Sharon sat at the dining table lost in thought. Her breakfast which by now was way past time was left cold and unattended to in the plate. Her husband, Gabriel, had left for work that morning without touching the meal she had prepared for him. This was fast becoming the norm. Their marriage of four years was gradually falling apart and they both knew it.
‘So is this how it is all going to end? I can’t endure this anymore.’ She didn’t know when the tears stahe didn’t know when the tears started rolling down her face. The time was 12;40 pm, she had not had breakfast yet she didn’t feel hungry. Her appetite had died just like the passion that once burned in their home.
She was brought back to reality by the sound of a message on her phone. She checked it and saw it was a reply from her husband to the message she had earlier sent to him which read thus:
“Gabriel, I don’t know why you are doing this. You constantly reject my food as if it is poisoned. It’s unfair. What do you want me to prepare for lunch?”
She read his reply aloud ‘I’m not hungry, I’ll take care of myself’ and more tears continued to flow. Gabriel had always loved her cooking. In the first year of their marriage, he never for once missed a meal or ate out except when they both went outing. So many things had gone wrong with their marriage and they both knew it.
‘What nonsense?’ she flared up. ‘Who on earth does he think he is? If he is tired of this marriage he should say so instead of treating me like I’m trash’ Sharon had had enough of his unpleasant attitude. In annoyance, she carried her food to the kitchen and emptied it in the dustbin. Boiled yam and scrambled egg which she had always loved with a cup of tea meant absolutely nothing to her at that moment. She poured the tea into the sink and opened the tap to rinse it off. She flung the plate and cup into the sink and stormed out of the kitchen.
As she entered the master bedroom which had now become a room she dreaded when Gabriel was around, she was repelled by the spell of his perfume which was still circulating. It was the same perfume he had always used even before they got married, the smell she had always liked. But for some reason, everything about her husband irritated her; from his looks to his deeds. She picked up her second phone which was on her side of the bed and angrily left the room. She sat in the sitting room and turned on the TV hoping that it will take her mind off what was going on in her home.
As a housewife, she spent most of her time at home. Gabriel used to have no problem with her being a full-time housewife as a matter of fact, during their courtship, he’d tell her it was his joy to be the one bringing in the money. Sharon being a graduate with a B.Sc. in Sociology was initially not comfortable with the whole idea but Gabriel succeeded in convincing her to resign and stay back to take care of the home. However, some four years down the line, the same Gabriel has been dropping subtle messages that being a housewife wasn’t good. As a result, she began searching for a job. The last thing she wanted to be was a liability.
She lay on the three seater and checked the different channels on DSTV. After going back and forth, she finally settled for a movie. As she watched it, she gradually started feeling sleepy and finally slept off.
The sound of Gabriel’s car driving into the compound they shared with the Baloguns, the family that lived in the duplex adjoined with theirs was what woke her up. She checked through the window to confirm he was the one.
She sat back in her seat and resumed watching TV. The days when she’d go out to welcome her husband with a warm hug and kiss were gone. She didn’t intentionally cease being homely, she didn’t see a need to warmly welcome her husband anymore, after all, he was the reason for what happened.
Gabriel opened the door leading to the sitting room, he saw Sharon watching TV. Deep down within him, he didn’t feel like talking to her but because he wasn’t in the mood to be in another argument, he decided to greet her ‘Good afternoon’ he greeted her like one will a stranger. His face was expressionless.
Sharon looked at him and looked away ‘why is he greeting me now? Better park well’ she thought. ‘Why are you refusing my food?’ she asked.
Gabriel ignored her and went straight upstairs to their room.
His silence always got to her more than anything. She went after him to give him a piece of her mind. She slammed the door open ‘Gabriel we need to talk!’ she said firmly as she folded her arms.
Gabriel sat on his side of the bed and bent down to loosen the lace of his black suede shoes. He didn’t say a word or even acknowledge her presence.
‘Is it not you I am talking to? She asked angrily.
‘What do you want from me, Sharon? What do you want?’ he removed his shoe and stood up to unbutton his shirt.
Sharon hated when Gabriel made her sound like a nagging woman ‘What do I want from you? Really? Gabriel, you are asking me what I want from you.’ she hit her hand on her chest ‘me Gabriel, me.’
Gabriel didn’t utter another word.
‘Why would you tell me you that you are not hungry and that you’ll take care of yourself? When did that rubbish start?’
‘Young lady, mind the way you speak to me’ he pointed his index finger at her warning her.
‘What will you do, will you beat me? Come and beat me so the whole world will know what kind of a husband you are.’
Gabriel ignored her and went into the toilet. He didn’t have anything to do there, he just needed to be away from her.
Sharon was boiling with anger. She knew that in the angry state she was, she needed to be mindful of the words she uttered because once they left her mouth they were irretrievable. She couldn’t care less about hurting any one’s feeling at that point, she herself was already terribly hurt.
After a while, Gabriel flushed the toilet although he didn’t use it. He hoped Sharon had left but if she hadn’t, the last thing he wanted was her nagging about him not flushing the toilet after use. He came out hoping to meet an empty room but alas, there she was, pacing up and down.
‘Gabriel, don’t let me ask you one more time, what will you have for lunch?’ she asked.
‘How many times will I tell you, I am fine. Plus I already had lunch at work.’ He replied calmly. ‘I’m not a baby Sharon.’
‘So that is how it is now right? Just because the other day I said that I was tired of cooking for you, is that why you have refused to eat my food? Didn’t I tell you I was sorry?’ the tone of her voice didn’t have any trace of remorse.
‘And I too have said that I’m fine, thanks for asking.’ He said sarcastically. ‘You don’t have to stress yourself to prepare anything for me. My secretary has been doing a good job.’
‘What?! Your secretary? Are you out of your mind?’ She flared up. ‘Why on earth will you rather eat food prepared by your secretary? No wonder, why I’m I even surprised?’ she eyed him ‘that’s why we are still like this, nothing to show after four years of marriage.’ Sharon words had always caused grave damage. She had not yet been out of one mess yet she was about entering another one.
‘What did you just say Sharon?’ Gabriel was shocked to hear her speak to him in that manner. He had heard her say some nasty things but never had she spoken to him that way.
‘You heard me.’
‘Let this be the last time you speak to me like that Sharon or else…’
She cut in ‘or else what? Or else what? Will you send me back to my father’s house? Listen to me, I’ll rather return to that place where there is peace than stay here and rot away in sorrow and bitterness’
Gabriel couldn’t believe his ears. He had had enough. Without saying another word, he left the room, went downstairs and picked the keys to the car. He couldn’t stay in the same place with her anymore. As he opened the door to leave, he met his neighbour, Mr Balogun about to press the bell.
He didn’t expect to see anyone. Now of all times was the worst time for his neighbour to come visiting.
‘Good afternoon Mr Okafor’ Mr Balogun said with a smile.
‘Afternoon, how can I help you?’ Gabriel said with a straight face.
The smile on Mr Balogun’s face quickly disappeared ‘I noticed the light of your car was left on and so I decided to inform you so your battery doesn’t go flat.’
‘Thank you, I was on my way out’ he said and left his neighbor standing in front of his house looking lost and confused.
‘That was not nice of you’ his conscience pricked him.
‘He can take a mattress and sleep there for all I care. The man should mind his business’ he replied the thought as he opened the door of his car and sat down at the driver’s seat. He attempted starting the car but it didn’t start, he tried again but got the same response. At that point, he was too ashamed to look at Mr Balogun who was passing by whistling as he went with his hands behind his back and having on his face the ‘I told you so’ look.
Gabriel picked his phone and called his mechanic.
‘Friday, where you dey?’ he asked.
‘Oga good evening, I dey shop.’
‘Abeg you fit come my house? My car no gree start.’
‘No wahala, e go take me 30 minutes to reach your side sha’, he explained.
‘Ok’ Gabriel knew his 30 minutes was nothing less than an hour. ‘When he comes, he’ll get the key from Sharon. I can’t spend another minute in this house’, he thought as he came down.
He went in, dropped the key to the Honda which was the one that had a fault and picked the key to the Kia. The Kia was his gift to his wife for their first year anniversary. He only drove it on rare occasions like the one he found himself. The gateman opened the gate and off he went. He initially didn’t have a destination in mind, he just wanted to be anywhere but his house. Going to the bar was not an option because he didn’t drink even though in recent times, he had started considering it strongly. He finally decided to go to his friend, Emmanuel’s house to cool off. He was a married man too so he knew he’ll understand or at least have an idea of what he was going through. He decided to call him first.
‘Hello Emma, how far?’ he was used to calling him by his short form.
‘I dey o, how na?’
‘Abeg you dey house?’
‘I just dey comot. Why?’
‘I needed somewhere to cool off. You know Sharon and her drama? But since you are going out, no wahala, I’ll find someone else to go’ he explained.
‘Sharon again? Wetin she do this time?’ he didn’t wait for a reply ‘Anyway, I just want to go and buy fuel. I’ll be back before you get here.’
‘Ok thanks man.’
‘No wahala, we’ll see soon.’
Gabriel was grateful, he had somewhere to go, he just wanted to be away for as long as possible. After another 30 minutes, he was at Emmanuel’s place. Emmanuel opened the gate for him and welcomed him. Then they both went in.
‘Is Favour around?’ Gabriel asked as he entered the sitting room.
‘No she went to get somethings for the house. The twins are in their room. They just started sleeping, hopefully, they don’t wake up anytime soon’ he chuckled. ‘Let me get you something. Malt is good yeah? He asked as he picked the remote control and changed the channel to Supersport to check if any football match of interest was being played.
‘Kachi’, he called out but got no response. ‘That boy can sleep for this nation ehn, let me get you the drink’, he said as he dropped the remote control and went into the kitchen.
Gabriel sat and wondered why his home was so different. ‘Why can’t my home be like this?’ he thought. There was an atmosphere in his friend’s home that he loved. He couldn’t really place a finger on it but he was certain that it was not just about the beauty or furnishing of the interior of the house, it was beyond the physical. He wanted what he saw, he loved it.
Emmanuel came out with a tray containing two cans of chilled malt, two glasses and some Kilishi. ‘Favour just returned from a conference in Abuja last month, she got some kilishi for us’, Emmanuel said as he dropped the tray on a stool and placed it beside Gabriel.
‘At least your wife travels for conferences. Sharon does nothing but sleep and wake up in that house’, Gabriel spoke his mind so plainly.
Emmanuel took a can of malt and some kilishi, sat down on the couch adjacent to Gabriel and listened to what he had to say.
‘Can you imagine that woman? She has become someone else entirely. That is not the person I married, as a matter of fact, I’m beginning to wonder what I’m still doing in this miserable trap you people call marriage’, he opened up.
‘Gabriel, don’t tell me you are thinking what it looks like you are thinking.’ Emmanuel sat up in his chair and dropped the three-quarter full can of malt on the stool beside him.
‘And if I am? Guy, you have no idea how I dread going home every day. That woman is literally now a thorn in my flesh.’ He paused and then continued ‘it is true that challenges are bound to arise in marriage, no doubt about that, but she never recovered from what happened to us. She thinks she was the only one that was hurt, I was really hurt too you know?’ his voice reflected his pain.
Emmanuel nodded and listened with full attention.
‘The worst part is she persistently and continuously puts the blame on me. I’m just tired of everything Emma. I can’t take it anymore’, he was close to tears.
‘Hmmm Gabriel, I wish I could say I understand what you are going through. I don’t. Things must be really hard for you, I can tell. But please, this is not the time to consider backing out. Remember, God hates divorce.’
‘Oh please, Emma. Don’t give me that crap’, he raised his voice. ‘Where was God when our one-year-old son was involved in that accident? Of all the people in the car that day, he was the only one that died. Why Emma? Why did God allow us suffer so much pain? You really think a God who didn’t care about what happened to our son cares about what happens to our marriage? Don’t even bring up the God-hates-divorce talk.’
Gabriel’s phone rang. He looked at the caller ID and saw it was Sharon ‘why on earth is she calling me now?’ he asked angrily. ‘The next thing now is she’ll be asking for my where about or what I want for dinner. She should better leave me alone. I’m not a child’, he put his phone on silence and placed it face down.
‘Just pick it and hear what she has to say first’, Emmanuel advised.
‘Nothing positive can come out of that woman’s mouth, trust me.’
Emmanuel chose not to press further. He didn’t know what else to say. He was surprised his friend spoke that way about God. ‘There are things that happen to us and we can’t explain why but you have to understand that God is still God come what may and I know things may not seem like it now but God loves you and your wife so much.’ He tried to encourage him. ‘There is light at the end of this tunnel I can assure you, Gabriel. There is only little I can say or do but I promise you I won’t stop praying for you.’
Gabriel sighed. He knew there was truth in what Emmanuel said ‘I’m sorry for raising my voice the way I did. I just got overwhelmed’, he apologized.
‘Haba, I totally understand. Can I pray with you?’ he offered.
Gabriel had not prayed in a long time. He gradually disconnected from God after he lost his son almost two years ago. He didn’t think God was even going to hear let alone listen to his prayer. In order not to appear like a backslider, he decided to allow Emmanuel pray.
After the prayers, Gabriel waited awhile and then told Emmanuel he was ready to leave and they both stood up but just as he was about stepping out, they met Favour at the entrance. She was carrying nylon bags, containing the things she bought.
‘Hey Gabriel, how are you? it’s so good to have you around.’ She dropped the bags and gave him a warm hug.
‘Kaaaccchiiii, come and carry these things into the kitchen, Emmanuel called out at the top of his voice to the houseboy who was meant to be in the kitchen but most likely was sleeping in the boy’s quarters and as expected, he didn’t get any response.
‘Good to see you too’, Gabriel smiled. ‘How have you been?’
‘I’ve been good, just a bit busy with work and all. How is your wife?’ she asked.
‘She is… she’s okay’, the smile on his face disappeared.
Favour noticed but didn’t bother the press further. ‘It is well with you in Jesus name. My regards to her.’
‘Alright. Thank you very much’, he said as he stepped towards the door ‘I was about leaving when you arrived.’
‘Awwwww are you sure you don’t want to eat anything?’ she offered. ‘I can just quickly fix something for you.’
‘Nah, that’s so kind of you. I’m fine, more so it’s getting late. Maybe some other time.’
‘Alright then. I would have seen you off but I need to quickly prepare dinner before the twins wake up’, she explained.
‘It’s totally fine. Thanks once again’, he said and stepped out of the house.
‘Emma, thank you for being there. Coming here has been so helpful. I’m so grateful’, he said as he walked towards his car.
‘Feel free to stop by anytime.’
‘Where is your car?’ Emmanuel knew he hardly drove Sharon’s car.
‘The battery was flat before I left the house’, he explained.
‘Oh ok. Whatever belongs to your wife belongs to you anyway.’
‘Not with Sharon o.’
‘Don’t worry, it is well’ he tapped his shoulders. ‘God is in control.’
Gabriel entered the car and drove out of the compound waving to Emmanuel who opened the gate for him.
On his way home he thought about everything he saw and experienced in his friend’s house; from the homely atmosphere to the love he witnessed between Emmanuel and Favour and said within himself ‘God if you really care about my marriage, then do something.’
On arrival home, he saw the Honda was exactly how he left it. He wasn’t sure if the mechanic came. Those guys cannot be trusted. He picked his phone and decided to call him. He saw seven missed calls from Sharon but ignored them and called his mechanic instead.
‘Hello Friday, how far the car?’
‘Oga no vex, work plenty for this place’, he didn’t disappoint.
‘Why you no con tell me?’
‘No vex oga, I no get credit’ he gave another excuse.
Gabriel was too angry to even argue ‘Friday, this is not good.’
‘No vex oga.’
He hung up. Just as he was thinking about his next line of action, Mr Balogun came out to get something from his car. He greeted Gabriel, ‘good evening Mr Okafor.’
Gabriel immediately felt sorry about his reaction earlier. He walked up to him, ‘I’m so sorry for how I acted earlier’, he apologized.
‘It’s ok. We all have those moments, don’t we?’ he smiled. ‘How is your car?’
‘Still the same, the mechanic didn’t come.’
‘Oh sorry about that. Do you mind if I take a look?’, he offered.
‘Oh not at all’, Gabriel wasn’t close to his neighbour. The most they had said to each other was the regular greetings. The Baloguns moved in about four months ago while the Okafors had been there since they got married four years ago. The family that lived there before the Baloguns were in no way close to friendly. This perhaps made Gabriel and Sharon keep their distance from the Baloguns.
Mr Balogun started the car and it came on immediately. Gabriel couldn’t believe it ‘this car refused to start this afternoon’, he said still surprised.
‘Cars can choose to be naughty sometimes’, he smiled ‘just allow it to warm a bit’, he told him and left.
‘Thank you very much.’ He appreciated him. ‘This car though’ he entered and sat at the driver’s seat. The thought of him entering the house to meet Sharon only made his heart heavy. After waiting in the car awhile, he turned off the engine and went in.
He didn’t know what kind of reaction to expect from his wife but he made up his mind that come what may, he wasn’t going to allow her spoil his mood. He got into the house and didn’t see any trace of the young lady.
‘Why was she now calling me?’ he asked as he went into the kitchen to prepare himself dinner.
He was not comfortable, something kept telling him to check on Sharon. The thought became so persistent that he abandoned the Indomie he was about to prepare and went upstairs ‘she most likely is sleeping as usual’ he told himself as he climbed the stairs reluctantly.
He opened the door to their room and saw her lying on the floor lifeless in a pool of her own blood. He rushed at her ‘Sharon Sharon!!!’ he tapped her and shouted on top of his voice ‘Somebody help. Help me please.’
To be Continued…
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Watch Out For Behind Closed Doors Part 2 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.
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