Clark had been cranky, rusty and withdrawn. He was a far cry from his sanguine self. Something serious was biting our cheerleader, our joker and the life of our party. We needed to find out. Richard’s place usually was our meeting point. His wife’s homemade moinmoin had everything inside it, and honestly, second to none, just don’t tell our wives.
We were already on the second helping when we began talking turkey. Clark was not going to beat around the bush; he went straight to the point.
“My wife and I have not had sex in five months! Since we had our son I’ve been abandoned and left for the dead in my house.”
We all broke out laughing and it truly came across like it was rehearsed. Richard was the loudest. We couldn’t control ourselves. “You mean, that is it? As in, that is what has been biting you these days that you do not respond to your messages, you do not pick your calls and you fail to hang out with your crew? That is it? Sex?” Richard laughed more and quickly took some water.
We must have angered Clark. he gave us a long stare, gently dropped his glass of drink and quietly got up to leave. I stood up immediately, reprimanded the others and prevailed on him to sit. I apologized. “Come on, can’t you take a joke?”
“My friend, sit down!” Richard scolded. “What’s wrong with you? You’ve laughed at more serious matters in this room before! What’s wrong with you?! Who you dey form for? What’s wrong with you?!”
He stopped and reconsidered. He would not deny Richard was right. And even if he left, where would he go to? The bond he shared with us was strong and he had no buddies elsewhere. He sat down.
“Clark, sorry, but how do you mean?” Victor put his hand over his mouth to calm himself down.
Clark first searched our eyes to be sure we were not asking for more details to fuel our laughter. Then he waited for Rose, Richard’s wife, to be out of sight.
“I really don’t know why you guys are laughing. I’m not finding it funny at all.” He leaned on the chair. “My wife has practically abandoned me! And it’s not funny! It’s as if I no longer exist in the house. We don’t even sleep in the same room any longer. She sleeps in the baby’s room. Everything is just about the baby. His needs come before mine. As long as the baby is fed and taken care of, I can starve the whole day for all she cares. And at night, nothing! Absolutely nothing! I mean, I don’t get it!”
We had wiped the laughter out of our faces. We looked at one another wondering who would speak first. Richard was the eldest and officially the wise one among us. We waited for him to speak. But he only chuckled and finished what is left of his moinmoin.
“Guys, seriously, I’ve not had sex in five months!”
“You don’t say!” I sympathized.
“I feel I’m going to die if nothing happens. I’m not joking!”
“Relax! You won’t die. You won’t be the first.” Richard cleared his throat.
“I don’t understand. Is that what happens when a baby comes into a marriage? You guys are veterans in the business, it’s why I came to you in the first place. So tell me, is that what happens?”
Richard drank some water, coughed like Pete Edochie would do in one of his movies, when he was about to dish out a native proverb. He was really enjoying this role. “It depends. If the delivery was a C-section, and we know your baby’s wasn’t, then she would need time to heal, it may not be as long as five months though. But you know, she probably is just dealing with the changes in her body.”
“Again,” Victor didn’t want to feel left out, at least he could boast of two children, “you know our women, in the first place, CS or no CS they really aren’t generous in this department. Now that there is a cut or wound in their body, they could just exaggerate it and make a mountain out of it.”
“And I feel, that’s exactly what she is doing to me!”
‘But yours wasn’t a CS.” I reminded them. “What’s the problem then?”
“Search me! That is what I’m hoping you guys would be able to answer!”
“Was the delivery through an episiotomy?” Richard asked.
“And what’s that?” Clark was impatient.
“I mean, did they have to cut her to help the baby out?”
“I think so.”
“Bros, na wa for you o! What do you mean you think so? How will they cut your wife and you won’t know?! Where were you during delivery?” Victor reprimanded.
“In the hospital.”
“You no enter the theatre?”
“No o! Why? Is it compulsory?”
“You see yourself! If you had gone in and stayed with her through delivery, I’m sure you would not be talking like this.” Victor hissed.
“What difference does it make? Whatever it is, I’ve been waiting for five months now, shouldn’t that count for something?”
“I think it makes a lot of difference. The experience would change you and make you empathize. But did you notice if she is nursing a wound.” Richard said.
“Yes. She said they cut her.”
“That’s it then. She had episiotomy.”
“And what does that mean? I have to wait a year before I touch her?!”
“That’s not what I’m saying. The point I’m making is that you need to get involved. Help her heal.”
“Five months is a long time, Richard. Come on, episiotomy doesn’t take up to five months.” I queried.
“I know, but Clark was never involved and as you lay your bed, so you lie on it.”
“It’s also not right that his wife moved to the baby’s room.” My palm rested on his knee to give some comfort. “But, wait, your son was born in April, right?”
“That’s three months ago, not five.”
“Three months or five months, what’s the difference?!” he retorted.
“There’s a big difference, old man!” Victor was on him again.
“But seriously, I think if you get involved in the nursing of the baby, you won’t feel desolate.” The wise one interjected.
“I don’t understand. We have a maid, her mum is around, what help do they need from me? Again, I am not the custodian of the breast, see? I can actually be in that house for 24 hours and they wouldn’t know or notice.”
”Clark, relax. If you want us to help you, then you should listen. Get involved. When I say, get involved, I mean, show some support. Show some TLC. Ask her questions, ask her how she is doing. Hug her. Sit with her sometimes when she is nursing the baby. Play with your son. Make funny faces at him, bond with him. When your wife sees or notices the warmth, she will warm up to you. Even if her cut is not healed, which I doubt, it will hasten the healing.”
“What time do I have to do all these?”
“Do you want her to make love to you or not?”
He was quiet.
“Richard is right, you know.” Victor supported. “You know Richard is an authority on these matters – four grown up kids is not beans.”
“Some support and encouragement to let her know she isn’t alone, that the nursing of the baby is not entirely her responsibility.” Richard continued. “We know you cannot breastfeed him, but when your son wakes up in the middle of the night, get involved and rock him back to sleep. Some periodic words of affirmation will go a long way. You know, she has not been a mother before, it’s her first. So, she is just learning the ropes too, so commend her efforts and encourage her.”
“Is that what you did for your wife?’
“Hmmn…you’re lucky I’m telling you this, nobody advised me when we had our first baby. I learnt by experience. And when I tried it, it worked like magic. My wife was the one climbing all over me afterwards.”
“Sit down there!”
“Again, she could also be dealing with some insecurity.” I ventured.
“You know, the fact that her body isn’t the same anymore, the fact that her tummy isn’t flat anymore, her weight gain, and so on. She could feel she is no longer attractive to you. You might be thinking she is denying you whereas she is just avoiding you based on her own self-doubt”
“That’s ridiculous! She is my wife!”
“First time I sat with my wife while she nursed our baby and I watched the two of them, her face was radiant. It felt like her nuts loosened.” Victor cut in. “She started talking, telling me what the baby did at different times and how he bit her nipple once and she had sores all over. How long it took to heal and before it healed, how painful it was anytime she breastfed him. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t sit with her that evening. Then she finished and gave the boy to me. She instructed me on how to rub his back till he belched. I did and he belched. It was a special moment. That night, as in, that same night, she was the one that initiated sex. I couldn’t believe it, honestly. Before then, we had gone two and a half months.”
“So believe me when I tell you Richard is right.”
“Get involved and give her support, you will come back with testimonies. And when you do, make sure you bring an offering.”
We all laughed again.
“Give it a try and if it doesn’t work, we’ll see what else you can do.”
“Thanks guys.” He got up to leave.
“Are you leaving already? What about the land issue we wanted to discuss?” Victor asked.
“Guys, I won’t be able to stay, please. Whatever conclusions you make is fine by me.”
“Na the thing dey do you like this?”
“Victor, free him, abeg.” I countered.
We shook hands and he picked up his phones and left.
“Clark,” Richard called, “if it’s just a cuddle she wants tonight or whenever you try, don’t rush her, be patient, she’ll come around.”
Photo credit: Google images