The next Monday, Muri walked into Evergreen restaurant during his lunch break; it was 12.30pm. He was dreading this meeting, but it was long-overdue. He took responsibility for his part in the potential breakdown of his marriage, and he knew that if he didn’t want to lose Ameh, he had to take drastic and decisive action.
He removed his jacket and left it in his car before he walked into the restaurant, giving a quick greeting to the security man at the entrance.
He saw the two people who he was meeting with seated at a table at the back corner of the restaurant. There were only a handful of customers in the restaurant at that time.
Muri got to the table, pulled out a chair, and sat down in front of his mother and Vera.
His mother was dressed in her trademark style of colourful kaftan and head-tie with flashy gold jewelry, and Vera was dressed in a black trouser suit with accompanying long hair extensions; obviously she was on her lunch break just as he was.
‘My own, how are you?’ his mother asked him with a concerned look on her face. Vera said nothing; she just smiled at him expectantly. Subtle jazz music played in the background from hidden speakers.
‘I’m fine Mum. Thanks for meeting with me. I need to talk with both of you. I need to put an end to this situation’. Muri turned to look at his mother. ‘Mum, Vera and I will never get married. I am married to Ameh, and I intend to stay married to her’.
His mother scoffed at him. ‘You can’t be serious’. ‘Oh, I am very serious’ he countered.
At that point, a waiter approached the table with some menus to take their order, but sensing the heat of their conversation, retreated back to the bar to wait until he was needed.
‘Ma’ Vera interjected. ‘I’m sorry but I agree with Muri. I can’t go along with this any more. I know how much you wanted Muri and I to have a relationship that would end in marriage. It is not fair to his wife what we have been doing’.
The tension at the table was palpable. ‘I simply want my son to be married to a woman of good pedigree who can actually bear children for him’ Muri’s mum declared.
Muri thought of leaving the restaurant at that moment-he was fed up. He however resisted the urge to do so.
‘Besides Ma’ Vera continued. ‘I have met someone. A nice man who is not married’. She smiled sadly. ‘I can not keep up this charade anymore. He is based in Lagos and I intend to join him there. I think this would be the best for everyone’. Muri breathed a sigh of relief but kept his expression neutral.
He turned his attention again to his mother. ‘Mum, I want you to be a part of my life-you know this. But if you can not treat my wife with courtesy, then our relationship will not work. Ameh’s parents treat me with so much love and respect; I do not see why you can not do the same for her’. His mother stared into the distance, saying nothing.
Muri turned to Vera. ‘I’m very happy for you’. She smiled. ‘Thank you’.
He stood up, moved close to his mother and gave her a peck on her cheek. She turned to look at him, an unreadable expression on her face. ‘Goodbye Mum’.
Muri waved at Vera, and went back to work, leaving the two women to think over his words.
All of his life, Muri had been his mother’s fixation. He was her prize in the ‘war’ against his father when their marriage broke down.
His goal in life right from his childhood was to please his mother. Every good grade, every sports prize, every accolade were things he had ultimately attained for her.
His father had remarried, and Muri often spent time with him, his step-mother and his half sister. He was a reluctant diplomat, engaging in fostering peaceful mediation between his divided family.
Even when his mother had orchestrated a relationship between himself and Vera, the daughter of a wealthy couple who were his mother’s friends, he had gone along with it. They had both been studying at the University of Abuja at the time, and it had been convenient. The relationship broke down several times because even though they liked each other, they were simply not compatible.
When he had met Ameh at a friend’s party some years after he had started working full time, everything suddenly made sense. He had stared at her for a long time before he eventually approached her. ‘Your eyes are so beautiful’ were the words which he had first uttered to her. Her smile at his words were like a cold drink of water-it calmed his insides. He had been in the midst of one of his many breakups with Vera, so he did not think twice about asking Ameh out.
At age 32, this would be the first time that Muri had ever gone against his mother’s wishes. She had cried, saying that Vera was of class and wealth, unlike this strange person whom he had introduced to her. Muri had remained resolute, telling her that Ameh was the one who actually made him happy. His mother had relented, and made an effort to be (slightly) pleasant to Ameh during the wedding planning process.
About a year into Muri’s marriage, his mother had burst in again, telling him that Vera would have been a better choice for him. They were yet to have children, and he, against his better judgement, started a relationship with Vera again.
When Muri got back to work, he sat for a long time, staring at the wall. He picked up his mobile phone, scrolled through his recent call list, and dialed ‘Baby’.
‘Hello?’ Ameh answered. There was a new wariness in his wife’s voice, which made him sad.
‘Babe, hope you’re fine. I was just wondering how we should go about looking for a marriage counselor’.
‘I actually just got us a referral to see one. The counselor has a practice at the medical centre near Jabi Lake’.
‘Oh, great. Can we talk more about it when we get home?’
‘Sure’. There was a slight pause in the conversation.
‘Okay, babe. Enjoy your day’. ‘Thanks. You too’.
They ended the call, with so many words left unspoken.
©Ivie M.Eke 2016.