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Below the Belt.

By Yetunde Arebi - Nigeria

It is said that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. So, most women love to turn a blind eye to the activities of their men, even when the obvious signs that they are playing around are glaring.

Many are even of the opinion that as long as these other women know the territorial boundaries, there can be no problem. Sadly, many men are also being forced by prevailing global economic and social situations to follow these paths.

But is love or relationship worth preserving when partners are forced to look the other way just to maintain the status quo and not rock the boat, while the other goes about enjoying the license offered by his/her sex and libido, while endangering the lives of their partners and family members?
Is it not enough emotional and psychological trauma to discover that a spouse is dating someone else? Naturally, one feels hurt, spited, betrayed and cheated. Oftentimes, insecurity and helplessness creeps in, and one begins to wonder for how long one has been deceived to believe in a deceitful partner.
To make matters worse is the manner with which these discoveries are made. Some are so callous such that the chain of trust is broken and may never be repaired, the relationship ending abruptly.
For those who decide to remain in the murky waters, the seeds of doubt, already sowed, can only lead to a life of suspicion and webs of lies.

Nkechi and Bosun:
Nkcchi (26) a graduate is now serving NYSC in Enugu. Her boyfriend, Bosun (32) an Officer in the Nigerian Army, an indigene of Ondo state also resides in Enugu. They have been dating for over two years now.
On a visit to Bosun in Enugu last year, Nkechi not only met her rival but got the shock of her life:
It happened last year when I was in my final year at the University. Bosun had been transferred to Enugu about eight months then. I would always visit him and spend some time.
We had been going serious and my parents already knew him. He had also taken me to Ondo to see his parents and we had plans to get married after the service year, despite our ethnic differences. In fact, he had helped influence my posting to Enugu.

It was last year, just before my final papers that I discovered that Bosun was having another affair. I had left for Enugu without prior notice to him when we had one of our usual unrest at the University.
The inconveniences of the journey should have given me some form of premonition that I was in for real disappointment as we did not arrive Enugu until late in the night.
When I got to their Barracks, it was so late that many of the occupants had retired for the night. After much ringing of the door bell, Bosun came to unlock the door, only to stare at me with shock.

What are you doing here at this time of the-night? What happened? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?
He bombarded me with so many questions while standing in the doorway. I was already getting annoyed.  Am I going to stand here all night because I did not inform you I will be coming?
I asked  tartly as I pushed my way into the flat while he stared after me, still standing as if rooted to the doorway.
Somehow I suspected that something was wrong because of his attitude. It was unlike him, he didn’t make any move towards me like he always did. I put my luggage in the living room and headed for the kitchen.
Everything was so unlike him as the kitchen was sparkling clean and he had a pot of stew and some cooked rice. He followed me into the kitchen and stood by the doorway again. I made to get myself some food and soft drink from the fridge, while explaining to him what had happened at the Campus.
After getting my food, we moved to the sitting room to eat while I chatted on. He was unusually quiet and looked funny. I asked him if anything was wrong and he said yes.

He told me he had company, some girl called in on him unexpectedly, so we will all have to spend the night together since he cannot ask her to leave at that time of the night anymore, moreover she came from Ondo to see him.
He pleaded with me not to create a scene, prostrating in front of me. It was a ridiculous situation and I didn’t know what to do.
A few minutes later, I heard sounds of movement from the bedroom and she came out.
She was dressed in a white night gown and nice-looking too. I guessed she was older than me.
At first, I was afraid, I thought she would fight me. Then I said hello to her and tried to continue with my food. Bosun made the introductions. I could see he was really ashamed of himself and somehow I felt sorry for him.

Adeola went back into the bedroom and Bosun tried to console me some more, but I told him he didn't have to. 1 also told him I will leave early the following day. He tried to argue, telling me that Adeola will be leaving the next day too.
I turned to see Bosun on top of his girl, making love to her right beside me. It was not something that I expected at all from him, so I was shocked. Of course, Bosun didn’t know that I was watching because I laid very stiff and even numb I guess.
And when it was over, I couldn’t get a wink of sleep till day break.
I was deeply hurt, I felt that not only did he have a steady girlfriend from his own tribe, he also had no regards for me or my feeling. How could he do that to me if he loved me like he claimed.

He still tried to stop me from leaving that next morning, but I would not listen. I had also woken up to discover that my photograph which stood on top of the Television had been removed.
I did not ask him why because I already knew. But I was happy that it had not been replaced by Adeola’s or someone else’s.

I told him that I had seen his great performance with his girlfriend, and that since having sex with her despite my presence in the room on the same bed, meant so much to him, he could continue freely with my blessings.
Three weeks later, Bosun came to see me at school. He pleaded and said it was the girl who had seduced him and wouldn’t allow him to sleep.
He said she literarily seized his penis in her hand, kneading him all night and asking him to do it to her.
He claimed he would not have done it if he knew that I was awake.
He pleaded with me and even asked my parents to beg me, though he refused to tell them what he had done. Later, he made another trip with a good friend of his, then finally another with his mother and brother.
Eventually, I had to succumb to pressure and we continued the relationship. I figured if he could go as far as bring his mother from the village, then he must really be sorry for his action.
I am now staying with him in Enugu, though I was given accommodation by my employers. However we are yet to discuss anything serious about getting married.
Whenever I try to raise the issue, he says he is waiting for something very important at the office and unless that thing comes through, he does not want to discuss marriage yet.
He has been persuading me to go for my Masters , insisting that young people don’t stop at first degrees anymore, but add post graduate diplomas and second degrees to it. He said going for a master will do me much good and even make him very proud of me.
Everyone of my friends are convinced that Bosun is plotting a way to ditch me, yet, he insists he loves me and wants to be with only me. As for the girl, I haven’t seen her since then and he tells me its all over with her. That they did not even have anything to do with each other prior to that fateful night.
He explained that though they knew each other back at their home town, they had not exchange anything such as a loving discussion before.
He said one of her brothers is also an Officer serving in the state and that she had come to visit him. But the brother was not in town and she came to pass the night at his own flat.
He insisted that he could not have turned her back because of the fact that they knew each other and would some day meet again in the village. He however did not expect that the girl would do what she did to him that night. On why he could not resist her moves knowing I was in bed with them?
He said it was the work of the devil, or that the girl bewitched him. What do I do? I still love him despite everything. And just as they say, there is no relationship without its own peculiar problem. So, maybe this is mine? Is it serious enough to call it quit? I don’t know. So, I am hanging in there till I get a clearer picture of what is going on.
Adebisi and Tinuade:
Adebisi, (37), an Advert Manager tells the story of how his girlfriend paid him an unscheduled visit, only to discover that he had just married someone else:
My marriage was just about two months old when Tinuade paid me a visit from Kano. She did not know I was married because I did not write to inform her. I resided in Kano before I was transferred back to Lagos.
GSM had not come into existence then and so communication by telephone was still quite restrictive.
As luck will have it, I was not at home when she came but she met my wife, Joke and my younger sisters.
My sisters received her warmly because she was known to the family. She asked after me and made moves to go to my apartment at the back of the building but my sisters swiftly prevented her and led her to the family sitting room.
As soon as Joke (my wife)came out, she knew the lady was my visitor as she had seen her photographs in my album and also from the warmness by which she was welcomed by my sisters. She later told me she felt heart broken and wept as she helped to prepare the meal for Tinuade.

Tinuade too was already aware of what was going on and she too had become sad and sullen. She could however not cry out. My sisters were sorry for her because they realised that I had not informed her about my marriage.

That evening when I came home from work, I immediately suspected that something was wrong. I was quickly apprehended  by one of my sisters who gave me a run down of the events and how the two women had been taking it.
I really felt terrible. I was scared because my wife was pregnant at the time and worried that she could do something silly to herself and the baby. I was covered with sweat as I entered the sitting room.
Although Tinuade’s luggage had been taken  inside by my sisters, they said she had not moved out of her seat since afternoon and had not said anything to anyone. The same went for my wife.

As I made attempts to pacify Tinuade, my father and my senior brother walked in. They had already been informed of what was going on at home. My father was really mad with me. He asked that Joke should come to the main house. He also sent for my mother who was at her shop. Nobody could say anything as we waited for her arrival.

When she came and saw the set-up, she felt really terrible and I could see that she wanted to cry. I was really ashamed of myself.

My father scolded me in front of  the two women. He said I ought to have informed her before I got married so that I wouldn’t have created problems for anyone. All the blame was heaped on me and I had to agree with them. I was made to apologize to the two women.
Though Tinuade insisted she wanted to leave that day, the family prevailed on her and she passed the night with them. She left for Kano the next morning. Its a day I can never forget. Tinu and my wife are now friends and they communicate with each other regularly.

I am however forbidden to visit Kano. Not because the law was passed by Joke, but more importantly because I don’t want to hurt anyone any more. I have now more or less, lost all my friends in Kano because I can’t return their visits when they visit me.
I am trying to regain the trust and confidence my wife once had for me.
Judith and Henry:
Judith, (26) works at the Treasury Department of A Finance House. A few months ago, she could not visit her boyfriend Henry, a Banker, for a whole week because another girl was visiting. Her story:
I know that God is always with me and will protect me from evil. That fateful day, I had told my parents I would not be coming home, but will be staying with one of my Aunts who was having a party.
Of course it was a lie, I intended to spend the night with Henry, then go home in the morning. We both reside in Ikeja, just a stone throw from each other, thus, we were seeing each other every day.
However, on getting to his apartment that evening, he was not in and so also was his sister. I did not feel comfortable somehow, I felt quiet uneasy, so instead of waiting for him like I would have done,  I locked up, put the key back under the door mat and went home.
Funny enough, I didn’t leave any of the things (food) I had packed from my Auntie’s party. I mean, it was just unlike me.
Early the next morning, Henry came over to my pace looking quiet uneasy. He was on his annual leave, so, I wasn’t surprised to see him. But when he sat me down and said he had something important to tell me, I knew something was wrong. He began telling me how wonderful our relationship had been since we started seven months ago.
He said he had been happy because its been having positive effects on him. My heart started to beat faster than normal. I thought he was going to propose to me. I wouldn’t have been surprised since we virtually live in each other homes. Then he told me she has come.
I didn’t need to ask whom, because I already knew. It was Shade, his girlfriend who lives in Kano. I have seen some letters written by her and, of course, he’d told me about her too.
He said she just burst in on him and he met her at home, when he came back around 7.30pm the previous night. He pleaded that I bear with him so he could handle the matter in his own way.
That he would not want to end their relationship on a bad note for future purposes. He said Shade will be staying over for a week and in the period, I was to keep away from the flat.
I was really pissed off. I asked him what he expected me to do in the meantime. He told me to behave myself and act maturely, after all, we live in Lagos together.
Moreover, Shade knows about me as my things and photographs were all over the apartment. He insisted that he just wanted to settle the matter by himself and didn’t want me involved.
We spent the whole day together. It was a Monday, and he went back home around 10pm so was the pattern of our lives for the next four days.
He will come in the morning and pick me, and we will spend the whole day together. However, he will always go back home to sleep of course, and I will worry myself sick over what they might be doing together in the middle of the night.
Then on Friday morning, he said we were going to the flat. At first, I didn’t want to go, but when he insisted, I gave in.
On getting there, I saw Shade’s things packed at a corner in his bedroom but she was no where to be found. Then he told me that she had not come home for the past two days. According to him, she was visiting her sister and some friends.
We stayed in the house that day and in the evening, I prepared to go back home. That was when I received another shock.
I met Henry’s sister in the living room and she gave me a cold look, then she asked her brother slyly, Where is Shade? Henry did not answer. I felt cold, insulted and betrayed. I have always been so nice to Gladys that I thought she was my friend.
When I greeted her she didn’t answer me but started scolding me about some clothes I had soaked for washing that Sunday morning before the ordeal began. I had to keep my cool or I would have said something that we might all regret later. When Henry took me home, I couldn’t help it anymore.
I had to tell him my mind and what I felt about his sister’s behavior. He only continued to plead with me to ignore her, that he would speak to her.
Shade has not come back since then, while I have been searching for evidence to know whether she is still in touch.
All I have found is a letter. When I confronted him with it, he was mad with me. He accused me of trying to look for exhibits to nail him.
He claims he understands my anxiety and apprehensions about the whole thing, but he doesn’t want to do or say anything just to prove a point to me.
He claims he knows what he is doing, and he will do it when he wants to and not under pressure.
I have been trying to keep the episode behind me since then, but then, its not been easy as I keep suspecting him. The only advantage I think I have over Shade is the proximity between Henry and me, otherwise, Shade is probably the choice of his parents and siblings.
They have much in common, they grew up in the same environment and have common friends. The advantage of the proximity here all boils down to sex, which means I could use pregnancy as a bargaining chip. But that is if Henry allows it, or a mistake happens somewhere.
To make matters worse, I just overheard Gladys telling her friend that her brother is just using me for sexual pleasures and will not marry me.

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