Do you know the meaning of the slang, ‘quarter past one?’ Before you read this post, first you must note that this is not an adaptation of any Nollywood movie but someone’s real experience. Real names are withheld for the privacy of the characters.
Hannah was in no way prepared for the sight that greeted her eyes when she got home one evening after a long day at work. A lady was sitting on Hannah’s sofa, watching TV. As soon as Hannah opened the door the lady got up and said, ‘hi honey,’ before she realised that her company was not who she was expecting. This made Hannah uneasy? Something just wasn’t right.
‘How can I help you?’ The lady asked Hannah who was now confused.
Hannah’s first impulse was to look around her, at the door and at the keys in her hand, wondering if her keys had opened the wrong apartment door. She ignored the nagging unease she felt and asked, ‘are you Frank’s cousin?’
The woman laughed and said, ‘it’s funny but I was about to ask you the same thing.’ She had an accent that Hannah could not quite put her finger on its origin.
Hannah blinked hard. The woman was obviously in the early stages of madness. Very slowly Hannah said to her, ‘my name is Hannah and this is my house. I live here with my husband, Frank. May I know who you are?’
The smile slowly disappeared from the woman’s face and she sat down on the same sofa she had been lying down on. ‘I’m Lola and Frank is my husband. There must be a mistake somewhere.’
Hannah also sat on the nearest sofa. Though tempted to believe that someone was playing a cruel joke on her, the look on the woman’s face was enough to tell her it was no joke. She laughed anyway. ‘You’re joking, right? Frank and I got married in church here in Lagos two years ago and we have been together since then.
‘Well, Frank and I also wedded in a church in Dallas, Texas in February two years ago and I have a daughter, Cathy to show for it,’ Lola said.
‘What?’ Hannah laughed nervously. ‘This must be a joke right? My daughter’s name is Catherine.’ But deep down inside, Hannah knew it was no joke. The month her husband spent in the United States with only a few calls to his newly wedded wife and excuses of being too busy at the training his company had sent him to the US for, was beginning to make sense to her.
‘Frank and I had dated for a while when he came for his company’s project in the US and we planned to get married but he stopped calling me for some months and I was devastated. He had always told me that his mother wanted him to marry a Nigerian and since I’m from Kenya, I thought he had left for good but then he came back and told me he loved me and wanted to marry me. We got married in my church and he came back to Nigeria. Since then we’ve seen each other a number of times. I didn’t hear from Frank for a couple of months and I was worried. His phone’s been switched off. I was able to trace his address through a friend at the embassy and I thought I would surprise him. Little did I know that I was the one in for a surprise. I saw the keys under the flower pot in front of the front door. Frank and I always keep a spare key in the same place in our house at Dallas. Are you telling me that Frank was already married to you and he still came to marry me? Why would he do such a thing? He doesn’t even need a Green card. He’s a citizen!
Both Hannah and Lola stared at each other in silent rage. Each was lost in her own thoughts, wishing she could wake up from the nightmare.
Hannah’s sister chose that moment to come upstairs with Catherine, Hannah’s daughter. Hannah forced a smile at her daughter while seething inwardly, regretting the day she met Frank. Just a couple of years earlier, she had been a single lady with only thoughts of getting married. Therefore, when her aunt referred Frank, a comfortable man working with an oil firm in Lagos to her, it was like a dream come true for Hannah. All she could think about now, was the shame and ridicule she would face if the story got out and the pain of Frank’s betrayal. In that moment, Hannah hated Frank more than anything in the world. She thought about packing her belongings and returning to her father’s house immediately but almost wept at the thought of becoming a quarter past one, after leaving singlehood for two years. Being single was difficult enough but being quarter past one…Hannah couldn’t think of any sentence worse than that.
What would you do if you were in Hannah’s shoes?