him tonight.

After preparing the soup, I proceed to pound the yam till all the lumps disappear and it looks like white powder…with some water in it. Then I pound it a little harder till the powder sticks then becomes friendly and obese.
I pack the meal from the mortar into a nylon and into a warmer.

As soon as my kitchen is tidy again, I trot to the bathroom.


I am sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting for him to arrive. The lights are dim. I have on lingerie and a floral scent. As soon as I am sure I cannot sit still anymore, I hear Sunmade’s car horn.

I smile and peek through the curtain.

Then I sit more comfortably on the bed with a coy smile still on my face.

Soon, he enters. He looks at me and cocks his brow.

“Welcome, love.”

He grunts. “Ire’s asleep?”

“No. I took him to my mother for the weekend.”

He raises his brow further then continues undressing.

“I made you some pounded yam and Egusi.”

“Did you now?” He says, sarcastically.

My heart drops a little but I continue. Standing in front of him now.

“Yes, I did.”

“Too bad. I’m not hungry.”

My heart plunges further. The crick in my neck and the dull ache in my arms remind me of how hard and well I pounded his yam.

“Why not?” I block the bathroom door as he tries to escape.

“Because I’m not hungry.”

I manage a weak smile. “Okay.”

I plop down on the bed and on a vibrating phone.

Sunmade’s phone. A new text message.

I do not try to resist the temptation to read it…

    See you tomorrow evening then

From a certain Ann.

It seems my husband is playing games of his own.

“Who is Ann?!” I spit in disgust as soon as he opens the bathroom door.

He looks at me like I am crazy.

“What are you doing with my phone?” He yanks it from my hand and drops it on the table. Farthest from me.

Who is Ann?

“My colleague” He replies. Then continues dressing.

“Why does your colleague want to see you tomorrow evening?”

He ignores me.

Are you seeing that whore?!”

He turns on me slowly. “You get to cheat and I don’t?”

I can feel the anger rising in me. My eyes flash red and without another thought I reach for his phone and smash it against the wall.

He slaps me with the back of his hand instantly and the other side of my face hits the wardrobe.

I fall into a heap like a ragdoll.

“You destroyed my iPhone? Are you crazy?!” He glares down at me.

Why are you seeing that whore?!

Because my wife is a whoring liar herself!

I grab the lamp on the table and throw it at him.

It misses his head by an inch. I throw my wedge at him and it meets his shoulder.

“I am not a whore!”

Before I can throw something else, he pins me under him then pins my hands above my head.

“Say that one more time!”

Before ‘not’ gets out of my mouth, he lands me another slap across the same cheek.

“Who are you cheating on me with? Jamal?!”

I spit at him.

He picks me by my jaw and throws me to the chair with so much force it tips back and I fall.

Before I can gather my wits, he is on top of me again.

Who is it?

Get your bulky self off me!

He lands another slap across my face. I taste blood.


It’s Tiwa! I’m cheating on you with Tiwa

I cannot begin to describe the expression on his face.

He slowly lifts himself off me.

Breathing heavily.

“You’re cheating on me with your past…” He whispers in between deep breaths…

What is it you want, woman?!” He kicks the door so hard I jump. “What do you want from me?”

I gather myself into a corner. Mute.

Answer me!

I was going to make it up to you tonight! I’m through with him” my sides hurt from screaming so much

“You’re sick! You know that? You’re crazy!” He kicks the door again.

Get out of here!Get out

I itch to throw something at him again but I fear he will hit me. Again.

He tells me that I disgust him before he leaves. Slamming the door behind him.

I crawl to the bathroom…and break into hot tears when I see my face in the mirror.

The side that hit the wardrobe is bruised above my eye, four harsh lines are on my other cheek and my bottom lip is bleeding. The back of my head aches and my back laments.

When I am sure there are no more tears left in me, I approach the living room.

Sunmade is sitting on the couch staring blankly ahead of him.

Slowly, I move towards him.

Then I sit beside him with my head on his shoulder.

He does not move away and he does not stiffen.

“I am taking the first flight to London on Monday. You and Ire are coming with me. One week. Business.”


He continues, “End it.”

Past the lump in my throat I say, “It’s over.”



“Orin, you know I’ve never been in support of this from the beginning.”

Amaka and I are at the salon. Ire is toddling close to Amaka’s chair. Amaka is not looking at me but her reflection in the mirror tells me that she is anything but pleased.

“You better thank God he did not beat you. I would’ve beaten you ehn

I would have chuckled.

“What should I do?” I sigh

“Oh? Now you’re asking me. When all this started you didn’t tell me anything. Wetin come concern me now?

“Amaka don’t be like that now.”

“End it, Orin.” She hisses.

The hairdresser mistakenly touches the curling iron to her forehead. Amaka curses in Ibo while the man apologizes.

Abeg do my hair let me leave this place jor!” She turns back to me, “Ehn hen as I was saying, end it before Sunmade finds out. If he does, it’s either he kills you or he almost kills you. Both ways, you’ll lose.”

She pauses to plant Ire on her lap.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for sef. You have a good looking, rich husband and a son. What does Tiwa have to offer?”

That is the question.

Defining moment.

I know now that it is time to end it.

I guess I am looking for intrigue…so that for awhile I can be the heroine in a sloppy romance novel. So that I can be some author’s tool of fantasy. So other women will read my story and shed a few dreamy tears because I have the best of both worlds.

Ire coos “Mama” and stretches his hands towards me. I carry my son tenderly in my arms and hold him close to my chest. The smell of baby cosmetics fills my nostrils as I pat his back. He makes a happy sound.

I love my son. I love his father too.

I am going to make it right again, If not for anything, for these two.

Letter from God

Dear children,

It has been awhile since I last wrote you. Do not think that it is because I do not care or I am too busy for I always care for you and I can never be too busy to attend to the very beings I prize above all my other creations.

Today’s letter is meant to admonish you. It is to correct the notion that most of you have. The notion that drives you to believe that you being comfortable is my way of saying I am pleased with you. And that when you are uncomfortable, you lose your job, loved one, loved thing that I am unhappy with you.

It is not true. It has never been true and it will never be.

I am closest to the depressed, the broken, the weak and especially the losers. Material things do not express the depth of my love for each of you. Do not praise or thank me only when things are going well for you. Come boldly to me when they are not. I am here. Do not let hurt, failures or disappointments drive you away from me. It is a trick. Come to me, converse with me, obey me and watch things change for you from within your heart till it spreads out in full bloom to everything and everybody around you.

I am not content with a “God-first” tweet dedication, or an occasional lump offering. Let me be a part of your heart. Let me do beautiful things with it. Change may be painful but it will always be for your good.

Your Father,



I feel like a robber in my home.

“Welcome ma.” Jamal greets and carries my bag into the house for me.

“Why isn’t the generator on, Jamal?”

Oga say make I never on am

My stomach tightens.

“Put it on.”

Sunmade did not call me all day. I did not call him either…mostly because I was with Tiwa.

He always tells me to leave my family at home when I am with him. I try to.

As I walk into the house, the smells of baby food and burned rice passes me. My eyes quickly adjust to the darkness.


The generator comes on and light floods my living room. I find my husband sitting in his favorite chair, directly opposite me.

“Where have you been?”

“At the agency. Where else would I be?” My bottom lip trembles. I look quickly away from him as I slip my shoes off and shuffle into the kitchen.

“Why didn’t you call me?” He calls.

I scan the refrigerator for orange juice. I cannot think of a lie. I should have thought of one before now.

“Ire cried for you till he fell asleep. Had to go pick him from daycare myself.”

His voice is closer now. He is behind me. I turn slowly to face him.

“I’m sorry love. I was so busy I lost track of time.” I wrap my trembling hands around his waist. His body is stiff and unyielding.

“You’ve been different lately.”

“Different how?”

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

I rest my head on his chest. ” I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Orin are you seeing somebody?”

My heart hammers against my ribs. I pull away quickly, hoping he didn’t feel it. Wide-eyed, I glare at him.

“What sort of accusation is that?”

He shrugs casually. “You’ve been acting funny. I can read you like a book.”

“I don’t believe this.” I push past him into the dining to our bedroom. He follows.

“It’s a yes or no question.”

“I am NOT cheating on you.” I cannot say it to his face so I say it to our bed.

He grunts. “Okay. If you say so.”

I breathe a little easier.

Then he says, “If you’re going to become an irresponsible wife, at least be a responsible mother. Ire has nothing to do with anything. I’m heading out tonight.”

“You never go clubbing.” I look at him as he grabs his keys.

“Same way you never used to lie to me.”

“I’m not lying to you” I reach for him but he pushes my hands away.

“Right now, I want to be as far from you as possible.” He strides to the door.

“Don’t!” I grab his arm. “Please.”

“Let go of my arm.” He says through clenched teeth.

“Sunmade please…”

He flings me almost effortlessly away from him. My head hits the bedpost. Hard.

I am too stunned to speak. My head throbs and without another glance, my husband walks away from me.

I am turning him into a monster. He called me irresponsible but I do not know what I have become. Irresponsible is not the word.

I have become…something…else.

Something else entirely.

A Collection

Model: Ibukun Akinnawo
E-mail: zoe_akin@live.com

Photographer: George Udenze (Gtouch)
Phone numbers: 08036715470, 08020566145

Stylist: Oge Afolabi
E-mail: ogeoluwafrances@yahoo.com

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