Sequel to No Other Remedy.
He knew he needed to speak to someone. But whom?
There weren’t many he could confide in.
And so he walked up the stairs and down the aisle; stopping at the door with the inscription..
Perhaps he could confide in someone after-all.
He didn’t bother knocking, for he knew the door was unlocked.
As he entered the spacious room he took a moment to look at his reflection in the mirror- he had aged beyond his years.
Without wasting time, Chidi sat down and started narrating..
I really don’t know whether I should tell her. I don’t know if I can. But I know I can tell you..
I don’t know if it could have been prevented. Perhaps, yes.. but then again, I doubt I really wanted to. Prevent it, I mean. You see, things started to change ages ago. If you ask me anyway.. which you did. You asked me. And I’m telling you: things changed. Maybe much less for her, and much more for me. Obviously, I was the one who has been cheating. I’m not about to start giving excuses. There are none. But things changed..
The businesses were doing great and we were expanding. We were doing a lot of travelling too, it was great. We spent so much time together. I enjoyed those days tremendously. While there are couples complaining about a lack of activity or communication, we suffered neither of those. We had so much to do, so much to talk about. We were both lovers and friends. But with time, this became rather exhausting. I think it disturbed me much more than it did her. Well, it obviously did. I longed for quiet moments at home; sitting on the sofa and simply lazing about. I longed for solitude; having no visitors around or events on my schedule. I was so exhausted, I longed for peace, nothingness, passivity. For once, contrary to how things had been, I longed for inactivity.
But Asake, she had so much energy; she still does. The very thing I used to love about her became a thorn in my flesh. She was very understanding though, I will forever give her that. And so, understanding my need to just chill, she suggested we both do “our own thing”. No, don’t get me wrong, it was not a break or any such thing, it was simply a mutual agreement – a passing one- for a while we would both do things that pleased us- as individuals, and not as a couple. In simple terms, she said, “If I want to travel but you don’t, I will simply travel alone without making you feel guilty for staying behind, and you will rest at home without making me feel bad for leaving for a while.”
As controversial as it may sound, it worked very well.. at first, at least. We’d still do things together; but it so happened that we started doing more things apart. It was no problem for her at all, she seemed to be loving it. The freedom. Going shopping on her own, spending a weekend here and there with friends, getting to know more and more people. I knew I could trust her. I knew she would never violate our trust or abuse the freedom we had both agreed to enjoy, but I resented the joy with which she lived this new life. Although I did not feel unwanted, I did not feel needed anymore.
You see, our love was a passionate romance from the on-set. It seemed as though we both stood fighting against the world. We needed nothing and no one- well, except each other. But then we kind of grew apart.. the distance became wider and wider. I did not have that security anymore. She seemed to be doing fine all by herself. I did not want to complain, you see.. as a man, I’m supposed to want a lot of freedom. I’m supposed to want to do things with my mates, go out, have a blast. I don’t know what exactly was bugging me; but I felt effeminate. I could not discuss this with her, as she might, well.. I don’t think she would have laughed at me, I doubt she would have scorned or scoffed, but she would have certainly been all rational and diplomatic about it; thus, making me feel even less of a man. Oh, I don’t know..
At first I told myself it didn’t matter, and was glad about the fact that I had a young, desirable and smart woman I could trust, who did not pressures me in any way. But soon I started longing for something more. Someone who needed me more than my wife did, someone who completely depended on me, someone who could not do or be without me.
And then her call came through.
It was the best and worst of all timings. The worst because I was fragile.. the best because it was exactly what I needed in my fragility.. her. She had been on my mind a lot too. To me, it all seemed like a miracle. I felt the Lord brought her back, simply because I had so desired her. I had missed her tremendously. I told myself that there was no such thing as a “coincidence”; everything happens for a reason.
Remember, that’s what you always tell us.. I guess- no, I know- I took it out of context, using it to justify a decision I had taken as soon as I agreed to meet up with her.
Her smile, her youthfulness, her positive attitude, her cheerfulness- they all took me back. Looking at her, I felt a passion I had not felt in a long time. There was a longing look in her eyes, I could feel it. I had only to take a look at her, read her body-language. She would say one thing while meaning another. She was more emotional than she was rational. Thinking logically, yet acting against all reason. She was exactly what I desired at that point in time. She was full of life and passion.. plus, she came back because she needed me.
I didn’t lie either. She knew I was married. After all, I wore the ring. Fair enough, there were facts I omitted; truths I didn’t share.. I don’t really know why. For fear she might not want to see me? Or maybe I was trying to be someone other than me. I don’t know.
Plus, she told me she still loved me.
See, I’m not trying to make excuses, neither am I refuting responsibilities or shifting blame, I am just trying to figure out why..
The pastor muttered a few words, then paused. He was not in the business of making people feel guilty about sins committed or passing judgement anymore, he was simply there to give a listening ear, perhaps some encouragement, and in very rare and serious cases: offering goodly advice.
“What do you intend to do about this love-affair?”
The pastor knew he should have probably used the word “adultery” to describe this act of sexual infidelity, but he did not want to sound too stern or judgemental. He had to make sure to tread softly.
Had they been Roman catholic he would have probably offered to absolve him; free him of his guilt. But he was not; so all he could do was speak reassuringly unto him. God was merciful. He would forgive.
But he hated having to do this. It was wrong, he knew. But what could he do? Things had changed; they were no longer what they used to be. There was a time when pastors- or men of God at large- were passionate defenders of the truth. There was a time when people longed for what was right- in God’s eyes. A time when they did penance, not for fear of the consequences of their sin, but out of love for and devotion to God.
But now, things were very different. People had itching ears. They did not care for what was godly or ungodly, right or wrong, acceptable or abominable. No, they looked for acceptance of all things carnal; all in the name of tolerance. All things have become permissible. He shook his head and sighed deeply.
He often contemplated the fate of the Church. It had lost most of its former glory. It was no longer a beautiful reflection of The Groom, Christ. He knew he was not innocent of being negligent, for he too had stopped swimming against the stream.
He stopped himself.. this was not the time for solemn reflections.. or was it? There was a man in need, and he would help him, as much as he could anyway.
The pastor sensed a fair amount of guilt in Chidi’s speech, although he did not answer the question. Was he planning on continuing with his lover?
“You know, it is not just God’s mercy and forgiveness you need. Apart from repenting- which means turning away from sin, and turning back to God, you will have to seek the forgiveness of your wife too.”
This is it, he thought. I said it!
And he said much more than that. He had not intended to, but his brief reflection acted as an awakening of sorts. He knew he had failed in his duties thus far; but he too was determined to repent and start afresh- pleasing God. It was a little step, but it was one in the right direction. He sighed, this time relieved.
It was exactly what Chidi had wanted.. had needed to hear.
I know! Pastor, for crying out loud, I know I’ve been doing wrong! I know I have sinned!
But what do I do now? Where do I go from here?
It was a hard and harsh truth to swallow.
“First things first, you need to firmly end things with the other lady in your life. You do not have much of a choice there; that is- if you truly want God’s forgiveness.
Secondly, I do not always encourage people to confess their infidelities to their spouses, as it can often do more harm than good. Sometimes people do it to relieve themselves of their guilt, or to pass their burden on to their partners, but in your case, I think it would really do much more good than harm. You have a loving and understanding wife. One who loves you and the Lord too. Asake is strong, and she has always been determined to make things work; especially her marriage. She will most probably forgive you.
Couples go through seasons. It is normal. No relationship is rosy all through. Take a step of faith and believe that even as you repent and work on your relationship, rebuilding trust, understanding and intimacy, the Lord will heal all wounds.
Eventually, you will end up stronger as a couple, than you could ever have as individuals.”
He stood up, thanking the man in the mirror for his wise words. If he could counsel others, he was sure he could counsel himself. And he was right.
Suddenly, his previous excuses and justifications made no more sense to him.
The affair seemed like the most hidious of all sins he could have ever committed.
Suddenly, the memory of the intimate times shared with the other woman shamed him.
The fear of losing his wife finally gripped him.
Suddenly, the realization of probable consequences hit him.
What if she doesn’t forgive me?
He broke down crying.
What have I done?!
He knelt for a while; paying no attention to the phone that had been ringing, or the knocks on his door. He needed time for himself. He needed time to think.
Closing the door behind him, he glanced at the inscription on his door again, “Senior Pastor“. He shook his head sorrowfully. Mindful of the stares around him, he locked the door and walked away. He needed time to reflect.
Filled with trepidation and anxiety, he eventually decided to go home; determined to heed his own advice.
Tonight, he would tell his wife.