How could Stefi even begin to suggest that I might be impotent? I thought. “That is impossible,” I said to myself. My father had ten children, so why would I be impotent?
“Something else must be responsible for her inability to get pregnant,” I concluded. “And what could that be?” I asked myself. Though I had no answer to that, the last thing I was prepared to do was not to go for any tests. Male impotence could never be in my family line, I believed. It was as clear as crystal how my father proved it. Therefore there was no way I could see how I could be different. I could never be!
Feeling humiliated, insulted and angry, I stopped talking to Stefi. When she realised I had resorted to the game of not wanting to talk to her anymore, she was quick to show me how she was so good at it. It was game on! I ignored her, she ignored me, and the game went on and on. From one break of dawn to the next, it was on. I went about my business like she never existed. On her part, she did not give a damn. She started having more ladies-time with a couple of ladies who lived in our neighbourhood. I did not care. She could go to hell for all I cared. I would head off to the workshop early in the morning without a word to her, only to return late at night and hop into bed without saying a word to her as well. I kept ignoring the nice and delicious meals she cooked, preferring to eat whatever food I wanted at different restaurants. Stefi did not care a bit that I had stopped eating at home. She went ahead to keep serving breakfast and dinner whether I ate them or not. The food would get sour, have fungus growing on them, and end up in the trash can. Oh… how we wasted food in a land in which some had none to eat. That was how our home had a harrowing story of unspoken anger, lingering silence and desertion, even though in it were two adults who were supposed to be married.
My Dad used to say that talking to someone about your problems was a good way to get half the load off your shoulders. He said a problem shared gets rested on another shoulder as well, making the burden easier on the one who has the problem. He said the practice had therapeutic effects that helped him better handle life’s ups and downs. I did not see how his method could help solve the lingering stand-off between Stefi and I, about to hit its fifth week, let alone the bigger issue, our inability to have children, whose tormenting presence was as large as a-two-hundred tonne elephant. He was my Dad, my model, whose views I had no problem believing that resorting to them would give me some desired results. And who was I to turn to? It was no one else but my friend and colleague, Wack. I told him what I was going through at our workshop the next day. And how can I not mention here that what he had to say about the way forward regarding my marital issues hit me like a tonne of bricks? Wack left me feeling like the whole world had ganged up against me. And like the late iconic Rapper, Tupac Shakur, said in one of his iconic songs, it felt truly like me against the world.
“She is right, Jan,” Wack said to me. I could not believe that even Wack would be on Stefi’s side. He even looked me in the eye as he said it. Having known Wack for a long time, I did not need to be told it was his own way of showing he meant every bit of it.
“Did you actually say that?” I said, hoping that somehow his response was not really what he said. Who was I deceiving? The reality was that Wack was on Stefi’s side and was not about to switch.
“Your wife is right, Jan,” he further said. “Go ahead and see a doctor.”
“Don’t even go there anymore!” I retorted, anger getting the better of me. “You have no true idea what the family I come from is like. We make babies. We just make babies, Wack. Nothing stops us from making babies. It’s natural to us. We make babies. That’s what we can do. Therefore nothing can be wrong with me.” There was silence when I had finished speaking. It was like Wack was not even there because the quick response I had expected from him did not come. He would rather heap his attention on a wooden closet he was working on. He later looked up from his work, some minutes after I had spoken, looked me in the eye again and said, “It could be you who can’t make babies.”
“Come on,” I railed. “Must you be on her side?”
“What she has asked of you is reasonable.”
“Oh… Reasonable my foot! She thinks I can’t make babies. You think I can’t make babies. Give me a break, Wack! Why are you so convinced she can make babies?”
“She’s been to the doctors. Remember you told me, Jan.”
“Come on! I can’t believe you fall for such crap. What if she’s lying? What if tests showed she is the one who has problems and she turned it around and suggested it was I who has the problem?”
“Did you ask to see the results?”
“Come on, Wack, I don’t have to see it. Nothing can be wrong with me in that sort of way. If there is a problem, then she has the problem.”
“You want to know what I think is the truth, Jan?”
“What the hell is that?”
“She is asking you to do the right thing.”
“I don’t need to. I’m good to go.”
“That tells me you have something to hide, Jan,” Wack said with a sly smile on his face, a smile that hid no strand of what he had in his mind. That Stefi was right.
“You know what?” I responded angrily. “This discussion did not take place. It’s over! I must have been crazy to consult you about marital issues when you’re not even married. What can you possibly know about marital problems?”
“A lot, Jan”
“You lie! Now shut the fuck up. My job needs all my attention, okay?”
I got to work in the silence that ensued, chiselling a piece of furniture, as my simmered anger began to recede like flood that comes with hurricane. And it was not long before the Voice spoke in my head, that voice which would not leave me alone since I was ten. “Living in denial will do you no good,” the voice said. “Can’t you see how everything is telling you the whole truth?”
“What truth?” I said to the voice, not minding that Wack was present.
“Where you belong is me. There lies your true happiness. Nothing else will do. You will know it as time goes on.”
“What?” Wack said. He looked mystified for a while before concentrating on his job once more.
“You know what?” I said out of irritation. “I don’t even wanna hear these nonsense you say,” I said further and stormed out of the workshop like a mad bull. Wack must have thought that response was for him. How was he to know I had spoken back to a voice claiming me, a voice from where I did not know, a voice that suggested I was nothing without it? I drove my red Sedan car away, my driving being a bit reckless. It was my lucky day on the road. Why? I did not attract the attention of any Cop possibly on patrol. I would have had a bad day in the hands of the law if that had happened. Home was where I headed, and there was more to happen between Stefi and I.
Stefi was at home when I got back. I threw a quick glance at her. Dressed in a light blue gown and on high heel black boots that reached her knees, she somehow reminded me of Julia Robert’s character in the Pretty Woman movie. I did not think she looked like a hooker, but thought she looked sexy despite the fact that we were not in talking terms. She was in the living room, with a remote control device in her left hand, flipping through television channels. Nonsense, I said to my emotions trying to make me stray from the no-talking-to-Stefi approach, which had become my new normal at home. What I wanted to do was head straight away from the living room and straight to our bedroom like Stefi never even existed. That was what I was about to do that I could not because Stefi spoke to me for the first time in a long while. She broke the ice.
“It is not usual for you to come back home at this time of day,” she said. Then I turned to face her. Her face looked somewhat new, like it was the face of a stranger living with me. “Are you alright?” Stefi spoke again.
“I’m doing just fine,” I replied. My tone was somewhere between being stern and being friendly, somewhere in the middle of both actually. One impression I did not want to leave Stefi was that she could manipulate me however she wanted.
“I can fix some lunch for us if you care to join me,” Stefi went ahead to say. “You wanna eat?”
“Yes,” I said, moving over to the dining-table while Stefi walked straight to the kitchen after she had gently thrown the device in her hand on top of a sofa. I sat down when I got to the dining-table. I did not know what else to say to Stefi. The kitchen was quite close to where the dining-table was, so I could see her arranging some sandwiches and turkey. She said nothing to me too as she made the meal. When what seemed like ten to fifteen minutes had elapsed, Stefi came to the dining-table with two dishes, one for me and one for her. She placed one in front of me and went to another seat that was opposite me, where she sat down and began to eat. I took my first bite of the sandwich and thought it tasted good.
“Delicious,” I said to Stefi.
“Thanks, Jan,” she replied, as a quick smile flashed across her face and was gone in a flash. “Taking the rest of the day off?” Stefi asked.
“I think I need it.”
“That means leaving Wack to do all the job in the workshop huh?”
“He is fine with it.”
“Are you sure, Jan?”
“Well, he had better be because he pissed me off and I’m not going back there anytime today.”
“It seems everyone pisses you off these days. I piss you off at home while Wack does the same to you at work. What is happening to you?”
“Nothing! I’m just fine,” I said.
“How could you say you’re fine, Jan? Look at me. I’m not fine. We can’t be fine when we both need to make babies and we have not.”
“Have I not been trying my best? Tel me!”
“When your best does not seem to be enough you can always find out why,” Stefi countered. I found those words disgusting. They were like bitter pills on my tongue.
“Here we go again!” I shrieked. Stefi was pushing me to the edge now.
“The doctors said I’m fine,” she said. “Why not see if you have a problem or not?”
“Look, Stefi,” I responded angrily. “I will not have you or Wack keep insulting me over this.”
“Wait a minute. You told Wack about this?”
“None of your business!”
“Well, I can see he must have told you to do what is reasonable.”
“What is reasonable is that I’m seeing no doctor,” I made it clear to Stefi. “I’m fine.”
“I can show you my test results, Jan.”
“I don’t care! If infertility happens to run in your family line, then male impotence is no issue in mine.”
“How can you know you’re fine without getting checked out?”
“You know what?” Outburst of anger made me say to Stefi. “If all you wanna do is sit here and insult me, then I’m taking none of it!”
“It’s a real man that shows courage when it is needed.”
“I agree! I’m not a real man. Unreal men don’t get pushed around. I don’t get pushed around.”
“Go to hell!”
“You go to hell!”
Anger drove Stefi to her feet.
“I’m gonna prove it to you one more time that I’m good to have babies,” she told me to my face.
“Do whatever you want,” I said in furious temper. See a million doctors. Let them run a million tests that say you’re so fertile. I don’t give a fuck! I don’t care!”
“You will care when I’m done!”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing here anymore,” I growled, sprang up, smashed the dish in front of me on the floor and strode away from Stefi.
“I’m good to go! And you will see!” These were the angry words I heard from Stefi before I left her presence behind for the bedroom. What happened next was that I did not care to talk back. I could only liken her to a barking dog not worthy of my further response. How was she going to prove herself anyway? That was a bombshell waiting to rock my world. Sit back and relax and continue to read. My story has just started.