She giggled softly, speaking in hushed tones as she ambled off to the restroom with her phone held to her ears.
Felix watched her vanishing back and swaying hips with a frown on his face. In the past few weeks, he noticed that Monica’s phone had been pinging and ringing off the hook; though it was now on vibration mode.
It went off every few seconds and she would rush to pick it up, finding an excuse to leave the vicinity for a private enclosure. She was not a phone addict before. Something had changed seriously. As a matter of fact, he noted that a whole lot had changed.
Her dressing was more careful, floral and feminine in newer outfits which accentuated her marginal weight loss and new shape. She preened more than ever and appeared far more confident in her own skin. These days, she barely bothered to argue with him and floated in a self-contained sheen of private satisfaction with a glint in her eyes.
As he reviewed the subtle but obvious changes, his thoughts twitched curiously. He was curious enough to want to know what Monica’s new source of change was. Her exuding radiance and delight in playing African hip-hop songs on her headphones which were on constant shuffle were all novel to him.
Flushing the toilet for the umpteenth time that Saturday afternoon, she stepped out, looked into the vanity mirror, patted her weave and teased her wavy curls into place.
“Are you having a bad tummy?” Felix asked.
“No, I am not”, she responded.
“You seem to spend so much time in the loo these days, that I wondered if something is wrong”, he pointed out.
She was a bit taken aback by his observation, but she kept quiet.
Right on cue, her phone went brr, brr in her pocket, though she chose to ignore it.
”If you can manage to peel yourself from your phone chatting for a short while, I am still hungry, so make me something to eat” he ordered her without as much as a please.
His curiosity was greatly piqued and the suspicion which had taken root in his mind was equally pulling at his heartstrings. He needed to get to the bottom of her infernal active phone.
As they retired to bed that night, he could barely shut his eyes, and as Monica snored in deep sleep, he sneakily unplugged her phone which was charging by her bedside and went into the restroom to peruse through it. To his surprise, it was locked. Disappointed and miffed, he returned it to her bedside but deliberately left it unplugged.
Sunday morning dawned with the brightness of the early morning sun streaming in through the window blades. As Monica got dressed to go to church with the children – since Felix had gradually stopped attending church service, it was a surprise to find him dressing up to go with them. It was either he chose to sleep in due to spending a late night out with friends or his new found scientific knowledge which had gradually overtaken his spiritual belief stood in his way and she was tired of fighting a battle that only seemed to widen the rift between them.
For over five years, she had looked on in envy at couples in church who seemed to be handling their union in a better fashion, even though she did not know what happened behind their closed doors.
She had prayed and fought to renew the vigor and excitement of their union but nine years of togetherness had lost its flavor and Felix was more interested in the young University girls who were never in short supply.
Another surprise followed the church service. He decided to take his family out for brunch at Symphony. Monica could not recall when last they dined out or went out together except for a family friends wedding or burial. Every time she made mention of time out with him, he would glower, remind her how difficult money was to come by, yet he was never broke on Friday night out with the boys. She gave up bothering after some time.
The constant little buzz of her phone which was lying on the table was driving needles of increased interest into Felix as he watched through lowered eyelids to see if she would open her phone so that he can phish her password, but she seemed less inclined to respond.
The dance of the snake and its charmer continued for several days and as each day passed Felix got more twisted in his gut with the burning desire to grab his wife’s phone. He noted minutiae details in her expressions and contorted meanings into every thing. He even started coming home a little earlier, hoping to catch her in the act of unfaithfulness as he was inclined to believe.
Eventually, he got lucky. Whilst she was in the kitchen preparing dinner, he lingered, commenting on the savory aroma emanating from the soup pot. Monica was unsettled, her mind was curious as to the turn of events in recent times. Felix would normally sit in the living room, flipping through the sports channels on TV, his feet put up on the center table and he will be bellowing his orders from that distance; but here he was, in her kitchen, making idle conversation. Her phone beeped, and she absentmindedly keyed in her password, it was her sister Benedicta calling for some information.
He had stored the password in his memory bank and that night as she slept, he sneaked once again into the restroom with her phone clutched in his clammy hands and his heart thudding faster than usual. His imaginations had run riot over these past few weeks, and he was not sure of what to expect, but he was fishing for sufficient evidence to nail her.
Opening her phone, he carefully scanned through her emails, her Facebook page and messenger, her Black Berry Messenger, WhatsApp, and text messages. It was a surprise to know that his wife had a twitter account, a Google+ account and instagram. He had no idea she was up to date with social media and he had practically forgotten how intelligent she was.
He wondered when his boring woman turned into a sexy mama when he looked at all the alluring pictures that she had on her pages. His eyes nearly popped out of its sockets whilst reading through the various chats that she had online with interested gentlemen.
Marveling at the obvious budding online romance she was having with a certain Jay Black; and Jay Black was a divorced handsome bastard with flat muscled abs to boot! His jealous heart felt twinges of pain and he bristled in anger. He couldn’t wait to attack her.
He quickly opened her online private diary and voraciously assimilated its contents.
He read her prayers for him and their children.
He read her doubts in him and her loneliness; not only when he traveled on business trips, but even when he was around.
He learnt how he was gradually letting go of his mantle as the spiritual head of his family and only shoved his position of the head of the family in making decisions that took them to nowhere, or in bossing her around.
He read her personal account of him as a selfish and lousy lover and her silent dissatisfaction over the years.
He learnt how neglectful he had been and how he had failed in providing for his family; not for want of not having the means, but due to his careless attitude.
He learnt that she was tired of a marriage that left her feeling as if she was a single parent most times and she only stuck to the union because she did not want to leave their children with the legacy of a broken home.
He learnt how deeply hurt she felt about all his extra-marital affairs that he thought were top secret.
It was a sober revelation and reflection.
He looked at who he had become and what would likely happen in a couple of years if they continued down that road.
The male ego part of him that bristled wanted to accuse her of dating online, of unfaithfulness, of cheating. A little niggling part of him reminded him how neglectful he had been. If the truth be told, how he had been a lousy husband and father.
He thought about his wife all over again, and knew that he still loved her. He did not want to lose his Monica to a fast talking Jay Romeo who sent her lovely poems and virtual flowers.
Rising from the toilet seat where he had sat for several hours, he stepped back into the carpet padded room, stood and gazed at his wife through the soft illumination of light coming from the restroom and heaving a sigh of pent-up emotions, he got back into bed and drew her malleable warm form into his body his mind made up to fall in love all over again.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha