He was cold; unusually still. He shook his head at every minute that greeted his deep thoughts and sighed, as though a bottom had dropped out of his world. He only raised his head when he needed another glass of beer. Beer bottles stood on the table; three had run out of liquid, and the other remaining bottle was already brought down to its half. Eze must have been here for quite a while. He always met me at this bar, but this day he showed up before me. I could tell that all wasn’t well with my best friend, Eze. I sat in front of him and signaled at the waitress.”Eze! You arrived before me today. Did you dream of beer last night?” I said, looking at the waitress as she approached. He cleared a lump out of his throat; “There’s always a first time.” He answered after a while.
“Please bring two bottles of stout.” I said to the waitress. When I turned to Eze, he’d been taken far deep into the valley of thoughts. “Eze!” I called out loud. His eyes blinked and flickered. “You don’t look happy. What’s wrong?” He took another glass and sipped, staring at me.
“It’s just one of those things in life. I believe I can handle it”. He said, and shook his head.
“And what is that thing?” I inquired.
“Who betrayed you?” He went mute. I could see a man battling with emotions, and fighting hard to chain his tongue. The waitress arrived with my drinks and placed them on the table. I poured for myself a glass and sipped. “Who betrayed you, Eze?”
“Ken, don’t worry. I’ll handle it.”
“I know you will handle it. But what is it that eats you up, that you don’t want to share with me. I’m your friend. Remember?”
“I know. It’s me and my wife, and you know I don’t like discussing my wife outside.”
“I see. Take it easy. Whatever it is, I believe you guys are mature enough to handle it.”
He looked at me. The look on his face became damp. He brought a pack of cigarette, taking out a stick. I watched him with an amazement that had my eyes trapped in awe for a moment. He lit the cigarette and started smoking.”Eze, when did this start?” He puffed out smokes from his mouth and nostrils. “You now smoke?” He looked at me, forcing out a smile.
“It’s just for the moment. I’ll stop.” He said. I detest the smell of smokes, but I could not leave the table; I needed to know what was eating my friend up. Eze and I both abhorred smoking; what could have dragged him into the very act he criticized. Then I remembered he’d called me to help him look out for an apartment to rent. “Who are you renting an apartment for? Your workers or…”
He sighed, again shook his head and breathed out smokes. “For myself” He said. “I need it.” He added.
“Why is that?”
“Ken, I’ve been wasting my money living in a hotel room for the past two weeks. It is better I rent an apartment.”
“You’ve been living in a hotel?” I asked incredulously. I’m the engineer that built Eze’s duplex, and he’d been living in that house for more than two years. Why would Eze have abandoned his own house and be living in a hotel? “Dude, what’s the problem? Talk to me, we can both find a way out of it like we have always done. Obviously, this is beyond what I thought before “At this time, he saw the need to break his egg of secret before me. He peered into the sky as though the words he needed to expunge the burden he carried were up there. He brought down his face, looked at me and said; “Ken, do you still remember that my family never supported me to marry my wife? All of them are still against my marriage to Tina. I believe you can still remember.”
“Yes” I said. Eze’s parents and siblings were never in support of his marriage. If it weren’t for the intervention of family friends, his people would not have attended his wedding. His family stopped coming to his house after the wedding. The parents had insisted that Tina wasn’t the good woman they wanted for their son, and she wasn’t from their tribe. But Eze, determined to marry Tina, threatened to run away with her and never be seen again by his people, if they would not allow him marry the woman he loved.
“So, I thought that has become a forgotten issue. Why is it suddenly tugging on you this time?” I asked him.
He closed his eyes for few seconds. “You see, Ken, what I’m about to tell you, you can discuss with another person if you choose to, but you must promise me that none of my family members must hear this” he cocked down his head, “This secret must remain between you and I. I don’t want my parents, or my siblings to know about it”
“What is it, Eze?”
“You must promise me first that none of my family members would hear it”
“I promise.” He gulped the liquid left in the glass.
“My wife betrayed me. She broke my heart.” He said, the head that had become used to shaking, again he shook.
“How? What happened?”
“I noticed a change in her attitude, and that attracted my suspicion. I did a bit of investigation. Somehow I knew she was cheating on me, but I couldn’t confront her, because I didn’t want to accuse her wrongly.” He called the waitress. “I really could not tell why she was acting funny.” He took the cigarette again to his mouth, sipped the smokes in and softly blew out the smokes. He continued, “I was with her in the kitchen one evening while she was cooking. She was pinging at the same time. Whilst the food was on fire, we played to the sitting room, and we saw one interesting program on TV that mesmerized us; though she was still pinging. We smelt the food burning from the kitchen, and she ran into the kitchen, dropping her phone on the chair. I took the phone and stealthily checked through her chats before she returned”. He paused. The waitress stood beside him. “How much is my money?” He asked the waitress. She counted the bottles and gave him price, which he paid instantly. “I couldn’t believe what I saw” Eze said when the waitress had left. He continued; “She was actually having that chat with a guy. The guy asked her when I normally leave home for work, and what time I return from work. She told him to come the next day before midday so he could leave before 4 P.M. I heard her footfalls coming and quickly dropped the phone at the exact place she’d left it.” Emotion crept into him, and tears betrayed the toughness he’d tried to show.
“Take it easy. Be strong, man.” I encouraged him “He brought out his handkerchief and mopped his tears.
“I composed myself as if all was normal. I didn’t talk about it”. He sighed and continued. “The next day, I left my office and showed up at home few minutes down 12 noon. I got into the sitting room and met a bottle of wine and glass cup on a stool beside a chair. I made towards my room. On getting to the door to our room, I recognised the sound of her moaning. With so much anger that boiled in me, I pushed the door opened. The man jumped to his feet while my wife started crying and covering her face.”
“Whoa! Are you kidding me?” I said. I just couldn’t believe this.
Eze continued; “I was so confused that I didn’t even know when I sat on the floor, watching the guy took his wears and ran out. To tell you the truth, I cried in that room.”
“I can’t believe this!” I said.
“What annoys me the most is that, the guy is one dirty street boy in my street. How could she come down to that level?” Eze said.
For a moment, the right words ran away from me. “What could have led her to this? I mean, don’t you satisfy…” Eze cut in, he’d seen where I was heading. “There is hardly a day without that in my house. Even when I come home from work and tired, I still give it to her”
“Hmm… Women…” I said, still searching for the right words to encourage Eze.
“I suffered insults and all manner of things from my family, all because of my wife” He cocked his head down, his fingers on the table. “But you know what?” he asked.
“You know I love my wife.” He sighed and continued, “She really begged me. She really cried, so much that her tears really made me sad. I hate to see her cry. I have forgiven her. But I can never sleep in that house again. Evil has been committed in that house.”
“But you just said you have forgiven her. Why can’t you live in the house?”
“From the depth of my heart, I’ve forgiven her. But I can’t live in that house anymore, because the act would always scream loud in my head. I’m trying to forget the whole thing so we can move on”
“Where is she now?” I asked.
“She’s in the house. I want to rent an apartment so she can join me. A place we can be managing pending when I’m about to develop that land I bought. As for that my house, I’ll be leasing it out.” He said. When we left the bar that night, I got home and saw my wife watching the TV. She was full of life. We have enjoyed a happy home, but that night, I had to ask myself this question; “How deep is my love for this my lovely wife?” Repeatedly, this question rang in my head. Yes, I love my wife. But not as deep as Eze’s love for his wife. The question now is; did Eze truly forgive his wife because he loves her? Or he is just trying to save his marriage to keep his face off mockery from his parents and siblings? What really do some women want?