On a good week day, the traffic on Zik Way is usually bad. On a bad day, it is infuriatingly bad. For a man whose impatience is as legendary as they come, Nnamdi was unusually calm as he inched his way home, caught in the infuriatingly bad traffic on what was a bad day for motorists. He wasn’t pounding on his car horn or using curse words on other motorists perceived to be contributing to the state of the traffic jam. In fact, he was only vaguely conscious of the fact that he was driving as his hands and feet worked on the controls as if with minds of their own. His mind was still cogitating on the message that was given at the Full Gospel business men’s fellowship about an hour before.
The speaker had spoken on the topic Act like you love your wife. Nnamdi knew in his heart that he really loved his wife. He could even die for his wife, or so he believed. However by the time the speaker was done, he had to admit to himself that though he loves his wife, he had not been acting so for a while, for a long while. “When last did we have a nice long relaxed chat?” he asked himself. There simply had been no time for such idle and ‘unproductive’ activities when there was a successful and ever expanding business to manage. It had been business, business, business. But he had decided all that was going to change from then on. Hadn’t the speaker said beyond an emotion you feel, love is a decision you make? Now he had decided he was going to really love his wife, and act like he did.
It was 9:47pm by the time he got home. Yemi his wife opened the door to let him in with an almost inaudible greeting of welcome sweet, the ornately crafted mahogany door hiding her from Nnamdi as he walked in. He had long stopped hugging and kissing her when he comes from work so she was pleasantly shocked when rather than grunt a thank you dear, and head straight upstairs, he grabbed her by the waist, turned her to face him and planted a kiss on her lips. “You look stunning in this pink night gown” he added with a twinkle in his eyes.
“What has come over you?” she asked.
“That is not the response a man who just complimented his pretty wife should get. Anyways, nothing has come over me, I’m just …” he paused to give her a kiss on her forehead, and continued: “…loving you”.
“Okay oo…” she responded, not sure what to make of the sudden display of affection. “Anyways,” she continued while helping him with his briefcase, “Why don’t you go have a nice warm bath while I set the table.”
That night, they had a pleasant long chat as they lay cuddled against each other in bed; lots of laughter, light and friendly arguments, a few pillow fights and finally, some passionate love making.
‘Hey sleepy head it’s time to wake up” Nnamdi sang as he roused his wife the next morning. Yemi stirred, opening her eyes. Memories of the previous night rushed through her mind. She would have concluded it had all been a dream but the loving look on Nnamdi’s face told her otherwise. Last night really happened. She stretched and yawned, enjoying every bit of the sensations.
“You really knocked me out last night Sweet” she said as she pulled him down to kiss him.
“So did you Dear, so did you.”
She made to get up from the bed but he stopped her. “Not before this” he said as he picked up from the bedside stool, a tray of toast bread and two cups of coffee. “It’s been a while we had breakfast in bed” he added.
“Ooh, how sweet of you. This is all so pleasantly surreal. Please don’t ever snap out of whatever has come over you.”
“Well, that would depend on the potency of the love portion some medicine man must have given you to hypnotize me”. They both laughed heartily and settled in for their breakfast.
“’Oh my God!” Yemi exclaimed in the middle of their conversation as they ate. Following the line of her sight, Nnnamdi looked up to the clock on the wall.
“Relax, I won’t be going to the office today.”
“But I thought you were going to meet with some Chinese delegates today?”
“I cancelled the appointment yesterday. In fact I cancelled all my appointments for today.”
“I don’t get you, is anything the matter? It is very unlike you to –“
“Nothing is the matter dear. I just have this one important appointment with this all important person and it will likely take the whole day. That is if this person wouldn’t mind.”
“And who might that be?” she asked suspiciously
“It’s the most beautiful woman in the world. I want to be with you today. It has been a long time.”
It was all she could do to stop the tears that welled up in her eyes from flowing. This sudden expression of love and affection from a husband that previously let her understand in no uncertain terms that the job came first, then her. After all, I work this hard for you and the family! That was how he had put it just three weeks ago. She considered telling him right then, what she had wanted to for some days, but decided not to. It can wait. Nothing was going to spoil the day’s fun.
And fun they had that day. They went to the Museum of African arts which she had always wanted to visit, and spent some time at the new games park. They felt like kids again as they screamed and laughed in the roller coaster and thrill rides. From the park, they proceeded to the shopping mall and bought gifts for each other.
“Is this how you spend my hard earned money?” Nnamdi exclaimed in mock annoyance when he saw the expensive Rolex wristwatch and a Shalini perfume she bought him.
“if I don’t spend it who will?” she replied with a smirk.
After a whole day of fun and conviviality, the headed for the cinema
Yemi couldn’t hold back the tears when the movie they were seeing got to a particularly touching scene where the the critically sick wife of the hero had to commit suicide to save her husband the financial burden of her medical condition.
“Many things to be grateful for, chief of which is sound health” Nnamdi offered solemnly as he drew her close comfortingly.
“And love, being able to love and be loved” Yemi responded.
They got back home at about 10pm, after what had been an altogether memorable day. They didn’t realize how exhausted they were until they got in bed. Though Yemi made an attempt to start a conversation but decided against it when she noticed Nnamdi was already drifting off. Besides, she was tired too, even though not necessarily sleepy given what she wanted to tell him. Well, it can wait until tomorrow she concluded in her mind. She was soon asleep like Nnamdi and dreamt about the suicide scene of the movie they had seen hours before. In the dream, she was the character that committed suicide.
The next morning, Nnamdi woke up quite late and was surprised to find Yemi still asleep. He considered waking her up but decided otherwise. He showered and got dressed for work. When he got set to leave he dropped a note by the bedside saying he would be back home by 1pm. As his lips made contact with her forehead when he leaned to give her a kiss, he noticed her temperature seemed high. He felt her with his palm to confirm. His face creased slightly after his gentle taps didn’t elicit any response. Alarm bells went off in his head when she remained unconscious after shaking her vigorously.
“Yemi wake up! Yemi! Yemi!” he called still shaking her. Still no response. He lifted her to the car and sped off to the hospital, praying aloud all the way, calling her name intermittently.
He waited impatiently at the lobby of the Emergency ward where she had been admitted. It had been three hours since she was brought in. A thousand possibilities of what could be wrong ran amok in his mind, sending cold shivers down his spine. “Please God, don’t let anything happen to her.” he prayed.
After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor came out and was immediately apprehended by Nnamdi.
“How is my wife? Please tell me she is alright”
“I’m quite surprised,” he began, “the test results from last week indicated that the brain tumor was benign and still operable. But apparently for some inexplicable reasons, it became malignant, growing rapidly and crowded the surrounding healthy brain tissue and…”
It wasn’t making any sense to Nnamdi. She wasn’t even ill before today so what is this talk about benign and malignant brain tumor?
“Doctor, you must be mistaken, we were together the whole of yesterday and she was sound until just this morning and besides, my wife never came here for any test. I should have known!” It was the doctor’s turn to be confused.
“Emm…Mr Nnamdi, I am quite surprised because she was indeed here three weeks ago and we ran a test after listening to her complaints. It was expected that she would communicate with you since she said you had to be unavoidably absent last week when the test results were disclosed. I find it quite unsettling to know you are not aware.”
“How could she have kept something that important from me?” Nnamdi demanded as if the doctor were to blame. “Anyway, I have to go see her now!” he said as he made to brush past the doctor. But the doctor stood in his way with a look of pain and empathy.
“Emm…actually…that is what I am trying to say, I’m sorry we did all we could, but…she didn’t make it…”
Nnamdi’s whole world seemed to freeze at first, and in that frozen state his brain, detached from his emotions, processed the information he just received. Someone just died. That someone was a woman. That woman was his wife. The wife he had only just started loving in the real sense of the word. Then it hit home, sending his frozen world into a wild spin. His vision blurred, his feet felt rubbery, he wasn’t even vaguely aware when the doctor’s arms caught him before he hit the floor.