I can’t do this anymore, I think to myself as I lean against the bathroom sink. This time I actually vomited. That has never happened before. I turn on the tap to rinse my mouth with water as I hate the taste of the mouthwash.
After I’m done, I look in the mirror. My nose is running and my puffy eyes are watering—effects of the nausea. I want to speak to someone but I don’t think I would know what to say if I ever have the chance. How would it sound after the words escaped my lips?
One night, I threw up after my husband made love to me. Every time we make love I always come close to vomiting, but on that day I actually did.
Seems incredible doesn’t it? Who would be able to explain such an occurrence to me? I’ve thought so many times about leaving him. I feel terrible just thinking it and I can already hear the surprised voices of my friends and family if I do decide to follow through.
“But Jake dotes on you,” they would say. “He treats you like an egg!”
Yes he does, but he irritates me! My husband irritates me. His touch disgusts me; I cringe when he merely holds my hand. And good Lord, I find his smell repulsive. Anyone who knows me well, knows ambrosial scents are my thing. Unfortunately, my husband has quite an interesting aroma—a pungent combination of stale sweat and spearmint. I hate spearmint! The first day we met I actually had asthma. Asthma! Imagine!
But my pastor told me he was the one and my pastor can’t be wrong, right? Right?
It doesn’t matter that I had two strange dreams about my husband before we’d gotten married, one of which was before we’d started courting officially. In the first dream, I had been running like a mad woman and he was behind me, chasing me with an engagement ring, which I had refused to accept. I had the second dream after I’d accepted his marriage proposal. In that dream, the engagement ring had turned into a snake on my finger. I had woken up palpitating. But to me those meant nothing, because my pastor said he was the one for me. And my pastor can’t be wrong, right?
My pastor played the role of matchmaker for my husband and me. Well, I wouldn’t say matchmaker exactly. You know what? Let me just tell you what happened and then you can come to your own conclusions on if it was a matchmaking or something else. That was three years ago and I vividly remember the day it all started. It was a Sunday and I had just concluded a meeting with the church’s welfare unit when Pastor Kayode had walked up to me with a smug smile.
“Sister Kess,” he’d said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “The Lord has done it for us. He has finally revealed to me who your husband is.”
“Really?” I had asked, looking around. Pastor Kayode had noticed that and chuckled.
“Don’t worry, he’s not here. At least not yet. He’s the PA to the pastor in the church’s branch in Abuja. God said I should give him your number so I have already taken the liberty of doing so.”
He put emphasis on ‘God said’ in a way that left no room for any arguments. That he’d already given someone my number without my consent didn’t sit too well with me, but he was my Pastor and surely he couldn’t be wrong, could he?
I met Jake a few weeks after that day. Our church was having its annual conference in our headquarters in Warri, where I lived, so he’d flown in with the other pastors from Abuja to attend. Before this, we’d been talking on the phone and I must say, despite my initial annoyance about how he’d gotten my number, I was pleasantly surprised. We’d connected so well and I was looking forward to finally meeting him face to face. I’d already seen his WhatsApp profile picture so I knew what he looked like. I wouldn’t have outrightly called him good-looking, but he wasn’t ugly either. Truth be told, when I’d first seen the picture, nothing had really stirred inside me but I have always been a practical girl. As long as he treated me right and was willing to be celibate prior to us getting married, we would be OK.
On the day we met, he’d called my phone to inform me that he and his team had arrived at the church premises.
“Can we see right now?” he’d said. “I don’t think I can wait for one more second to finally see your face.”
I’d thought that sweet. He told me he was in the auditorium and I made my way there. I saw him standing close to the choir section, looking at his phone. He’d looked up when he must have heard my footsteps and began walking towards me with a huge smile.
Oookayyyy. He actually looks less attractive and much older than that picture on WhatsApp. And is that…a paunch?
I had still been willing to overlook all that…until he’d gotten closer and given me a side-hug. First the smell had hit me. Then the asthma. I couldn’t breathe. He had literally taken my breath away, but in such a disastrous manner. Unfortunately, him being a pastor’s assistant and me, the pastor’s wife’s assistant, meant we had sat next to each other for the duration of the conference. The conference lasted three days and my goodness, he had been so intent on showing God how keen he was about Him, so he ‘lifted up holy hands’ every chance he’d gotten. I don’t think I need to tell you how my nose had felt about that.
I was over it and mentioned as much to Pastor Kayode a few days later.
“Sister Kess, you’re being shallow,” he’d said. “Real life is not Telemundo and ‘butterflies in your belly’ are things for carnal Christians. Also, don’t forget you’re turning 32 in June and I don’t need to tell you what that means. Besides, haven’t I already told you God said Jake is your husband? And you’re here talking about attraction. Na attraction una go chop?”
I had been uneasy but I remained quiet.
“Leave all these ‘small children talk’,” he’d continued. “Attraction is for teenagers. Jake is a man of God and a hard worker. Those are the things you should focus on in a husband. Besides, is it not too soon for you to be bothered about attraction? I’m sure it will grow in time.”
I got married to Jake eleven months and fifteen days after that conversation. No, there still was no attraction by then. No, I still couldn’t stand to be close to him and no, there’s still no attraction. I thought the feelings would grow by now; honestly, I did.
I’m tired, so emotionally drained. This isn’t the type of experience I’d hoped for after remaining a virgin till I’d gotten married. I wasn’t naïve enough to think it (you know…it) would be great all the time, but, come on, I expected it to be much better than what I get.
What do I do? What do I do? How do I get out of this?
Tears flow freely from my eyes and I cover my mouth with my hand in an attempt to muffle my sobs.
“Kessiena?” a voice, preceded by a soft knock, says on the other side of the bathroom door.
“Yeah,” I respond when I’m sure I can speak without giving myself away. “Coming.”
I have to go now. My husband is calling for me. I pour some water over my face and rinse my mouth again. I wish I’d taken a shot or two of brandy. That usually dulls the feeling of…everything…But he says he hates the smell of the alcohol on my breath and always threatens to report me to Pastor Kayode. I sigh, trying not to think of him, Pastor Kayode. Doing so fills me with so much resentment but I curb those thoughts swiftly. I take one last look at my reflection in the mirror and think again about leaving my husband. But I know I won’t. I can’t.
My pastor said he’s the one for me and my pastor can’t be wrong. Right?