By: LIZ LUNDI
“I have something to tell you all – about me and Johann,” Jo says. We all keep silent, patiently waiting for her Jo’s revelation. On some level, I think we all assume that it is going to be happy news – Jo and Johann have been the happiest couple we all know, nary a fight between them over the years. But today as I scan her face looking for clues, I see nothing but distress and unhappiness.
“Jo, is everything ok?” Mariam asks as Jo chews her lip pensively. Finally, Jo sighs loudly and looks down into her lap. She starts to shake her head, but it is only when we see her body racking like she is crying – except that there is no sound coming from her lips – that we know that Jo is in some deep, deep, trouble.
Instinctively, Mariam, Fatma and I rush to surround her and put our arms around in comfort. “What’s going on?” Fatma asks, the shock I am feeling echoed in her voice. “Aw, poor baby,” Mariam coos, rubbing Jo’s back. I say nothing. All I can do is fetch a tissue from the box on the table and hand it to Jo to wipe her nose.
“I just don’t understand him these days,” Jo finally says when her soundless sobs subside. “He used to be so loving and all that, but when the baby came he changed”
“Oh no,” Fatma interjects. “How has he changed?”
“He’s become so hostile towards me. He keeps saying that the baby has changed me, that I only have time and attention for her”
“Oh, this all sounds so familiar,” Fatma mumbles.
“and he doesn’t understand that the baby needs me!” Jo continues. She’s looking more morose than I have ever seen her in her entire life – and I have seen her through some really difficult times. “I keep trying to tell him that I am still breastfeeding, and she is only a few months old, so I can’t go out like we used to or drink like we used to I can’t leave her, she needs me to wake her up and put her to sleep and change her diaper What does he expect me to do?” her face folds and the tears start falling again.
“What does he want you to do?” Mariam asks, gently.
“He says he wants us to spend more time together by ourselves but I can’t leave my baby alone!”
“I know what you mean,” I say. “If I had a baby I wouldn’t want her to be alone either.”
“Do you have a nanny?” Mariam asks.
“Yea, so?” Jo says.
“Why don’t you let her help you one of these evenings so you can go out with Johann?”
“Because I think he’s being selfish!” Jo finally erupts. It seems like we’ve finally hit on the real reason why she is so upset.
“Does he help you with the baby?” Fatma asks. Jo nods. “So he’s not showing any hostility towards her?”
“Oh God no, he loves her with all his heart,” she says. “He’s just upset with me.”
“Hmm Maybe he has a point,” Mariam says.
“Mariam, what point could he possibly have!? Little Fatma needs Jo, this is not the time to be taking couple holidays. This is the time to focus on the baby!” I say.
“Why don’t you wait until you have one of your own to contribute to this discussion – if, that is, you can find a man in the first place?” she retorts.
I recoil. Ouch. That comment has stung me. Really stung. I don’t even know what to say. I look to Fatma and Jo to see if they will come to my defense but they are obviously preoccupied with matters at hand.
“Look, if you don’t trust the nanny just have one of us come over to help take care of Little Fatma, if that will ease your mind,” Fatma offers.
“What?” Jo looks up at her, her eyes red and swollen. “You mean you’re saying I should go out on a date with him?”
“Yes,” Fatma nods. “Look, just because you’re new parents doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have time for each other. And it’s not like you’re going away for good – it’s just an hour or two.”
“Yea, let him pamper you a bit, I’m sure that’s what he actually wants to do,” Mariam says.
I open my mouth to offer my perspective, then I remember what Mariam just told me and decide that perhaps I should keep quiet. In fact, perhaps I should just leave them all to their business and make my exit.
“I have another meeting I need to get to, so I hope you don’t mind if I leave,” I lie. I give Fatma and Jo a quick hug, ignore Mariam completely and then stand up to take my wounded self home.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION