Valentine’s Day came and went and many found out whether they were the main or the side. However, my mum didn’t expect to find lingerie in the guest room. As with many relationships, they get less and less exciting with time. After being married for almost 30 years, my parents barely even acknowledged each other. I can’t remember a time I saw them hugging or kissing. Whenever they talked, it was either about politics or bills.
We grew up in this environment and thought it was perfectly normal. It wasn’t until I got into a serious relationship that I found out the other side of love. The affectionate, passionate and playful side of love that only seemed to happen in movies. With time, I learnt how to open myself up and love with all my heart. It was great and I would often tell my mum about it.
“Mum, see what my boyfriend bought me.” I’d say showing her the gift.
“It’s nice but you should be careful of free things men give you.”
“Ah mum, just because you and dad don’t show each other love doesn’t mean that’s how everyone is.”
My gifts would range from cute things like chocolates and novels to risqué things like lingerie and bra sets. I still would show my mum and sometimes tease her to tell my dad to buy something like that for her. She laughed and told me off.
As I got older, I got closer to my dad as well. I found out a side of him that I didn’t know and many of the family members didn’t know. My dad loved the nightlife. This wasn’t so controversial considering many men despite their age still go out partying. However, my dad had raised us in a strict Christian way. We grew up knowing that alcohol and sex were the biggest sins we could do. Now, I was seated across from my dad in a popular club.
“This remains between us.” He said.
I agreed and it did stay between us. This was the first time that I felt like I had a relationship with my dad and I wasn’t going to spoil it even if it meant keeping secrets from my mum.
Every once in a while, we would go out, have a drink or two and go our separate ways. I didn’t know if my father headed home or to another club. The tradition went on for years without anyone raising any suspicions.
However, my mum started finding things that she couldn’t explain. There were receipts from hotels, women’s clothes and gift bags that didn’t belong to her. I would always take ownership of them since I thought they belonged to one of my brothers. They were also notorious for living double lives. However, after confronting them, they both denied having anything to do with the items. That only left one suspect – my dad.
I wondered whether my dad was having an affair and that was why he always insisted on dropping me at my place before returning home.
“Dad, mum has been finding some things in the guest room. Do they belong to you?” I asked during one of our night outs.
I could keep his nightlife a secret from my mum but I couldn’t hide an affair. My mother didn’t deserve to be cheated on. She had been nothing but devoted to my father and the family.
“Of course not. What kind of question is that?” He denied it vehemently.
After the confrontation, my dad stopped inviting me out. We didn’t hang out for a whole month then my mum called me again.
“Vanessa, I found one of your lingerie in the guest room. Come and get it.” She said.
I didn’t remember leaving any lingerie at home but I still went to check. When she showed it to me, I knew instantly that it didn’t belong to me. I debated whether to tell my mum or to own up to it but it seemed like my dad was having an affair and he wasn’t going to stop. So, I let my mum know everything.
“Mum, dad has been lying to you and us for years. I went to the club and found him there. We have been going out together for years and I think he’s also having an affair. This lingerie and everything you found in the guest room were not mine.”
She was quiet and looked like she was in deep thought. After a long silence, she finally spoke up.
“I knew about the drinking. I’m not stupid. I can smell alcohol from a mile away. However, I didn’t want to believe he was having an affair. Deep down, I knew those things didn’t belong to you,” She said.
“I’m sorry mum,” I said, hugging her tightly.
I offered to house her if she wanted to. She agreed and started packing her bags. My father returned early to find me seated in the living room.
“What are you doing here?”
“Mum knows everything.”
He didn’t wait for me to say another word and ran upstairs. I could hear both of them shouting but after some minutes, there was a deathly silence and my mum came down carrying her suitcases. I helped her put them in the Uber and we left the house.
While at my place, she asked my dad for a divorce and though he tried to talk her out of it, she had already made up her mind. Since my mum was a housewife without an income, she stayed with me throughout the divorce process. It was nice having her around and for the first time, I saw her genuinely happy and stress-free. My dad had imposed an unrealistic standard on her to live like a saint and she bent over backwards to try to please him. Little did she know, he lives the very life he condemned.
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