Maureen stood in Belinda’s way at the office. The first two months had taken a toll on Belinda and Maureen could see that she was beginning to get a grip of her home and her work. She had also noticed the wall her friend put between them.
Belinda would leave the office in a hurry. She never answered Maureen’s calls over the weekends and whenever she was asked about it, she said that she was busy with the kids. Maureen could not understand who was busy with kids at 11 PM.
“You are avoiding me Belinda. Tell me, what is wrong?”
“I have so much work to do. Can I talk to you later?”
“I don’t have time for later. What is the problem?”
“Mesh, we are at work and I have reports that need to be filed. Can we talk about this over lunch?”
“No, we never have lunch together. You always rush to Okwan’s and leave when I walk in. It’s either we talk now or I start shouting at you.”
“As you wish then, you knew Michelle and you also knew that Akinyi was her sister but never bothered to tell me, that is my problem.”
Maureen folded her arms across her chest, shook her head and said “You are right on both counts, so?”
“Your friend is pregnant for my husband.”
“Wait, Akinyi? No!”
“Michelle and to be honest Maureen, you may think that you are doing what’s best for me by bringing all these women into my life and watching how it hurts me, but the truth is, I cannot be friends with someone who cannot come to me and tell me things as they are. It is too much.”
“I came to you and told you everything about Michelle, what did you do?”
“I don’t have time for this!”
“Make time, Belinda. I came to you and you yelled at me and insulted me for an hour! Do you remember? When you moved back into your house, what did I tell you? You went on and did just that, listen, you may be right and I may also be right, but here’s the thing Belinda, your husband cheated on you, not once or twice but a couple of times. You have been low for so long that you’ve forgotten what it means to think and act for yourself. You are going to need friends and frankly speaking, you owe me for playing nice so you could get an interview at this firm. So, how about we forget this drama with your baby daddy and focus on you being a superwoman?”
“Mesh, I am serious. Jeff played games and look where it got me. It hurts knowing that you withhold things from me because you are afraid of how I would react. Think about it, if you were me, how would you feel? Would you trust that kind of friend?”
“I know, you are very sorry for jumping into conclusions and all that stuff, now, get back to whatever you were doing and let’s earn some money.”
“See, I am having a serious conversation with you and you are busy cracking jokes.”
“Madam! I will have you know that I do not crack jokes when it comes to earning money. You should know all this by now, weren’t you the one who had enough savings to move out of her house when things got thick? Listen, my mother always tells me that there is nothing as powerful as a woman who can earn and save her own money. She also says that there’s no better feeling than spending your own money.”
“I will see you later on Mesh. Now, let me file these reports. You know we are having external auditors coming in for an evaluation and the bosses are tense.”
“Forget about it, why should you be scared when a visitor comes to inspect your kitchen? If they don’t like what they find, they can always go to their homes and cook for themselves.” Belinda was about to respond to Mesh when she saw he computer screen light up. Mesh walked back to her desk, giving her time to respond to the email she had just received.
Jeff dreaded having a conversation with Belinda. The children were at home with their grandmother and he could not escape his wife’s presence at every turn. He thought of his friends advice on keeping the news of Michelle’s pregnancy to himself. It worked well for the two months but he knew that sooner or later he’d have to break the news to Belinda. He sat on one of the steps leading to the front door and took in a deep breath.
Belinda watched him sitting outside the house and approached him with a cup of black tea. He took the cup from her and set it aside as she sat beside him.
“How was work today?”she asked.
“It was the same stuff. You know nothing changes in banks as much in terms of what’s done. How about you? How was your day?”
“My day was good. I sorted out things with my friend, Maureen, and so far all is well.”
“That’s very good. Thanks for the tea.”
“You’re welcome. Jeff?”
“What happened to us?”
“You are asking the wrong man, Besh. You are seriously asking the wrong man.”
“Well, at least I asked, kuuliza sio ujinga, isn’t that right?”
“You always asked me questions Besh. Do you remember when Iman was born and she was admitted at the hospital because she was running a fever and the doctors had to run tests? You turned to me and asked ‘is she going to be okay?’ and I was so stupid then, I answered ‘of course, isn’t she under the care of qualified doctors?’ Do you remember?”
“You will have to make more trips to the hospital now. I know Michelle is pregnant. She must be two months and one week along, right?”
“Don’t beg. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try to argue, Jeff. Congratulations, you will be a father. You’ll have to take care of that child.”
“Besh…listen, I wanted to tell you but I couldn’t find the…”
“Words? Well, you have uttered quite a number this evening, haven’t you? Jeff, we cannot argue about this anymore. You made your choice. I love this house, but it’s not a home. I’ll look for another place and take the children with me. I am telling you this because I want you to see them as often as you can. I will never deny you the privilege of seeing them, but when you do, she is not allowed near them, not until I am certain that she understands we are not feuding or competing for your attention. You can have her Jeff. In fact, you can keep her and all the other one night stands that you so desire. I have already told my uncles of my decision and they’ll be visiting your parents over the weekend. You win Jeff.”
“Besh, listen, you don’t have to move out. We can work something out, a plan or a sleeping arrangement, please don’t do this to Hakeem and Iman. What will you tell them?”
“I see, now you understand that the well-being of our children is at risk? Jeff, it is not about what I will tell them. It is what we will tell them because as far as I know, you are the one who won’t be coming home to them. Shall I add you another cup of tea?”
Belinda stood up and took her cup of tea with her. Jeff stared at her back but even then he could not find the right words to say to make things right. If he would have only answered truthfully the first night she asked about Michelle, then maybe he’d not have been swept by the storm. Maybe…just maybe he never knew that they were like a string of beads, if the clasp holding the string snapped and one bead fell off, then the others would scatter.