Mouse Trap Series - Episode 2



I watched Ben fumble with the bread toaster trying to get it to work even though I had already told him it was broken, but he was insistent on acting like I wasn’t in the room. He flung the toaster across the room and it landed with a frightening crash that left the room dead silent. I stared at the shattered pieces of the machine scattered on the kitchen floor, wishing it was me lying there, broken and unrepairable with all my problems behind me. Ben cursed and stormed out of the room, he banged the door so hard the windows shook and the utensils hanging on the wall chimed. I listened to his retreating footsteps with a sense of forlorn. I knew I was certainly doomed.

At first, that night after Monica’s party, I had lied that I was on my period and couldn’t have sex just yet. Ben had been disappointed but had taken it well. A week later, I was still singing the same lie and he had lost it, he started yelling at me at the slightest provocation and insisted I saw a doctor but I assured him it was normal for me to see my period for ten days. Now it was two weeks and he wasn’t talking to me altogether. I was still insisting that I was on my period but I knew I was hanging on a spider’s twig that would snap at any moment.

I cleaned the mess on the floor and headed upstairs. For once, I wished Ben’s mother and brother were still here and hadn’t moved back to their respective homes. They had helped in distracting him for hours long at a time. They would gossip about relatives, especially about those who had failed at something. Then they would laugh at them like witches in a meeting until they choked on their own saliva. It was disgusting, what they did, but I was grateful, it kept them out of my hair. Now they were gone, Ben had all the time to want to have sex with me and I was probably the only wife in the world that wished her husband would get a mistress and leave her be.

I found Ben sitting in front of the TV, his phone to his ear. He looked at me, at first questioningly, then accusingly and I stopped short. Who was he talking to on the phone? What were they telling him? He stood up and started pacing the room and my heart started to beat really fast. Was it the eavesdropper at Monica’s party? After two weeks, Monica and I had concluded the eavesdropper hadn’t heard anything or wasn’t going to do anything about what she heard and I was even beginning to forget about it. Ben’s eyes widened and he threw a glance at me. I felt my legs begin to quiver and I grabbed the étagère by the window for support. Ben ended the call and flung it on the couch.

“When were you going to tell me all that went on while I was away?” He asked.

I looked at him and I could almost see the venom burst through his eyes. My heart began to beat at an untellable speed and I considered running out the door to anywhere but in the room with Ben. He took a few steps towards me and I was sure he was going to hit me; he stopped midway as though it struck him that he shouldn’t. His phone rang but he stood there glaring at me. A sound escaped my lips like a whimpering dog and my knuckles tightened around the frame of the étagère.

“I cannot believe that you would abandon my mother. Is it because I wasn’t here?”

Tears of relief stung my eyes. Is that what this was about? I searched his face for a clue that there was more.

“She was ill and hospitalized and you never went to see her?”

I stood there staring at him, relieved. I breathed a sigh but I knew sooner than later I would be grabbing something more than the étagère to escape Ben’s wrath.

“I know you guys have your differences but I don’t believe you would be that heartless”

“I didn’t know she was ill” I said calmly

“You didn’t know? Chidi said he told you”

I opened my mouth to speak but I closed them back. I couldn’t believe that Chidi would betray me. What else had he told Ben? Chidi had been my friend and confidant and I had thought he was on my side.

“I have begged you to take my mother as your mother; I don’t know why that is so hard for you to do”

Because your mother is a demon. I watched him recognise the disgust in my eyes. I had once told him in one of our phone conversations while he was away to never liken his mother to mine because his mother was a terrible person. Ben had yelled on the phone like a goat in a slaughter house, and I had silently thanked God that the Atlantic was between us for he would surely have buried me over that. Ben had hung up and refused to speak to me for weeks. I hadn’t minded, he still sent my allowance anyway and that was ok. But Monica had insisted I called and apologised. Ben had accepted the apology but he had known that I didn’t regret what I said.

The war between his mother and me had started the day she first set her eyes on me. Ben had taken me to meet her for the first time after he proposed and she had ordered me not to sit on her couch as soon as we walked in. She said she had just washed it in preparation for a meeting and didn’t want it to get dirty. I stared at her alarmed; I had never before then seen such open animosity. It was as though she knew me from somewhere and we were already enemies before that day. She then went inside the house and came out with a broom. Confused, Ben and I watched her as she handed the broom to me and asked me to sweep out the sand my shoes brought in. Ben had been furious and told her we were leaving. She clapped her hands loudly and said it was even better; she didn’t want the witch, me, in her house anyways. Ben didn’t speak to her for two months from that day but she didn’t relent. She didn’t want me in Ben’s life and that was final.

Monica finally suggested I bought the woman gifts to win her over and I had taken some food items to the village to see her but she had screamed and called on her entire clan to rescue her from the witch Ben brought into their lives. She accused me of intending to kill her with my voodoo charmed food items and had chased me out of her house with a machete. Ben had gone over to talk to her but instead of reasoning with him; she quickly stripped herself naked and ran out to her front yard, calling on Amadioha to save the seed of her nakedness. After that, Ben had considered locking her up in a psychiatric home but I had told him not to. I broke up with him instead but Ben would have none of that. He went ahead and suggested we got married without his mother’s consent. A decision I came to heavily regret for his mother remained a thorn in my flesh for every day of our marriage. If it wasn’t that my food tasted horrible, it would be that I dressed like a prostitute. Infact, the one she sang constantly into every ear willing to listen was that I ate up all the babies in my womb, that if not I should have gotten pregnant from the wedding night. She always had something evil to say about me. How then could I possibly take such a woman as my mother?


Ben went into our bedroom and banged the door for the second time that day. I slowly sank into the couch as I acknowledged the mess I got myself into. I should never have married Ben.

***************************************************

I was rudely brought back to the present by the counsellor’s words. She was saying the same things she had said to me that first day; your life doesn’t have to change much, you will be fine as long as your take your drugs everyday, you can still have children and other blah blah blah that she had been programed to say as a HIV counsellor. I had heard enough of those. It’s dissociation from reality irritated me. Of course, my life would change, it already had and was still changing.

She coughed to get my wavering attention and I nodded vigorously like a lizard to assure her that I was listening. She resumed talking and I looked at the picture of an AIDS patient hanging above her head. The figure in the picture was sprawled out on a hospital bed like a lifeless skeleton, it’s eyes were fallen deep in its sockets and they stared at me, begging to be saved. I gasped in panic and looked at the astute lady counsellor.  Would that be me in years to come?

“You can survive this” The counsellor said and reached across the table for my hand. “This doesn’t have to be the end” she said

I looked at her amazed at her tone. It was entirely different from the mechanical tone she had used all along. Maybe it was her going soft or just the intimacy of the moment that brought the tears flowing from my eyes. I wiped them with the back of my hand and sniffed loudly. She drew out a roll of tissue from the tissue box on the table and handed it to me. I wondered how many times she had had to do that. How many patients cried like me across the table from her? How many HIV patients she counselled in a day? Were some of them dead already? How many had been able to live with the virus for years? How much answer did this woman even have? Since testing positive I had found out that nobody had the right answers; not the nurses that handed me the antiretroviral at the dispensary, not the doctors, not even the counsellor that was supposed to stabilize my state of mind. This HIV thing was just a hazy world and everyone seemed to be saying the same thing – ‘strive to survive… I don’t know how but you can at least try’. There was no straight answer.

“Is there any way I could have sex with my husband without infecting him?” I asked the real question that brought me to the counsellor’s office

The counsellor looked at me, alarmed. I was sure she had assumed it was my husband that gave me the virus that first day she asked and I had told her I was married. I watched as she tried to decide if she should pry. She finally answered the question while trying to look as normal as possible

“Yes, you could use a condom. Even though it’s not a hundred percent…”

I raised my hand “How about without a condom?” I cut in

She smiled pitifully and shook her head

“Why don’t you come in with him, so we can teach you both how…”

“That’s not an option” I cut in and stood up so she wouldn’t continue.

I thanked her for her time and headed for the door. As I shut the door behind me, I caught her shaking her head sadly and that image stayed with me as I drove home.

***************************************************

At home, Chidi was lying on the couch reading a daily. I murmured a hello and proceeded for the bedroom.

“Really? This is how you greet me these days?”

I stopped “This is coming from someone who has treated me like a stranger for two weeks now” I replied

“What do you expect me to do when he’s here?”

“I see you have resumed the bond with your brother, what and what have you told him already?”

“Told him?”

“You told him about not going to see your mother”

“I didn’t have to… Mama… Wait, you think I would tell him everything?”

I kept silent realising how ridiculous it actually sounded. He couldn’t tell Ben anything, he would be implicating himself too.

“Come to think about it, you’ve really been treating me coldly for a while and it’s not about him coming back. You’re different, something is different, is there something wrong? Is there something I’m missing?”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were HIV positive?” I shouted in anger

“What?” Chidi asked shocked

“What?” Ben shouted from the door 

To be continued...



Story written by +Jane Kalu  
Jane Nnedinma Kalu is a devoted writer whose heart is set on telling the stories of people who can't. She is also a book-aholic and if by chance was stuck on an island, the first and most important thing she would want to have is a book.

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.

4 comments:

  1. Finally, I thought the continuation of this story will never come. Jane tells this story beautifully and so real. Is it a true life story? If it is, please tell the girl to stop fighting her mother-in-law, she has every right to protect her son. Nobody understands all those mother-in-laws until your have your own son and become protective of him. Sometimes, you wouldn't even see it like you're over-doing it. The girl should cool down and please the woman and she will eventually win her over.She won't gain anything by hating her. She doesn't have a choice, she's already married to her son. And maybe it is even the woman that is responsible for all her problems (diabolically). Maybe making peace with her will take all her problems away. Pls when is the next story coming? Pls don't take too long again.

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    Replies
    1. 'Cooling down' doesn't always solve the problem between mother in laws and daughter il. Infact, it gets the woman to start riding on the wife. Best thing is to pray to never have such a woman in your life. Some can never be pleased. This mother ils own is too much and I don't blame the girl for feeling how she does.

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  2. Ben should divorce her. She is evil and might kill him in his sleep.

    ReplyDelete
  3. H (you know who)11 July 2014 at 22:12

    Wait! She was having sex with Chidi? OMG. What kind of woman sleeps with her hubby's brother? He should send her packing, she never loved him. Pls post the next one!

    ReplyDelete

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