Anulika savoured every seed of rice Dozie’s mother placed before her. She knew her mother-in-law could cook, but she out did herself today.
“Mummy, how did you learn to cook so well?” she asked just before she took a big bite of the piece of chicken.
“When you have lived as long as I have and cooked as many times as I have, you will have no option but to be good at it,” Dozie’s mother replied with a chuckle
“I disagree Ma, I think it’s a gift. One that Dozie also possesses,” Anulika countered.
Dozie’s ease and skill in the kitchen was part of the things which endeared him to her. She was the official cook in the house, but Dozie helped her at every opportunity.
Thinking about his culinary skills, made her realize how much she had missed him these past few days. She was yet to even wish him a happy wedding anniversary.
“Mummy, I will be right back, I need to make a call,” she said as she cleared the table. She couldn’t wait to apologize and reconcile with Dozie. Though she could do better than a phone conversation, it was the best she could do for now.
She had just dropped the dishes in the sink and was on her way to get her phone when she heard Dozie’s car arrive.
Dozie have always been surprised that she could know he was back by the sound of his car. He believed all cars sounded alike except there was a mechanical problem.
Rushing out she saw she was right. Mummy was back on the couch reading her book again, and only spared her a slight smile as a response when she sent a questioning gaze her way.
Stepping out to receive her husband, Anulika felt ashamed. A phone conversation would have been better, far better, as she wouldn’t have had to face him just yet.
“Welcome,” she greeted, unable to look her husband in the face. She wondered why he was home in the middle of the day, but she was just happy to see him.
“Thank you,” Dozie responded, taking her hand with his gaze on her face. “I can see you are feeling better. Happy wedding anniversary to us,” he said, placing a kiss on her cheek.
“I’m sorry,” Anulika said, braving a look at his face as they walked into the house. “Happy anniversary to us,”
“Apology accepted, but we will still have to talk about it. I really don’t want a repeat of … of this,” Dozie said gesturing with his hands, and showing Anulika just how much confusion her withdrawal had thrown him into.
Anulika felt scolded. Talking was a way for Dozie to ensure that they didn’t have a repeat of an issue. In the beginning of their relationship, it drove her mad. She was used to quarrelling, kissing and making up, but Dozie felt that that was just building with holes. They had to talk so they both understood what was going in each other’s mind, that way they could build a strong structure.
After each talk, they both apologized at the count of three, that way there was no loser, but two winners.
Even though Anulika knew that the talk was going to end with an apology from Dozie, she felt bad that she had to be the cause for a talk. It has been long they had one of those.
Nodding her head at his words, she changed the subject. “Mummy cooked us chicken pepper soup and rice. You should taste it, it is divine! Letting go of his hand, she ran to set up a plate for him.
“Mummy good afternoon Ma,” Dozie greeted as he sat by his mother. “Thank you!” he mouthed so Anulika wouldn’t hear.
His mother nodded.
When he had felt lost at Anulika’s silence, his mother was the only person he could call to help him. His mother loved Anulika in a way Dozie sometimes marveled at. The love had been sparked at first sight.
“She is my special daughter, the one I expected,” was all his mother said whenever she took sides with Anulika and he complained that she seemed to love her more that she did him.
“Dozey come to the table,” Anulika called, causing him to shake his head.
“I can’t seem to get used to that name, even after all these years! Your mates are calling their husbands honey, sugar, buttercup, chocolate, sweetheart, and you are here calling me Dozey even on our anniversary, I don’t know what to do with you,” Dozie said with feigned indignation as he joined her at the dining table.
“You love that name, only you have it!” Anulika replied with a laugh, “I can shout Dozey in a room filled with different husbands and only you will turn, but if I call honey, or sugar, or those other names you mentioned, imagine how many men would respond!”
“Now when you put it that way, I can’t complain,” Dozie said before he began eating.
When she was sure he was focused on the food, Anulika took his right hand and waiting for him to look at her, apologized again. “I’m truly sorry.”
Dozie nodded, and gave her a stare. He didn’t talk while eating, so he expected his stare to pass the message.
“I know,” Anulika said, “We will talk. I just wanted you to know how sorry I am.”
Dozie turned back to his meal with a smile.
* * *
When he was done eating, his mother called them to sit by her side, and suggested to them a way to get their own child or children.
“I think you both should try out adoption,” she said, getting straight to the point. Putting up her hands to still the immediate rejection which she expected from Anulika, she continued. “I just want you to know that that is an option. The world has enough children with nobody to care for them. Also, the love between a mother and a child is not always about who gave birth to him or who breastfed him. It is a love for another human who looks up to you with trust, another human who you get to lead through life, another human whom you are responsible for. It is a pure love of selflessness.”
There was silence, but Anulika shook her head as tears poured down her eyes. She was not doing this. It was either she had her own child, or she would remain like this. What would people say? How will she explain to the child later in life that she was not the real mother? What if she never finds a reason to love the child?
“No!” she shouted, unable to hold it in. “I am not having this discussion.” Taking in breaths to calm herself down, she continued. “Mummy thank you, but I want my own, my flesh and blood, my DNA replication, my copy. Then I can say I have a child.” With that, she ran to her room with tears, for the second time that day.
“I didn’t know she will react this way,” Mrs. Onyeka said to her son. I didn’t want to tell you first, I wanted both of you to hear me together. Please talk to her to see it as an option. Sometime life is easier to face when you realize you have options, good options. I will be on my way.”
After putting his mother in a cab, Dozie went back into the house, thinking of ways to approach the matter.
He didn’t tell his mother, but he was also thinking in that line and he considered her opinion a sign that it could work out.
Knowing that there was no way he could leave his wife and go back to the office, he called to say he was done for the day.
“God please help me,” he muttered as he ended the call and walked towards their room. ‘The talk’ would have to wait, as his wife was in tears.
Fishing out the gift he got her, he prayed it would at least bring a smile on her face, as that was part of his vows on their wedding day; to always try to make her smile.
The story continues
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