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The Trophy Wife by Oluwaseun Osanyinro

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As I shut the door to the last member of my family leaving, I heaved a sigh of relief at work done and walked back to my kitchen. My whole house was well-lit with every Christmas decoration available and finally homey, thanks to my family. I had gifts wrapped, tickets ready to surprise Mofe and my bags packed for our travels. I could picture his face when I hand him the ticket to his favourite band concert. He would slightly open his mouth showing a bit of his perfectly arranged teeth while one of his eyebrows would rise in surprise. As if that was not cute enough, my fiancé would remove his glasses and rub the bridge of his nose yet no word will come out of his mouth. He usually does that when he is speechless. Finally, he would pull me to himself and give me the warm hug I always desire with a “thank you, Ayomi”, solely for my ears. I laughed out loud as I imagined his reaction. Mofe was so predictable and I loved him for it.

As predictable as my fiancé was, we met strangely and funnily. It was no boy-next-door love, church function, a colleague at work or family match-make way. I remember getting my plane ticket and sitting in my assigned seat when a serious-looking man came to me. With no introduction of any sort, he almost commanded me to get up from his seat. As I was double-sure I sat on the seat with my number, I scoffed at the rudest man I had met in a long time and focused on the book I picked to read. He did not bulge and neither did I which was easier since I was seated and had fastened my belts. When seconds turned to minutes, he called the flight attendant who checked our tickets and discovered we were given the same seat number. The odds. I put on my innocent girl looks and he pleaded with me to sit beside me which was empty due to the mistake. I could see his hesitance and I shrugged. I would hesitate to sit beside him too. as if the seat had a cooling effect on his grumpiness, he fastened his belt and turned to me for an introduction. “Hi, I am Mofe.”, he said. OKAY, I replied in my mind. “I am Jemima”, I replied. He commented on my name but I chose not to reply. Well, by the time we were landing at the airport, we had exchanged numbers. Well, what was I expected to do on a six-hour flight with a cute guy ready to make small talk?

I snapped out of my beautiful reverie at the beep of my phone. I picked it up the read a message from my bank wishing me a Merry Christmas in advance. It was becoming a norm for 3 days stretch to be checking my phone for Mofe’s call. I must have checked for the umpteenth time today. He was supposed to arrive today from his business trip which had kept him away for a month. We tried keeping in touch daily through his network reception was poor over there. This was the first time we would barely contact each other for 3 days in a row. I kept trying till I got a short message from him recently about his very bad connection and his well-being over there. I was just so glad he was fine and would close for the year today which was 2 weeks after my closure from school. The perks of being a teacher.

I remember when I told him about my profession. He was surprised and claimed I did not look like a teacher on the flight. Well, what does a teacher look like? Mofe, on the other hand, is a software engineer who buried his head into books and his computer till I came into his life. His mum claimed I am the distraction he needs daily which made everyone laugh and Mofe blush. Not only does his profession take his time, but it also makes him travel for long attending conferences and exhibitions. “Busy love”, I called him which earned him the name ‘BL’ that blinked on my phone whenever he called. He claimed his busyness was boring and I would eagerly regale his stories of the children I taught. From the child that ate his another’s lunch food because his food was not sweet to another, that cried because a girl called him cute claiming cute was used for dogs and he is not a dog to another that would always bring me wilted flowers and others that made me want to scream my head out. Mofe would laugh and I could almost picture him rolling his head back while laughing while I roll my eyes at him mocking my actions or laughing at my sweet children. We would always end the call with him wishing I was able to travel around the world with him. I wished to but I love teaching and I cannot give it up. Not yet. He would tell me of the conferences, the dinners and awards. He could go on and on with them and I would just be smiling at my phone. Mofe was a free bird. I, on the other hand, find myself attached to a particular place. We were from different worlds.

“Opposite, they say, attract”, I said to myself as I folded the last piece of clothing into my bag. I was set for our Christmas getaway as soon as Mofe comes back from his trip. My phone finally rang and I searched through the clothes on my bed to fish it out. “Hi, Mofe”. “Ayomi”, he said as I pushed the remaining clothes down the floor and lay on my bed to talk. It has been 3 days since we talked. I cannot be blamed for missing him this much. He asked about my day and I gave him a rundown of Christmas shopping with my mum and decoration at home. He laughed as I told him of the arrogant shopper and the surprise proposal at the mall. I even reported my nosy neighbour to him and he almost choked as I did to my neighbour’s noisy dog. “How have you been?”, I asked in return. Mofe is a man of few words but when I pressure him a lot, he would give me a detailed version of his day. Today, despite the pressure, he claimed it was the same as every other day. I guessed he was tired and when he threw the bait back to me, I gave him stories that could relax him. He was about to end the call when I remembered. “When is your plane arriving?”, I asked as I rolled over my bed. I stared at the ceiling counting seconds while the other end of the call was silent. Why I used a black painting for my ceiling still amazes me. “Mofe?”, I called. “The business meeting was extended till today. I would come tomorrow”, he replied. “But tomorrow is Christmas day, for goodness sake!”, I exclaimed. “Someone has to make everything work, Ayomi. See you tomorrow”, he said. We exchanged “I love you” and he ended the call.

I must have slept off after his call because the next sound I heard came from my door. I rubbed the sleep off my face and checked my clock. It was 7am. “It’s Christmas day!”, I exclaimed as another knock reminded me of what woke me up. “Mofe!”, I screamed and got off my bed. I knew I looked like something the cat dragged in so I ran to wash up my face and gaggle my mouth with water. “I’m coming!”, I called out as I cleaned my face and checked the mirror while running to open the door. “Mofe! Finally, you came!”, I exclaimed with joy as I opened the door to my fiancé but met a stranger. “Merry Christmas”, he greeted. I replied but not with the same fervour as when I opened the door. “You must have the wrong apartment. Who are you looking for?”, I continued. “Ermm…I think I am right. Are you Jemima?”, he asked. I nodded in the affirmative as he brought out a package for me. “From who?” “From Jumia.”, he replied. I signed, said my thanks and took my parcel in. Christmas has begun for me. The beep from my phone distracted me a bit as I picked up my phone and answered my mother while opening my parcel. A letter dropped off and I picked to read it. It was from Mofe. I felt all giddy as I read his letter to me.

Everything that happened in between when I read the letter and now was a blur. From my screams and ‘Nos’ to my slump on the floor and my mum arriving in minutes, was the worst nightmare of my life. No one ever explains the way a break-up feels. I had suddenly lost my appetite, had a change in temperature, dizziness, nausea, tears that would not stop falling and a sudden feeling to laugh hysterically. Mofe was not coming home. Oh, he was not held up in a business meeting. He has decided to settle down in Texas and thought it would not be fair to keep me waiting for him here. His words did not make any sense to me and I said so to my mother. I had been waiting for 2 years for him and he just realized that? The letter explained many more reasons why he did not want to be unfair to me. Mofe, my BL, said he would love a travelling wife and he sees I love my roots too much to take flights with him. He said I love teaching and he would not want to quench my passion. “He should have just said he wants a trophy wife”, I muttered to myself as I wiped another stray tear. I had no more strength to cry but once in a while, the pain brought out stray tears. “Gem? Did you two have a fight?”, my mum asked me again as she hugged me. “We talked till I slept off, mum. He said he loved me. He said he will be with me today. Is this a prank?” Yet, I knew it was not. He was not picking up my calls and when a text came in, it was simply ‘I am sorry’. Mofe was not bold enough to face me. My eyes found the tickets I had planned to surprise Mofe with and my bag that was already packed. I wanted our last Christmas as singles to be the best. I had booked a trip that would take us to 2 different cities this holiday and tickets to watch his favourite music band in the city. I picked it up and carried my bag to meet my mother.

I could not deny I was like a child thrown in the middle of a market. Currently, I did not know what to do or how to feel. I was still in the denial phase. Christmas was already dull and every giddy experience I felt earlier evaporated like steam coming out from boiling water. It still looked like a dream to me. Maybe he was at a confusing stage in his career, maybe he had found love somewhere in Texas. Maybe. It was too early to conclude but he was not picking up his call as usual. Maybe he had a wife and children somewhere. I scratched that thought because I knew his lovely family and his mother were as truthful as they came. As we passed a man playing Christmas songs with his trumpet, I told my mum to stop the car and dropped the tickets in his bowl. He deserved it better than the man called, Mofe. “You’ll be fine”, mum said as I entered the car.

It may take months or years. Christmas may not give me excitement anytime soon. It did not matter anymore. I was determined not to let any man make me feel less of a woman because I prefer to stick close to home. I did not even know what the future holds right now save I would take it one day at a time. Jason pulled me into a hug as soon as we got home while Jennifer wiped another stray tear from my eyes. “He will come back to his senses”, my father said in anger but I shook my head. I had read enough hurtful messages in that letter to go back to Mofe. He had wanted a trophy wife and not Jemima. “And here I was thinking he would come home to propose”, my sister also said in anger. I laughed for the first time. I thought so too till he sent a Christmas gift through Grinch.

 

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