I got a call on a Sunday morning. I had just come back from morning mass and was catching some sleep before the call came. It was my mother-in-law. She asked me to leave whatever I was doing and come to the village. I was worried. I asked if everyone was ok. She said, “just come right away”. It was unlike her to sound this serious.
I called Emeka but he didn’t pick up. I called my father-in-law. He picked and assured me all was well but I was needed in the village. I called the maids in the house. They told me there was no problem at home and Emeka was with his parents. Has he told them? Is that why they summoned me. He promised he wouldn’t. I got ready to travel home. I couldn’t drive at that time so I took a cab to the park and another to the village.
I got home. I walked into our house and I realized that there was a drama waiting for me. Emeka saw me but he didn’t acknowledge me. Adanne, Jacinta, Ugonna and the boys were also present. “This must be serious,” I thought to myself.
I took the seat I was offered. I looked at everyone. They all looked withdrawn including Emeka. I was wondering what was going on. Did Emeka commit? Is that why we were here?
“My daughter, Jacinta here levelled some accusations against you. We have asked her to wait until you get here so she can repeat it and you answer. Jacinta, she is here now. Speak” my father-in-law said breaking the ice.
“How did I offend you Akwaugo? I took you in and treated you well. You disrespected me for one year with the support of your husband and my husband. I never knew what was happening.”
Adanne took over, “No, that’s not how it is done. Akwaugo, was Maduka visiting you often in Enugu?”
“Not often. It was only when he was around my faculty or on campus, he will check on me”
“Why? Why was he checking on you?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe because he is my in-law. He was being nice to me”
“When did this start? When you were in Nsukka or Enugu?”
“When did what start?”
I was dumbstruck by what I heard. What? What were they accusing me of? An affair with Dr Maduka? I looked at Emeka and he just stared back at me. I looked around me. I planted a smirk on my face. I was angry and pissed at the same time. I didn’t reply.
“I am asking you a question. Did you or did you not have an affair with Maduka?” she asked again.
“What kind of question is that? How can I have an affair with Dr Maduka? From where did that come from?”
“You are a smooth operator. You have been having an affair with Jacinta’s husband behind her back for more than four years now. How could you? How could you descend so low?”
“I never had an affair with him. Emeka, why are you quiet? Do you believe I could have an affair with anyone? This is me Akwaugo”
Ugonna stood up and shouted, “Shut up! Don’t try to manipulate him. What of Amaechi? Were you not living with Amaechi when you left the apartment Emeka rented for you. You started that affair with Amaechi in Nsukka and it has blossomed over the years. I have seen both of you together many times but I chose to mind my business. But with this revelation, you can’t escape”
“Amaechi? How did I have an affair with Amaechi? I never did. Yes, he got me to stay with his girlfriend when I needed accommodation. I wanted to stay in the school guest house but he advised against it and asked his girlfriend to accommodate me”
Adanne then asked, “Why did you leave the apartment in the first place?” I explained what transpired. “It was not enough for you to leave. So why did you leave?”
Luckily, I still had my old phone as Emeka had got me a new one. I had planned to give it to my mother. I found the recording and played it for them. They listened to Ugonna reign insults and abuses on me. Even Ugonna was shocked I recorded it. “I had to leave; she could have harmed me. I only asked for an increase in allowance so I could accommodate them”
There was a little silence. Then my father-in-law said, “Jacinta, you said you have evidence of their affair. Can you explain to us why you are accusing her and also show the evidence?”
“She always challenged me in my home. She would raise a storm and Maduka would support her. She began to come back home very late at night with Maduka. When I asked Maduka why he was bringing her home, he said it was because I wasn’t giving her peace. Peace? She wasn’t doing anything for me so why would he claim I wasn’t giving her peace. When she left for Enugu, Maduka began to frequent the place. The time he came to their apartment, he didn’t know Ugonna was staying with her. He was surprised. Then he called her and scolded her for not telling him. When Ugonna told me, I planted people on campus to watch both of them. Maduka visited her every week and took her to the guest house. He came to her department to pick her up and they went out together. I wondered why she would betray me like this? Why she would betray Emeka? I thought she got married chaste but why did she turn wayward? Did Maduka turn her wayward?”
My eyes were enlarged as she spoke. I had never seen Jacinta so calm since I knew her. I was beyond bewilderment. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I looked from Emeka to his parents to his siblings. Emeka’s facial expression said it all.
“Can you respond to that?” my father-in-law asked.
“I am in shock. My image is being tarnished here. Sister Jacinta never treated me well in her home but for the sake of the love I had for Emeka, I stayed on with her. The only person who could control her was her husband. I never came here to report anything to you. I managed her. I helped her at home; I cooked, cleaned and took care of the children. I had a test and she asked me to clean the house before going for my test. Emeka is aware of this. She stopped me from going that I had to call Emeka. Emeka called Dr Maduka who instructed me not to do anything in the
house anymore. Since I was running late, he dropped me off. She locked me out of the house several times and would only open up when her husband came back. I would sit outside for hours until then. Then I decided to use that time to read in class. Once Dr Maduka is coming home, he will call me and I will take a bike to the house so I can gain entrance. It was this same quarrel with Ugonna that made him visit my apartment for the first time. I think Emeka asked him to check if Ugonna and her friend had left the apartment. He talked to me and advised me. He never came to my apartment aside from that day”
“She has explained what happened. Unless you have evidence, we might just be tempted to believe her. Or Emeka has she lied about anything she said so far?” Emeka shook his head.
“She is lying. I went through my husband’s phone and saw a conversation between him and Akwaugo. They were fixing a date. I was shocked. I began to monitor the messages. Each time they exchanged messages I would send it to my phone. He didn’t know that was what I was doing. I was disappointed in her. The kind of messages she exchanged with my husband will surprise you. It all stopped when Emeka came back. It was Ugonna that made me realise Emeka was back. He no longer called or went to Enugu again.”
“I never exchanged any messages with Dr Maduka. He only ever called me when he was around my faculty which was not often. Emeka was aware each time he visited; I told him. I don’t know why these lies are being peddled against me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I have honoured the sanctity of my marriage; I have never strayed. I speak the truth now, so help me God”
Ugonna countered me, “What of the man you had in the room? You were naked and opened the curtain while talking to a man in the room. I couldn’t see the man but I suspect it was Amaechi. I videoed her from the window; only Emeka can watch it because she was naked. She has many nude pictures on her phone; I saw them. How can a married woman have such on her phone? Tufiakwa!”
I looked at Emeka. He couldn’t look at me. I knew the day she must have been talking about. I opened the curtain so there would be enough light at Emeka’s insistence. Couldn’t he remember? Why wasn’t he defending me? The pictures she
was talking about I took for Emeka when he pressurized me to send them. Why was he quiet? Why was he mute?
Jacinta showed them the chats she claimed we had been having. The conversation was so disgusting, I couldn’t have written such. I never even chat that way with Emeka. I told them it wasn’t me. I could go to any length to prove it wasn’t me. Emeka asked for my phone and I gave him. He searched for Dr Maduka’s number on my phone. He checked our conversations. On one number, it was the usual, Happy Easter, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year messages. There was another number. That was were all these messages she talked about were. I was shocked. I didn’t save that number on my phone. I had never seen those messages in my life. Emeka was livid. He grabbed me by the hand up the stairs to the room.
“Tell me the truth Akwaugo, did you have s£x with another man?’”
“I swear before God almighty; I have never laid with another man. Never!”
“What is this then?”
“I have never seen this in my entire life”
“You have killed me. You have made a mockery of me. I loved you. I worshipped you. I trusted you. Akwaugo, you turned out worse than others. How could you? I kept myself for you and you couldn’t keep yourself for me. Why? I treated you like akwa. I wondered how your shyness disappeared and you seemed to be skilled at lovemaking but I thought you prepared for me not knowing you had been acquiring expertise. How am I sure the child in your womb is mine? Do you want to give me Maduka’s child?”
I sat on the floor crying. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Emeka sat on the chair. I couldn’t defend myself anymore. My conscience was clear. How did they plant evidence on my phone? My mind was going gaga. I was tired. I was restless. I just didn’t know what to do or say.
Chibuike came upstairs. He asked me to go back downstairs as father was calling me. I went into the room to wash my face, as I came out, I overheard him say to
Emeka, “I don’t believe their story. Jacinta has never been gentle. If she had such evidence against Akwaugo, she would be dead by now. I don’t know how they did it but I don’t believe. I don’t believe anything those two say”
“What of the evidence?”
“Leave evidence, face your wife. You see that babe; you can’t get two of her in this life. If you lose her, you will regret it. Don’t say I didn’t tell you. Stick to your wife, don’t listen to them”
I came out of the room and went downstairs leaving the brothers to talk. I was asked to sit down and I did. Emeka and Chibuike his brother came downstairs to join us.
“Emeka, the ball is in your court. She has denied it. If I may suggest, can we invite Maduka to explain this accusation? I thought that would have been the first thing we should have done” my father-in-law announced.
Emeka spoke, “I have called him and he should be here soon”
“Then let’s wait for him”
I went back upstairs. I hadn’t eaten anything all day and I was hungry. I was sad and tired. I laid down in the parlour. I called Scholastica to make something light for me to eat. She came to our house and made noodles for me. As she was coming upstairs, Ugonna stopped her.
“Where are you going?”
“Akwaugo asked me to make food for her”
“Where? She is mad? She is being accused of adultery and she is looking for food to eat. Who does that?”
I could hear from upstairs. I cried even more. My condition wanted the food badly.
I just laid there. I needed to know what crime I had committed. I wasn’t guilty.
I heard Emeka say, “Take the food up to her. Get her juice too. She is innocent until proven guilty. And, Ugonna, this is her house until I say otherwise. You can’t throw orders around here. We heard the way you went after her in the recording. That is an insult to me your brother but we will deal with that later”
Scholastica brought the food to me. She saw me crying and she smiled at me and said, “Stop crying. It is making you look weak. Stand your ground. I know you are not guilty of what you are accused of. If they disrespect you, go back to your father’s house. They can say what they like but one day, the truth will prevail. I hope it will not be too late for them. When you asked for extra pepper, I knew it has entered. Protect this child, leave those ones alone. You will be a doctor. Ugonna wrote Jamb twice before getting admission. Jacinta is a housewife. Emeka loves you, I know that for sure. They are not happy and want to destroy everything. You helped him build this house, they are jealous. You are young, well behaved, intelligent and wise. They are not any of those things. Dry your tears. Be bold and strong. Leave them”
I listened to what she said as she encouraged me to eat. I was still upstairs when Dr Maduka came. I wanted to go downstairs but Scholatisca stopped me. I stayed and listened to them. We couldn’t hear them clearly, all I heard was someone shouting,
“Jacinta, you dare accuse me of sleeping with your brother’s wife? You, Jacinta! You accused me of sleeping with Chisom because you saw her with me and next thing you were marrying her off to your brother. I watched you make a mockery of yourself. You terrorized Akwaugo when she was living with you until she left. You still continued pushing Emeka, that has no sense, to make Ugonna stay with her. Why? You pressurized him using your mother and Adanne until he agreed. Ugonna did terrible things to her she can’t even mention but she stayed on. Now you are accusing me of sleeping with her. Emeka, well done. I don’t blame you. I tried to help you and your family. I told you your sisters will ruin your marriage; bet me, they will. Jacinta, I don’t want to see you in my house ever again. I have endured your devilish character. You promised to ruin your brother’s home and from what I am seeing, you are going to succeed”
“That’s not the issue. Where you exchanging chats with Akwaugo or not? Were you s£xing your brother-in-law’s wife? Answer the question” Adanne bellowed at him.
“Answer who? Because your husband is a dog that has impregnated all your maids and all the girls working for him therefore all of us are the same? You, that your hands are covered with the blood of innocent children you have murdered, is asking me a question? This family is a joke. I have complained about Jacinta’s behaviour severally but you did nothing. Papa, don’t sit back and watch your family crumble. I will not answer anybody. This is madness” He stormed out of the parlour.
“He is guilty, each time I catch him this is how he behaves. He will try to shut me up. I am tired of the way he treats me”