I had a plan for my life. Graduate at a certain age, work in a particular firm, get married by a certain age and get kids at a specific period. I was fortunate enough to have things follow my life plan. James had helped me tick the marriage box. After dating for three years, he proposed. He didn’t do the whole Hollywood thing where men go on one knee. James borrowed a leaf from his ancestors.
“Darling, I want to come meet your parents officially,” he said.
Never mind that I hadn’t said, “Yes,” but he decided it was time. I had no objections. I liaised with my folks, and we set a date. He arrived with male company and informed my people that he wanted my hand in marriage. My parents liked him. He was a bit traditional and knew how to make a good impression on older people. After the successful meeting with my parents, we started planning our traditional wedding.
The next couple of weeks were busy looking for vendors for the ceremony. We constantly talked to our parents about the requirements and what each family wanted. I spoke to my mother, who informed me that they had already chosen the family representatives who would participate in the dowry negotiations. We also got an estimate of the guests to expect. In some cases, we put a down payment for the vendors once we all agreed on the date.
My friends helped me choose a tailor and a design for my dress. Our discussions centred around this upcoming event and the marriage to follow. James and I were good, although the plans did trigger fights occasionally, but that was normal for any couple planning a wedding.
One evening, my girlfriends asked to see me. We agreed on a time and place. I was excited to see them, and although it felt unusual to get such a call, I thought it was wedding-related. My friends often would state the purpose of a meet-up before it happened. We shared a light meal and engaged in small talk before one of them said something.
“Now, you know we love you and want the best for you. I hope you know we are doing this out of love,” said one of them.
“Guys, you’re making me anxious. What is it?” I asked.
“I was at the hospital yesterday and I saw James with a pregnant woman. They seemed like they were together,” the other friend stated.
“Okay. Maybe it’s someone he knows and was helping,” I said.
“No, they looked like a couple,” she said as she showed me pictures she had taken of them.
I was in denial for a few minutes, but the pictures supported her story. I got a copy of the photos, and I confronted him once I got to the house.
“Who is this James?” I asked him.
“It’s not what you think, babe,” he said, panicking. Colour flashed from his skin when he saw the photos. You could tell he knew what the images were about but was still attempting to snuggle his way out of the situation. Eventually, he felt too cornered and decided to tell me the truth.
“Let’s try this again. Is this you in the picture?”
“You already know the answer to that question,” he said.
“Who is this you’re with James?”
“I had hoped I wouldn’t need to tell you,” James replied.
“What does that mean?” I asked him.
“I was going to confirm whether the child is mine first before involving you in the issue,” James said.
He said it so confidently like it made perfect sense. I stared at him for what felt like an eternity. My body froze, trying to process what he had just said.
“You were going to first confirm that the child is yours before involving me?” I repeated slowly.
“I ended things with her but she claimed she was pregnant,” James responded.
“So what if it turned out that the baby wasn’t yours? What was supposed to happen?” I asked.
“I would have never interacted with her again,” James said, trying to touch my shoulder.
I was suppressing a scream. I rushed into the bathroom to wash my face because it felt like this was a bad prank. I couldn’t decide what was worse: finding out about James’ infidelity or his reasoning for hiding it from me. James followed me to the bathroom.
“Don’t touch me, James!” I yelled.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he said.
“How far along is she?”
“Six months,” he said.
“You have been lying to me for six months and more? Why did you even propose to me?” I asked him in tears.
“Because you’re the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with,” he said.
“Well, clearly that wasn’t enough to stop you from betraying me,” I said as I stormed out.
He begged me to talk to him over the next two weeks, but I couldn’t get over the anger. I got angrier when I thought of telling my parents and relatives that there would be no wedding. A month later, he reached out, telling me that the baby wasn’t his. It was annoying and amazing that he still thought that was an acceptable defence.
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