by Chantelle Chiwetalu

They both watch the bead of blood crawl down her left leg.

This is the fourth month, the wife says.

This is the fourth month, the husband says.

If I don’t find the solution to our problems, call me bastard, the wife says.

I will never call you bastard, the husband says and leaves the bathroom.

The wife takes a shower and goes to work. At midday, her coworker corners her in the printing room and bites her shoulder. The store, only five minutes, he offers. It will be good for both of us.

It takes two minutes, and it is good for only him.

The husband is having dinner when the wife returns. He pulls out a chair and serves her eba and stew. They eat silently. The wife washes her hands and burps.

My mum is asking questions, she says.

Mine is asking questions, too, he says.

Four months after marriage and no pregnancy, no promotion, no car. What kind of luck is that? And I don’t feel guilty about sleeping with Bode.

I don’t feel guilty about sleeping with Tayo, either.

I thought it was Shade.

Shade and Tayo, he says. Sometimes, together.

The wife sighs. But we did everything right.

Everything, he says. I did not see you before we got to the altar. And they did not spray money on us.

And you dobaled for my family the right way. Totally flat. Auntie Kemi says you must’ve eaten dirt.

I might have.

And the bride-price was agreed on by everybody, she says. This leaves only one possibility. And it is bad. It is really bad.



He thinks for a moment. His eyes widen. The cake?

She nods. The cake.


The couple sits across from the cake maker at a cafeteria. 

Baking your wedding cake was an honor, the cake maker says, his eyes darting between them. And you paid well, too.

No, we did not, the wife says.

We definitely did not, the husband says.

Why have you asked to see me? the cake maker asks. 

What was the significance of the colors of our cake? the wife asks.

Were you not paying attention?

Answer the question, the husband says.

It was a long time ago. I have baked many cakes since then.

The wife glares at the cake maker.

The cake maker shrinks in his chair. White, green and gold. And one layer was red velvet, he says. 

What was the significance of the colors of our cake? the wife asks again.

The cake maker swallows. White is for purity and faithfulness. Green is for fertility, good luck, and growth. Red is for love and passion. And gold is for wealth. I said it all at the wedding. 

But I’m not pregnant, the wife says. We’re still living in our one-bedroom apartment, and we’re sleeping with other people.

Well, I don’t know.

Don’t lie to me.

I said I don’t know. You’re sleeping with other people, am I the other people? Did I drop you on the beds of the other people and lock the door?

The wife shakes her head. Look to your right.

He does. Two policemen. Scowling. That’s my brother and his colleague, the husband says.

Okay! the cake maker exclaims. The other diners stare. I am not a cake maker. I did not get certified. My sister was not around to take your order and so I did. I needed the money.

The wife stares at the husband and the husband stares at the wife. 

Please. Please, I’m sorry. The cake maker’s eyes dart at them, then at the policemen, then at the door. He makes a run for it, but the husband’s brother’s nickname is Spirit. 


We have come to marry your daughter, the husband’s father tells his in-laws the second time.

We agree, the wife’s uncle says unceremoniously. You remember what we agreed on the first time?

The husband’s father nods and presents a slim brown envelope.

The wife’s uncle shakes his head. That was the price four months ago.  A liter of fuel is now N800, and a tin of sardines is N850.

What a bastard, the wife says when she hears.

Only twenty-three people are invited to the second wedding. They each get two buns and one bottle of Coke. The cake stands five tiers tall. The MC calls for the cake maker and everyone falls silent.

The wife bites her lip.

The cake maker walks in slowly, her cake-making certification pressed against her middle for everyone to see. My name is Salome Bakassi, CEO of Salome Sweet Works. Certified since 1999. She waves the certificate. So, what are the colors of this cake? Purple, for wealth like royalty.

Wealth like royalty, the wife repeats in satisfaction.

Green, for fertility. Deep fertility. Serious fertility. For twins and triplets.

Twins and triplets, the wife echoes.

The cake maker lists the significance of the seven other colors. This couple will have a blissful marriage! she concludes. The guests cheer. The wife lets out a breath of relief.


A year later, three babies sleep in the regal cots that occupy the lavish room.

The husband strides in in a weighty agbada and descends to the bed. They released that bloody impostor today, he informs the wife.

Oh, the wife says absently as she studies the nudes her new secretary just sent her. I couldn’t care less. Look at us now. Shame to bad people. 

I saw Tayo the other day and she repulsed me. It was like I was looking at an old person’s shit.  Any time I see another woman, I just want to vomit.

But there was no white on the cake, the wife tears her eyes off her screen to say. 

There was no white on the cake?

There was no white on the cake.

Of course not, I was just joking with you.

Well, I don’t like that joke.

I’ll try not to tell it again.