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Saturday, September 18, 2021

The tragic marriage

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Season one

By Cherno Abdourahman Bah, The Auspicious

It was exactly at 07:30 when Oumie called out her husband informing him that the meal was ready.

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Ebrima who was at the time in his room, right in front of his mirror inspecting his tie responded in a loud voice.  He hurriedly picked up his file that was right on the table and headed to the parlor. Few plates were placed on the table plus a cup of coffee. His wife smiled at him and said, ‘I’ve the cutest husband in the whole world.’ He was elated by that and decided to respond with a swift hug. So swift that the wife complained.

‘This is the worst type of greeting I have ever received,’ Oumie said softly, while the rest of her body saying a different thing altogether.

He grinned at her and explained how he was late for work and that there wasn’t enough time to give proper hugs. Back and forth they went on dishing out their arguments and counter arguments while Ebrima bent over the table picking from the pieces of omelet that was on one of the plates and Oumie sat right on the arm chair opposite where he stood.Their marriage was six months old and the love was on the unbeatable increase. They were indeed a happy couple who have regretted the fact that they failed to get married a little earlie than they did.

Ebrima valued every minute he stayed with his wife. He felt enormously grateful that he had such a beautiful lady in his world. Oumie was so much in love with him that he could do anything in order to safeguard that love, even if the anything was a foolish thing. They were enjoying the first months of their marriage so much that he wished they could spend every second together. It was a happy home.

Ebrima Camara,  was taking his last sip from the cup that was filled with coffee when he quickly looked at the clock that was hanging right on the wall in front of him. He munched on his bread, or at least what was left of it when he realized that it was almost quarter to eight, fifteen minutes after his usual departure time.  He was a man who hated being late since his childhood days. And thus maintained that sprit even at his work station where he served as the accountant.

Oumie is beautiful, tall and flexible. She is neither fat nor slim, she is mediocre. She is the kind presentable anywhere as she is someone extremely bright and had broad countenance. Her face is not puffy, but fairly round and moonlike. Her voice is exceptionally commanding, but also her head is well formed and medium in size with a broad forehead. Her nose is flat with wide nostrils. Her belly was not bulging out, but flat. She has attractive eyes finely arched by continuous eyebrows and are large with long haired eyelids. She has long and beautiful hair which is curly and wavy at the same time. She is such that she is neither white, nor brown. She was rather whitish brownish. She has rather small limbs and shoulder joints with soft hand palms and thick toes. Her legs are gentle, delicate and in conformance. When she is set to walk, she does it at ease as if she was walking in a muddy remainder of water.  She is an enchanting and a friendly woman who gave out her glittering smile for free.

Oumie was at the backyard cleaning up the plates that were used the previous night. She was someone decent and took her time to clean anything that needed to be cleansed, and she did it with easy. Half way in to the washing, Ebrima bellowed, ‘Babe I’m leaving.’ She instantly came running.

‘I’ll also be going to see an old friend later, but hey, you take care of yourself for me okay. I love you,’ she reassured him with an untied hug.

Oumie was amazed by the affection they have for each other – or at least she has for Ebrima – thinking to herself that it would be a cold day in hell before anyone could become the reason for the sourness of their marriage. It was the last thing she would ever want to see. She wanted this happiness to never end.

Ebrima is an employee of CHAMPION AND SONS DESIGN, a private printing company situated in Bakau that deals with all sorts of printing, ranging from certificates, posters, books, T-shirts, receipts and documents. It’s a huge printing company and almost all the public and the private sectors go to the company for their printing needs.

The handsome middle-aged man walked through the walkway leading to his office which was located rather inside of the large compound. As he strode along the different departments, he exchanged pleasantries with his colleagues most of whom were also just arriving and ready for the day. They all had bright faces and grinned as it was always fun to work in that environment.

He finally got to his office and stepped inside. His office was a spacious one, but the countless number of files packed in the many cupboards made it seem like a cubicle. His desk, where he spends his office hours everyday throughout, was right at the right hand side corner of the room. Adjacent to his desk was a flat screen TV, hanged right on the upper part of the beautifully painted wall. He wasn’t a big fan of TV but the first thing he does every morning is to pick up the remote and tune to a channel and then turn on to other things. He preferred his smartphone to his TV. This morning was not an exception. Thereafter, he picked up his Techno Spark K8 and dialed a number.

Oumie had finally set out to visit a friend of hers who travelled overseas and came back two days earlier. Alimatou was a childhood friend to Oumie, and in fact, one would be correct to say only marriage did them apart. They literally were together day and night, and they had each other’s secrets. They knew each other’s in and out.

Alima is a witty and a smart lady, who made it a point of duty to kick everyone’s ass when it came to exams. She went through St Therese’s for her primary school then to Charles Jaw now July 22nd Academy, then to Mighty Nusrat. In 2013, she was enrolled into to the University of the Gambia, where she studied Management. Alima was just from Sweden where she did her master’s in management.

On this particular visit however, Oumie felt so delighted that she was going to meet that special friend whom she has missed. She was not just a friend, she was her confidant as well. She was the one whom Oumie will be open to about anything and everything. But she missed those moments for close to two years, the period she was away.

‘Taxi!,’ Oumie with her high heels and a red long dress hailed for a taxi from the compound gate she stood. Her compound gate. Oumie and Ebrima were living in their newly built house in Brusubi, just adjacent Brusubi Senior Secondary School. They moved there a week after their wedding, which by the way was flamboyant in nature.

After exactly an hour ten minutes in a slow and jam-packed traffic, Oumie got to the gates of Bittaye Kunda in Bundunka Kunda- about 500 meters from Borehole. She alighted from the taxi all excited. She strode inside the house and on the corridors of one of the line houses sat a young man whom she came to know later as Alieu Bittaye.

‘I am Alieu, a brother to Alima,’ he said without the slightest bit of hesitation, ‘Alima is in her room,’ pointing to a room that was segregated at the extreme left of the compound.

Alima was on the phone when Oumie knocked and was ushered in. Judging from the manner Alima gracefully reclined herself on her bed, Oumie could tell that Alima was in a romantic conversation with someone on the other end.

‘Let me call you back, Honey,’ Alima said with a grin that was never felt by the other person on the line.

Alimatou rose with so much delight and  enthusiasm. She grabbed Oumie with all her weight, and locked her in her arms for what seemed a long time. She was determined to quench her thirst for all that she missed with her day one friend. After she’d unlocked her hands that she wrapped around Oumie, they eventually dropped into the comfortable, but also beautiful sofas that were arranged around the center table.

‘Hmm yangsi dara nak dommi ndey,’ Oumie teased.

‘If what you heard is what led you to this belief, then who am I to deny.’ Alima smartly put her message through.

‘Actually, we both have a lot of catching up to do,’ Alima said out loud.

‘Do you remember my child’s father…?’

 ‘Oh yes, Modou’s dad, I really missed to hear about that man,’ Oumie cut her off in the middle of her sentence.

‘Exactly. Basically as you know we were so involved before I left, and recently we’ve resumed communication and it seems he wants to make me a second wife soon,’ her voice rang with excitement.

‘Second what?!!! But knowing how much you disliked polygamous marriages, what on earth could make you accept that?’, She said with an etch face.

‘Well that notion changed when I met this amazing creature. He is someone so…’

‘So why didn’t he make you his only wife?’ Oumie interrupted impatiently

‘There wasn’t enough time. I was going for my Master’s Degree and he couldn’t wait so he married the first one six months ago.’ Alima elucidated while still confused as to her friend’s sudden conformance.

‘See, this is him,’ Alima pulled her phone out.

‘He’s Ebrima Camara. He was my colleague at UTG, actually that’s where it all happened. He currently works at ….’

‘CHAMPIONS AND SONS DESIGN,’ Oumie interrupted impatiently

‘Yes, exactly. So you know him,’ Alima said to the already befuddled Oumie.

Instantly, Oumie felt the world cave under her feet as her friend’s words reverberated in her head. For a moment, she was absolutely dumbfounded, unable to utter a single word in response. What she heard stiffened most parts of her body.

When she regained some consciousness, she managed to rise and sluggishly heeded for the gates leaving Alima in complete quagmire.

Alima was now so flummoxed that she didn’t know what to think. She had more questions than answers.

Ebrima was in his office discussing with his colleague, Jados, whose office was right beside Ebrima’s office.

‘Pal, I needed to talk to my wife regarding the lady I was just speaking with. But I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know where to start,’ he echoed his concern to his colleague, Jados.

‘It is said that a danger foreseen is half avoided. I’m sure you will find a way. By the way, you are the most resourceful person I’ve known,’ he said with sincerity while leaning on the blue painted wall.

‘Remember we’ve been in the same grades and I have witness firsthand how you always manipulated your way to get the desired results,’ Jados continued with a chuckle while his hands crossed across his chest.

‘Haha you truly are delusional if that’s your honest opinion of me. I am no different from you,’ he responded casually with a grin.

‘Anyway, this is a serious matter and needs to be treated as such. I can’t imagine Oumie’s reactions if she learns that plans to marry Alimatou are underway.’

‘You will let the cat out of the bag today, won’t you?’

‘Of course, I have to. I can’t keep dragging the thing. Else she might find out in the most gruesome manner, and then only God knows what might befall her or even me, and in the worst case, us. And by the way, our bond is so strong that it has become fragile and vulnerable,’ he cogitated in utter confusion.

He felt like a complete jerk for keeping the truth away from her but he just couldn’t bring himself to tell her about it, knowing fully well how that conversation could end. He just needed ‘the right time’, which turned to be nonexistent.

He has seen instances where the result of such confessions have been untimely deaths that are caused by boiling oil, or knives on sensitive parts , or even pouring petrol then fire. And sadly, most of those that this sort of gruesome eventualities befall on were once deep lovers.

As the saying, a day of sorrow is longer than a month of joy. It turned out to be a day that seemed endless. It seemed time actually stopped. He eventually made up his mind as to how and at what time he was going to disclose the good-turned-disturbing news to his amazing wife.

At this point, work was paused and more time was dedicated to thinking. Too much thinking.

He quickly looked at his wrist watch and realized that it was already ten minutes after four. Wow! It was already time to leave for home. He could immediately feel the crushing weight of helplessness that was lodging in his chest and how it made it hard for him to breathe. He was freaking out, the desperation he had been keeping at arm’s length finally overwhelming him.

He was about to find out how accommodating or otherwise his wife actually is.

Ebrima didn’t come to work with his car that morning for it was undergoing maintenance. With his file in hand, he strode sluggishly through the corridors of the different departments leading to the gates. The place was actually busy. Most of the employees work from eight am to ten pm, but Ebrima wasn’t one of them. He closes at four.

As he stepped out of the gate, there was a Range Rover right there waiting for him. That was a close friend of his who was then driving from the the stadium heading towards Brusubi. He jumped in without hesitation and the casual chitchats kick started.

        …..     ……    ……     ……     …..

Oumie was in her boudoir slowly flittering out her make-up. Her chest pounding faster, louder and at irregular intervals. She was lost completely. What she heard crumpled her and makes her think that it was all illusionary. It never occurred to her that the person whom she has given every bit of her loving heart without any reservations will in turn solicit love somewhere else. At least that’s how she perceived it.

She was of the view that she could never share her man with another person, regardless. Especially a childhood friend of hers. Everything that was happening seemed unbelievable and devastating for her.

All the way back to their house, Ebrima was aware of the tension brewing between him and Oumie the moment the words came out.

Pushing the front door shut, he turned around and leaned against it, regarding the moment as palpable. When he finally decided to get into the room, Oumie had seated herself on the arm-chair, her intense gaze fixed on him.

‘Is there something going on that I need to know about,’ she said without preamble.

He felt his pulse quicken as he thought about the best way to answer that question.

‘Something like what? I don’t have any clue what you’re talking about,’ he played dumb.

‘On the contrary, I think you know exactly what I am talking about,’ she rose from the chair and came to stand in front of him.

‘Tell me about Alimatou.’ she whispered.

He grew silent after she said this, staring deep into her eyes. His eyes widened with shock as her words sank in. He backed away from her, seating himself at the edge of the sofa. His heart began to pound louder. There seemed to be no choice than to come clean. Ebrima covered his face with his hand, sighing heavily.

His eyes bored into hers as he said in a soft voice, ‘You’re right, I should have told you before now. Oumie, you have to believe me when I say that I would never be unfaithful to you. My issue with Alima is more complicated than you think.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me anything about this earlier?’

 ‘I didn’t see the need to worry you without cause.’

‘Worry me? So how do you think I feel now.’

‘Oumie, I was coming home to tell you today,’ they went back and forth.

Oumie hurriedly positioned herself on a table that was filled with paper files that was right adjacent Ebrima. She crossed her hands over her chest and straightened her legs in order to maintain balance. She was seething with frustrations because she knew whatever he was going to say wasn’t going to be nice.

‘Alright go ahead and tell me,’ she bawled with her chest beating faster.

While his hands covered part of his face, and his elbows planted onto his thighs, he began to speak in a voice so low, barely carrying across the room, ‘When I was in the university, I happened to meet Alima. We had an affair, I accidentally impregnated her. It was unplanned and she wouldn’t abort, so things got complicated and out of hand.’

‘And what happened,’ she was inquisitive to ask.

‘My attention could easily be caught by Alima, and being that I was very attracted to her, and she knows my weakness, I knew I couldn’t control matters.’

‘So?’ she interjected

‘So, I thought of avoiding her, but then she can take matters to court to make sure there is shared parenting, and in such a case, she’ll still get to spend time with me. Additional to that, due to her parents’ disproval of our relationship, they did everything possible to stop me from seeing my child in her absence. Now that I reconnected with Alima, I’m able to have ample time with my son and I don’t want to lose him again. All I am trying to do now is to correct my mistakes instead of falling into temptation and going into the same cycle I am trying to break,’ he continued at a slow pace.’

Ebrima, being honest to himself, knows he cannot avoid Alima’s presence, and knowing that Alima will always have the upper hand, it is better he marries her, than fighting a lost battle. These are some of the repercussions one has to deal with if you’ve a child with a lady who wants to tie you down. Alima was determined to use the child to get Ebrima and indeed Ebrima was running out of options.

‘So, what makes you think marrying her will solve your problems?’ She blurted.

‘No, I wouldn’t know, but all I know for now is that doing this is the best for me, you and my child,’ he managed to explain.

‘So, what will you do now? Marrying her cannot be your only option because it will never happen,’ she said dejectedly while rising from the table she sat on.

‘What do you propose I do, Honey?’  he gestured with his hands.

‘I don’t care what, you can find another solution!!!’ She screamed angrily.

Oumie gingerly sat down again staring at her husband for a moment trying to figure out what exactly was said to her.

‘Did he just confirm marrying Alimatou, my friend? No!!! It will never work,’ her temples began to pound in anxiety.

‘Damn it! How did I miss all this? Why did Alima hide the specifics from me – a best friend of hers?’ she thought without saying.

There was an awkward silence in the room. She was developing a migraine. Love and hate instantaneously took center stage.

Ebrima was right there watching his wife leave, his mind spinning in a thousand and one directions while wondering when had his life gotten so complicated?

While halfway gone, she turned her back to Ebrima and said in a soft and low voice, ‘look at him saying I accidentally impregnated her, did your sperm go to driving school?’ .

Alima sprawled on her bed scrolling through her WhatsApp messages. She was at the time engaged in a group chat in one of the WhatsApp groups dubbed Democratic Gambia. She was one of those addicts. Her phone was her closest friend. While typing a text message, a call interrupted. It was Ebrima.

‘Hello Babe,’ she said adjusting herself on the bed.

‘What did you tell my wife?’ he started without the usual pleasantries

‘What do you mean?’ she asked.

‘My wife is losing her mind after finding out what we are up to.’

‘I don’t know why you are telling me this, especially that I have made no effort to know who your wife is,’ Alima went plain,

‘Oumie is my wife,’ Ebrima broke the news.

‘What? Are you serious? Oumie my friend?’ she jumped up to stand

‘Why on earth am I hearing this for the first time,’ she screamed.

‘Because I just found out that you are friends; close friends. We live in a small country,’

Damn it! Then that explains her change of behaviour,’ she went on.

‘Yes sure. Now you see the reason why I have been begging you to hold off this marriage issue. Please, I love my wife so much, just allow us to settle our lives while you pursue your goals,’ he spoke the words as if he actually meant them.

‘But what if I tell you that my happiness lies in you? I have already lost a lot because of you. More over, your son deserves a home and having both parents by his side. So I just suppose your wife will find a way of sharing you with me,’ she concluded with all seriousness and pressed on the red button. Alima can be as obstinate as she is beautiful…

Fast forward, three months later Ebrima and Alima got married at a time Oumie neither consented to nor was she in town. She just had left for Dakar two weeks prior to escort her mum who was diagnosed with brain tumor. Her mum’s condition was deteriorating and as such she had to be referred  to Dakar for further treatment.

Oumie was terrebly disturbed by her mum’s condition and that preoccupied her from the issue that was going on at home.

After she had come home, which happened to be on a Saturday morning, she had found Ebrima at home doing some paper work. Alima was at the time in Brikama where she had gone to see some of Ebrima’s relatives.

After the usual hugging and greetings Oumie then sprawled on the bed resting her head on the thighs of her husband. She snuggled against her husband on the bed, feeling complete satisfaction.

‘I’ve missed you so much, darling. Who knew two-three weeks could feel like an eternity?’ She murmured softly.

Because she was smart, she had a niggling feeling in her gut that Ebrima was keeping something from her but she let it pass. Now was not the time to get into it. Her mother’s sickness was the priority. The time to have a real discussion with her husband would soon come, she thought.

That time came rather sooner than expected when she found out that the knot has been tied between her husband and Alima. Ebrima wanted to allow Oumie rest before breaking the news to her.

She came to know about this marriage when she accidentally stumbled on to a picture of the couple. She was in the guest room where she picked up the picture, and instantly her heart broke. She backed away and fell on the sofa that was just behind her. She buried her face in her hands, trembling from all parts of her body.

‘How could you, Ebrima?’ she yelled. The pain of betrayal caused was almost driving her nuts. She was no longer herself.

During this time, Ebrima was in his room, at his wardrobe flinching through his well Ironed shirts which were hanged inside. He picked the one he wanted to wear for that particular occasion, laid it on the bed staring at it in admiration.

From nowhere, Oumie barged into the room with a bottle of gasoline and a lighter. With her face wet with tears, and without saying a word, she shut the door, and started spraying the room with the liquid. No sooner had she finished than she lit the fire. All this caught Ebrima in a huge shock and surprise, and before he could figure out what was going on, the room was already on fire.

Oumie was determined to kill both herself and Ebrima in order to bar him from marrying a second wife, much more a friend. Her heart couldn’t just contain it.

Screaming broke out from inside the room and neighbours quickly got to the place. Both of them were rescued and rushed to the hospital.

However, by the time help could arrive, they had already sustained serious injuries on their bodies. The good news though was that Ebrima had no injuries around his genitals and thus served no need for Alima to ask for divorce.

Oumie and Ebrima were hospitalized and Oumie was under police custody for her unjustifiable – or rather justifiable – actions. Alima however was there for her husband, caring for him, doing everything possible

to help him recover from that heinous condition.

WILL OUMIE’S MARRIAGE BE SAVED???

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