When her boyfriend tells her he is getting married, Sanda is absolutely delighted. That is until he declares that he is marrying someone other than her. Deeply hurt, she breaks down after he returns her home. After staying away from her and their child for over a month, she discovers him in her home, holding her child.
"I'm getting married," said Dola. We were sitting on a picnic blanket under the shade of a tree. I smiled and looked down shyly, waiting for him to ask me for the details of the people he would talk to about my bride price, but he did not ask for them. I raised my head to look at him.
"My fianc?e and I will get married in three months, but it's you I love," he said.
"Your fianc?e?" I echoed, certain I had not heard right.
"The woman I'm going to marry."
"What about me?" I demanded, shocked that he was talking that way.
"You'll always be the love of my life."
"What are you saying? Are you going to marry us both?"
"Then what do you mean?"
"I'll be married to my fianc?e because my parents like her, but I'll continue to see you, we'll carry on as before."
"No!" I shouted, outraged.
"Don't say that."
"I will not be a home wrecker."
"You won't be wrecking anything, Sanda. The marriage will be in name only. I feel nothing for her."
"Then don't marry her! Marry me."
"I can't do that."
"Why not? What's wrong with me? What makes your parents not like me?"
"You know how parents are."
"I don't know how your parents are. You've never introduced me to them as your girlfriend."
"It wasn't appropriate."
"When did you introduce them to this other woman?"
"What does that matter?"
"Six months ago."
"While you were dating me?"
"I..." I slapped him hard. We looked at each other in shock. I picked up my handbag and left, tears running down my cheeks. The pain in my heart was unlike any I had ever felt. It was even worse than child birth and I know, because I have a child, with the man who had just told me he was betraying me.
"Sanda. Sanda. Sanda, stop. Sanda!" he kept saying as he drove beside me. I made myself stop crying and continued to walk. He kept calling my name while I pretended not to hear.
"Sanda, it's getting dark, let me take you home at least," he said. I looked about, he was right. There was no chance of getting public transport there.
I stopped, he stopped the car, climbed out and opened the passenger door for me. He only did that when I was mad at him. I climbed into the car, he joined me and drove off.
We were silent most of the way to my home.
"You'll have to talk to me sometime," he said. I did not respond.
"You can't ignore me forever." Still, I was silent.
"The baby needs me, I'll come and see him sometimes, you have to talk to me then, and when you tell me what he needs," he continued. I frowned and decided there and then that I would never ask him for anything.
He stopped outside my block of flats. I climbed out in silence and went into my flat. Amasu, my neighbour and best friend had been babysitting Dami, my son, over the weekend. She and I had met after I had moved into the flat and had become friends quickly. I thanked her and asked her to leave. She could see I didn't want to talk and left.
I held my boy in my arms and wept. I don't know how long I did that, then I stopped and looked at him. He was watching me. I kissed him and apologised for my display. He smiled, I smiled back.
"We'll be fine, my boy. We'll be just fine. The first thing we have to do is get out of your father's house. He's done with us, so we're done with him."
Three days later, I woke up and didn't cry, unlike on the previous days when I had woken in tears and spent parts of the days wracked by sobs.
I looked up at the ceiling and decided to start looking for flats. I knew I would not afford a flat as upmarket as the one I was in, but we would be fine.
Over the following fortnight, I saw several flats, but they were in unsafe looking neighbourhoods. I decided to save for the flat until and unless Dami's father evicted me.
I returned home from work one evening, and my housekeeper, Misa, had let him in. He was holding my son. I had a hard time not snatching Dami from him.
I greeted my housekeeper, she offered to leave. I asked her to make tea and told her I'd pay for her to take a cab home. She started to look concerned, I phoned her husband to let him know, he gave permission reluctantly. Misa then went to make tea.
"Can I hold Dami?" I asked. Dola handed him to me, making a production of tangling our arms round the baby. I pretended not to notice and took Dami, then I sat down as I greeted him.
He watched me then he turned his eyes to his father. I was annoyed with him for doing that. He started fretting, I tried to calm him, but he would have none of it.
"I gave him to his father when he did that," said Misa. I looked at her as if I wanted to stab her, because I did.
"I'll take him," said Dola. I asked Misa to take Dami to his father. She looked at me oddly, then she took Dami. When he was with Dola, I asked her to sit down. Dola gave me a questioning look.
"How can I help you, father-of-Dami?" I asked. He smiled the smile that would make me do anything he wanted, but not today.
"I've come to see our child. He's growing very well. You're doing a great job with him," he replied.
"Does your future wife know you're here?" I asked bitterly. Misa gasped.
"Would you excuse us?" Dola asked her.
"She stays," I said firmly. He gave me a shocked look because I had never taken a stand against him.
"What brings you here?" I repeated.
"I thought we could talk about the future."
"What future? You're marrying another woman, we have no future, and if you think you can take my son, you have another think coming."
"Why are you so confrontational? I didn't come here to fight."
"You shouldn't have come at all."
"My son needs me, and I need you. I thought you needed me too."
"I did, until you told me you're getting married."
"Would you rather I hadn't told you?"
"I'd rather you'd told me you were marrying me and Dami."
"I told you I can't do that."
"Do your parents know about Dami?"
"What difference does that make?"
"Do you prefer my people to tell them?"
"Then what are you doing here since you clearly want nothing to do with either of us?"
"It's not that I want nothing to do with you."
"It's just that you want us to be dirty secrets."
"Then tell your people about us, or about Dami, at least."
"You should go."
"I'm doing you a favour!"
"The only favour I want from you is marriage, but since I won't get that, I want nothing else from you."
"You don't mean that."
"Misa, please get me my child." Misa stood and approached Dola cautiously, uncertain that he would hand the baby over. He did, she brought him to me. He protested by fretting, then he started crying.
"Don't cry my child, your father will never be in your life, get used to living without him," I said as I rocked him.
"Don't say that," said Dola.
"Misa, call a cab," I said. She left the room. I stood and paced up and down. Dami quieted as he looked at a corner behind me. He did that sometimes, focused on certain spots as if he was seeing something or someone.
Misa returned to say the cab would fetch her in ten minutes. I asked her to bring me my purse, I handed Dami to her while I found money for her in my purse, then I gave her the money and took Dami back.
"I'll wait outside," she said.
"Thank you. Don't let this man in here unless I'm here," I said. Dola gasped.
"Don't let anyone in here when I'm not here. I don't want my baby stolen, and I don't want people coming in here with evil intentions and making my baby sick," I continued.
"Yes, ma'am," she said.
"I'll see you tomorrow. Please thank your husband for letting you stay longer than usual. I hope this won't cause you problems."
"I'll be fine. Bye Dami, goodnight ma'am, goodnight sir," she said as she left.
"You didn't tell me about her." I had terminated the services of the maid Dola had hired for me, and hired Misa just before I gave birth because she knew something about pregnancy and childbirth, the first maid had known nothing about either of those things.
I had not discussed it with Dola, afraid to make him feel bad, fortunately he had never brought it up.
"When would I have told you? Between you choosing your wedding outfit and paying the bride price for another woman?"
"Don't be bitter, it doesn't suit you."
"Not much suits me these days. Leave, Dola."