11.45pm and she was calling his phone. I looked across the bed at Tobe who was snoring obliviously and it took all the strength in me not to whack him across his head with the ringing phone.
I'd never imagined I'd be one of those women who had to put up with things like this. Six months into marriage and I realized that I was nothing special and my darling husband who never gave me any concerns when we were dating had become like those other husbands bitter wives complained about on Nigerian blogs.
Three nights ago I swear I could have killed someone. We were snuggling on the sofa after enjoying the dinner I'd slaved over when she called. As if something bit him on the arse he suddenly jumped up and took his ringing phone into the the bedroom. I just knew she was the one calling.
With envy and anger in my heart I listened to his occasional bursts of laughter from the bedroom. I couldn't remember hearing him laugh so happily with me. Furious, I got up and began to pace the living room, restraining myself from barging into our room and throwing his phone out of the window. I really wanted to but everyone said you never won a battle in marriage that way. They said even if I did, I might win the battle but I'd lose the war, whatever that meant. They said most men were like that and asked me to be patient with him. But is it easy? I'm still a newly wed and I have to put up with this? Why?
"Yewande don't kill yourself o! You're too young, just ignore him and soon they'll get tired" Amaka said just last week when I'd gone to get a pedicure at her salon. I needed someone to talk to, nothing I'd done to get her out of the picture was working and I was becoming both unhappy and frustrated.
"But for how long?" I asked Amaka. "I'm losing it. She knows we're married now, why in God's name can't she respect that? I never interfered with anyone's marriage. Why should she interfere with mine?"
"Hmm, my sister, just manage. You don't know what other women are seeing in their marriages. In fact if I tell you half of what I suffer from my husband you will go home and kiss Tobe's feet!"
"Are you kidding me? So because other women are suffering I should keep quiet and suffer in silence? Do you know he doesn't take me out anymore but he takes her on dates?"
"Dates ke?" Amaka asked. Oh, now I had her attention.
Yes, my darling husband takes her out on Saturdays and even though he tried to hide it from me, I eventually found out. That time I couldn't keep quiet no matter what anybody said. It was not fair to me, I just had to confront him. Especially after I'd just seen the bill that ran into several thousands.
"Look, Yewande, I'm sorry. You should know that I don't mean to hurt you" he had said, angry that he got caught and not exactly sounding sorry.
"Everytime sorry. Everytime sorry. I'm getting sick and tired of your sorries. How much longer do I have to take this?"
"Try to understand, she's lonely, she needs me, especially now that she's lost her job. She doesn't really have anyone else. It's been long since she had a man in her life and I'm just trying to do the little I can to help"
"Say what now? Tobechukwu this is not what I signed up for when I married you! How is it my problem if she doesn't have a man in her life or that she lost her job? You're my husband, not hers!" I'm sure my neighbour's could hear my voice but I just didn't care.
Tobe sighed a tired sigh. "Look, I've tried to make you see reason but you refuse to. I've had a very long day 'Wande, I'm going to bed" he said as he walked out on me.
Honestly I'm tired. How many other wives have to endure this? How are they doing it? What strategy do I have to adopt to win both the battle and the war?
It's been barely six months and already I've had to put up with so much, each incident worse than the last. Was it when I found out about their Saturday dates, or when I came home early one afternoon and saw her in my kitchen wearing my apron? Was it when he wouldn't touch me because was she was ill and he was so worried that he couldn't get turned on, or when he bought her return tickets and paid in full for her hotel reservation in Paris? That time I nearly lost it but everyone said "Oh, at least he didn't travel with her, thank your God for that".
What pained me the most was that there was a battle and she knew she was winning, simply because she'd been in his life before me. So when mama Bimbola, my mum's elder sister, gave me those prayer points, saying that my routine prayers wouldn't be enough in this situation, I'd almost said them. The only thing that stopped me was that the prayers had to be at midnight, and how could I explain praying for that "strange woman in my husband's life trying to unseat me, fall down and die!" to Tobe?
And so, just hours ago I stood in my kitchen looking at my husband and I wished I had damned all consequences and said those prayers.
"See, I know you may not like it but please for my sake Yewande, try and accept her, she means no harm. That's the only way we can be happy" my handsome husband was saying.
"Tobe. Please don't do this. Please. Please don't do this to us. Don't do this to our marriage. Don't you care how I feel? Is this the happy ever after you promised me? Please Tobe, I'm begging you, please don't do this". I hate to grovel. I hate to cry, but I found myself doing both.
"My decision is final, the sooner you get used to it, the the better" he said with such finality, my body shivered. "She's already on her way here, she's going to live with us and I need you to make an effort to make her feel welcome". His calm voice left no room for debate.
And now I'm here with my hands folded across my chest. She would walk in at any minute and I know if there's any card left for me to play, the time is now. This moment could make or break my marriage and I need to think quick. I love my husband and I'm not ready to lose him to anyone. Everyone has said its my responsibility to 'keep my marriage' and if anything happens I know I'll be the one to blame. Help me Lord Jesus, I whisper under my breath as the door opens and she walks in.
Her signature scent Chanel no.5 fills the room and I catch a whiff of it before I even see her. Time stands still as we both look at each other from across the room.
"Hello Yewande" she says hesitantly.
I look at her, trying hard to fight the tears. I force a smile and force my legs to move, but I suddenly feel like a rock.
They say if I fight with her I might win the battle but I will lose the war. I don't want to lose the war. I don't want to win the fight with her and lose my husband, it's just not worth it. I can't expect my husband to choose. She might be the other woman who causes me unease and angst, but she's still my husband's mother and will always be.
"You're welcome mama. I hope you're very hungry" I'm finally able to move, so I walk to her and wrap her in an embrace, welcoming her into our home.
From the corner of my eyes I can see Tobe's anxiety melt into a smile and my heart lept. I would win both this battle and the war, and I would do it with love.
So help me God...