“Boys, so what are we going to do?” Kwame asked after a considerable period of silence.
“What do you mean by what are we going to do? Divorce of course what else? And believe me, things will never be the same if you guys even agree to let it go and force George to stay.” John said mad at Pattie than George could ever be. A very vengeful person, such mistakes must be treated with a heavy hand.
“What is wrong with you?” Edwin responded very much angry at John’s stance. He felt John’s position was aggravating the entire situation making any hope of peaceful, loving and mature solution really difficult to reach.
“What is wrong with me? It is what is wrong with you two! I mean, I don’t know how you guys are thinking; it is not some house boy kissing issue; it is not some ex-boyfriend one night stand. At least an ex might have been there already so the impact won’t be that much. For heaven sakes, this is a total stranger; some small boy! Some spoon fed bastard who think only about himself! I can’t imagine it in any other way. It is someone’s marital vows broken, it is a good man’s honour dragged in the mud by a woman who has no respect for herself and her husband.” John spat the word bitterly around.
“So what? Is it because she got caught? So what if she was smarter? What if she deliberately concealed it? What if she never called George by the other guy’s name; what if George never saw the card? What if she is still in London and she is still caught up in the stuff and George has no way of finding out? Would it have been ok for them to stay married? John would it?” Kwame stepped in passionately. “Don’t just look at it with such foulness. There are people who are doing terrible things that no one sees and we love them because we do not know what they are doing.
Every day I make love to my wife I have to believe I am the only man there, not that I think about it; I can’t afford to think about it. She is my wife and it is good enough. But what if after I make love to her in the morning, her boss does it at lunch? How would I find out? And I have my own concerns in that area which you guys know already. Are you telling me because I do not know it is ok? It is not ok whichever way you look at it. But if I can live with her and my concerns and pretend it is ok, personally, I feel I can try my best to live with her even if I find out that stuff like that has been going on.
It is a different thing if I find out the same night she messed up; then I won’t touch her and that will be the end. But not after she has been running shifts between us for months, possibly years. It is like finding a dead cockroach in your soup after eating the soup for days. It is different if it fell in after you had last eaten it, you could dispose off the rest of the soup if you want to; but what can you do, if you can prove that the cockroach has been in it for three days? Vomit? Cut your tummy out? You might as well not have found out because you ate some two days ago and yesterday and possibly today until the dead insect surfaced.
The knowledge of it changes everything, I know, but sometimes in the face of the situation, we can pretend and try and live with it; after all we cannot vomit it out. Hasn’t George made love to her since she returned from London? If it was HIV, he could have contracted it; if was some weeks-old pregnancy, he could have been seen as responsible. And what difference would that have made then? I might sound silly, but if we can force our minds to run over the scratch, I am sure the music will play perfectly well… something I know is not easily achieved, but George can try.”
“Look Kwame, I don’t get you; you are speaking a lot of beautiful English…but little sense.” John retorted deliberately, intended to drown Kwame’s argument, which was finding itself difficult to convince the rest of the guys. “Getting caught or finding out was not for the effect of heartbreak, it was for the effect of separation from such a woman. George did not find out to forgive her or go through all your disorganized philosophy on adultery; he found out so he could watch his steps. What are you talking about?
This is a woman who has done such a terrible stuff and had the guts to come to her husband’s house with the evidence of it. What was she trying to prove? That she was still in love with this other guy? Come on guys. Let us not treat it as if it was just sex she had; she has broken her marital vows, deceived her husband, insulted his trust and has uncovered his honour.
I mean, let’s get the fundamental questions straight, ‘Did she come out to confess or she got caught? That is the first one. Would she have confessed if she never got caught? That is question number two. How long has she been in town? That is my third question. And my fourth question is, when was this discovered? The answers to these questions will speak for themselves. Massa, what you guys dey talk about? Charlie, let’s stop being unreal. I will not countenance this on my watch.” John debated; vehemently insisting that George divorces Pattie.
“Yea right” Edwin said in response to John’s last statement
What do you mean by yea right?”
“Massa with all due respect, your marriage is not the best to use as an example of fidelity and a yardstick for measuring the acceptability or otherwise of someone sticking to his wife. Please if we are looking out for someone to divorce his wife, we can consider you first, so we beg, spare us the sentimental bullshit” Edwin hit back hard at John for his hypocrisy.
“What the hell? Are talking to me?” John exploded and nearly got up from his seat.
“Hey, hey, hey.” Justin intervened, holding john’s wrist and signaling Edwin to shut up.
“Why you dey come beat me or what?”
“Eddie, will you shut up?” Justin scolded Edwin.
“Massa, you better watch the way you speak to me; we are friends, but it does not give you the permission to speak to me anyhow. I will not tolerate your loose tongue.”
“John, please.” Justin calmed him down trying to keep the peace.
“No! He has to learn how to talk. No one is even talking about him.”
“What is there to talk about? Say it John”
Yes say it!”
“At the right time Eddie; at the right time we will all talk about a certain cry baby and his mum. But you need to know that, yes I used to have problems with Anita and all that, but at least I do not have evidence that someone was doing her. Charlie Charlie Charlie; don’t go there; what you dey talk about.”
“Guys, it is Pattie we are talking about; our own Pattie, our chef Pattie. But beyond the food and the cooks, it is our friend’s wife we are talking about. She had a name, a face and an owner so we better talk about her with some respect.” Justin stated clearly restraining John from making further damaging comment about George’s wife.
Tears started running down George’s cheeks freely.
“I won’t mince my words.” Justin started speaking and as usual, everyone kept quiet listening to the man who was likely going to say something that would end up being the working document for the George and Pattie. Soon they will all be disillusioned except John.
“Much as I am tempted to go with Edwin and Kwame on the path to forgiving Pattie, I am so supporting John for good reasons”
“Is anybody surprised here?” Edwin rapidly responded as if he was waiting for Justin to make that statement. “Upholding the law to the letter”
“Eddie, please can I finish?”
“Massa speak and let’s make some sense here” John said feeling relieved that at least he has someone supporting him. In his heart, he felt George wanted to divorce his wife and if Justin said he should, he would. And what glory would it be.
“I will be very brief.” Justin continued. “Where is the note? George where the card dey?”
“It’s in the Laptop bag” George responded quietly. Justin reached out for the card.
Ok. Let us skip whatever Hallmark wrote in it and let’s read what Sam wrote in it” Justin said sounding like a High Court Judge who cannot wait to cast someone in jail.
Making love to you was the best thing that ever happened to me
Baby, if I could, I would make love to you every minute of my life till the day I die...
But it is enough to say I enjoyed last night; let is make it a habit...
The second and best thing that happened to you
“So?” Edwin asked trying to belittle the impact of the inscription in the card.
“So I am making my point; just shut up and listen. What has come over you? Massa we are serious here!” Justin yelled at his best friend over his attempt to frustrate him.
“Look at our hypocrisies?” where is the defendant? We are convicting someone on the account of an inscription in a card. No one has even asked the girl if the words in the card mean anything? What kind of Kangaroo Court is this?”
George looked at Edwin with gross surprise on his face. He could not believe Edwin was talking like that. He kept his cool.
“We are here breaking someone’s marriage on the testimony of an inscription in a card”
“Edwin, did you just hear what I read out?” Justin asked.
“Give it to him to read, maybe he has some auditory impairment” John said sarcastically.
“So what? What if it’s some silly joke? What if it was some lyrics of a song? What if it was written for someone else and he happened to have left it in her house?”
“Listen to me Edwin, the devil does not need any more advocates, which I can assure you. So if you are planning on impressing him to hire you, then am sorry you might as well go and rob a bank; that might get his attention faster. Until then shut up and screw your head on your neck again and listen to yourself and then listen to me.”
“And who wants to listen to you? Because you are holier than us? Because you are a virgin at 32? Because you’ve never seen a woman’s bra before? Please save me the moral discourse; because if we are looking for a saint among us, George is the best candidate.
What happened to those girls you slept with; those girls who had boyfriends. Those girls you were not in any kind of relationship with you? Those you considered casuals; the victims of your charm! Those girls you helped cheat on their boyfriends. Were you bold enough to tell them to go and confess? It was ok for them to stay with their boyfriends as if nothing had happened, right?
“I was less than 25 years old if you have forgotten. I was foolish and without direction!” Justin jumped weakly to his own defense, having not anticipated that attack on his own twisted past.
Suddenly, it dawned on everyone there that Edwin would open everyone’s closet to bring out the skeletons they have all hidden just to prove that none was clean enough to be a merciless judge!
“Justin, Pattie is 30 years, foolish and has no direction! Listen to me and very carefully; the times in life that individuals become wise are not pegged at one age across board for everyone. Some people become wise at earlier periods in their lives, others later. Between 21 and 25 years, in your university days, you messed up a couple of good girls; but thankfully, now you are wise.
Pat has been faithful to her husband, and I am sure she has, until she was 30. Now she makes her mistake; she will learn and start getting wise. What difference does it make? She is now going to get wise; you got wise earlier; at the end of the day, it was the same road of curiosity, adventure and lack of self-control that got you all into the same mess. You want your past to be cleaned up like it never happened but you want someone to go to the gallows for their single indiscretion. That is what I mean when I say you are a hypocrite!”
“But I ask, John and Justin,” Kwame stepped in to relieve Edwin, who had stood and fought john’s stance. “What happened to mercy? What happened to forgiveness? What happened to our sagacious Justin? Why have you allowed your emotions to cloud your genuine assessment of your own frailty? You were supposed to speak for all of us to listen not to heat up the argument. Please help us keep the respect we have for you.
“Can he talk?” John jumped into the fray in defense of Justin; who seems to have taken some dazing uppercuts from Edwin. “Kwame, what are you trying to do; to judge him and take his conviction out of his hands or what?”
“John what is he going to say that you have not said? What new story or argument is he going to put up that you have not done justice to?” Edwin asked sitting the glass of orange juice down just when his lips were about closing in on it for a sip.
“So because of his own mistakes, his ability to judge is taking from him, right? Or it is a case of ‘he who has not sin, cast the first stone?’” John asked resignedly
“Exactly! We are bound to show love and mercy and forgiveness to others by the singular virtue of our acknowledgement of own failings in similar situations.”
“Edwin, listen,” Justin said standing up; a towering figure, forcing everyone to look up at him. “I am not talking about my past. I know I have done some terrible things and I have always prayed to God to forgive me and I am trying to live my best life to make up for my shortfalls. But those errors will not take away my convictions in what is right or what is wrong.
Laws are given to men to dispense; as weak and sinful as we are. Because I fell along the road some time ago does not mean it is ok when someone else falls; it does not mean it ok to keep quiet and watch someone go astray. My life will not be measured by specific successes or failures; it is a sum total of what I believe in and what I have become. Because I failed in something, does not mean my convictions are necessarily wrong.
Let me be judged on my own account and let others be judged on their own account. I don’t think I have ever prayed anyone to have mercy on me and called for someone’s head to roll.
“Massa, you are not making sense and so do not try to convince us to buy into it; say what you want to say” Edwin rubbished Justin argument, frustrating him into retreat.
“Well then I won’t try to convince you the choice is for George to make”
“Guys, listen to me, it is our brother we are talking about; married to a woman who is like a sister to us. No one is saying that what she did was ok. No one is saying George should wish his pain and betrayal away and no one is saying when he even chooses to go back, things will be the same. All I am begging for is MERCY. George, I am begging you, do not divorce Pattie” Kwame, said going his knees and pleading on behalf of Pattie. “For the sake of the child, do not. All I am asking is for you to tamper justice with mercy.
“If I may add this,” Edwin said, “The hard truth is, this could have happened to any one of us. George, it could have happened to you; all these girls around, all trying to date you. We thank God we have all been around to support each other, tease each other and watch each other’s back. She was all alone without a friend, without any support, without any help. Do you think telephone conversation was enough? Do you think your 3-week twice in a year visits to England were enough?
Human needs evolve by the minutes; what you satisfied an hour ago can resurface the next instance so you might as well have been there to meet those needs as and when they evolved. It is not that simple.
You are again blessed with good friends like all of us here, and guys don’t get it wrong, I really appreciate you all. We are all indebted to Justin’s wisdom; no one knows where he gets them from. Our own John, the mighty father John! The all impatient all rush Ajohnny! Johnny Johnny! Heeyyyy la! Give it to Papa John! Edwin tried to cool the lava he had poured out earlier.
But for us as a clique, things might have been different in our individual lives; Kwame, I am certain, might have slept with his sister-in-Law Jessica.
“Too soon!” John said in support of Edwin. He had once overheard Kwame speak with the girl and it was a bit frightening the way they related.
“God forbid!” Kwame said weakly.
Oh see you! Massa, that girl fine ooh. And I… well you know; I might have been talking to my mum even when I have headache instead of my wife. Justin would have gone to the Seminary by now and left the one lucky woman to her fate. As for John, I am sure he would have shot his wife or his wife would have organized some area boys to beat the bully out of him.
“Hmmph” John said, shaking his head in disbelieve. This boy is impossibly blunt.
And George...he might have been standing in his wife’s shoes on ten counts of adultery...do you guys want the names?
They all laughed it off.
But you see, the ‘Us’ has done a lot to prevent all of these. Let’s ask ourselves who she had there in England? First she met Sam, a friend, who offered her a family; Sam’s family was her family. She was comfortably a part of that family, I am sure, before Sam took interest in her.
So from that background, she was in a weaker position. When George told her to watch it, the mistake she did was not taking heed to what he said and rather choosing to hide it from him.
Probably at that time you George had seen the potential danger and had warned her; she had not seen it so decided to throw whatever fears you had out of the window.
But all said and done, let us remember that first and foremost she is a woman and a human being; full of promises and full of excuses why we cannot keep our promises. We are, by nature, curious and stubborn, weak willed and foolish. But people need each other, and people need the right people to lean on.
When you share your burden with the right person, it becomes lighter. She was supposed to have shared those burdens with you; but she did not and subsequently mashed it all up. Lessons learnt; or so I feel.
It still doesn’t clean up the mess and the impact it is having on you; but it pays for us to look at it in a holistic three dimensional way. It is not in her nature to go out of her way to do this.
You told us she was a virgin when you married her; she was 25 years and had been staying on her own in Manchester since she was 22 years. That is a good point to start looking at it from. Do you think it was a man she had never seen before? No. But there is always a moment a man or woman loses their ability to reason and we end up taking steps we would not have taken on a normal day.
“So if you leave her now what would you do next?” Kwame took over from Edwin without a preamble and asked George, who had been sitting quietly for most part of the afternoon listening to the arguments of his friends for and against a divorce. “Marry again? Or go single? Can you cope being single? Can you stay without sex?
Are you ready to join the rank and files of men who have chosen not to marry so they can go about sleeping with anything in skirt? Last time I checked fornication and adultery are all in the same category. Are you going to allow a woman and her imperfections to drag you into further mess?
If you marry again, what assurances do you have? We know how you pride yourself with marrying a virgin, which is why this incidence hurt you the most. Are you going to marry a virgin again? Would you get one? Especially with your extra baggage? Or you will leave Carol with her? If you decide not to marry a virgin, can you deal with a girl who has been around?
What difference will it make? You married a virgin who ended up cheating on you; you left her and married a non-virgin who might have slept with drug addict? Again what assurances do you have that this new wife won’t do the same to you? What assurance do you have that this new wife won’t introduce her sugar daddy to you as an uncle?
“Massa, nowhere cool ooh.” Edwin took over. “My wife’s ex-boyfriend is a pastor in her church; do you know how that feels? She is constantly talking to him and all that. Massa, I understand if you think none of us know what we are talking about because it is not our shoes; I understand if Justin and John make a lot of sense to you, but nowhere cool.
As Kwame rightly put it, starting all over again has all the questions. Ask yourself did you ever think Pattie could do that to you when you were proposing to her? No? So you will never know what tomorrow may bring you with another woman. Just forgive her, and take her back.
We will all help you in prayers. You guys make a fine couple and I suspect if you leave your wife today, Justin will marry tomorrow and it is obvious who his wife will be. Look at his fine face; always stealing people’s …ok lemme leave it there!
“You are sounding so gay! Geez.” Justin said annoyingly.
“Yea a gay with a female wife, can it get better” Edwin responded humorously.
“Bisexual. That is the name for it”
“Maybe the time is right for all of us to watch the quality of time we spend with our partners and be more discerning regarding the men around them. Let us also be more discerning and responsive to their needs and concerns. For me one lesson I have learnt from this whole episode, whatever the end result may be is that, I am the man and I am responsible for my wife. If so, then I must do whatever it takes to keep her safe. Nothing, whatsoever must take precedence over her and my marriage or something will creep in that might cost me a fortune.” Kwame said reflectively.
“And we better pray there are no more of such stories waiting to explode. John I know will kill, Edwin will cry and run to his mum and stay there till she dies, I…well, I will not be surprised; it takes a lot of guts to believe my wife is faithful.
“You have to try and trust your wife,” John said, mildly irritated by Kwame’s constant display of mistrust for his wife. “If you don’t like Aba, let us exchange; I am always ready to lease Anita Out.”
“Thanks for the offer; I would be a monk first!” Kwame said jestingly.
“She is a Lawyer, a Fulbright Scholar and freakin’ rich”
“I will pass. Keep her; a gift from mother nature to you!”
“So I am to let it go.” George stated; it was more like a statement to himself.
“Yes let it go” Justin said to everyone’s surprise. He suddenly seemed to have found his voice and his good voice at that.
He shrugged “what can I say? Let it go. God be with you”
“Well if the majority of you guys think we should let it all go, fine… I agree”
Our Heavenly father,
We thank you for today and the wondrous things you have done in our lives.
We thank you for our marriages; even George and Pattie’s Marriage
We thank you for everything that has happened and how it has all ended
Your word says we should give thanks in all things, so we do so now.
We pray and stand in the gap for our sister Pattie who has soiled her clothes
Your word says though our sin be as red as scarlet, it shall be as white as snow
David was confident in this when he said you shall purge him with hyssop and he shall be clean; you shall wash him and he shall be as white as snow
We plead the blood of Jesus for Pattie, to wash her
We plead your mercy to forgive her
We plead the hand of your Holy Spirit to restore her
We plead your wisdom to guide her from hence in all steps she is to take
Father, we pray for George and all men who dying because of unfaithful wives
We pray for strength for them, peace for them and your protection over their lives
We ask that in marriage; touch the heart of the erring woman to find where she truly belongs
In premarital relationships, we as for revelations so that men do not commit themselves further in marriage
For George we seek strength so he can crossover this bridge
Let his love for his wife return; for you are the restorer of all things
Give them grace to bond
The confidence to look beyond this folly into a brighter future
Let genuine forgiveness find itself in his heart
And let conviction and repentance find Pattie
We have chosen the path of forgiveness in accordance with your word; do not let us regret our choice.
Send a new dawn upon them so they can start afresh in Jesus name we have prayed.
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