You see, I married a very special man.
A man, if I had to say, was entirely different from other men. A man that was not very manly.
My husband did not like the things most men love. He didn’t watch football; never caught him shouting, grunting and growling at the screen, like Ejike, the neighbour downstairs, did.
He hated rap music and preferred to listen to songs by Brandy and Whitney Houston.
My husband knew well about fashion too, even more than I do. He was excellent with colour grouping.
Most times, I would ask him, ‘What is best to wear with this, honey?’
My husband would stare at the gown, or blouse or skirt I was holding, and his brow would crease in concentration.
And then came his answer. Ever so accurate.
I was amused the day my husband screamed in the kitchen – a long, piercing cry like a scared little girl.
He had opened a flask to see maggots wriggling in a dark, putrid mess.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘I forgot to wash that.’
My husband handed me the dirty container slowly. I watched him walk out of the kitchen, head lolling down and steps slow and nervous.
Later, when I came upstairs to meet him, he asked me what I did with the flask and the maggots.
‘I have washed it,’ I said.
‘You did?’ Disbelief overlay his eyes. ‘With your hands?’
I looked at my hands, wondering if there were any other organ I should have washed the plate with. ‘Yes, with my hands, of course,’ I said.
I pulled up the blanket to join him in the bed, but my husband quickly got up, as if afraid of me. My touch.
He walked to the cabinet and picked a tube of sanitizer. He didn’t allow me touch the tube. ‘Open your hands,’ he said.
I did, and he pressed out a good quantity of the clear gel into my palm. It was only when I have used the sanitizer that my husband finally allowed me to touch him.
But we didn’t have sex that night.
We didn’t have sex most nights. There were very few nights my husband was responsive. Most other nights, his fairly-long organ would lie limp between his naked thighs. ‘I’m sorry,’ he would say to me, looking as though sad.
‘No need to apologize,’ I would tell him. ‘We will try again tomorrow.’
Sex had always been that embarrassing for us.
But over time, we began seeking other ways to deepen our connection.
It wasn’t long before my husband turned my girlfriend.
This had been very easy because my husband liked virtually all the things I liked.
We saw the same kind of movies and listened to the same songs. He easily left the channel on Fashion TV or E-Entertainment; those were my favourite channels too. We saw all the seasons of Desperate Housewives together and would usually stay up late in the night, keeping up with the Kardashians.
One Friday evening, Dami, a colleague from work returned home with me. My husband was not at home, but he’d made dinner.
‘You mean a man made this rice and fried this chicken?’ Dami said, her mouth bulged with the jollof rice. She appeared to be gobbling the food.
‘My husband can cook,’ I said. The bragging tasted strange on my lips.
‘Your husband is so angelic,’ Dami said. ’How I wish James will learn from him.’
I smiled. It was a compliment I was used to. Angelic, quiet, lovely and caring—those were the common words to describe my husband.
Never anything like strong, stubborn or hard-hearted. There were times I saw myself as the husband and my husband the wife.
When Amaka’s husband beat her up again, she asked me over the phone that night, in a really no-joking voice, if we could swap husbands.
The last thing my husband would do is lay a finger on me. He is not that strong to risk a fight even with a woman.
He couldn’t even stand me arguing with a neighbour.
One morning, I finally decided to let my husband free.
I told my husband I was finally going to let him go.
‘Please,’ he begged me. ‘Honey, please.’
‘It’s what’s best for the two of us, dear,’ I told him.
‘I promise to improve, please. I want to stay married to you, please.’
‘And I too, really. But you need to go live your life.’
‘I will change. I can do it. I will.’
‘This is beyond what you can change, sweet heart.’ I hugged him. ‘You have to go.’
‘What will Mama say? What will I tell her?’ He was crying.
‘You have to tell your mother the truth.’
‘No.’ He shook his head. ‘She will never understand. She will die.’
I released him and held his face. ‘Hey, listen to me, babes.’ I turned his eyes to face mine. ‘Listen now, will you?’
He moved his head in agreement.
‘You need to stop living your life for people. Go on, be free! Mama will come around someday.’ I wiped his eyes. ‘Do not cry.’
‘I’m going to miss you so much,’ he said eventually. ‘You were nice to me. You are the only one I could have done this with.’
‘I will miss you more, my best friend.’
He hugged me tightly back.
‘So can we still meet up sometime and diss the hell out of Chloe?’
‘Sure! Why the hell not!’
We disengaged. ‘Chloe Kardashian is a bitch, you know that?’ my husband said, chuckling and wiping his eyes at the same time.
‘A mega super bitch!’ I said.
We laughed and hugged again.
That morning, my husband left.
It has been over three months now, and I still miss him.
His strange difference.
Story written by Gloria Ezeh, edited by Daniel Nkado.