Your mother was having an affair with a man in his late sixties who had just returned from Equatorial Guinea and never stopped talking endlessly about life over there. He would arrive at your father’s house in the evening, just before dinner was ready. He would remove his shoes inside the house and place them by the door; never outside the house, for fear of street folks noticing that a man was visiting a woman whose husband was a volunteer doctor in Tanzania.

Each time he arrived, your mother would hurriedly serve dinner. She would eat from the same plate with the man while you took yours to your room and locked your door. You would remain indoors till the next morning. The man, your mother’s friend, always left the house around 11pm or thereabout. He had this new Mercedes E-class that he drove and was very proud of.

He would say to your mother, “Agnes, there is a lot of money in Nigeria. Do you know how much I bought this car? Oh, you can’t begin to imagine how much. And come to think of it, I bought this car just barely eight months after I got back to the country. People in Equatorial Guinea don’t know anything about good, fast cars….”

He would talk endlessly. “Let me tell you, the only thing they do over there is drink and party. Nothing more… and they don’t care if their government is accountable or not. They live bakwomi life. That is all.”

You would hear the pop of a bottle of wine. He loved to drink Andre. He always came with a bottle. Your mother would clap each time the wine popped. “I wonder if your husband is even feeding well in Tanzania. Over there, I heard they don’t even have food. That the only thing they eat is maize. Maize this, maize that. They use corn to prepare soup, eba, fufu, porridge, name them. I pity your husband. Chai!”

Then your mother would say, “Abeg, stop talking about my husband like that,” and quickly manoeuvre the discussion to something else, something that would elicit a lot of laughter from him, like, “You eh, you drink too much.” To which he would reply, “I don’t drink beer. It gives potbelly. That is why I am able to give it to you hot….” She would laugh along with him.

When he began to visit newly, you used to stay awake and fume, especially when it got to the point when your mother would begin to say, “We should get into the room so that you will leave on time. I don’t want anything to happen to you. This is not Equatorial Guinea, eh.”

When your father was in Nigeria, you’d never heard your mother talk to him with so much love the way she did her man-friend. She never bothered if your father returned from work early or not, if he was on call or had just been called in for emergency. You used to think it was normal, but having witnessed the way she was treating this man, you wondered if she loved your father at all, or if she had been pretending all along.

Your father had just been away for four months when suddenly, one day, the man appeared. He came in the evening, with your mother. They had just shopped, and he helped her bring the bags inside. You were outside playing Ludo with your friends when they came and you had to hurry inside, thinking he was a relative you hadn’t met before.

When you greeted him, your mother had said, “Meet Dr. Adams. He has just returned from Equatorial Guinea.”

She didn’t mention that Dr. Adams was her lover, and she didn’t mention that he had been in the country for months.

The way she’d said, “he has just returned….” made it seem as if he’d returned just the day before.

Then Dr. Adams had said to you, “You look sharp.” Then he gave you a high five, and you remembered thinking how inappropriate, and wondered why he would be giving you a high five when you were not a child.

Three days later, he had come before dinner and after eating the special ewedu soup your mother prepared, had retired to her room with her, and your head couldn’t stop aching. You had wondered what would make your mother do that. You had thought about a lot of things— was he a medical doctor? And if so, was he examining your mother? But what sort of examination lasted that long, and in the night and in your mother’s room?  You’d also wondered if he was her pastor and was praying for her. You had thought about a lot of things, you knew none of them were true but you were looking for any reason tangible and realistic enough to rationalize what was happening.

When you couldn’t fathom why your mother was bringing a man inside the house and why she was bringing a man that old, you were puzzled with why she would pretend nothing was wrong each time your father called—she would speak with him endlessly on the phone and coo and aaahh and mmehw mmehw for your father, then hand the phone to you and stare while you talked with him, wanting, perhaps to know if you would reveal anything. You also had to deal with the dilemma of confronting her and that of telling your father about what was happening. Then you’d decided that every person alive had freewill and were ruled by their personal gods. And was it not said that if the gods wanted to kill someone they would heap mud in their minds, forcing them to behave like your mother? So you kept mute and left them to their affair.

After a while, the other women in the building began to gossip and whisper each time you passed, then the street women too. Each time you washed your car in the morning, the men who washed theirs or who hurried to drive their kids to school would look at you and look away.

Suddenly your mother started vomiting in the mornings and having helped your girlfriend, Miriam abort her baby once, after she complained of vomiting in the mornings, you knew that your mother was pregnant. Then you’d asked her, in front of her man-friend, “Are you pregnant, mama?” You were carrying your plate of beans and yam porridge to your room, and Dr. Adams had almost choked. He was sipping from a glass of wine. He eyed you; then smiled. You stared him down, and the smile on his face vanished. You went to your room and locked the door and wondered if you were a coward. Then you threw the food into the bin and got mad with yourself, and had to sleep on the floor till three AM. That day Dr. Adams slept in the house and in the morning, you saw empty bottles of beer he had consumed with your mother—you’d wondered if he no longer cared about potbellies.

The pregnancy began to show. Your father’s sister came to the house and cried so much, after calling your mother a prostitute and all sort of names. Then your father came back two days after that. He was slim and taller, and looked strong. He was carrying his bags in two hands and when he entered the apartment you were watching Aljazeera reports on the earthquake in Nepal. You stood and both of you shook hands.

“Welcome, Sir.”

He laughed and said, “You are looking old, my friend. What has your mother been feeding you?”

“Of course I am an old man,” you joked. You took the bags to his room and got him water to drink.

Then he stretched out on the sofa and said, “It is good to be home.”

He laughed awkwardly, and you were startled. “It was hectic out there,” he said, “I missed Nigeria. I missed the food. If I had a wife I would have asked her to prepare ewedu soup or egusi with pounded yam.”

You stammered, “Do you need anything else, Sir?” He shook his head. “Should I refrigerate some beer?”

“Oh yes. Please do.” Some minutes later, he had removed only his shoes. Both of you drank bottles and bottles of Hero beer and when it was exhausted you told him that there was a new beer called Life.

“Of course I know Life. It was out before I left. I’ve just been away for a year and one month… thirteen months and things are already scattered in my home. It goes a long way to show that I have no family. No wife. No son. Now I know what would have become of my name if I were dead.”

You said nothing. The beer in your mouth tasted bitter. You swallowed quickly and sat up.

Your father sat up too. “I hear that your mother is pregnant for one miscreant.” It wasn’t a question. You nodded. He smiled. “Where is she now?”

“She left the house this morning. With her bags.”

“Oh. Good riddance,” he said. “And, please tell me, what are you doing here?”


“What are you doing in my house?”

You kept silent and moped.

He stood. “You are a man now. I don’t want to see you in my house anymore, until the day I cease to breath. If I see you in my house I will kill you. Get out.”

You said nothing. You entered your room and packed your things hurriedly. When you were about to get done, he stood by the door. “If in the next five minutes you are still here I will kill you, here, in this house.’” You saw a shiny dark pistol in his left hand. You hurried.



You heard that your mother was living with Dr. Adams in his three bedroom apartment, with his wife and five children. You decided to check up on her. You did not know why you decided to, if it was to confirm your greatest wishes for her to be afflicted with one form of illness or the other. She was dressed in a gown, seated in the sitting room and sieving beans, when you walked in. She stared at you for a while, and then she smiled.

“How are you?” she asked.

“I am doing well, thank you.”

“Where do you stay now?”

“I stay with Miriam.”

“Ah. Miriam. Miriam. The same Miriam you treated so badly.” She smiled again.

“What are you doing here?” you asked her. She looked down and said nothing. Then Dr. Adams walked in, carrying a briefcase. Three of his teenage daughters came out and hugged him. He kissed the three of them on their cheeks and sat beside your mother, his hand on her shoulder after he had greeted you.

“How are you doing, Agii?” he asked. He called your mother Agii. It was what your father used to call her. You wondered if she was the one who advised he called her that. You looked at both of them, and they looked like cartoons from Disney World. The man had wrinkles on his neck, and your mother looked pinkish. You took in the room, the wall television, the leather cushions and the blue rug on the floor and the two fake paintings on the wall.

“I should be going now.”

Your mother stood and walked you to the door. At the door you opened your mouth to inform her that you were ashamed of her and of what she’d turned herself into, but you said nothing. A week later, she called you on the phone and informed you that she had rented an apartment in the centre of town, and was wondering if you could come and stay with her. You aborted the call.



Post image by ▲ r n o via flickr

About the Author:


Portrait-Udenwe-e1434978957315Obinna Udenwe is a prize winning Nigerian writer. He debut novel, a conspiracy thriller titled Satans and Shaitans, was published by Jacaranda last year. His works have appeared in the Kalahari Review, Tribe-write, Flair Magazine, Kadunaboy and in Literary & Travel Magazine. Satans and Shaitans, was published in October 2014. His short story was featured in the African Roar 2014
collection. When he is not traveling all over the world, he shares his time between Abakaliki and Enugu.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

29 Responses to “Bedfellows | By Obinna Udenwe | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. VIVIAN 2015/11/06 at 5:02 am #

    ‘After a while, the other women in the building began to gossip and whisper each time you passed, then the street women too. Each time you washed your car in the morning, the men who washed theirs or who hurried to drive their kids to school would look at you and look away.’
    – See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015/11/bedfellows-obinna-udenwe-african-story/#sthash.q6ikCEoB.dpuf

    This is a surprise, at first, I thought the male character whose mother was having the affair was a child, didn’t know he was a mature man that even could drive, impregnate a woman and abort, a man old enough to take responsibilities, yet couldn’t do anything when his mother was frolicking in his father’s house with other men. Too bad.

  2. Obinna Udenwe 2015/11/06 at 6:01 am #

    My name is Obinna Udenwe and I am the author of Bedfellows – I would like everyone who reads this story to comment here and join a conversation around the issue – why would women always receive punishment for infidelity while men are hailed by their friends and families as conquerors? Is it not possible that the Doctor in Tanzania was frolicking with women over there but rushed home to punish the wife as soon as he heard that he was messing around with some man? Is it possible that the woman was not in love with the husband? That she may have been looking for an escape route out of the marriage? If so, why not divorce the husband? Why bring her lover into her ‘matrimonial bed’ (permit me to use Nollywood terms)?
    Recently I was having a conversation around this issue with a friend, Davingson Camilius and we argued for long on it, it was after that conversation that I wrote this story. The point is, is our society fair to women in terms of the treatment women receive when they are caught in an affair compared to how men are treated when they cheat on their wives?

  3. Iquo DianaAbasi 2015/11/06 at 6:32 am #

    I coylnt couldn’t help wondering how old this son was that he didnt seem to talk of working or being in school, or something.
    But then, women do have affairs. And they are usually covert about it; at least the ones I’ve heard about. Yes, we get lonely. We get horny too. But this affair was just plain stupid, period!
    In know its fiction, but for real, if a woman is brazen then sheis even beyond stupid!

  4. Iquo DianaAbasi 2015/11/06 at 6:41 am #

    I couldn’t help wondering how old this son was that he didnt seem to talk of working or being in school, or something.
    But then, women do have affairs. And they are usually covert about it; at least the ones I’ve heard about. Yes, we get lonely. We get horny too. But this affair was just plain stupid, period!
    I know its fiction, but for real, if a woman is brazen then she is even beyond stupid!

  5. Obinna Udenwe 2015/11/06 at 8:20 am #

    That is the point of the story, Diana. To get the reader to understand that some women could have an affair and be brazen about it. I know of a woman who brings a man to her home and beats up her husband if he dares raise an eyebrow. Shit happen. And why are we scared of accepting this fact? Is it because it has to do with ‘women’? Why would we accept that a man could be brazen about an affair and throw stones when we hear of women doing same? These are my questions.
    About the son – must the story say that he was working? I think that is why it is a short story – to get the reader thinking about the characters, not to define the characters in totality for the reader.

  6. henry 2015/11/06 at 8:48 am #

    Reminds me of Toni Kan’s NIGHT OF THE CREAKING BED. Why not simply divorce the husband? Seems to me she does not love the guy.

  7. Celestine Chimmummunefenwuanya 2015/11/06 at 9:29 am #

    Hope you aren’t trying to tell the world you are a feminist and we must all be.A woman of diffrence must have her legs tacked firmly to the bond and pact of outright fidelity. She must not go feral or haywire even if she’s certain her husband doubledates or if she can’t bear it the court is there she can file a devorce suit. Any woman should be swatted and swipped severely for infidelity. Thanks a lot the author of the Soon-to-be awardwinning Novel, Satan and Saitan.

  8. Celestine Chimmummunefenwuanya 2015/11/06 at 10:54 am #

    Why wouldn’t women be flipped at. They naturally were subjects ,homemakers and caregivers in the dale of marriage.Despite an husband romps wthin and out brazenly with another woman, a good wife should,in line with her natural roles, devise a measure to make her home and value more intimately the role of caregiver, this way she may restore her husband’s sanity. It’s a weak,adultrated and irrational woman that’d brazenly go about with ‘such same affair’ just because some man do just that with unbilated impunity. A wife has no right to cheat her husband and go unstoned at. As for an husband going brazenly with odd affair and going scot free; i think a man must be free cos of the wife’s failure to build an awesome sanity in him.

  9. Obinna Udenwe 2015/11/06 at 12:15 pm #

    Mr. Celestine, thanks a lot for your comment – I am not a badge wearing ‘feminist’ but I believe in equal right for both men and women as long as those rights do not give any of the sexes undue advantage and unnecessary influence over the other. Secondly, I do not think that I need to be a feminist to understand that sometimes the society treats women unfairly, but that doesn’t mean I support adultery and infidelity – that a man sleeps around shouldn’t cause the wife to follow suit – my point is that we need to begin to pay attention to the way women are treated when they commit the same sin that men commit and go scot free, I think this is a conversation that we should start having. Why would men seem to have the licence to be unfaithful? Why would a woman be unhappy in a marriage and still cling to it, yet men easily walk out or chase the woman away at any slightest offence?
    Coming to the story, the woman seemed proud that she was having an affair, she seemed happier in that affair that when her husband was around but she was bringing this her man-friend to her home unapologetically, which I condemn. She should have been discreet about it. Adultery and infidelity is an act that no one should be proud of; man or woman.

  10. Ose 2015/11/06 at 3:02 pm #

    Obinna, I wondered why the man had to be old and in his 60s. I don’t think he’ll make a good enough bed fellow. Why can’t he be virile and in his late teens or early 20s or better still a rich entrepreneur in his thirties that’s as virile as a man in his early 20s. At least if a woman wants to eat a frog shed better eat a fat one. Oh well maybe the money the worn out old man has is enough compensation.

    I do get the son though. Sad but there are a lot of lazy complacent males in this generation.

    Something that makes me wonder about this infidelity gist sha. When men cheat who do they more often than not cheat with??? FEMALES. So instead of berating the female character, why not see it as the 60 year olds good fortune since it’s the perogative of men to cheat… and this all entitled male with the right to cheat has chosen this female without the right to cheat.
    Don’t worry men. Go on cheating with females then keep wondering why females cheat.
    Somebody please create a third sex.

  11. Obinna Udenwe 2015/11/06 at 3:39 pm #

    I didn’t mention the age of the woman but you could easily guess because the son was already of age, could drive, abort a baby etc., so she may have had a reason for choosing to date a man in his 60s. And Ose, who says that a man in his 60s can’t be as virile as a young man? Some youths have lots their virility and libido – again I think that women have different reasons for wanting an affair with a man – a woman may not be interested in the sex, but in the romance, the foreplay, the generosity, the mutual and emotional support etc., etc.
    As for the young man, I agree with you, there are a lot of young men who are like our character. They live bakwomi life, and in this regard, it is either because he is so attached to the mother, or becuase he is financially attached to her and criticizing her may deny him of those benefits.

  12. Celestine Chimmummunefenwuanya 2015/11/07 at 4:44 am #

    I like this story. it’s briefness and tacitness, not unnecessarily long and telling nothing. And this is the signature that stands the son of Udenwe out. Bravo my good brother.More greese to your Laptop.Just one day, you will go places am sure.Very sure.You have all it takes.Keen sense of observation. Creative sinew and mystery of language- marvelous application of troupe and syntax. You can write like Teju Cole, Amanda,Sefi,Biyivangaall of them…keep writting you are a workerholic germ.

  13. Unwobueze Dixon Egwu 2015/11/07 at 9:51 am #

    Nice story line … am impressed with your story …. but the “character” which is the young man should be reduced to a teenage boy of 18 or 19 years to fit in every other attribute given to him …. like getting his girl friend pregnant and aborting it ….. he should be washing the car of young bachelor living in the same compound with them, that he benefits from as a loyalist ……… coz if he is an adultm he should be able to stop the mum from doing such at home …. except the was doing it out side and probably keeping late night and was not sleeping at home for days and so on ……… I love the story line it’s cool

  14. jina Cyprian 2015/11/07 at 4:14 pm #

    This is a well written short story. I like the fact that the story endeavours to bring to the fore the nagging problem of unfaithfulness every where in the society.

    I think that the writer tried to allow the readers learn about the characters in their own pace, which is a good thing. So I do not agree that the author should spell out the character’s attributes. Like one of the comments here posit, people are different, some human behavior are influenced.

  15. Nora 2015/11/07 at 11:30 pm #

    I’ve followed Obinna’s writing for some time now, and he always presents reality as it is, often crude, trying to explore or make the readers wonder about topics that any society faces every day, in this case Obinna talks about two important issues: infidelity and sexism. Why men and women cheat is beyond the point here, but how they are punished by other people is what this story is about. The same as many aspects in life, women usually take the worst part, and are stories like this one that help people to wake up and shake all those stereotypes. Unfortunately, I forsee many more years of inequiality before things get better for women, but certainly not keeping quiet about issues that bother us, is one big step, and the fact tha every day more men raice their voices in favor of women’s rights, is something truly valuable. Obinna, keep on with the good work!

  16. Constance 2015/11/08 at 12:31 am #

    I just read the story, I have read all 6 stories of Holy Sex. I am an African in the disaspora but I didn’t find the story believable at all. Yes, I can understand a woman having an affair while her husband is away, but in front of her child, with her neighbors knowing, and then getting pregnant. And her husband returning, his reaction was so unbelievable, especially towards his son. It wasn’t his son’s responsibility to inform the father of the infidelity. The story was a good read, but simply not plausible. You can write better stories, Obinna.

  17. Constance 2015/11/08 at 12:31 am #

    I just read the story, I have read all 6 stories of Holy Sex. I am an African in the disaspora but I didn’t find the story believable at all. Yes, I can understand a woman having an affair while her husband is away, but in front of her child, with her neighbors knowing, and then getting pregnant. And her husband returning, his reaction was so unbelievable, especially towards his son. It wasn’t his son’s responsibility to inform the father of the infidelity. The story was a good read, but simply not plausible. You can write better stories, Obinna.

  18. Celestine Chimmummunefenwuanya 2015/11/08 at 2:50 am #

    Constance you are an African in diaspora indeed and i bet it’s why you will pretty doubt some terrible things just conceivable by an African Woman.What Obinna wrote,to him might be a bare lineagiment of imagination,but i tell you it happened life under my very nose.And why won’t the father go bestial and livid with his son while he was there and his mother was poked and poked. And who says a son of even thirty can prevent his mother from hanging out if his mother has the aura of buffalo and authority.This story is a sharp thrust silting a potrid stuff.

  19. Obinna Udenwe 2015/11/08 at 2:51 am #

    @Constance, you say it wasn’t the son’s duty to inform the father of the mother’s infidelity – I agree with you, but Ainehi has raised a question about this on Twitter – what children’s responsibility should be when they have a cuckold parent – it is a large and troubling issue up for discuss and as the world is changing things change too. You are a Nigerian in diaspora and I want to ask: do you not believe this is plausible in Nigeria or in the country where you live? Because here in Nigeria, we believe Westerners (largely used) have affairs in the presence of their children, perhaps this is a stereotype but that is one of our believes. But then I believe that it could happen anywhere in the world, it could happen in Nigeria as much as it could happen in Somalia. I told you of a woman in my neighborhood who used to bring hsr lovers to her home and would deal with her husband if he said anything. In fact there was this rumour that he used to fix water for their bath, it was that bad.
    Then regarding the man’s action towards the son – this man felt he had a grown son, who was still living in his home because in Nigeria, most grown men still live with their parents, and he failed to take action when the mother was ‘misbehaving’. I intentionally brought this into the story, to have a character, grown and all, that would turn blind eye to the mother’s illicit affair in his father’s house so as to reflect what could or is happening in the society, and elicit discuss and reactions. So the decision the father took on his return could be argued to be wise – you are a grown man, if you couldn’t manage my household in my absence, then leave my house and become your own man.
    Like someone said here, people behave differently, and react differently to issues and problems.

    @Nora has tried to seperate two themes in the story – infidelity and sexism. Great. I think this is what should be discussed – if a man can bring a woman into his ‘matrimonial home’ brazenly why shouldn’t women do same? Why would we condemn an unfaithful woman with all our strength and just sigh when we encounter an unfaithful man. And like @Ose pointed out – the 60 year old man sleeping with the woman was also unfaithful to a wife who had five children for him, why is no one punishing him too?

  20. Celestine Chimmummunefenwuanya 2015/11/08 at 5:08 am #

    I think the governments of the world is why woman must be unfairly treated and brutaly purnished for infidelity while man tread on the soft spot.Man had naturally grown with the ego he has the subjugative power over woman because she naturally was made a weaker vessel. To rip the inequality woman so overly loathed,what man fears most is the instrument with which to crush the man’s strutting ego.

    What did man fears most because its orders and decrees remote his business,movement and mind? it’s government. No any grown adult has the right to punish a fellow grown adult just for the conjugal bond they shared.

    Government should decree and pass to law that the best any man vexxed by his woman’s infdelity can do is to forgive or break up or both. The goverments of the world can bridge the inequality. And i tell you their silence will endlessly foster it.

  21. chinenye 2015/11/09 at 5:56 am #

    Obinna reading your comment I realized the theme u wanted to explore in your story and I think it’s really thoughtful of a man to be doing this. The other day at office canteen, I heard a colleague n his visitor discussing loudly about one babe that has slept with more than four friends. The last three were aware but just went to taste the cookie. Afterwards they called her all sort of names. His visitors said he didn’t mind eating the cookie too after four of his friends had. This was d point I had to stop biting my tongue n ask the guy in question, ‘If you think the lady is a whole, do u think u are honestly better off? Our double standards in Nigeria though…

    Haven’t said that. Obinna I think your story didn’t do justice to your intended theme. Maybe you wrote this in a hurry not to have noticed the inconsistencies. The boy in the story speaks, acts n thinks like a child since you said he imagined the doctor was examining the mother rather than an affair. At the end we discover he’s a young adult. I find his part in d story very lacking. You didn’t paint the picture of a failed marriage that was striving or that the husband was having an affair while he was away. You could have shown it somehow without having to tell too much. I read your profile and I honestly expected more. The story is too flat for me, just doesn’t come near to what I was looking forward to……

  22. Hannah 2015/11/09 at 7:35 am #

    The guy in the story is just aborting everything, isn’t he.

    Well done, Obinna. I see you favour writing in second person. About the infidelity issue, men will be men, especially many African men, talking about women being the weaker vessel and what-have-you. It all boils down to them enjoying their so-called elevated status too much to want to think about things too deeply, or effect a change. We aren’t the same as men, but we should be all be made accountable for our actions.

  23. Nwode nduka harrison 2015/11/10 at 6:17 am #

    Nice work, wonderful lines…. Although the boy should have done something to stop all future occurances… And er.. Mrs hannah… Dnt take things too serious.. I dnt think Mr obinna is been bias

  24. A-jay 2015/11/10 at 8:06 pm #

    I got the idea that the boy wasn’t the doctor’s real son. I don’t think a man can chase his own son that way for the sins of the mother. I think a woman who cheats openly is ready to damn any consequence. She was probably looking for a reason to leave in the first place as a result of unhappiness. Infidelity did it for her.

  25. Nma 2015/11/11 at 2:45 pm #

    The son did sound like a child earlier in the tale, like Ajay said. Didn’t he own a cellphone? Could his mother have also guarded his personal calls?
    I also thought the father’s reaction meant he was not his biological son.
    Well, people react differently.
    Good job, Obinna.
    Hope we meet soon in Enugu.

  26. Obinna Udenwe 2015/11/12 at 4:27 pm #

    @Chinenye, the guy is an adult, but if you study the story well, you would notice that he is probably very young, say below 25. But then he could be of any age, it depends on how the reader looks at it. I intentionally didn’t mention his age to create this kind of reaction – you would also agree with me that not all adults who are developed physically are mentally active and wise. It is possible that our character is what we call ‘Okuku Agric’ – pampered and useless. Your argument is that as an adult he should have guessed immediately what his mother was up to, but don’t forget that he acknowledged that he was looking for any reason strong enough to justify what was happening, he was confused and incapacitated, the story says, “You had thought about a lot of things, you knew none of them were true but you were looking for any reason tangible and realistic enough to rationalize what was happening….”

    Most importantly, when I write in second person, I place you, the reader in the story, I make you the character and make you the culprit – you take the fall, you commit the crime, you have the sex or kiss or steal or die – YOU become the character. So you the reader, is the character, and of course you know that as there are various readers, there are various characters with different behaviours, so don’t expect the characters to behave in a particular way. If he could go to live with his girlfriend then it shows he wasn’t well developed mentally to have stopped the affair. But most importantly the question again is, does he have the right to stop the affair? Doesn’t the mother have the right to behave however she wanted? 🙂

  27. chuks 2015/11/13 at 3:45 pm #

    One of the major problems that woman had was the son, the son was so myopic that he could not even react upon his age. For the woman, her problems is not unconnected with indiscipline, lack of self-control and prostitution, bringing a man at her “matrimonial bed” has already defiled her marriage and the worst is the type of man she kept as a friend, old and confused. Please permit me to criticize the husband of sending the son away, his action was that of foolishness, it means he is never qualified to have a family, having a family is different from having a peer group. He never did his primary function as a husband, imagine at 13 months his family dismissed showing that the level of his man maturity is too poor, not enough. Being in at diaspora does not mean anything. HE ONLY planned how to get wife, have a nice job, pay his bill and die, that’s all. No planning at all. Expect more

  28. Lucky 2016/07/09 at 1:39 pm #

    From how easily he sent his son away, his son, you can tell why his wife started sleeping with another man, whist he was away, away.



    […] “Bedfellows,” a short story by Obinna Udenwe, tells a fascinating tale about a woman named Agnes whose unfaithfulness leads to the break-up of her marriage. After her husband leaves for Tanzania on a volunteer mission, Agnes begins an affair with a doctor. Agnes’ son who witnesses the illicit affair is also the narrator of the story. A striking aspect of the story is that it leaves the reader with a deep sense of resentment towards the narrator. The initial feeling of the reader is that the story is told by a helpless child. It is not until the part where he describes his first meeting with his mother’s lover that one pauses to assimilate the information and realizes that he is not a child after all. The enormity of this revelation changes the reader’s judgement towards the end. The story presents the situation where a grown man stands by and watches another man defile his father’s marital bed. There are moments when the narrator should have done something to stop the affair. Dr. Adams should not have been allowed to sleep with the mother repeatedly in the family house. During telephone conversations with his father, he hides the relationship, indirectly aligning with his mother to perfect her deceit. Instead of confronting her and telling his father, he finds solace in the retribution of the gods. In his insular way he forgets that the gods expect him to protect his father’s interest. The height of his impotence is the part where he learns of his mother’s pregnancy. He exhibit his usual child-like character, retreat to the room and lock the door. Again, like a child he throws tantrums in his room by dumping his food in the trash, sleeping on the floor, ‘got mad’ with himself and wondered’ if he ‘were a coward’. His inaction at this point emboldens Dr Adams to assume rights in his father’s house. – See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2016/01/review-bedfellows-short-story-obinna-udenwe-udo-okoronkwochukwu#sthash.k6l8eww1.dpuf […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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