As they awaited Mimi’s mysterious friend, an argument broke out between Civir and Anna:
“Jay Z had Beyoncé but he still went out to cheat…” Anna was saying.
“How do you know that he cheated on her?” Civir cut in. Anna paused and looked at Civir like she had said the stupidest thing.
“Which kind of question is that one? Didn’t you watch Lemonade?” she asked.
“But she is an artist. Her job is to create art and she created it beautifully with Lemonade. It doesn’t mean that she experienced it personally,” Civir opined.
“Ehn-ehn…” Anna shook her head in disagreement. “Lemonade was just too deep. Only a hurt woman could be so accurate. Abeg, did you even hear the words of those poems? The lyrics…. No! That ugly man cheated on Beyoncé.”
“But don’t they all?” Jenny remarked. “You will do everything for a man but that little thing between his legs will still swing in the wrong direction.”
Anna laughed, “Not all of them are little,” she retorted to a wild laughter.
“My point is that it is almost as if men are designed to cheat. Even our society is so biased that a man cheating is not news, but a woman cheating? God forbid!” Jenny said.
“Abi? It is so unfair. Worst of all, a woman has to put up with her husband’s infidelity because she will be solely blamed and judged if she seeks a divorce,” Anna said.
“How many marriages are even made under the Act to permit a divorce in the first place?” Erica asked.
“Some people even blame the woman when her husband or boyfriend cheats on her,” it was Bisola.
“Yes oh, my sister. They will tell you things like, ‘You didn’t pray enough’ or ‘You didn’t serve him well’ as if any of that somehow gives him the warrant to go around giving women his thing like he is Fada Christmas,” Jenny said. A wry laughter rang in the booth followed by a few seconds silence.
“But don’t you think that some women are responsible for their men’s infidelity?” this was Civir. She could feel the sting in the eyes fixated on her immediately those words slid out of her mouth.
“Abeg, Civir, explain to me how it was my fault that my ex-boyfriend was using my money to buy things for his ashawo. Mzambe we cuu cuu, I beg of you, explain,” Jenny put her glass on the centre table and leaned towards Civir.
“Oya, Civir, za hemen. Carry on,” Anna seconded.
“Ahn-ahn…. Take it easy now, guys,” Civir said looking from side to side. “I am just saying that sometimes, some women don’t know what their men want; others even refuse to give them what they want even when they know it. So the man has to satisfy his innate desires somewhere else.” The booth was dead silent for a few seconds. A few jaws had even fallen open.
“So women don’t have innate desires abi?” Erica chipped in.
“Are you serious? I had to change my schedule time and again to give all my ex-boyfriends, all three of them since last year, what they told me they wanted. And what did I get? They used my money which I generously gave them to cheat on me. Don’t tell me that nonsense!” Jenny snapped, her forefinger tapping the table for emphasis. Civir knew then that she had pushed the wrong button. She realised that this wasn’t the kind of group to praise men for their fidelity in. All of them had suffered one too many heartbreaks. Even she herself had suffered quite a few before Luter. She instinctively offered Jenny a drink as a form of apology. A drink Jenny immediately rejected, but after some playful pleading from Civir, smiled with the corner of her mouth and snatched away.
Mimi whispered into Civir’s ear requesting her to join her in the bathroom. It was down the hall to the left of the bar, she explained. Immediately Civir got to the bathroom door, Mimi pulled her over to the balcony that overlooked the city. The sky was star-lit, yellow lights dotted the tall buildings ahead and the road was packed-full with cars. The atmosphere was filled with the pee-pee of car horns, a million indistinct voices, and a general hunger in the air of desperate people trying to get to their destinations and of petty traders running from car window to car window, desperate to sell their goods to needy, impatient customers.
Mimi stood quietly beside Civir for a few seconds, her hands on the railings. She took a deep breath and began to ask about Civir’s family: her husband, her kids…her married life.
“Did you ever doubt your decision to marry Luter?” Mimi suddenly asked. Civir turned from her to look far into the distance. She had always known, since the time Luter had taken her out, that she would marry him. But that didn’t mean that she never doubted or questioned the decision when it came down to the wire. In fact, she always had a doubt inside her. That feeling still crept back into her mind even after marriage. Luter’s love and affection were the only things that helped her suppress that doubt.
“I did,” Civir said. “I think it is only natural to have doubts this close to your wedding. It is a big deal! You are committing your life to someone else. I think that is why we doubt it. We doubt the worthiness of the person and the rightness of our decision.” Seeing that Mimi looked quiet and pale, Civir put her hand on her shoulder and added, “You have been with this man for over a year, surely you are making the right decision.” Mimi stood quietly for a few more seconds before taking a deep breath.
“Of course! I can’t be wrong,” she said and turned to walk away. She stopped as if she was trying to remember something she had forgotten, “Why did you stop working?” She suddenly asked.
Civir was taken aback by the question. She had asked herself the same question time and again. Why did she give up such an illustrious career that she truly loved? She had been one of the most promising barristers in the country. Private individuals and companies alike clamoured for her. She loved that. She loved to be wanted for what she could do and not for what she could give. Litigating in court, being serious, using serious words, asking serious questions and shouting ‘objection!’ to most things the other party had to say while calling the judge ‘My Lord’ – that was what made her happy, what made her feel whole. Even the amount of research she did late at night was so organic and fun. It felt good to prosper in a field where there were so few successful women. Why, then, did she give all of that up?
“It is best for my marriage that Luter does all the heavy-lifting,” she said calmly.
“Don’t you miss it sometimes?” Mimi who had walked over to the railings beside Civir asked. “You really loved your job.”
“I did,” Civir said. “We always have to sacrifice one thing for the other. You’ll understand more as you get older.” A dead silence ensued. The horns of the cars and the indistinct voices took over the conversation and both Civir and Mimi did not mind it.
“It is a cross, isn’t it? Being a woman?” Mimi said perplexedly.
Civir scoffed, “A cross we must carry.” Both women stood silently for a while before Mimi walked back inside.
As Civir stood on the balcony looking at an interesting seller with a board of stickers who appeared to be holding the front passenger door of a car, her thoughts wandered back to her own wedding. She had been a nervous wreck. She knew she loved Luter, but something in her kept tugging at her love as if to dismantle it. She froze when it was time for her to take the aisle. Her feet just wouldn’t move and her body lacked the spirit to force them. It took the words of Luter’s female friend, the same girl who had assured her of Luter’s gentleman behaviour the morning of their first meeting, for her to finally take the aisle. What a sweet girl she was. Her face was vague in Civir’s mind mainly because they barely met. But on the few occasions they did, she was genuinely nice and caring. She was dark-skinned and her face was almost perfectly oval. Civir remembered this because Luter had once compared them both to her utter disappointment. They met just once after the wedding after which she never heard from her again. Even Luter didn’t hear from her. She would have made a great friend, Civir thought. A quarrel soon broke out between the driver of the car and the stickers seller and the driver got out of the car cursing in Yoruba.
Mimi’s friend had arrived before Civir got back inside. She was tall, dark-skinned and had a beautiful oval-shaped face. Her name was Nneka. As a new toast was proposed by Anna to start the night, and there was clinking of glasses, Civir’s glass slipped from her hand and shattered on the hard tiled floor….
Stay tuned for [Chapter 3] Next Friday, meanwhile enjoy your weekend!…