When Violet woke up the next morning, she was feeling much better. The depression that had been plaguing her the past few days had been repressed. Her movements also woke Sochi, who rubbed her eyes and yawned loudly.
“Continue sleeping,” Violet rubbed her head. “It’s not yet time to wake up.” She knew saying it was useless. As Sochi had woken up, she would no longer go back to sleep even if she was still feeling sleepy.
Violet picked up her wrapper from where it had fallen to the ground and wrapped it around her waist. She massaged her neck, her eyes falling on the too hard pillow. She made a mental note to change the pillows in the room.
Despite feeling better, Violet had decided that she would not be going to work. She set an alarm for 7 am so she would send an e-mail and a text message to the school explaining her absence. She was certain that it would be approved. Her performance from the beginning of the week hadn’t been active and if what Enita said was correct, almost everyone in the school had noticed that she wasn’t in a good health condition.
With the pressure of being late for school taken off from her mind, Violet went through her morning tasks with light steps—preparing breakfast and lunch, preparing the children’s lunch package. When the children woke up, they came downstairs for a brief morning devotion before they were shuffled upstairs by Sochi to prepare them for school.
Throughout the morning, Oyim didn’t come downstairs. Violet hadn’t gone to the room to wake him up so she guessed that he was still asleep. A small part of her felt gleeful. He would be late for work but she did nothing about it. The downside of this small victory though was that there was no one to take the children to school.
When she heard the sound of her neighbor’s car driving out of the compound, she rushed out to ask her if she could help her drop the children at their school. Though it would mean taking a different route to her destination, the neighbor agreed to help. Violet believed she wouldn’t do otherwise. While her neighbor’s children were now in boarding school, when they had been in primary school, they went to the same school with Violet’s children. Those times, they often went to school in Violet’s or Oyim’s car.
With the matter of taking the children to school solved, Violet retired into the house. She would relax through the duration of her sick leave which ran through the rest of the week. She settled in front of the television and reached for the TV remote. Her tongue clung to the roof of her mouth, reminding her that she had not yet brushed her teeth. She had rinsed her mouth in the bathroom in Sochi’s room but it could only go as far. She wasn’t sure she wanted to go to the room with Oyim still in there. She had to admit, while her emotions were better than they were the day before, she was still feeling hurt and angry at Oyim and wasn’t ready to face him just yet.
Some minutes passed before she heard Oyim coming down the stairs. Her heart pounded as she tried her best to concentrate on the television screen. He stopped at the dining before he came into the parlor. Violet had set his breakfast for him—toasts and a cup of warm milk.
“You’re not going to school today?” He held up the curtain, looking from her to the television.
“Yes,” she tried to maintain nonchalance. “I took a sick leave from school.” You see, I wasn’t joking when I said I was ill.
He came closer to place a hand on her forehead. She moved her head away avoiding his touch. “Is it serious? Do you still need to go to the hospital?”
She scoffed under her breath. “No. Someone already took me yesterday and I have taken drugs,” she stressed the words. “Hopefully, I will get myself before the kids come back.”
Oyim took a deep breath. “You should not use the excuse of being sick to be hanging around that man. I don’t think he has innocent motives towards you.”
“Yes,” she agreed quite quickly. “His motives may not be innocent, but when I need help, he was there. I told you last night, I have nothing inappropriate with him. He is my friend. I don’t know why you are so stuck on that but you don’t want to say anything about the fact that when I called you to pick me up from the hospital, you said you couldn’t even though you were either already at home or on your way home.”
“Well,” he conceded. “I’m sorry, okay. But-”
“You’re sorry, then. That’s it. Matter closed.” She turned to face the television. “I won’t say anything again about tomorrow. I have said my mind, you have apologized. It ends there.”
“And about the man-” Oyim started.
Violet cast him a reproachful look. “Don’t you think you are being hypocritical?” Her eyes fell on the small pouch that was forming in his stomach, protruding under his uniform. “Hmm, this one you are beginning to grow potbelly. I know that it is not the food I am giving you that will make your stomach grow like that. Those girls that you follow around, better tell them to be giving you healthy food. They should not come and spoil what I worked hard to maintain.”
“God!” Oyim bursts out. “Why do you keep talking like this? Those girls are just my friends. Is it wrong for me to have female friends?”
“Ah! He has said it.” She exclaimed as though talking to a third person. “Well, Oyim, is it wrong for me to also have male friends, eh? So you can have young girls as friends, and I can’t. It’s not fair nau.” She sat up properly giving him her full attention.
“Nneoma, I don’t know who taught you all these things. Is it because you feel because you are now working, you should be associating with irresponsible people? Is that why you went through all the stress to lose weight? Is it that this house is not enough for you?” Oyim spat the bitter words one after the other.
The words hit Violet sharply. She reeled back in hurt. “This is what you think about me losing weight? That I did because of other people, hmm? Oh my God! And I was there killing myself for this ungrateful human being. Hei, Oyim, if this is what you really think, then I have no words for you.”
“It is the truth, huh? And now you have one man chasing on your heels, you decide to show your real colors?” Oyim continued.
At this point, Violet didn’t care about controlling her mouth. “If this is what you think about me and since you are that attached to those small girls outside that you just want to shut me up this way, I don’t think we should continue this marriage. We should just get a divorce.”
In the space it took for the words to sink in, the parlor fell into stunned silence. The words had stopped whatever counter Oyim had. He looked at her as though she were a stranger. Violet’s mouth opened and closed, no sound came out from her mouth. Her eyes watered. Oyim eyes remained on her for a long time before he left the parlor without saying anything. He didn’t need to. His eyes said it all.
Violet remained in the same position, frozen in shock even after the sound of his car faded away. What had she done?