Tissues and Tissues
He was watching the Discovery Channel. Something about dolphins. It was quite absorbing. He began to marvel at the awesome wonder of creation. He took a minute off to pray; to thank God. The structure of earth and its inhabitants was indeed the work of a Genius. He finished praying and resumed watching, wistful smile intact. He barely noticed when she came in. More like stormed in.
She was literally foaming at the mouth. That was due to the fury. The unshed tears were a direct result of the feeling. The immensely painful feeling of betrayal. And heartbreak.
He didn’t sense her till she was standing right beside him. Dolphins were that much of a delight to watch.
“You lying, cheating bastard!” she screamed, waving her mobile phone at him. He looked up at her; shocked. She stared at his beautiful face. Well, it was beautiful to her no more. Perception was such a fickle substance. Alterable at will.
In a split second, his face registered guilt. “Guilt!” she thought, as her heart – already broken – now shredded. He’d broken that most sacred of sacred pacts: infidelity. They’d scaled through the lies that popped up every once in a while. Most of them even turned out to be for a decent cause. Ultimately. But this?
Once again, for the five hundredth time in her most grief-stricken hour, her mind replayed the images on her phone. Sent to her by a P.I. that was never hired. She didn’t know whether to thank the snooping bitch or curse her.
But she knew exactly what to do to the scum-bag that was no more on his seat but was weeping on his knees, saying things while he clutched at her pelvis. Things she wasn’t in the mood to hear. Things she DIDN’T hear; her mind and heart were now cordoned off by an immovable, unflinching resolve.
Quietly but poignantly, amidst sobs of her own, she murmured: “I want a divorce…”
* * * * * *
Being a ‘Lagos lawyer’ is not easy. Especially if you come from where I come from. I am the only lawyer my village has produced. Those folks would rather harvest yams than learn the English alphabet. Subsequently, everybody from my hometown now figures that they have an inherent license to steal, kill and cheat: for Chibuike is now a barrister.
So, yes – I have responsibilities. Did I mention the financial implications of being called to the Nigerian Bar? Let me: they are always at my door – home and office. Especially home. I figure owning cable tv and a really comfy leather sofa must be the feathers tipping that particular scale.
But don’t get the wrong picture: I’m pretty well-off if I may say so myself. The damsel who I deliberately knocked up (in order to force her father’s hand) gets to dress all fancy on Saturdays and Sundays. You know, for church and parties. Having walked her down the perilous aisle, she also gets to bear my surname. That’s gotta be a perk, right? Anyway, the rest of the week, she’s at home. On my shelf. Displayed nicely!
Today though, I’ve got a different set of priorities. I heard about this ultra modern bidet that just came into the country. For the very few who don’t know, a ‘bidet’ (pronounced “bee-day”) is a plumbing fixture that automatically washes your bum and other hidden parts after you’re done using the toilet. Suffice to say it is not common in Naija. This one is definitely going to cost me.
But I am ready to put my money where my arse is.
The current plan is to skim some money off the top of this merger my firm assigned me to oversee. Nobody is going to know. The companies’ MDs and I have a solid deal. Once it comes through, that’s going to get me at least 10 bidets and a grand piano in the foyer. It’ll just take a few weeks to complete the process. I can wait. Unfortunately, my wife can’t – she asked me to bring home a six-pack of tissues.
I wonder where I got the idea that six-packs stopped at canned beers and chiseled abs!
My phone rings. Oga Bode. Bode was my classmate in university. He now works for this really cool law firm that specializes in land matters. He’s also a ‘Lagos lawyer.’
“Lord Bodacious!” I hail – I love to patronize.
“Chi Bweeksy!” he yells back. I loathe the name but love the man.
“Whaddup, dawg?” I ask,
“Guy, I have some sharp-sharp paroles I think you can handle,”
“Oh yeah? Give me the info abeg…”
“Nothing major. Just a routine divorce settlement. Collabo style. Are you busy now and will you be in the next two hours?”
‘Collabo style’ is Bode’s title for Collaborative Divorce Practice which is simply an out of court settlement conducted as peacefully as possible. It’s closer to a negotiation than a tussle. It’s also new in town. We Lag wigs like to stay on point, thank you very much!
“A bit. But I can move stuff around. When do we see?” I ask,
“How about twenty minutes from now?”
It turns out that Bode just got me in on this gig to represent the husband in said settlement while he (Bode) caters to the wife. It’s one of those jobs neither of our firms is really down with. So we take them privately. Just some cool money on the side. From what Bode is saying, this couple is super loaded. It seems my b-day has come early – I mean my bidet.
I ask the mandatory questions: how did he land me this engagement? Does the unhappy couple know we’re friends? He says they’re aware and have no problems.
“This couple is weird-ish sha,” he adds. I tell him I’m on my way and hang up. Before I leave my office, I call Sarah to confirm our appointment.
Sarah is what you’d call my side dish; my trimming, if you will. And a hot trimming at that! Why do I ‘do’ Sarah? No reason in particular. Seriously, my wife is great. Aside from the fact that she refuses to do anything other than tend to my kids and I, my wife’s actually quite the treat. Sarah just likes my money, I think. Plus, my shlong is really a shlONG. Not a ‘shlORT’. In other words, my wiener is a real winner: I have a large penis, ok? Once again, that’s has to BE a perk, right?
Forty five minutes later and I have been fully briefed. Hubby cheated, broke it off, but couldn’t ‘fess up to Mrs. Wifey. Wife’s friend shows her damning pix – because man turned her (wife’s friend) down. Old story. Truthfully, I’d have screwed them all and kept my marriage. If ever there’d be a truer definition of win-win!
Bode and I are now sitting as we await the intending divorcees at a neutral venue – first settlement meeting. It’s your generic conference room. One table, three chairs on either side. As soon as they’re both in (husband arrived first) I begin to sense why Bode called them ‘weirdish.’ They are a pair of genuinely beautiful people, but they look a mess. Also, for a couple on the brink, they belong in a classroom teaching science; because their chemistry is absolutely palpable.
It’s in the subtleties. Once wifey has taken her seat opposite her soon-to-be ex, they involuntarily reach for each other’s fingers across the table. Midway, they catch themselves and seem to remember where they are and that they hate each other.
Or are supposed to.
After the preliminary introductions, Bode takes the reins: “Was there a prenup?”
“Heck no!” husband answers. What’s up with the ‘heck’ is what I think to myself. A simple ‘nada’ would have straightened everybody out.
“Okay,” Bode continues, “that’s settled. Ummm… what assets are between you two? You know, the major stuff – houses, cars, businesses, stocks, shares, money?”
The husband starts to think out loud, “Well…”
And his wife interrupts: “I don’t want a kobo!”
Hubby suddenly becomes loquacious, “No. I cannot have that. She can have whatever she needs. Whatever she wants. Look, I have twelve sedans and three jeeps. I own two houses. As at yesterday, the money in all my accounts totaled roughly…” he seems to be doing some math upstairs “… two hundred and fifty million naira.”
Hello, Dr. Bidet! I cannot help but whistle slightly. This causes Bode to toss a sharp look my way. Even the missus is taken aback. He continues as if nothing happened.
“I own twelve factories across the country, and one filling station in Abuja. I simply ask for half of my accounts’ worth. She can have all the rest.” For all of this guy’s proficiency at arithmetic, he seems to be lacking heavily in plain logic.
My next problem is how well this particular settlement is going. The squabbles are because one person is offering and the other doesn’t want to accept. From my experience, it ought to be the other way around with one willing to take stuff but the other unwilling to give stuff up.
Then the Mr. gets thirsty.
There’s a jug of water on the table complete with 6 glasses. He picks one up and fills it up. He’s a little klutz. Maybe not every day, I guess, but today he is. He lifts the glass to his lips and spills quite a bit of it. It’s like his mouth leaks! But that’s not my problem. My newest problem is the wife’s reaction: she rushes to his side. And I could tell it wasn’t pity – it was instinct.
Oh snap! Because this camel’s back has gotten the bejesus broken out of it. Some couples deserve to be apart, others don’t. Try to guess what I’m thinking.
“So, big question: do you STILL love this guy?” My question shocks her. Heck, it shocks everyone. She stutters as she answers but her eyes speak clearly and fluidly because they glistened a little.
“W-w- what?” as she says this, she resets in her chair, finally realizing her give-away. I widen my eyes but say nothing.
“I g-g-guess I-I-I still do,” she finally blubbers. Surprise, surprise.
“You do, good ma’am. In spades,” I confirm.
“But he CHEATED on me!” Now she looks pained,
“Yeah yeah,” I deadpan, “that makes him a dumb fool without question cuz I gotta tell you, you are a remarkably attractive woman,” truth is that, in my head, instead of the last three words that actually came out, I said ‘decent piece of ass’. I’m in a polite mood is all.
“However, before you kill me, ask yourselves: did Moses in the…” I snap my fingers trying to recollect. Bode is on my page but clearly not on my side. He cups his chin in suppressed anger as he says “Bible,” completing my line. He also shakes his head slightly and subliminally calls me ‘heathen bastard!’ We’ve been friends a decade now and I know his thoughts.
“Yeah. Bible. Did Moses lie about the source of the water when he hit the rock? Yes. Did God consider it a big deal? Yes. ‘Cuz homeboy never saw the Promised Land. But does that mean that when we get to the pearly gates we won’t see Mo’ and some angel sipping cappuccino while reading out our verdicts of “guilty as charged, take thy sinful butts to hell”? Yeah, we will. I’ll bet God even lets him wear Armani!”
I know I’ve made a point, so I wait for everybody to digest. The room is now silent. Hubby is looking at Miss Ma’am with those soppy eyes. I seriously wonder where he found the guy who loaned him the balls to cheat. Not so fast. Our scorned Mrs. doesn’t look quite softened up. She tears away from her husband’s remorseful mope to ask:
“So, you can live with a cheating spouse?”
Ah. Bitch done gone sucker-punched me. I actually don’t know what I would do if I was to find out that my beautiful trophy wife likes a midday salad quite as much as I do. But I have never lost me an argument and I’d be damned if I started now.
“Maybe I can,” I retort.
“Oh really?” she looks bemused. Bode looks at me with deliberately widened eyes, lips pursed and his head cocked 30 degrees to one side as if to say: “You got yourself in this, get yourself out.” Well, this is no time to punk out.
“Yeah, maybe I can. Because I don’t think that’s the worst crime in the world. Has he… I don’t know… punched you in the stomach recently? Bashed your face in?” As I say this, I begin walking slowly to where she’s sitting.
“Of course not,” her expression seems to ease up, “He’d never.”
By now, I am already around to her side of the table. I squat in front of her and smile weakly. “Think about your two kids as well. You know what this’ll mean, don’t you?” I can see she’s buying my furniture little piece of wood by little piece of wood. She nods feebly.
“Look. Clearly, you know he’s still mad about you but you’re stung. And with good reason. He did a horrid, horrid thing. To forgive is divine, you know.” Somehow, my second reference to religion cracks her up. She giggles. Very cute.
“I’m not asking you to turn a blind eye. I’m just asking you to put a bit more in. One last push. Therapy, church, you could bang me for revenge, anything!” I say this playfully enough for everybody to realize I’m joking around. Everybody laughs. Bode, once again, shakes his head at me. At least he’s getting a chuckle out of this one. I look up myself. Just in time to catch a glimpse of my bidet as it quietly slips out the window. At least for another few weeks. I wave.
* * * * * *
Sitting in my car, it’s time to take stock of what just went down. Mrs. took a bit more cajoling. However, considering that she and Hubbity Hub Hub came separately but are now leaving in the same ride, I think my work’s been done did. Bode is predictably displeased since I just cost him some decent cash with my mini-drama but he’ll be fine. I always make it up to him.
I saved a marriage today and I deserve a gift. “And tonight’s winner will be going away with our star prize of…” I bring out my phone and dial it.
“Hey. Be at the venue in an hour and a half… And dress extremely naughtily. I’ve been nice enough for a Nobel peace prize!” I pause while she talks, then it’s my turn again. “…Ok. That’s fine. Emmm… could you bring along some condoms? I’m out and I can’t seem to find that particular brand you bought the other day… Yeah, with all those crazy contours and stuff…” I think for a second: I might not be able to hit a supermarket on my way home. Why not kill two birds with one obnoxious phone call?
“Ummm Sarah, could you also bring along a six-pack of tissue paper?”