Richard had taken Lillian to go see Mrs Lycette, the psychologist whom he had been seeing after they separated. Her first meeting with Lillian had been so slight that even Richard was surprised. Ordinarily, whenever he came, his session lasted forty five minutes. He had once spent more than sixty minutes, not because they had much to say but because it took him time to give her answers that were satisfactory. There were times he would give answers two or three times to a particular questions because she would not continue until she was satisfied or convinced he was telling the truth. She had asked him in one of the sessions if he wanted his wife back. He had hesitated at first because he felt ordinarily she should know his answer would be yes, but when he told her, she had stared at him and simply said, “I meant the wife you married and not the one you abuse”
Mrs Lycette was one of the few people that could handle Richard, especially with questions. She had dealt with the kinds of Richard and she knew exactly where to hold him, by the jugular. When she told him to bring his wife, it was not as if she needed to be checked, she only wanted to complete her healings on him, and she didn’t have all the time, but one person had, Lillian.
On her first meeting with Lillian, she only asked her some few questions which she gave answers to, they were not satisfying answers for a psychologist but she didn’t want to pursue it like she did with Richard. She knew that it would have been easier for her if Richard were not there with her. She knew that a third party affects an answer. She gave Lillian another appointment, meticulously, she had asked her to come during early work hours when Richard’s hands would have probably been buried with work.
Lillian’s marriage to Richard suffered hiccups and they did not get back together as man and wife until after three months of staying under separate roofs. And during the four months, they both had sessions with the counselor.
Unlike what he used to be, Richard changed. Usually it was not in his character to come home later than six p.m. from work but he started coming home earlier. And as he had promised, he made it up to her. He would take her out on evenings, he spent every Saturdays with her, and he took her to salons and wait until her hair was made. As Lillian had proposed, they renewed their vows and they started living a new and better life.
He did what he had wanted to do before their separation. He took her to Venice, and it was like a second honeymoon for them especially when they had just renewed their vows.
Lillian’s face and body became blotch free. She could now talk and play with him freely. She could touch him thoughtlessly without thinking of being spanked and she visited her mom often.
Although there were times Richard got angry but quickly as Mrs Lycette had told him, he would find solitary until his anger waned away. Sometimes there were no opportunity to get solitary, and his right hand would always be fidgety but then he would turn it into a fist and hold it tight. And rather than raise his hands, he would raise his voice. Even when he did, he would apologize immediately, until one day that he really got angry and their argument got really bad.
It was barely five months after they got back together again; Richard came back from the office very late and hungry. Dinner was supposed to be beans and fried plantain. But when he got inside the living room, he was welcomed by Mary.
“Where is my wife? Am hungry” he pulled his suit and laid it on the sofa close to where he stood. He untied his tie, undid the first few buttons on his shirt exposing his under wear and part of his chest.
She placed the brief case she collected from him on the centre table. “She is in the kitchen sir”
“What is she still doing there?” without waiting for any reply from Mary, he plunged into the kitchen.
Lillian knew he had got inside the house, but she wanted the oil to start lightening before she went to greet him. Just as she turned to go, Richard met her.” how was your day?” she asked smiling at him.
“Why is my food not ready?” he replied her with a question.
Lillian looked at the bleaching oil. “It’s just to fry the Dodo, the beans is cooked already, okay? Now hug me” still smiling, Lillian made a move to hug him but was pushed away. She was taken aback by his reaction, at first, she thought it was a joke but she soon realized he was serious when his countenance complemented his actions.
She waited for him to apologize like he always did and when he didn’t; she got angry and spoke rashly at him. “What is wrong with you?” she asked. “I just wanted you to have dinner hot, and here you are, acting as if you have never eaten before” the words had reeled out of her mouth before she realize they were too harsh, quickly she held her mouth as if to stop the remaining words if there were any.
“I am not your child, don’t talk to me like one” he snapped back at her in a matching tone.
“Then give me a child I can talk to anyhow, at least one” she shouted back at him.
Richard replied her with a slap. He scowled at his own actions; he really didn’t mean it to get that. His fingers twitched, it was long since he hit someone; since he hit her.
Lillian gasped. “You dare raise your fingers at me again?” she turned back, carried the bleaching oil and poured it on his shirt. Richard screamed. “The next time you want to hit me again, look at your chest” she threw the frying pan away. “And, you just had dinner” she added quickly and left him in the kitchen.
Little quantity of the hot oil managed to spill on his bare chest, while the rest on his underwear. He stood motionless not knowing what to do. Mary and Tobi who heard his voice ran inside the kitchen.
“oga, what happened” Mary asked. Without any reply from Richard, she and Tobi knew what could have happened. They helped him to get out of his shirt and underwear. Tobi helped him apply honey on the affected area. The oil-affected part of his chest was as big as the palm of a nine year old.
“Oga, you need to sit under the fan, you would be feeling sore” Tobi said, as she led him out of the kitchen. Mary packed his clothes and smiled to herself, she knew exactly what happened; she had stood by the kitchen door all along, eavesdropping their conversation.
That night, everybody in the house went to bed without food, except Mary who felt whatever Lillian did to Richard, he deserved it. Lillian slept in their bedroom while Richard spent the night in the visitor’s room. He had tried to open the door, but Lillian had turned the lock immediately she was inside.
Richard lay on the bed chest up, he was feeling uneasy, he stood up to increase the speed of the fan and to put on the air conditioner. His chest was hurting, he thought of how much it would have been had he pulled his shirt when he pulled his suit and tie. He sighed heavily. He had never experienced anything of that sort all his life, no woman had tried it with him, and that was the first time Lillian was doing that to him.
He could have beaten her up he thought, but two things kept him from doing so. First, he had promised not to touch her again, he had even said that whenever he did, she should do anything she wanted to him. But when he said those words, he didn’t think he was going to beat her any more, even if he did, he knew she would not do anything to him, because she never did.
The second reason that held him bound was because he did not want to lose her again. After they got back together, he had told her everything the doctor said about his low level of fertility.
The both of them had wept. He was probably crying because he thought she would leave again but she didn’t, even when she knew that the chances of getting pregnant were slim. She had told him that she loved him enough to wait until they would make it together again.
Lillian locked the door because she wanted to be alone that night, and because she wanted to be austere. He knew that if he slept in the room with her, she would want to attend to his wound, the one she had inflicted on him. She did not think twice before she did what she did, and she did not regret doing so when she did.
She had only done what she did for one reason. She was told that she would have to change him totally by herself, and the only way she could do that was to meet his obstinacy with hers. And that was what she did to him that night. He melted a physical punishment on her, small though, and she had done the same to him; he slapped her and she burned his chest, where the guts and courage came from, she did not even know.
Her second meeting with Lycette did not turn out to be like the first, they had a woman-to-woman talk and not a doctor patient rapport. Yvonne spoke to her not like a specialist, but like an experienced woman.
At first, Lillian hesitated when the small statured woman asked that they go out somewhere to have their talk. “I will not treat you like a patient, because you are not even one” Lycette had told her with a smile and so she agreed to go with her.
Lycette had thought and concluded that if at all Lillian knew how to go out or have fun; she had forgotten how to do it. Of course, she had seen and treated women like Lillian. She knew exactly how to help her and that was to make her feel like a friend and not a patient, even she, needed one.
Shortly after Lillian concurred, they set out for where Lycette had not yet figured out.
Yvonne Lycette was a small woman, smaller than her age. That year, she was forty- six, but she looked thirty. Her face was always glowing and she was always smiling, but beneath the smiles and radiance, one could tell that she had had her hard times. She was a Ghanaian but she got married to a south-African man. They met at a symposium for Doctors held in Ghana. Few months into their meeting, they got married. She told him she wanted to change her environment and her husband said he didn’t want to settle in his country, so they came to Nigeria, where their journey started.
“Gala gala….Recharge card, buy your cold drinks …..” The noises from the hawkers in the traffic interrupted Lycette’s talk. Lillian who had been listening with keen interest didn’t notice that part of her body was burning due to the scorching sun that found its way through the windshield. She pulled the sun shield just immediately after Lycette pulled hers to protect from the sun.
Lycette had asked Lillian to tell her of Richard’s past. Not until then did she know that she was really oblivion about it. One of the mistakes she made that was affecting her, but of course she had asked him a few times to tell her about his past but he would prevaricate. And because she noticed it was making him feel uneasy she had stopped asking.
By the time Lillian opened her eyes, it was morning. She discovered that it was hunger that woke her, if not she would have woken later than she did. Still lying on the bed, she tried to remember how her yesterday had gone. Awful, she thought. She got out of bed, put on her robe hoping to get something to eat in the kitchen.
When she got to the living room, she met Richard seated, dressed in a short with his chest bare, immediately she saw him, she did not know what to do, for some seconds, she stared at him before she went to him.
“Good morning how was your night?” she asked him as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened the night before. Richard didn’t reply her, he just stared at her. “Oh! Your chest” as if she forgot. She moved closer to take a look at his chest. “You need to see a doctor” she asserted.
“No thanks” Richard stood up and left her in the living room. He didn’t understand her anymore. Now, reverse was the case.
Few days later, they resolved their issues and continued from where they had stopped when they started again.
Often and often, Lillian and Richard would go to see their doctor. And most of the times they went, he told them what to do and what not to do. He placed Richard on treatment and would always advise him not to take too much of sugar.
He also told them to have sex during the ovulating period, which comes shortly after the female’s menstrual circle. And he assured them that the instructions and treatment will boost fertility.
He explained to them how the body works, he also made them know that there case was not a hopeless one.