“Mr Russell, what a surprise”.

I turned to see who it was.

It was Dera, my next door neighbor during campus days.

“Dera. Fancy running into you. How have you been?”, I asked.

‘Well, here and there but we’re getting along, she replied. ‘It’s definitely been ages’, she added.

The last I saw of her was when she was awarded the best graduating student at her induction.

‘Of course. So what are you up to?’, I asked

‘Just came to get groceries for my elder sister, that’s all but they don’t have it here’, she explained.

‘Oh, I see. Wow, you definitely look amazing.
What you say you get my card, yeah, and give me a call tomorrow? We definitely do have a lot to catch up on’, I suggested. ‘Maybe we could do lunch’, I added.

She liked it and agreed. So she rang me the next day and we arranged to meet up later. Of course, we did.

After a great lunch, we started conversing. I asked how she had been holding up. She explicitly told me that things were rough and explained in detail what she meant. By the time she was done, I couldn’t stop staring at her. How could someone who had experienced so much be as calm as she was right now?

Dera was a First Class graduate and the best graduating student of her time, so it was no surprise that she was retained as a lecturer. But she had stepped down when she couldn’t bear the sexual harassment from senior lecturers any longer.

And now she was living with her elder sister and was trying to find her foot. But her sister’s husband had returned from Canada a week ago and had seriously been flirting with her and now, she couldn’t take it anymore. Her sister was a civil servant, while Dele, her husband, worked overseas. But now he was back and the sexual innuendo targeted at Dera was nothing short of unrivalled.

I honestly felt pity for her. So I asked what her plans were. She said she had spoken to a friend, who had agreed for her to come live with them. But that would only be after a month, since the house was already filled to the brim.

I wanted to ask why she did not keep her sister abreast with happenings, but common sense told me that, she didn’t want to be the one to disrupt the unity of the family. Still, I felt like she deserved to know. (But that’s by the way).

We ended on a positive note though. I told her I would talk to my wife and get back to her. I was 99 percent sure that my wife would have no trouble whatsoever, agreeing with the idea for Dera to come live with us. But I felt like I still needed to talk to her first. It was the right thing to do. And of course, she did. Never met a more understanding woman!

Dera started living with us and everything went smoothly. We were like a family type thing. She would go out in search of jobs and, it was pretty okay. She eventually found a job as a Biology tutor at a secondary school.

It didn’t really befit her status, but we stayed positive, hoping for better days ahead.

Something happened yesterday, though.

My wife had asked Dera to help her with a cup of coffee.

But it was taking too long. So, she had gone to the kitchen to check out things.

On getting there, she saw Dera pouring a white substance (powder, sort of) into her coffee, and she kept on turning to see if anyone was watching. But my wife hid behind the door, so she was inconspicuous. Afterwards, she returned to her initial position and pretended she never went there.

Dera soon brought the coffee to her. My wife managed to get across to me under the guise of making a quick call. She sounded really convincing on the phone as though she caught her in the act. I understood her fears and told her to be really careful, since she sounded so sure. I trusted Dera, still, I told my wife to act really smart.

I came home to meet tragedy. My wife was surrounded by neighbors. Dera was at the hospital. What happened? Femi, my neighbor and pal, revealed that Dera had been making coffee for my wife and was pouring sugar into it when she had seen her and had concluded that Dera was up to no good. She had based her conclusions on the fact that Dera was fidgeting while at it and constantly looked behind in fear. (But what she didn’t understand was that this was only a personality trait and that Dera tended to look behind a lot especially when someone was waiting on her). So, she (that’s my stupid wife) had threw the coffee away, got a bottle of sniper from a nearby stall, made pap, added two spoons of sniper to it, and served Dera. Luckily for her, her cries were heard by the neighbors and they had come to her aid. She had managed to explain what happened and my wife had been surrounded by the neighbors or rather, a mob.

I walked up to her and gave her a thunderous slap on her cheeks. I have always fought against domestic violence.

But today, I became what I hate most.

Maybe I’m a monster.

My friends had always told me that I was always attracted to beauty and not personality. But I had never taken it seriously. Maybe, they were right. Look at me now.

Maybe I’m not a man. Just maybe, I am not really what I think I am.

My wife!


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