#ThursdayTales: The games we played

Sheila left me when our baby was just 3 months old; she never gave any reasons for walking out of our marriage. For crying out loud, which woman would abandon a 3-month-old baby and walk away without looking back? Eve was everything I had. I am Benjamin Majek; a Creative Executive, an introvert, and a killer.

It took me months to pull myself together and write this story. As I sit with my laptop peeking at the keyboards, hot streak of tears kept making its way slowly down my cheeks. It has been 2 years of tears for me. I cried almost every day at every opportunity I find myself alone. I cried when I see other children playing. I cried in the toilet. I cried in my car when I am alone. Sometimes I even cried in my sleep. Nothing has been able to wipe away the sadness in me.

When I finally finished writing this story, it took me another 3 days to click on the send button. I kept reading it all over again. The more I read it, the more I thought whether I am doing the right thing or not. Telling the whole world about my daughter is one thing but telling the world that I killed her was another. After a series of a bout with doubt and guilt, I finally clicked on the send button and wait for the reaction of the readers. Who knows maybe somebody out there might be able to help me.

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I had thought Sheila and I would grow old together but I was very wrong. We had been lovers right from the first day we saw each other. Though our individual differences were quite obvious we were able to live with it. I am an introvert while she was an extrovert. She was a party lover, always the life of every party. She was loud and outspoken whilst I was the quiet and shy guy but we seem to manage our differences and complement each other. We got married and started the journey of marriage on a high and hopeful note. Problems started when she became pregnant. She wanted to continue her party and club going life but I tried to convince her to slow down for the sake of our baby.

My suggestion was actually based on the doctor’s order because the first trimester of her pregnancy was very difficult. She was asthmatic, always falling sick and very weak. The doctor suggested that she take a lot of rest and reduce all strenuous activities for the sake of the baby. She initially followed the doctor’s order but the moment she became a little bit better she resumed her party going. She always had a party to attend every weekend. When it was getting out of hand I had to stand up to her and prevent her from going to any party again. It was a big fight but in the end, she had no choice but to follow my instructions.

The second problem came up when Sheila was 5 months pregnant; I lost my job. It was devastating losing a job whilst expecting a baby. I went job hunting but it was a difficult task getting any job. The savings I had was only able to last just a few months. I had to rely on Sheila for everything and it was so frustrating.

Eve was born asthmatic just like her mother. She was born to be loved. She was a perfect angel, a blessing straight from heaven. I fell in love with her the moment I set my eyes on her. She became a part of me that finally completed me. We bonded straight away. She overwhelmed me with joy. How wonderful it was holding her in my arms dancing to imagined music and rocking her to sleep. The frustration of my joblessness was erased with the joy she brought into my life.

Few weeks after Eve was born Sheila went back to her party life. She hardly cared about our little baby; all she would do was just to bottle her milk and go out all night. I tried to beg her to stop but she would turn it into a big argument which might escalate into a fight if care was not taken. In order to avoid a fight, I kept quiet and put all my energy into taking care of our baby. In less than a month after Eve was born, Sheila had turned into something else. On one occasion she came home drunk. How can a nursing mother suddenly become this bad?

I reported her to her uncle who happened to be the only relative she had. The uncle called her but my wife insulted her uncle and cut off the phone. It was clear that Sheila was not ready to listen to anyone. Then I started suspecting that she was having an affair, she was always receiving strange phone calls and she would walk out of the room to talk to the caller. It was unthinkable to imagine a woman who had just given birth to a baby behaving this bad.

The day she walked out of our lives started as a normal day. It was a Saturday morning, Eve was still sleeping in her little bed in the room. Sheila walked to me while I was watching the television in the sitting room and told me to help her get some diapers for Eve in the supermarket close to the house. I obliged and quickly stood up and left the house. I remembered that we had run out of diapers the previous night. The trip to the supermarket took about 15 minutes.

I came back to the house and went straight to the room hoping to see my wife in the room. Eve was still sleeping peacefully in her bed but my wife was not in the room. I went back to the lounge and called out for her but there was no response. I looked all over the house but Sheila was not in the house, I went back to the room then I notice an envelope right on the pillow. I picked up the envelope and read the letter inside. Sheila had decided that she was no longer interested in the marriage and she had decided to leave. No reasons, no explanations. I later discovered that it was a carefully laid out plan, she had been moving her things bits by bits and she just wanted me out of the house so she could complete her mission. The good thing was that she left my daughter.

In a nutshell that was how I ended up as a jobless single father of a 3 months old asthmatic baby. Job hunting and babysitting wasn’t an easy task. Eve was the most understanding baby in the world, she hardly cried except when she was hungry, uncomfortable or needed to be changed. Though I was heartbroken for Sheila whenever I looked at my daughter I felt relieved.

Getting a job proved more difficult now more than when Sheila was around. There was nobody to help babysit even when I decide to go job hunting. I had exhausted all my savings long before my daughter was born, I had sold my car to offset the hospital bill and the necessary preparations for our baby; I was only surviving on Sheila. Now that she had gone life became harder, the house rent had been due for over a month and the landlord was becoming a problem, there was nothing I could do but look for a cheaper and smaller apartment before we would be embarrassed out of the apartment.

Kola was a friend and a colleague in my former place of work; he had remained a friend and close confidant. He offered to accommodate us until I could get back on my feet. He was still single and he had a spare room in his apartment. We moved in with him and he assisted me so much. I still found it difficult getting a job because of Eve; she needed my full attention because of her health, nobody to help babysit her. Kola leaves home in the morning as early as 6 am and comes back home around 8 pm, he was only available on weekends and there was absolutely nothing I could do by then.

By the time Eve was 6 months, I was able to take her to a nanny service which Kola gladly paid for, this afforded me the opportunity to go job hunting. With the help of Kola, I got a job as a copywriter in an advertising agency and slowly I started getting back on my feet. I started looking for an apartment because Kola will be getting married soon, it would be better to leave before we were asked to.

I was able to get a 2 bedroom apartment in the neighbourhood which I paid for through a loan at work. We moved to our own apartment and started a new life. God was on my side, I began a gradual move up the ladder at work and my life started taking shape again. Eve also started growing up stronger and healthier. She was the most important part of my life. My whole life revolved around her. I found a nanny service that was close to my office. Every day of my life had a routine; Monday to Friday I dropped her at the nanny at 8.30 am, I would be at my desk by 9 am. I would dash in to check on her at the nanny during my lunch break at 1 pm. I picked her up by 5 pm in the evening and went home. My weekends are always with her at home. We shared our happy moments and our not-so-happy moments together. Her crawling, her teething, her first steps, her first word and many more were well documented. I had no time and room for anybody else in my life. It was me and my daughter only.

Eve grew into a beautiful and smart girl. By the time she was 3 years old, I was able to put her in a crèche close to my office. My routine was still the same but the stress had reduced a lot. I had a car and I was able to get a bigger and better apartment closer to my office. Our weekends were fun filed. We played a lot of games together but her favourite game was the ‘Hide and Seek’ game. Eve will tell me to close my eyes then count from 1 to 10 whilst she hid somewhere in the house. At the count of 10, I will have to find her hiding place. After discovering her hiding place then it will be my turn to hide and her turn to find me. To make it more fun I would pretend not to know where she was hiding and called out for her and surrendered, she found this very funny and she will laugh at my inability to discover her.

On this fateful Saturday, I wasn’t feeling well, I had been struggling with flu throughout the week but I couldn’t find time to visit the doctor until that Saturday morning. I went to the doctor with Eve and I was given some medications. When we got back home, we had lunch and I took my medications. A few minutes later I was feeling drowsy. I left her watching the television and went to my room to take a nap. A few minutes later she came to my room jumping on the bed asking us to play hide and seek, I told her I was tired but she wouldn’t listen. Then I told her to go and hide I would come and find her.

When I started counting she ran out of the room then I dozed off. I woke up about an hour later to discover that the house was unusually quiet. I called on Eve but no response. I reluctantly dragged myself out of the bed and went to the sitting room. The television was on but she wasn’t there, I assumed that she was sleeping in her room. I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and then I went to check her in her room.

I opened the door but to my surprise, she wasn’t in her room either then I became alarmed. I called on her several times but no response. I thought she went out, but when I got to the door I saw that the door was locked from inside then I started to panic. I checked the spare bedroom she wasn’t there; I checked the bathroom and toilet she wasn’t there. I was sweating now. Where could she be in the house? Then it dawned on me that she was playing hide and seek with me before I dozed off. I started searching in all her favourite hiding places I knew of, she was nowhere to be found. I became confused. How is it possible to disappear just like that without any trace?

I opened the door and went to the neighbour and asked of her but nobody had seen her. That was when I decided to go to the police. I ran to the police station and made a report. Two police officers followed me home to search the apartment again. Then the unthinkable happened whilst we were searching, one of the officers opened the unused deep freezer that we had abandoned in the kitchen and discovered that Eve had suffocated inside the freezer. The freezer had snapped itself locked from outside when she closed herself in it and she couldn’t push it open from inside. I lost consciousness the moment I saw my dead daughter. I only regained my consciousness at the hospital a few hours later.

It’s been 2 years since the death of Eve and I am still finding it difficult to accept and come to terms that I had lost the most valuable gift God gave me. I am finding it difficult to erase the guilt of being negligent. I am finding it difficult to start a new relationship. I need help. Someone somewhere out there should be able to help me. If only I didn’t have flu. If only I had not taken my medications. If only I had waited until dinner before taking those medications. If only I had not slept off, Eve would still be with me.

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