I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, aunt, HR manager, cook, cleaner, maid, driver, occasional punching bag and currently, an STD carrier.
Have I lost you? I hope not; but let me attempt to clarify.
My name is Yvonne Adaku Amachree nee Omereze. I am thirty-two years old, a mother of two amazing children, and the wife of Tubotamuno Amachree or TA as I call him. I love my husband, I love my kids and I love my family. I will go to the moon and back for them; but as I sit in my doctor’s office and stare at a lab result that says I have Chlamydia, I begin to re-examine just how deep this love goes. But then again, I suppose I should be happy; it could have been HIV. As this thought crosses my mind, I smile at myself and then this laughter bubbles up from inside me and spills out. It’s a deep, bitter, uncontrollable laughter.
“Seriously E.V, this is not a laughing matter” my doctor and very close friend, Anita says to me
Still, I can’t stop laughing. The joke that is my life is just so ridiculous that it’s downright funny, and I just cannot not laugh at myself.
“E.V, is there something you’re not telling me?” Anita asks, with concern written all over her face.
“Like what?” I shoot back. The laughter is gone now and I’m angry “like what Nits? Like if I’ve been unfaithful to my husband? Like if I contracted Chla whatever you call it through an extra-marital affair?”
“I’m sorry E.V but I had to ask. You know I trust you but your reaction was just off.”
I know Anita means well, I mean, she is my closest friend; and I shouldn’t have jabbed at her like that but I’m just angry and tired and helpless and raw.
That’s when the tears begin. Anita rises from her seat and comes to my side.
“Come on babe, don’t do this. I know I said this was not a laughing matter but Chlamydia is very treatable, trust me,” she says as she rubs my back.
“Yeah, right?” I say between sobs “I should be happy because it’s treatable abi?”
“Listen babe, don’t beat yourself up like this ehn. Please stop crying.” she says and continues to rub my back as I cry and cry.
After what seems like minutes, I manage to pull myself together. I pull out some tissue from the box on her table and for a brief second I wonder how many other patients have pulled out a tissue from this same box to wipe away tears like I’m doing right now. How many of those tears were caused by diseases contracted from serially unfaithful husbands.
At last I recover my composure and smile at Anita. As always, she is a true shoulder to cry on when I need it.
“Trust me, everything will be fine” Anita says.
“I don’t even know why I’m crying in the first place. ” I say to her “So what’s next?”
Anita gives me the ‘are you sure you’re okay’ look
“I’m fine babe. Seriously. Just tell me what I should do, I have to get back to work.”
Satisfied that I’m done with the tear works, Anita goes back to her seat.
“As you know, Tubo also has to go see a doctor. I’ll write out a prescription for you. Please try to follow this medication religiously; I don’t want us starting it all over again like we did the last time”
I nod and she begins to scribble out something. She presses the bell on her table and a nurse walks in.
She hands the nurse my file.
“Please fill out this prescription for Mrs. Amachree.”
As the nurse shuts the door behind her, Anita fixes me with her ‘time for advice’ look and I know that I have to escape before she starts.
“Babe, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you cannot continue like this, you really can’t. For your own sake and the sake of your babies, do something before it’s too late. I beg you.” she picks out a paper from the stack on her table. “Now, I know Tubo won’t come and see me because he knows how much I hate what he’s been doing to you, so please, get him to see a doctor. And remember, no sex with him until you both have been treated.” She says to me.
“Trust me babes, the no sex part will not be an issue. TA is out of town at the moment though but he’s due back in about a week. I’ll get him to see a Doctor, I promise.”
“Great. Oya freshen up, your mascara has run.”
‘oh,’ I say, trying to clean the undersides of my eyes with the tissue in my hand.
“My make up purse is in the car. I’ll do it when I get to the car.” I stand up to head out.
“Ok.” Anita says, coming around and giving me a hug “Be strong babes, this too will pass”
I say nothing to that, because I don’t believe her and I’ve heard that gist too many times to start believing now.
“It haff do o. Don’t come and break my spinal cord.” I say She laughs and releases me. That was Anita for you, all sunshine, hugs and motherly warmth. Sometimes I wonder how she’s still single.
“See you on Saturday?” I say and open the door.
“Yeah. Later” she says, waving me out.
I head to the reception where I pick up my medicine and make payments.
“Have a beautiful day ma” the nurse says to me
I know that the rest of my day will not be beautiful. As a matter of fact, I know that the rest of my day and probably several more days to come, have been completely ruined, but I force a smile at her.
“Thank You I.J”
I get into my car and turn on the ignition but I can’t drive out. I sit there emotionally blank and totally drained.
I have been with my husband for 15years now and married to him for 12. In those 15years, this is the 2nd time that I’ve been infected with a sexually transmitted disease from him. In those 15 years, I’ve never cheated on my husband, not even with my fingers.
I met TA on my first day at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology where i studied Computer Science. He had come to use the cyber cafe close to my department. I asked him for directions to the health center and he’d not only directed me, but took me round to the different places I needed to get to for my clearance that day. Two weeks later, I was his girlfriend.
At the time, he was a fresh graduate, just done with NYSC, with big dreams and ideas, living in a self contain apartment just a stone throw from my school premises. He had been charming, kind, generous with the little he had and very hard working, and honestly, he is still all those things. I guess that was why I cared about him after all these years, and after all that he’s put me through. He had been good in the sack, still is too, when he puts his mind to it. He had taken my virginity and introduced me to the world of love and sexual decadence. Before long, my life revolved around him.
I remember the day I had caught him making out with some girl in his room. It had been a weekend and I had traveled home to get my monthly allowance from my father. Fortunately, my father had to travel on Saturday, so first thing on Saturday morning, he called me to his room and gave me my allowance, instead of on Sunday afternoon after church as was his usual way.
Normally on weekends when I had to travel home, I couldn’t visit TA. But that weekend, I had bought a shirt for him from my friend’s sister who usually traveled to yankee and I wanted to surprise him. So I convinced my mum to permit me to go back to school that Saturday lying that I had a test on Monday morning. I arrived at his house that Saturday evening happy for the opportunity to surprise him, seeing as he was the one usually doing the surprising. It was all planned.
The first thing I had noticed on getting to his house was the pair of female slippers at the his verandah. When my key refused to turn in the key hole, I knew immediately that something was wrong. I went around and took a peek through the window and noticed that there were two people in the room. I immediately got angry, thinking that it was one of his friends who had brought their girlfriend to his room as usual to have sex. So I had knocked harder that I would ordinarily do. To say that I was shocked when it was TA who opened the door, would be an understatement. He had also been as shocked as I was. Everything else that happened after I went in and saw the girl half naked on the bed was a blur.
I had broken up with him then. He had come groveling, begging and explaining, asking for a second chance. I had been too in love with him to not forgive him. So I forgave, and a second chance became a third chance, and a fourth and a fifth. Soon enough I became used to the fact that TA cheated on me with other women and it no longer hurt. It became a norm.
I had however, broken up with him in my 3rd year after he beat me up at a party for dancing with another guy. I had spent two days in the hospital and almost a month recovering from the bruises. That time around, his charm hadn’t helped. It had been bad enough that he was cheating on me, but beating me up like that had been the last straw for me. I had sworn never to go back to him and I had stuck to my guns.
It took me months to get over the heart ache, but eventually I did. I dated other guys and tried to forget TA; but every other guy had paled in comparison to him. The truth is TA had loved me, and still does, in his own twisted way. He was handsome and fun to be with. He was endearing and easy to love. He never complained, he had accepted me for who I was. He had been good to me and had given me most of my happiest memories. And being my first love and all, it was difficult for any other man to hold a candle to him.
Three years later, I ran into TA again during my NYSC. He had come to see my Principal at My PPA. TA came from old money so finding funds to start his own shipping company hadn’t being a problem. He had looked more mature and even more handsome. The old wounds had healed, and it hadn’t taken him much to resuscitate the love I still had for him that had been lying dormant somewhere in the recesses of my heart. He told me that he had changed, convinced me that he loved me and that there would be no other woman for him. After three months of his charm and persistence, I was a believer. Barely a year after we reunited, I became Mrs. Amachree. It would take me 3years and a sexually transmitted infection, during my pregnancy for our first child, to realize that TA hadn’t changed. He had only mastered how to cover his tracks really well. A leopard, they say, never changes its spots.
As I drive out of the hospital, I ask myself the two questions that have been the most prevalent in my heart for the last couple of years, “how did I get here?” and “how do I get out?”.