He was just — gone. The first clue were the shoes by the door. They were his signature brogues but there was something different about them. They didn’t have that polished look his had. But that was not the issue. My husband had a mild obsessive compulsive disorder. He would always place his shoes at a perfect angle of 45o to each other. I know because I’ve measured it. They were the last thing he checked before going to bed. These ones were placed side by side. I just knew something was wrong.
I rushed in and saw the plate on the table. The sole plantain on it made me stand still. My husband, like me, believed there is an art to eating dodo. There was an unspoken rule; the last piece should not be shared or given out. We always fought over it and I almost always won. Even when we started sleeping in separate rooms, we still followed that rule. The fact that he left the last piece despite that he was eating alone was a big fat red light.
I went to his room, the room he started sleeping in when we grew apart. Some of his clothes were missing. There were no signs of struggle but it was clear he did not leave the house willingly, at least to me. I called his phone, it was switched off. Where could he be? Most importantly, why would anyone make it look like he left the house of his own accord?
I met my husband four years ago at a friend’s wedding. I was wandering about looking for a friend when I saw him. It was his cap that drew me to him. It was a maroon Hausa cap with white tassels. I loved caps, a lot, right after good shoes. I wanted to talk to him but he didn’t look like he talked much. He looked so lonely in the midst of so many people. I approached him anyway. He was light skinned and he had a narrow nose like a Fulani’s. He had a black mole on his forehead. I introduced myself and managed to force his name out of him.
When I got home, I googled his name. I was surprised by the sheer number of results his name generated. He was a user interface designer and he seemed really good at his job. He had volunteered for different humanitarian projects at different times and convened lots of meetups on design. I got his contact from his LinkedIn profile and gave him a call. I told him I needed an application for my fashion design business and he agreed to meet to discuss the terms. He was surprised to see me but he was all business like. When he started talking about the design, it was like someone switched on a light inside him. He looked so happy. I was mesmerized and he had to tap me several times to bring me back to the discussion.
I got to know him over the course of the project. I learnt things I applied in my business and we bonded over several plates of fried plantain. He proposed six months later, with a little prodding from his mum. Apparently, he had told her he liked me but he was not going to do anything about it. We got married in a month.
The early years of our marriage were filled with love, I could not have asked for a better man. The troubles started when I had the first miscarriage. We were on our way to the wedding anniversary of the couple we met at their wedding. He didn’t want to go. He believed such things are a waste of time and money. I insisted, it was the anniversary of the day we met after all. We had almost gotten to the venue when a yellow Venza came out from nowhere. I remembered shouting and then everything went black.
I was twelve weeks pregnant and I didn’t even know. Oh, how I blamed myself. If I had just listened to my husband, if I had been more aware of my body, at least I would know I was pregnant and I would have been more careful. I was filled with so much guilt I ignored all my husband’s attempts to cheer me up. I threw myself into work. I would leave early and come back late. We started drifting apart. We stopped talking. The only tradition we kept was eating breakfast together. It was when he moved to the guest room I realized what I had done.
I knew there was something wrong with me or how else could I explain pushing someone I love so much away? I confided in my sister and she introduced me to a therapist. After some sessions, I worked up the courage to tell her about the issue with my husband. She said a lot of things. She pointed out the fact that we both lost the baby and asked if I even knew how my husband coped with the loss. I was disturbed, I had been so caught up in my own feelings that I didn’t bother to find out. I had been so selfish. Instead of going to my shop as I normally do, I decided to go home directly. And then, I could not find my husband.
I remembered the shoes at the door. I started shaking. I did not hear the sounds of anyone leaving. There was someone in the house with me, or maybe the person left the shoes just to scare me. Either way, I was not about to sit still until I was kidnapped or worse. I picked up my phone which started ringing soon afterwards. The caller ID was hidden. “Who hides their number these days? People who have something to hide, obviously”, I thought. I decided to record the call just in case it was about my husband.
I started looking for a place to hide before I sent a message to the police. I looked around and realized I had come to the kitchen inadvertently. I picked a knife and the rolling pin to defend myself. I opened the freezer to add a bowl of pepper to my arsenal and I screamed. The bloodied wide-eyed body of my husband stared me in the face.