Hi there! This is where we left off, in the dimly-lit living room of the Tachie-Mensons. The story continues…
‘W-what did you just say? You have got to be the most selfish person on this planet right now! We have 3 children and you are just going to walk away because it is too difficult to balance being Mummy with taking care of all your beloved clients?! This is not the woman I married!’, Frank spat out the words at her, clearly appalled at what he was hearing.
‘There is no need to raise your voice, Frank. You will wake the kids up!’
‘You are such a hypocrite, Korkor! Suddenly our kids are a priority, aren’t they?’
“Listen! I know it sounds extreme, but this is the only way that I can be myself without feeling like some Wicked Witch from the West. It is the only way I can plunge myself into work without worrying about you or the kids. Plus, with that, we can work out visitation hours. I will get to see them. It won’t be so bad.’
‘No, you listen! All I hear is me, I, myself. What about our kids? Junior is just 3, for Christ’s sake! What about me? Are we supposed to just go on without you? You think it is that easy? What kind of mother casually talks about leaving her home as if she is thinking about changing the colour of her bathroom tiles?’
‘Maybe you should get used to the fact that not every woman is fulfilled by just being a wife and a mother. Some of us actually want more than that. Why should I be the devil incarnate just because I also want to be happy? I don’t want to go and sit in front of some stranger and tell him about my childhood, and watch him analyze why our family is not picture-perfect. I am done, Frank.’
Frank was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness. He sat with his head in his hands. When she attempted to walk past him, he held on to her arm and whispered, ‘Don’t go, K. Please don’t leave me.’ His plea was met with silence. She waited until he loosened his grip and then she walked away. She stopped in the hallway and said over her shoulder, ‘Don’t wait up for me tomorrow.’
When he was alone, he quietly began to sob.
Real nigga tears, like Mark called them.
Mark had never been too thrilled about the whole Korkor idea. He had always said that Korkor was too opinionated to be a submissive wife. Mark was honest to a fault- he would never tell a lie even if it meant losing his job. He met Mark when they were both studying for BECE and while everyone was giving funny excuses for not finishing their assignment, Mark simply told the truth- ‘I forgot because I was watching a match.’ Not very smart, considering the beating he got afterwards, but it was admirable. They became friends soon after that and Mark was always the go to person for an honest opinion. No garnishing or editing. The truth served cold.
‘Ma guy, you sure she bi wife? I no get the wife vibe oo. I mean, don’t get me wrong. She is fiiiiine, and I have tasted her jollof. Plus you know what they say about Krobo women in bed. But she seems too ambitious to just ‘abandon’ her dreams to raise your kids.’
That was the first thing he told Frank the day he met Korkor.
‘Oh, we have talked about it. We will strike a balance.’
‘That’s not a smart move. Right now, both of you are on Cloud 9, so you are just saying things to make each other happy. I don’t mind an ambitious wife, but then again, I am not big on family like you are. What is going to happen when she has to make a choice? Can you guarantee that she will choose family over a promising career?’
Mark was right. How could I be this gullible?
Frank woke up in the arm chair around 4am. The painful memories from last night hit him, one after the other. He had cried himself to sleep- Mark would be disappointed. He quickly climbed up the stairs to take a quick shower before the kids woke up.
The room was empty.
She was gone.
Along with two weeks’ worth of clothes.
Typical! She didn’t even have the courage to face her children. Leaving me to do all the hard work.
He told the kids that she had gone on a business trip and that she would be back soon.
‘She didn’t even say bye-bye?’, Junior asked tearfully.
‘It was an emergency. She will be back.’
I hope so.
He hated lying to the kids, but even he was not ready to accept the truth. He avoided Aku like the plague. This wasn’t the time for impromptu erections, he had a family to save. Of course, it was Mark who discovered his secret. He caught him in a weak moment- watching her sing and dance with Junior.
Mark pulled him to the study for a serious talking to.
‘Is this why Korkor left?’
‘Ah, but you paa? Korkor doesn’t know.’
‘Maybe that is the problem. If she knew that her absence from home was making you lust after the help, she would have moved back home tonight. Herh, we were all here when she came oo. She had body odour and she didn’t know how to use a toothbrush. Frank paa?!’
‘At least she loves my kids.’
‘Akwa wei paa! Listen to yourself! I also love your kids, does that give you an erection? Nonsense! I will not allow you to stoop this low. Look, I know you are in a rough place but even if, for some bizarre reason, we allow you to end up with Aku, you think taking care of your kids will be enough? I know you, bruh! Intelligence is your biggest aphrodisiac. Does she have an opinion on the effect of colonization on Africa in the 21st century?’
Frank laughed. It was his first genuine laugh in the longest time. It felt good.
‘So what should I do? Should I send her away?’
‘No, it is already tough on the kids without their mother. She knows how to take care of them. Work on yourself and quit losing your head just because your maid knows how to calm your 3 year old son’s nerves. We will get through this. Don’t make things any more complicated.’
That evening, Vanessa came to her father’s room and sat on his bed.
‘Mummy is gone, isn’t she?’
‘Nessa, why do you ask?’
‘Because it’s been three weeks since she left. She hasn’t called once and you are always sad. Don’t worry. We will be fine. We are not doing too badly, are we?’
Reaching over to embrace his daughter, Frank was struck by the strength that his children had displayed over the past three weeks. None of them asked too many questions or nagged. They weren’t perfect, but they were okay. As for Aku, she was none the wiser. There was a time when he had dreamt that he had a weak moment. At least, he thought so. Aku had come into his study to turn off the lights because he had fallen asleep behind his books. He pulled her onto his lap and said, ‘Don’t leave. Stay with us. The kids need you. I need you.’ She wiggled her way out of his grasp and made for the door. The poor girl was probably scandalized. Even now, he wasn’t sure if it was a dream or not, because when he woke up the next morning, he found one of her slippers under the table. She never brought it up and for that, he was thankful. If it ever came up, he could just feign innocence and say that he thought it was Korkor.
Two months later…
Constance popped her head into Korkor’s office.
‘They would like to schedule a conference call at 8pm. Should I go ahead and confirm your availability?’
She stared at the family portrait they had taken last year- all 5 of them. They all looked so happy, all of them except her. Her smile didn’t reach her eyes. Sometimes she missed the kids crawling into their bed on Saturday mornings, and Junior’s peanut butter-stained fingers holding on to her, but it didn’t come with the aching loss that staying away from her job would have brought her. She would have probably always wondered, ‘What if?’
I made the right choice. At least now I am happy.
Turning the picture face down, she smiled at Constance and said, ‘Sure! Why not? It is not like I have anywhere else to be.’
Story continues here…