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"On Becoming" Chapter 1 - by Toke Makinwa

Published by sauta97 30th Nov


“The pain started y ears ago, but I’d lived with it for so
long at that point, I had accepted it as an inevitab le
part of me.”
– Ashley D. Wallies

“She is nine months pregnant.”

For a whole day I have been going crazy and these words from my
husband, rather than restore my sanity, break me completely.
We start arguing from our bedroom. I tell Maje that I know his mistress is
pregnant, and that there is proof, but he keeps denying it.
“There is no way she can be pregnant,” he says. “I haven’t seen her since we
got married.”
“Call her.”
He is quiet.
2 3
“Call her!”
He dials a number and it rings, no one picks up. Then someone starts calling
back but he ignores the call.
“Pick up the phone, Maje.” I am screaming now.
“Okay. I’ll confess, I’ll confess. I’m trying to help her out.”
“Help her out with what? Is she pregnant, and why is it your responsibility
to help her out?”
“No, I have never cheated on you. I have never stepped out on you in this
marriage. You need to calm down. I’m just trying to help her.”
I remember a similar conversation we’d had two month before. I had found
tickets to London for his mistress, from November of the previous year, in
his inbox and asked him about it. He said she had reached out to him and
asked him if he had a link to book a ticket, and he decided to ‘help her out.’
He was also in London at the time, for work.
“Maje, a journalist is calling me saying that this girl is pregnant. Have you
even spoken to her?”
He continues to deny the story. And I lose it. I scream at him for what seems
like hours, not caring that the neighbours can hear me. He remains calm
all through, still denying. I feel crazy. Am I crazy? I’m jumping on the bed
at this point, our bed covers and beddings pushed back. I start to shake all
over. This cannot be happening to me; this is a dream, a horrible nightmare
I cannot wait to wake from.
I decide to call my pastor, to tell him what I heard and how Maje’s reaction
makes me feel crazy; or maybe I need some prayers, anything to explain how
I am feeling at this moment. My pastor has been seeing Maje and I before
now for counselling. We have been having issues for months, Maje always
in a sour mood, picking at every little thing I did. I’d found out in the course
of our counselling that Maje had once written an email to me requesting a
divorce but had deleted it, without sending, at our pastor’s request. So it
does not make any sense now that he is denying something that will give him
the freedom he wants. But then, this was classic Maje: never confess to any
wrong even in the face of the truth.
My pastor arrives, and I sit on the staircase while he talks to Maje in the
living room. I can’t hear what they’re saying from where I am. They talk for a
few minutes, and then my pastor calls me in. I walk into the living room, and
with one look at my pastor I know all hell has broken loose.
“Toke, I have to leave now,” my pastor says. “Your husband is going to talk
to you. Please be open and listen to him.” He says his goodbyes and leaves.
Maje heads upstairs to our bedroom.
My older sister, Opeyemi, and two of my closest friends, Modele and Arese,
come in at about the same time, full of questions I don’t have answers to. All
I can do is cry.
I leave them downstairs and go after Maje.
“. . . first she said her sister saw her at the airport. Then she said she saw
my car. Clearly, she’s just making things up. I don’t know what she’s talking
Maje’s voice stops me at the bedroom door. From the rest of his words I
figure he is talking to his brother.
I start screaming again as I enter the room. I take a bag and start filling it
with things I need. I am not going to spend another night under the same
roof with this man.
My sister and friends must have heard us arguing again. They come into the
room, and I ask Arese if I can move into her place. She refuses as she leads

me downstairs.
“This is your house,” she says. “If anyone has to move out it’s him and not
you. You know I’d love for you to come to my house, but you cannot leave
your home, not now, not ever, Toke. He is the one who will leave for you.
You did not sleep with another man, or are you the one who’s pregnant? He
is the one who’s committed an offence and he’s the one who should leave.”
Now we’re all downstairs in the living room, Maje too. I am tired from all the
tears and shouting. My sister is crying.
“Maje, this girl has given you everything,” she says. “What more do you
want? Our family was against her yet she stood her ground and she decided
to marry you. We all didn’t think you were going to change and here we are
4 5
right now. What is going on? Someone I know told me that Anita is pregnant
and you are responsible.”
Opeyemi is lying about someone having told her that Anita was pregnant,
but I do not point this out. I am desperate for the truth and willing to try
anything that helps. Yet again, Maje denies all of it.
I go on my knees in front of him, my voice as calm as I can make it. “Maje,
you can’t keep lying. What is going on?”
He walks away, leaving me there with my heart in my hands. I see him
pacing, back and forth, like he is having a private conversation. Then all of
a sudden, he walks back to the living room, looks straight into my eyes and
says, “She’s pregnant.”
I fall to the ground. My head narrowly misses the wall and the tears come
again. I roll from the carpet to the cold floor, sobbing loudly. Even though a
part of me already knows the truth, I cannot help but wish he had stuck to his
story and it turned out to be a rumour or a misunderstanding. I had thought
up all possible scenarios in my head that would make the story untrue:
Maybe someone saw me with her and made this story up. I’ve been lying to
her that I want to be with her and she’s trying to blackmail me.
Anything but this.
Modele is stunned; she doesn’t say a word. My sister is crying with me. Arese
is calm. She stands in front of Maje. “All right, no problem. What can we
do?” She turns to me to say, “Toke, shut up,” cutting off my screams of I am
dead and I am finished.
“Maje, what can we do?” Arese continues. “Can we call her? Where can we
get the best doctors? What are our options?”
“It’s too late.”
“What do you mean it’s too late?”
“She’s nine months pregnant, nearly full term.”
How had I missed the signs? Maje and I had our problems but I had always
felt they were the teething issues every marriage had, especially in its first
years; a common getting-used-to-forever phase where both parties finally
realize that it won’t be all sunny skies and long walks on the beach, but also
a constant determination to see good even in bad and frustrating situations.
And I really thought we had made it through the worst of it.
I head upstairs to Maje, where he has gone after admitting the truth. My
friends try to stop me but I tell them I need to talk to him.
He is sitting on the table in our bedroom, his face closed off, no expression
or emotion whatsoever.
“What’s she having?”
“A boy,” he says.
“How long have you known?”
“I’ve always known.”
“Why, Maje, why?” Tears are streaming down my face again. “Where did I
go wrong?”
He is quiet for a moment.
“It was what I thought I wanted,” he says finally.
Everything comes together in my head. This is June; if she’s nine months
pregnant, she took in November, when he was in London. Other scenes play
back in my head, things that I’d dismissed when they happened.
I ask him to leave. It is close to 11 pm on a Thursday night but I don’t care.
He doesn’t leave immediately. He is hungry, he says, and asks the cook to
make him dinner. We, my friends, my sister and I, sit in the living room
downstairs while he eats in the upstairs one. He finishes his meal and leaves
at about midnight.
That night, I toss and turn, my heart racing, refusing to settle down.
I remember the girl I was when I met Maje, and the years spent loving him. I
know it won’t be long before the story breaks, and I cry some more. Just as I
am about to surrender to sleep my alarm goes off. It is 4.15 am and I have to
get ready to be on radio at 5 am.
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26th Sep
Wow!!!have always looked forward to read this

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