Her husband caught her in broad daylight making love to the meter reader man from Power Utilities. Before dusk, news had spread that he was filing for divorce. Those that had encouraged the infidelity had cackled under their blunt razor shaved armpits. She had known the consequences of her actions would be dire. But she had been certain she would never be caught.

***

Someone was knocking on the door, knocking so hard as if to knock it off its hinges. Eva quickly opened. Google entered. “Eva don’t cry like the world has come to an end. You are lucky Maseru did not beat you for cheating on him,” Google said, ushering her weight into the sitting room, uninvited. “I warned you not to befriend Nkem. She is a snake. She is out there celebrating your fall after setting you up…”

“Setting me up how?” Eva interrupted. The woman had called Google behind her back because she knew everything there was to know about everyone. “Ufu!” Google eyed her the way you would someone who can’t help being stupid. “Mma, Nkem lusted after your man.” Eva remembered Google cautioning her once, but who took anything that came out of Google’s mouth seriously anyway? “I don’t see how my sleeping with another man is Nkem’s fault,” Eva said.

“She did not encourage you to sleep with him behind your husband’s back for nothing, neither did she send your husband a text message regaling him with details of your infidelity for nothing. She told him he would catch you, petticoat down, if he came home unannounced on Fridays around ten in the morning,” Google said. The words coming out of Google’s mouth made Eva feel as if her gallbladder had exploded, fuelling her blood stream with bitter juices.

“I have to go,” Google said. “You need to shower and I assume you have packed.” She rose, looking about ready to trot out. How she knew Maseru was driving Eva back to her home village. Eva could only wonder, as she thought of her misfortune. She sighed as she sank to the cool cement floor. “Nkem is the least of my problems right now,” she said in a mere whisper, but Google had sharp ears.

“Oh dear, don’t tell me you are pregnant. I can’t think of anything worse than you carrying another man’s…”

“No I am not pregnant. I used protection, I am not that dense,” Eva replied, stopping Google before she got too excited.

“Good. Then you should be out there ripping those blond braids off Nkem’s black head!” Google exclaimed. Her words diced Eva’s heart. Eva saw Google’s eyes glint with anticipation of further drama. Why she tolerated Google, Eva did not know. It was just difficult to dislike the woman. “Are you crying?” Google asked when she heard Eva sniffing. She stooped down to Eva’s level. She continued: “You know, earlier when I had heard you crying, all the way from my kitchen, I thought it was because Maseru was escorting you back to your parent’s. But now I don’t know. It seems there’s something more.” She sat down next to Eva. “You are scaring me Eva, what is it?”

Eva pulled off her black pantihose from her scalp. She occasionally wore it on her head to keep her hair from attracting lint and tangling. “Whoa!” Google screeched with shock.

“Jaw dropping isn’t it?” Eva joked sullenly.

“I know people cut their hair off when they are stressed, but this?!” Google pulled at the few strands of hair that were left on Eva’s head. The strands fell dejectedly on Eva’s shoulders.

“This is crazy. What were you thinking?” Google gasped.

“I didn’t do it,” Eva replied. “I just went to bed and woke up like this.” She ran her slender, French manicured fingers through the meagre remnants of her hair, then broke into tears. Google pulled her to her chest. “Tell me exactly what happened. Let’s try and figure this out. Your going to bed and waking up like this does not make sense,” she said rocking Eva back and forth in her tight grip.

Beeep, beeeep! Maseru’s impatient honk pierced the air. Google stood up and ran out – to go and hide behind a wall, to quietly watch the drama that she thought might unfold. Eva sighed. Almost all of her precious hair strands had gone down the drain. She pulled the pantyhose back over her head and wrapped the bandana that she had also been holding in her hand around her head.

When she dragged her two bulky suitcases from inside the house to the Chevrolet Caprice, she could feel that her husband’s eyes were not the only ones on her. Google’s eyes, from wherever it was that she was hiding, were also on her. And, likewise, the eyes of many others. She quickly headed for the car, opened the boot and heaved her bags. Obviously Maseru did not intend to help her. She could not bring herself to sit on the front seat beside him, so she sat at the back. He did not protest like he did when they got married a year ago. “We are equals,” he had said. “Partners. You will only sit at the back when we have an infant, which you’ll have to take care of.”

Pity they had no child yet – maybe that would have kept her from mischief, she thought. Maseru was a loving and overworked man. His role as a loving husband had been unquestionable except that he travelled a lot. Eva had not been aware of her loneliness until Nkem pointed it out to her and encouraged her to have a service-boy.

“When we get to the village, I will only stop at the gate. You will carry your bags into your parents’ compound yourself. I will turn back at the gate. Feel free to explain my behaviour to them. You will not hear from me until the divorce papers are ready,” Maseru said, without a hint of emotion. Eva wanted to hug her legs and tear at her clothes, but she didn’t.

And now came the words that astonished her more than anything else he had said. “If I were you I wouldn’t use the hair repair treatments that you have packed. I was so angry yesterday that I mixed it with harsh hair removal chemicals. You have beautiful, natural hair Eva. I always teased other men about their women’s bumpy weaves and unfitting wigs,” Maseru said. “It was the only thing I could think of to get back at you.” As he started the engine, Eva sighed and then smiled for the first time in the forty-eight hours since she had been caught in the act of infidelity. If this was the only way he had thought of to get back at her, then, surely, he still loved her. It certainly could be worse. She tugged at her bandana and started strategizing on how to get her former life back.