Mrs Clara could not just imagine what attracted her husband to the poor house help. But the more she thought about it, the more she got confused. And the fact that her husband would not say anything beyond his apology troubled her the more.

The fact, however, was that her husband was more worried and scandalised by Nana Aba’s four-month old pregnancy than she was. He, however, had nothing to say except his continual prayer for the forgiveness of sins, his remorseful apologies to his wife and his determination to soak in all the insults and abuse she subjected him to without any reply.

Her Husband was the general manager of one of the country’s leading banks, and his wife was the human resource manager of the nation’s topmost insurance company. They had been married for 15 years. He was a respected elder of their church, and the youth looked up to him as a role model. His humility and modest disposition, despite his position, were simply matchless. And his moral uprightness was unquestionable.

In a world where all men are often tarred with the same brush with regard to fidelity, Clara often boasted about her husband’s commitment: “Even if I catch him naked in the same room with another woman, I will still doubt if anything really happened between them.”

So she could not just understand what came over him to have stooped so low to have an affair with this stark illiterate who possessed nothing to attract even the wildest and indiscriminate womaniser. It was the fear of hiring a house help could entice her husband that she decided against engaging Audrey, the senior high school dropout who looked a bit more presentable than Nana Aba. her husband could also not understand why he could not tame himself against his own house help after he had endured some of the most tempting women of his life.

He had caused the transfers of two of his personal secretaries and requested that he would no longer work with any female secretary because of their seductive tendencies. The most tempting of all was his nightly encounter with, Mavis, the sexy national service lady from the communications unit of his bank, who once travelled with him  for a business meetings.

Despite his ability to ward of these kinds of mounting pressures from women, He fell for Aba, his house help, when there was practically no temptation. It was a Saturday afternoon and his wife was attending the speech and prize-giving day of her alma mater. Aba had just prepared an early lunch of plantain and stew and he really relished it so much. After the meal, he called her to pour him a glass of fruit drink from the refrigerator, after which he complimented her cooking.

It was when she turned to go that he could not hold back what he had developed for her of late. He asked her where she was going and she said she was going to take her bath. He then instructed her to hurry up and see him for a discussion, to which she respectfully obliged and took her bath in a matter of five minutes. When she finished he was in his bedroom and invited her in. It was too unusual of him but she could not object to it. “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked Aba, after asking her to sit on the bed. She shook her head shyly and he went ahead to ask whether she sometimes felt like having a man.

She was too confused to answer. He asked again and she nodded. “I like you,” he  said and held her close to himself. She was too frightened to protest until he began to undress her. “There’s nothing to fear. It will be over soon,” he assured her and went ahead to peel off her clothes.

“Are you in your dangerous days,” he asked.

“No, Sir,” Aba said without taking time to understand what it meant. She lay like a piece of log and endured it, for she was too frightened to enjoy anything. It happened once and he could not bring himself to continue, for guilt had already dispossessed him of his manly prowess. He ordered her to get up and dress.

He then handed her 6000 Naira notes, which shocked her even more than the affair. She was reluctant to take it until he said, “Take it. Buy yourself a new pant.” He had seen that not only had her otherwise white pant become brown, but it had also been overused and he nearly tore it into pieces in his hurry. Mr Appau became traumatised and fasted for the forgiveness of his sins and was almost recovering when the seed he had sown two months earlier began to manifest.

His insistence that the pregnancy should not be aborted infuriated his wife, and was the cause of her never-ending abuse for days. To his dismay, however, she woke him up in the middle of one night to apologise to him. “Darling, I’m sorry for the abuse. I have been praying over this for some time now and the Spirit tells me you were bewitched,” she said. “I should have known better that nothing about that girl could ever attract you when you have a wife like me.”

“I don’t think it has anything to do with witchcraft,” He spoke for the first time. “That girl has something that you don’t have.”

“What does this dirty thing have that I don’t have?” she screamed. “She has respect. I cannot justify what has happened, but if Aba has any witchcraft that drew me close to her, then it is her respect. She makes me feel welcome in my home. In this house she makes me feel important. It is something you have starved me for the fifteen years we’ve been married. It is a luxury and I easily get swayed by it.”

She could not utter any word but she replied him with tears. They were tears of grief. Tears of guilt. And of regret. Mrs Clara was a kind of woman every man would dream of having but she lacked respect for her husband and she did not argue when her husband told her what made him fall. She knew it was true.

Readers, you may be wondering why I have decided to bore you with yet another tale. I’m not in any way laying the foundation for infidelity. I just want to illustrate the value we men place on respect. We have an big ego and so feel deflated when we are treated with contempt, especially from our women.

I’m not calling for worship. I’ve realised that respect is the missing element in many womens character.

If our relationship, and for that matter our marriage, will succeed, then it will depend on respect. We have to respect each other in order to live together. Make me feel appreciated. Let me know you value me. And treat me the way I treat you.
On mutual respect shall we build our marriage and the gates of divorce shall not prevail against it.

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