I had dreamt of a blissful marital life with loads of goodies – lovely children, a wonderful husband and a blissful union. I must confess that I truly had those, until I had to leave my kids. My marriage was four years old and I already had two kids, a boy and a girl. My self-employed Engineer husband was doing very well and was catering for the family well enough. But as time went on, things became difficult for him to handle. The frequency of contracts he usually had, began to drastically reduce until there was almost none, and so we had to bear the demoralizing consequences.
Of course I was educated, a trained nurse, and I worked at a nearby clinic. But my pay was quite meager and so I needed to further as a mid-wife before any promotion would be forth coming. The situation of my family gave me so much concern and so after several weeks of thinking about how to move my family forward, I decided to leave the country to further my studies, and to eventually work as a resident nurse overseas.
My loving husband was very disturbed at my decision. He advised against it initially because he wanted me at home with him and the kids. I totally could relate to his worry, and deep down in my heart I knew that he understood our plight well enough to let me go. I knew the emotional implication of my decision, but I believed that it was for the greater good. I needed to give my children the best possible life and a sound education, I needed to be a helpmate.
I started making arrangements, applying for scholarships, visa and all the intricacies attached to travelling out. It took a long while and of course, a colossal chunk of our family savings, but eventually, I was seated on the plane and on my way out.
It was the saddest day of my life. I couldn’t bear leaving my family behind. Strapped to my seat, I shed tears quietly. I felt the warmth of my tears as they rolled down my cheek and got lost under my chin. The last few events that occurred just before I got into the plane, replayed in my head – my daughter, her head resting on my husband’s shoulder and legs pegged onto his waist, and my son, standing by his father in solidarity. They just stared at me, too devastated to wave. But even in my sadness, I knew for sure that it was a step taken for a better life.
I settled in my new abode, and the new life ensued. I started taking my classes, and got myself a job. Things kept moving quite slowly but steadily and I never lost hope. At every chance I got, I called home to my sweetheart, and I spoke to my kids. Hearing them scream ‘mummy!’, ‘mummy!’ over the phone saddened me. God knew I missed them so greatly. Every of our conversations drilled a hole in my heart; only being around them would suffice to fill up those holes.
It was in my plan to take the classes for two years, after which I would be certified and eligible to apply for a nursing job with a hopefully awesome pay. So weeks turned to months and then to years, and in a flash, I was a certified mid-wife! Not only was I certified, I was also one of the three people offered a position at the States hospital because of our outstanding performances. We were also entitled to an apartment around the premises and an official car each. It was just too much of a blessing for me. I was more than elated and I took my success for a sign that luck was on my side.
I couldn’t wait to call Tony to tell him about this awesome news. The financial status of the family had so declined that even our kids had to be withdrawn and enrolled to a school with a much lesser fee. So I knew he was going to be so happy for me, for us. And so as soon as I was free, I picked up my cell phone and speed –dialled his number. I was however shocked at the tone of his voice over the phone. There seemed to be a disconnection, and for a moment, I stared at my phone screen to confirm that I had dialled the right number. He congratulated me though but something seemed missing. He seemed in a hurry to drop the call. I got confused. Was he not supposed to be jubilant? I knew he missed me so much and couldn’t take it anymore, but after coming so close to changing our lives for good, the last thing I wanted to do was to back out. I convinced myself that his reaction was the consequence of the synergy of issues he was facing, and I concluded that sending him money would for sure make his tone friendlier and his words more affectionate. I resolved to surprise him! However, I think that assumption was my biggest mistake.
Before the completion of my studies, I had worked several shifts and earned enough to cater for myself. But I barely spent on myself, I had learnt to be miserly. So for a start, I sent my entire savings home to my husband. And as I had imagined, Tony sounded excited on hearing that I had wired in money. It gave me so much joy to hear his excited voice over the phone. I resolved to go the extra mile to provide for my family, and to keep Tony’s voice as energetic and vibrant as ever.
It did not worry me that Tony now made it his point of duty to request for money all the time. Even though at some point his demands became extremely unbearable, I held on to the fact that whatever I did was for my family.
My new job was long in progress and my pay was entirely worth every tiny bit of stress. My friends would mock me every now and then saying that I hardly spent my money on myself. Truth is that I actually did, but only on extremely important things. I was doing it for my family, I thought to myself.
One fateful morning, just as I was heading to work, Tony called saying the car was faulty and that he was tired of repairing it again. He wanted another car! Making it the second car I would pay for in a span of 12 months.
It would have been rational of me to suspect all his numerous requests, but my love for him overshadowed my suspicion, so I let it slide.
I chose the path of the foolish lover, yes that’s probably your perception of me!
Yes I was very foolish, I agree. But is it a crime to be ‘self- blindfolded’ for love?
I saw the recent pictures of my kids, they were so grown! It was a complete contrast to the last image of them that I had registered in my head. I had missed out on so much! I stared at them for so long, and I suddenly felt like I was struck in the heart with a very sharp arrow. It was a sudden indicator! I knew I needed to go home.
Like someone under a certain spell, I suddenly started getting so itchy to go home. I thought of surprising my family by just appearing in Nigeria unannounced, but it had been such a long time since I was in the country. I couldn’t take that chance of being stranded, so I called Tony.
I could hear an undertone of distress instead of excitement in his voice. Of course he couldn’t tell me not to come home, but that voice I heard, was an indication that I was in for a shocker!
Understanding that a few things were at stake, I decided to return to Nigeria earlier than I had initially intended. Tony didn’t know this new date.
I had worked so hard for my family that I could brag about it on any mountain top. I gave them everything they requested for, at the expense of my own pleasure.
So I braced up to face whatever!
I shopped for my kids and for my husband. Yes I shopped for him! And I prepared to go home, to them.
I arrived Nigeria after a long and tiring flight, and I took an airport taxi to our apartment.
It was already dark, almost 10pm. As I approached home, a sudden feeling engulfed me, maybe it was nostalgia or sheer fear. However I was still expectant.
The consistent horn from the yellow and black stripped taxi that I boarded, probably was their wake-up call. Tony was the first to get to the gate. He wasn’t expecting a visitor so he was so shocked to hear my voice behind the gate. He opened the gate and stared at me extremely startled. Before he could even utter a word, my kids who must have been watching through the window ran towards me and for what felt like forever, we were lost in a warm embrace. I had missed them so much. Behind the excitement that clouded their faces, there seemed to be something they very much wanted to say. It seemed as though they knew that a bomb was to explode but didn’t know just how to detonate it. I smiled at them reassuringly, I knew what to do.
I noticed two cars packed in the compound. One of which Tony had claimed was faulty and was dumped at the mechanics workshop. It was dark, but I could still make out the obvious tyre mud-prints revealing that it had been driven that day. Tony kept pacing around as my children tried to get my bag inside. I couldn’t imagine what could have been causing him so much distress.
‘Darling! Do we have a visitor?’ that was the next voice I heard. I looked up to see a slim and dark-skinned lady walking towards my husband. Tony was glued to a spot. He stood and stared like an edifice that was cast centuries before.
She walked towards Tony, and then she sighted me. ‘Who is she?’ I heard her whisper. Tony was still glued to the ground, and probably literarily dumb, for he uttered not even a word. I knew that I was supposed to flare up, but I didn’t. I kept my cool and just walked into the house, giving them space to rehearse their lines.
I walked into the living room, a lot of things had changed. But the only alarming change was the absence of our wedding picture. It used to have a special spot, but it was nowhere in sight.
They were still outside. I walked into the room on the right, our bedroom. It obviously now also belonged to a third person. Her nightie was hanging on the wardrobe door, her dresses were hanging in my wardrobe, and her shoes were on my shoe rack! It was an utterly interesting development.
I went to see my kids in their room. They were preparing to sleep. I kissed them goodnight and left. I went back to our room, and bounced on my bed. I had a big day ahead, rest was all I needed!
I woke up at about 5:30 am, and Tony was not in the room. I strolled out to the living room, and there he was sprawled on the couch. He looked miserable. Our lady was nowhere in sight. I knew that there was no way she could have left. I returned to my matrimonial big-sized bed and took another nap. I was awoken by the little strands of light that escaped from behind my curtain and got fixated on my face. I was really tired even after all the sleep I got. I was up again, but this time when I got to the living room, I met our lady and my husband in a serious argument. I just passed by them and headed to my kids’ room. My kids were lazily in bed. I didn’t even bother them. I just shut their door and headed to the kitchen to grab something to munch on. I returned to the scene of the argument and took the spectators seat. They went mute and stared at me. I noticed that even with the cooling system, Tony was still profusely sweating. He broke the silence. ‘You were away for so long’, he began ‘and she has always been here for me.’ I sat still, he continued ‘She helped with the kids because I couldn’t handle them alone. She cooked for them and drove them to school’, ‘babe I missed you so much, I got so lonely and I met her…’, She abruptly cut in saying, ‘he loves me and I love him too! We have been through a lot together!’, ‘you were busy chasing money and I was here doing your job!’
It was like a movie and I patiently watched. But it was too unreal. I had never seen a scene like that in any movie. Were they calmly telling me to walk out of a home I almost single-handedly built? No way!
When I had listened to the two movie characters rant long enough, I decided to speak.
‘You have an extremely wrong perception of me. I am not going to get furious and walk away like you have anticipated. You think I am a feeble hen who can be shooed? No! , I’m a lion who has learnt to tame herself ’. Turning to Tony, I said, ‘Believe it or not, our vows were for better for worse, and if this is what worse means, then I can proudly say that I have seen better and now I know worse. We have to fix us!’
They both stared at me as I spoke with every bit of energy I had. It began to dawn on them that they had both been very foolish.
When I was done, tears trickled down her cheek and she turned to leave, but I walked up to her and spread my arms and we hugged and then I said to her, ‘You cannot visit a yam plantation few weeks to harvest time, water it, and claim that the produce belong to you. I have given my all to my family out of love. I am in no way mad at you, I am just positive that life has something better to offer you and so even as you leave today, remember that if you must own the harvest, you must be there from start to finish.’ And then she apologized, thanked me, picked up her things and walked out of our lives.
Tony got on his knees obviously ashamed of himself, and I at once knew that I had got my baby back.