It happened a year after our marriage. After I got tired of waking up to the lifeless silence of our Lekki house, with its high fancy windows, after I got tired of receiving gold earrings and necklaces from him whenever he had been gone for more than a month. In complete honesty, I wanted something new, a change. I was too accustomed to the comfortable evasiveness of our marriage, the way we avoided the necessary things, like his constant absence, the way I could not tell him that his expensive gifts brought along a trace of anger and isolation to my throat, and how it made my head pound and my throat itch.
The cheating was spontaneous. I never thought of it, because I knew thinking of it, spending hours planning it, would mean that I really wanted it. And I did not want this.
It happened with a man named James, a stranger I had never met before. I lay supine in his bed and when he slipped into me, I grasped the firm flesh of his buttocks and moaned. Later, when we lay side by side after the sex, I refused to let guilt clutch at my intestines. Instead, I dressed and told him calmly, “We should not do this again.”
Weeks later, when my husband Ayo returned home, the serene way his lips curled into a smile filled me with rage. I felt resentful of this man, someone I would never know, even after years of marriage . I stared at him, at the self – satisfied way his hands moved as he talked about the latest movie he had just finished filming, and I was piqued, enveloped by the sudden urge to slap him, to raise my voice and scream at him, “Are you blind? Can’t you see I’m not happy?”
He kept on talking. Outside, the gardener clipped the overgrown bushes of white and purple bougainvillea. I cleared my throat and looked the painting of the long-necked maiden on the wall before I finally let my gaze rest on him. I said, “I had sex with another man while you were away.”
His voice trailed off and his lips went slack for a moment. Then he asked me, “What did you say?”
I knew he heard me, knew he wanted me to reiterate my words so he would know what to do next, and I did not answer him. I did not give him that power. I wanted him to feel, to know that I was hurt, that true love was not all about glossy life and boxes of fancy jewellery. That our marriage had gaping holes in place of solid, real things. I sipped my wine and looked at him again, but still, I did not answer.
Instead, I hummed under my breath.
Olakunle Ologunro is a student of English Language in the University of Ilorin. He lives in Lagos. He was a participant in the 2016 Farafina Workshop. To read his memoir, click here…