Larry was the ladies man. He was kind to everyone at the workplace. He made every girl feel pretty. He noticed every small detail about a colleague at the workplace and commended them.
“You shaved the eyebrows differently this time! That look is good on you!”
“Two black suits, yesterday’s and today’s! You must love black girl!”
“Are you losing weight Patty?I must admit, you’re turning out to be a sweeter snack!” I brushed him off as he gave me that killing smile. “Patty, you are a hard nut! The marriageable type!” He said as I walked away from him, pointing my finger at him.
When he focused the attention on me, I felt shy and I hated he had that effect on me. So I thought best to always give him the cold shoulder. Nonetheless, this awoke a burning psyche for Larry to pursue me. He always served me coffee in the morning, starting small chit-chats.
Warnings fell on me from all directions. From colleagues to my seniors and even the subordinate staff. He was not a man to trust, he was not even my type,they said. I was too serious for his lame jokes, they added. But it was too late, I was smitten.
However, I gave him an ultimatum. If he wanted me, he had to flirt with only me.He said “yes”. So despite the disapproval by many, the relationship gear went to a D and off it commenced.
Larry was a beautiful lover, romantic partner and caring friend. A few months later and I was pregnant. He was over the moon! He could not wait to be a father! He had always loved children.
He would go to his village home every weekend to visit his parents and his sister.He had told me he felt indebted to them for they had toiled to take care of him . But he would come back to me every Sunday evening.
Everything went smoothly until one Tuesday morning I saw a lodging receipt in his jacket pocket. He had come home late the previous day. I was furious!
I did not speak to him all day. He did not know why. Colleagues tried to intervene. They said he was too forlorn. He would not speak to anyone. When he came home that evening, I threw the receipt on his face. He was astounded. He pleaded for forgiveness blaming the devil and booze. He swore he would not fall into such temptations again. In fact, he would be accompanying me to church henceforth.
That got me. I knew church would transform him. I forgave him. He kept his word. He would go to see his parents on Friday evening and come back on Saturday evening. The next day, we would attend church. This happened for a few months until he received a distress call one Sunday morning. He said it was his mother, no more explanations.
He dropped his Bible on my hands and hailed a cab that he frantically ordered to drive fast. My offers to accompany him were dismissed adoringly, “The chaos might hurt our baby!” He said as he left, smiling fondly at me , throwing a kiss at my direction. He came back that evening, fatigue painted on his face. He finally explained: his teenage sister had given birth to a son. She had named him Alex.
“I just want to sleep!” He said as he stuttered to bed. Minutes later, his phone rang. He had left it on the table. The caller was persistent. I decided to pick and take a message. Then I heard a female voice.
“Hello, my love!” It said.
“Whaat?” I asked . The caller hang up. I was berserk. I woke him up , he was confused. I was screaming, he was trying to calm me down, to explain to him what was wrong but I was insane, throwing the house up and down. Then a sharp pain attacked my womb. Once, twice and then in intervals.
Despite my fervent refusals, Larry picked me up, called the neighbour and we went to hospital. A few hours later, I was holding an adorable baby girl. Unsure of himself, Larry gestured me to pass the baby to him.Upon holding her, tears flowed from his eyes as he cooed at our daughter.The nurses aaawed at him.
” I can’t believe I am a dad!” He said. I shed my tears too as I watched the two loves of my life bonding. The bond grew strong as the little angel grew. Her first words were “Daddy!” He was a doting father!
He said he was excited to take his family to the village.One day he would. He only travelled home alone. He would always give sweet excuses of why we would not go this weekend or the other.
One time he would say,he and his mother had a resentful relationship, that she would be rude to us and he could not stand that. Another time, he would say that his parents lived in a mud house and he was embarrassed to show it to anyone. No convincing would help the situation. He insisted that, we would only go when he had built a decent house for them.
I thought of proving to him that my love was unconditional. I would take myself to his village. When he left as usual on Friday, I slept contemplating my next day’s actions. I woke up early, dressed up my two year old daughter and called the cab that Larry always took to his village.
“You will take us where you always take Larry, I need to talk to his people?” The cab driver looked shocked. I raised my eyebrows to him questioningly. He hesitated to reply.
“Madam, why would you want to talk to his people? Will they be willing to talk to you?” I was surprised that the cab driver knew that there was bad blood between Larry and his mother.
“I am willing to try.” I said and he shrugged his shoulders and drove the car. Then I started to fret, we were heading to no village, instead we were entering an estate.
“Are you sure of where we are going?” I asked the cab driver who nodded confidently. He stopped at a beautiful family house.I almost asked another question when a small child exited the house with a blue tricycle. It was exactly like my daughter’s. What awed me was the striking resemblance of the boy to my daughter. Her big round eyes, small nose and thin lips were all on the boy’s face. He was her male version.
“Mummy, who is that kid? Where are we?” My daughter asked. I was trembling in fear,ire and denial as I anticipated for the worst. Then a pretty woman probably in her twenties,opened the door and called out to her son.”Alex!” A man came into scene too, holding a mug , drinking from its contents. He was in a white vest and a black short, barefeet.
“No!No!No!” I cried. My daughter saw her father and within a flash,she had opened the car door and ran to him. The small family of three stopped to stare at the excited little girl. Larry dropped his mug which broke into pieces. I was already out of the cab running after Alexis. Fortunately, she tripped on a stone and fell. I grabbed her before she could embarrass herself.
I met Larry’s eyes and we gazed at each other. The woman was madly asking him whom we were.
“Who are these Larry? Tell me now!”
“I don’t know!” He said. Those words stabbed into me so deep that I felt a physical pain. I turned back to the waiting cab and entered even as Alexis kicked forcefully asking to go see her dad. We both cried on our way back. I cried like Alexis, noisily and lengthily. She even stopped when she saw I was doing a better job.
” Madam, I am sorry, I thought you already knew he had a wife!” The cab driver said when I started to weep silently. The mention of “wife” caused me to resume to my loud wail. I had always thought I was the wife.
When we went back home, we cried some more. That is as much as we did that weekend. By Monday morning, I was stronger. I showered to go to work. I kissed Alexis goodbye and left her with the househelp. As soon as I stepped out, I saw him. He took my hand and pulled me back in the house.
He was on his knees as Alexis jumped on his back. He was crying on my feet, begging for forgiveness. I stared at nowhere, trying to be firm but when he looked up and met my eyes, I broke down. The househelp picked a shocked Alexis and took her out. Larry held me as we sobbed. He kept saying he was sorry, that he would never hurt me again. Then I looked in his face. I still loved him.
“Larry, I never want to see your face again.” I said
“No baby, no baby, you don’t mean that! I cannot leave you!” He pleaded as he hugged me close to his chest. I wanted to stay there forever but I pulled back.
“You know how angry I can get. Leave right now and never come back to this house!” I said,now stronger. He wanted to hold my hand and say something.
“Go to your wife!” I yelled. He saw the intense anger in my eyes and walked back slowly to the door with a very beaten face. He opened the door to leave. A part of me wanted to urge him to stay, to plead with him to choose me and Alexis but the larger part was wiser. I banged the door behind him and slid down, wailing Larry’s name.
Alexis and Lucie came back. I wiped my tears and took my phone. I wrote a resignation text to my boss. I could not work there anymore, not with Larry’s face around me. I loved him, but love was not enough to be with a man who had publicly denied me and his daughter. Love was not enough to stay with a married man. It would take time to get over him but I had to be strong for my daughter. She would not understand my actions to stay away from her father now but she would be a grown up girl and from me,she would learn what dignity meant.