Shade sat on the edge of the recliner with her hands covering her face.
“Are you okay?” Ngozi touched her on the shoulder and Shade lifted her head. Her eyes were blood shot, like the eyes of an Ijaw fisherman drinking ‘ogogoro’, the local alcoholic beverage, before casting off in his rickety boat to dare the treacherous sea.
Shade seemed to have aged in the last two hours. She blinked a few times, trying to focus on who was standing before her. The scent of Channel No.5 in the air made it easy for her to recognise who it was.
“Ngozi, thank you for coming back.”
“Shade you are my friend. Of course I will be there for you anytime you need me.”
Shade ran her hands through her Brazilian hair and exhaled.
“Do you know that you were prescient?”
“About what?” Ngozi looked confused.
“This morning you told me to watch my maid very closely because she could be up to something with my husband.”
“Well, you were right.”
“She confessed to me this morning that she is pregnant.”
“Pregnant for who, Sadique the security guard?” Ngozi asked.
“How I wish. She’s pregnant for Gbenga, my husband!”
Ngozi immediately broke into a cold sweat. Her white blouse stuck to her slim body. “Ewoh!”She lamented like a mother whose only son had been conscripted to join the rag-tag Biafran army. A dark cloud, like a plague, settled on her pretty face. She dropped her bag on the floor, put both hands on her head and slowly knelt down on the floor beside her friend.
Shade looked at her friend curiously and wondered why her reaction seemed greater than the matter at hand. Although they had been friends since their secondary school days, she rarely saw Ngozi show any emotion. Ngozi was the one who stood up to bullies in school, both boys and girls and defended her. When things went wrong, it was Ngozi she asked to help her fix things. It was Ngozi who stood by her when she got pregnant out of wedlock and insisted that she keep the baby. If it wasn’t for Ngozi, Tola, her beautiful daughter, would have been flushed down the toilet of an abortion clinic. Ngozi supported her even when her own parents threatened to disown her for giving birth to a bastard. Ngozi showed emotion only in matters concerning money. Ngozi was attractive but at 36 she was still single because her relationships never lasted more than a few months. The last guy she dated, a banker, complained that she was too controlling, calculating and cold. He really liked Ngozi but complained to Shade that her friend seemed to be emotionally distant. That was why Shade wondered where this sudden burst of emotion came from. Was something going on in Ngozi’s life that Shade was unaware of? Had her friend finally opened up her heart to a man, to love and to be loved? Has she found someone at last?
“I need something to drink,” Ngozi broke into Shade’s thoughts.
“There are drinks in the fridge.”
Ngozi was already on her way to the kitchen. “I need something, you know….strong.”
“Look in the pantry. You will find something.”
Ngozi returned a few minutes later with a bottle of wine and two glasses. “Can I pour you a drink?” She opened the bottle and poured herself some red wine.
“No, thanks,” Shade shook her head. She didn’t want her mind clouded when talking with her husband.
“Suit yourself,” Ngozi drank half the glass of wine and sat down beside her friend. “What did the maid say?” She asked again,
“She said the pregnancy belongs to Gbenga.”
“She can’t possibly be serious,” Ngozi reached for the bottle of wine and topped up her glass.
“But you said she had designs for my husband. You saw through her disguise. I was so naive to think that my husband wouldn’t be attracted to the maid. I should never have allowed that girl into my home. She has caused me so much pain today.”
“What I said was mere conjecture. I wanted you to watch her closely before something happened behind your back. I never knew she had the guts to try such a thing with Gbenga.
“Hmm.” Shade sighed deeply.
Ngozi stood up.”Where is she, let me show her what we do to sluts.”
The alcohol was beginning to take effect, Shade observed.
“She is the least of my problems. What am I going to do about my husband, my marriage?”
“Have you told Gbenga?”
“No, I haven’t. He is on his way home. He dropped Tola off at his family house to play with her cousins.”
Ngozi sat down and thought for a few seconds.”Please let me talk to him first. In your present state you may escalate the situation. We have to be sure if this really happened.”
“It did. The girl confessed to me.”
“This can’t be happening. It must be a bad dream.”
“That is exactly what I said initially. But the more I think about it, the more it dawns on me that it is really happening.”
“To think that girl had the guts to touch Gbenga.”
“It was Gbenga who had the guts to touch the maid.” Shade said with sadness.
“Where is she? Where is that slut?” Ngozi shouted.
“She’s in her room. I told her not to go anywhere.”
There was a knock on the door and the gateman entered the living room.
“Madam, Yemi said she wants to go and buy something down the road. She insists that it is urgent.”
“If you allow that girl leave this compound, you will not only lose your job, I will also have you arrested. Do you understand me?!” Shade raised her voice.
“Yes, madam.” The gateman quickly left the living room.
Ngozi watched him leave. “Are you sure the gateman isn’t responsible for the pregnancy?” She asked. “Your husband’s driver, the mechanic or one of the unemployed youths in the area could be responsible for it. Do you know if your maid has a boyfriend?”
Before Shade could answer, the door opened and Gbenga walked into the room. He stopped when he saw the distraught look on his wife’s face. “Darling is everything okay?”
Shade stood up slowly to face him.
“Gbenga, is it because you are desperate to have your own child that is why you did this to me? Have I not been a good wife to you these six years of marriage?”
“Shade, please don’t.” Ngozi tried to stop her from talking but she brushed aside her hands.
Shade continued with tears running down her face.”Am I God to determine if I will have another child? You shame me before my friends and family by doing what you did. What is painful is that it happened before my very eyes, in my own home. Gbenga, you have not only shamed me, you have also ruined my life.” Shade burst into tears and ran upstairs.
Gbenga was confused. “What is going on?” he asked as he tried to follow Shade up the stairs but Ngozi stopped him from climbing the stairs.
“You can’t go upstairs. It will only make matters worse. She needs some alone time.”
Gbenga tried to move her out of his way.”This is my home. I must know what is going on!” he raised his voice.
Ngozi looked at him in the eye and stood her ground. “I will explain everything to you in a moment. Let me see to Shade and make sure she’s okay.” Ngozi went after her.
Gbenga paced for a few minutes then sat down on the sofa.
A few minutes later, Ngozi came downstairs. She drank some wine, placed the empty glass on a stool beside the bottle of wine and walked towards the kitchen. Gbenga followed her.
“Ngozi, please tell me what is going…”
Gbenga never completed the sentence.
Ngozi turned around and slapped him hard on the face with her left hand. The force threw his head backward and left a conspicuous indent on his face made by her ring.
Gbenga touched his face.”Why did you do that?” He asked.
“You disgust me!”Ngozi spat like a serpent, her face distorted into a grotesque mask of rage. “How dare you sleep with the maid?”
Gbenga was speechless.
To be continued….