Smarting from Lizy’s remarks Amedu sat in his immaculate and dignified palour, supporting his head with his hands. He was so engrossed in thoughts that he didn’t notice the entrance of his wife, Lizy into the palour.
Lizy, a tall beautiful woman wore a white nylon gown which exposed two pointed mounds in front of her chest. Her nipples pressed against her gown as if they would pierce through the fabric. Her face had a virginal look, youthful smoothness, no wrinkles and pimples. The rings of skin round her neck made her stand out among women in Apa.
“Darling cheer up” Lizy said smiling and revealing a set of perfect white teeth which appeared separated in two halves by a gap in the middle. She sat beside her husband and started to caress him on his back. Lizy talked to Amedu in low and smoothing voice. She put her arm on his shoulder.
Despite all the smoothing voice of Lizy, Amedu sat rooted to the settee like a statue on its stratum. When Lizy attempted to kiss him on his mouth, he rebuffed. The only thought flooding his mind was Lizy’s failure to bear a child after twenty years of marriage. It is the usual thing among the people of Apa for the childless couple to suffer a curious kind of a communal anathema.
Amedu and Lizy have suffered so many things in Apa. Some said, Amedu swap his chance of bearing children with wealth. Others said, “Lizy refused to bear children in order to maintain her angelic beauty”. Friends had talked to Amedu to try Apa girls. But Amedu has vowed never to break his marriage vow. He could recall vividly his words during their wedding solemnization, “for better for worse Lizy is mine”.
The wedding between Amedu and Lizy was the talk of the town. People from all different social strata attended the occasion. The position of Lizy’s mother Zainab as Commissioner of Education in Plateau State gave much popularity to the wedding. The governor of Plateau State was also in attendance.
However, most Apa young ladies resented Amedu’s idea of marrying an outsider, so when they discovered that Lizy was unable to bear a child for Amedu after many years of their marriage, they laughed with glee at the couples.
Suddenly, Amedu’s mind went back to their university days in the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University.
He tried in vain to fathom the genesis of the problem. He recalled that he was still a virgin even after he completed his degree programme. Lizy was the first woman he met in his life and it was after their wedding that Lizy led him into the woman’s world.
While recalling his experience with Lizy on their matrimonial bed shortly after their wedding, Lizy’s soothing voice pierce through his mind like water penetrating through rock. Then he rose up his head and looked at her. And her radiating beauty caught him like a trap. Then they entangled themselves in a warm embrace chest to chest.
Lizy continued with her talk in a soothing voice, quoting the relevant portions of the holy writ to corroborate her points “Darling, you know I love you. It pains me that we could not have a child of our own, after many years of marriage. Children are the gift of God. However, if God decides not to give us a child, are we to question the decision of the Almighty God?”, “you are right Lizy but you should not have talked to me in the presence of my parents in such manner”. Amedu interrupted his wife and gently freed himself from Lizy’s arms.
Lizy stared at her husband’s face and said, “Darling give me a smile”. Amedu burst into laughter and said, “Lizy you are beautiful”. Darling I would like to remind you again that tomorrow is my birthday”. Amedu turned quickly and looked at her ‘Lizy are you kidding?” No I mean it. In that case, tidy up the palour and let me go upstairs and compose a poem to commemorate the occasion.
She tidied away the press cut and gathered the waste pieces of papersoutside and entered into her room to collect kerosene and matches and then the door bell rang. When she opened the door she met a post master who delivered a letter to her. Lizy quickly recognised Danladi’s handwriting.
She ripped open the envelop and the content of the letter was quite clear. The grandmother was not happy with the way she abandoned her two children Amina and Danjuma. Lizy’s mind travelled back to the incidence and she recalled how her attempt to abort the third pregnancy during her secondary school days led to the permanent damage to her womb. She quickly squeezed the letter and went out to burn it with the other pieces of papers she had earlier gathered. On discarding the letter she sighted a snake under the pieces of paper. Lizy screamed, calling on her husband, darling! Snake! Snake! Amedu rushed with a big stick in no time and killed the snake.
Then he saw a letter and picked it up and his eyes met with hers. Amedu’s eye pierced on the wounded heart of Lizy. He quietly read the letter and said, God has blown off the cover of duplicity”. And the couple stared at each other in astonishment.

Paul Ugah is the Vice Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA & Auditor, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Benue State Executive Council.