I rubbed the slumber out of my eyes: that I was able to do that alone came as a bit of a shock. The last thing I could remember was being put to bed with a chloroform pacifier. I expected to wake up in handcuffs, maybe even staring at a TV showing a man with red and white paint on his face. At the very least, I thought I would be in a dungeon or a holding cell.
All those were terribly wrong guesses.
When I woke up, I was in my bed, and my wife Tamara was lying next to me.
“Morning, sleepy head, I woke up a little earlier just to prepare for the day, and I decided to do a little reading too. Want me to get you anything to eat?” Ummm, how about a hot plate of answers? But then, where does one even start from? I rubbed my eyes again, trying to piece together the events of the previous day, separating facts from the fiction my mind could have conjured in my sleep.
“Just a cup of coffee will do,” I said. She put down the book she was reading on the nightstand and left the room as I sat up, looking around at the space which was well lit by the light beaming in through the French windows on my left. She’s the one who picked the design. The deep scarlet comforter? The black Turkish rug? The matching drapes? She picked those too. Even the choice of color of the white walls, and the similar theme in the rest of our Roma house. She picked everything.
“Are you still meeting with the managing director today?” She asked as she walked back into the room. I headed the IT department at one of the banks at the Addis Ababa Road roundabout so I met with met with the managing director frequently, but I couldn’t remember telling Tamara about this meeting in particular. Hmmmmm.
“Pardon?” I asked, just to be sure.
“Your calendar; it says something about a meeting.” I turned my attention to the dresser where my work bag was already packed, undergarments were laid out, and then the rest of the suit she picked out for me, hanging from the wardrobe handle. That was something she had done consistently for past three years, and it only hit me then – Tamara ran my life. And it’s something that really shouldn’t have been bothering me, but after I found out that she had been lying to me about work for nearly a month, it was a thorn in my side.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be a pretty busy day,” I said, my eyes now glancing over the pieces of toast, the two eggs and the rasher of bacon on the plate set before me. I said I just wanted coffee; is she trying to fatten me? I realized that I was turning into a paranoid green monster, and I was even hesitant to put the food in my mouth. I took a bite of toast, with as much caution as someone on a twig bridge, and after I swallowed, I didn’t drop dead instantly.
“Oh that’s a shame, I saw the supper you prepared when I came in late last night and since I found you asleep, I thought we could make plans today,” she said, looking a bit nervy as if she knew that wasn’t true. Was it? I wanted to read her expressions to see if I could pick anything else up, but she wasn’t giving anything away. She was now seated in front of the dresser, doing her eyelashes. I looked at her reflection; her clear dark chocolate skin was perfect whether she wore makeup or not. After she hair sprayed her short curls, she put a thin layer of gloss on her naturally deep claret lips. I had almost forgotten how striking she was. But whereas before I only saw beauty, I saw the same now covered with a layer of mystery and intrigue.
Who is this woman who had been subtly controlling everything in my life? Playing it so well that I didn’t even realize what she was doing? Take our house, for example; I wanted an apartment near the bustle and life of the downtown area but she pointed out how Roma was closer to both our workplaces and mentioned something else about our church and friends, and I agreed without a second thought. The restaurants we went to, the clothes I bought, even my hairstyle; she had this way of planting an idea in my mind and making me think I’m the one who thought of it. Without me knowing, she had been playing the chords in me no one knew how to play, but she probably knew me better than I knew myself. And I didn’t know why just yet, but she had been taking advantage of that knowledge. One thing I was sure of, though, was that I was going to get answers, one way or another.
If she’s not going to tell me, I thought, I’m going to find out by myself.
I’m going to stalk my own wife.