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Bare and Broken


Jude came back from the baseball game to meet his wife, Amaka, sitting on the high veranda, staring far deeply into the open space. It was a Saturday evening and the surroundings were cool and quiet. Legs bent in the knees and a bit parted, clasped hands running through them, she looked on absent-mindedly. She wore a sullen, blank face.

Jude, a smallish man with a kinky hair on his head; and a beardless face too, wore a baseball jersey and a pair of white snickers; his baseball cap clasped in his right hand. Few gray hairs dotted his head here and there. Amaka, in contrast, was slim and tall, with a face that had seen better days.

Coming by her right, he stopped to observe his gloomy-faced wife. She seemed to be very far deep in her thoughts as she didn’t notice him as he drew closer. He saw  streaks of almost dry tears run down both of her chicks. Fresh ones came down too, meandering their way into her mouth. She looked tattered, and her hair unkempt. Poor woman, he thought.

He brought down his gaze to the ground and took a deep breath. He’s almost getting used to these: her and her recent behaviors. Was it not last week Thursday night that he caught her awake in the midnight, sitting in the coffee table motionless, and staring at the wall? What about the day she poured the cup of water she was giving him on his clothes? Just yesterday, she went to the market and ended up buying things they didn’t need. She almost had new behaviors every single day. But he wasn’t tired of her, neither was he going to blame her for any of her attitudes.

He could still remember their blissful lives just about ten years ago. Lives almost every neighbour of theirs envied. Was their wedding ceremony and its reception not a great one? What about their honeymoon? Wasn’t it on the sandy Beach of Miami that they spent most of their honeymoon in Barbados? He shook his head, fighting to suppress a gathering cloud of tears in his eyes.

As a gainfully employed, and a newly wedded, couple, they were happy and promising. She was a vibrant young woman, too. But things never went on that way. Few years after their wedding, their joy turned into sadness, happiness into pain, liveliness into sullenness. Almost everything positive in their lives turned into negative. His wife became unsociable and aggressive. She skipped workdays, until she stopped going entirely. And to top it all, she attempted suicide, which made him resign his then job to look after, and take care of, her. He, on his own part, had tried as much as he could to keep his cool and he really did his best. Except some days when he would get angry and brood the whole day.

“Honey?”

No movement.

“Honey!”

She started.

“It’s me, okay? What are you doing sitting here all alone?”

“Nothing.”

“It’s getting dark. Let’s get inside.”

He drew close to her, pulled her up and hugged her for a long while. When they disengaged, he brushed his right palm over her face , dried her misty eyes with the back of his palm and led her up into their apartment.

“I told you to stop worrying about all this. Stop it. We’ll surely get over this. I’m no longer worried, why won’t you stop all this? You are killing yourself slowly.”

“Have you bathed or eaten since I left?” He continued.

She shook her head in the negative.

“Now, get into the shower and clean yourself up, okay? Lemme know if I can prepare something for us to eat. I, too, am hungry.”

She went into the bathroom while he headed towards the kitchen.

Later in the night, they lay entwined in their bed, eyes shut, minds active. He couldn’t help but think about their journey so far. How many doctors they’ve met. The counter-results they’ve received. Would he forget how many pastors, prophets or diviners they have gone to? Their prophecies and counter-prophesies? He could still remember when a certain prophet told him that his wife was possessed of an evil spirit, and then later, another one told him he was the problem. That he had an ancestral curse he was battling with.

He had given up and resigned himself to his fate. But not entirely. Tomorrow morning, as they have doneeand  in the past ten years, they would go to church and pray to God, pay their tithes and sow their seeds, while hoping on Him to attend to their problem: childlessness.

©Ekechi Sampson.

 


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