The day Kayode’s anxiety peaked was a clear day; a picturesque Friday afternoon with clear skies and a gentle breeze. The flowers were in full bloom in the compound of his 2 bedroom apartment, adding colour to an already colourful day with hues of pink, yellow, white, and red against the blue of the sky. Inside the apartment, the colours from outside seemed to decay into grey with the anxiety that hung in the air. Kayode paced frantically in his living room, oblivious to the beautiful day just beyond his window blinds. For him, as he spoke in hushed tones to someone on the phone, the day was as dark as could be.
“I’m so confused, she won’t answer me. She just says everything is fine and moves on.” He said, trying not to raise his voice.
He switched the phone from his right hand to his left and settled finally into the black three-seater couch, stretching his long legs in front of him as the person on the call responded to him.
“I’ve tried. She refuses to go to the hospital anymore, Banke, she has lost weight, like she’s so skinny now, I’m afraid.” He said, struggling with a lump in his voice.
He sighed again as the caller responded to him.
“She’s your sister, Banke, I need you to come and help me figure out what’s wrong. I’ve tried to take her to the hospital but she refuses. I know she hasn’t been eating ’cause I’ve been cooking and the food barely goes down in the pot until I eat it. I have to remind her to shower. This is not how pregnant women behave, they’re supposed to eat everything in sight!”
“Is there a problem?” A voice asked quietly.
Kayode turned left and was greeted with the image of what had been terrifying him for weeks on end. A woman stood, skinny and frail looking, with a belly that seemed three times her size. She had one hand on the belly and the other limp beside her. Her fair skin which still held signs of former glory had some discolouration. She was dressed in a blue maternity gown with yellow sunflower patterns adorning the fabric and buttons running all the way up the front. Her hair was a dishevelled afro that stuck up in all directions, clumpy from lack of care.
“No love, there’s no problem, I’m just on the phone.” He responded.
And with that response, her eyes seemed to glaze over like her mind had moved on to something else. It was what worried Kayode the most about his wife; she didn’t really seem to be entirely present in mind. It was as though she was processing something else and her interactions with the physical world was a background process she periodically entertained. He wasn’t just worried for her, he was also worried for the child she carried in her belly. His child. She had refused to check the baby’s gender, and he had obliged, chalking up to butterflies and hoping she would come round later. She didn’t, instead, she seemed to drift further away.
“Funke, you’re dealing with something and unless you tell me, I can’t help you.” He said.
She looked at him with blankly, before snapping back into consciousness.
“Funke when last did you eat?”
“Tuesday, for God’s sake, Funke. I switched jobs so I wouldn’t have to travel anymore so I could be close to you throughout this period, and somehow it’s like things are worse! Banke, can you hear this?”
“Banke is on the phone?”
“Everyone is worried about you,” He responded, ignoring her question and getting up to his feet. “Have you looked in the mirror? You’re terrifying me. You’re beautiful anyway, but this…this isn’t you.”
“Kay,” She said, tears filling her eyes “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what, Funke, you haven’t done anything wrong. I just want you and our baby to be fine. That’s all I want.”
She was doing it again.
Whenever he questioned her about her strange behaviours or tried to get her to a hospital, she would argue and then begin to apologize incessantly. He found that he could never get her to respond to anything else once she started to apologize.
“Please, go and take a shower. I’ll prepare some food and then I’m going to feed you.”
And with that, she turned to leave with the tears streaming down her face.
Her heart broke even more as she walked away, exacerbating the guilt she felt, the guilt that left her wanting to end the life growing within hers. How could she ever tell the love of her life, her husband, her best friend in the world, that she had betrayed his trust, and that the child that grew in her belly was not his? How could she face him and tell him that she chose his brother in one night of inexplicable passion, and filled her loneliness with infidelity? Was it not cruel fate that he was around the day she fell ill and was taken to the hospital where they were jointly informed of her pregnancy? She could not say for certain how she knew the child wasn’t his, but she knew. She could hear the voice that accused her, the one that whispered ugliness to her in her sleep, and called her “whore” during the day. She had heard the voice from the moment her husband’s brother rolled off her on the bed of infidelity; the raspy whisper cutting into her soul and implanting the guilt that had festered. The same guilt that now drove her towards madness where she was certain starving the child was the only way to remedy her indiscretion.