Marriage is a wonderful thing. Union with one’s partner (and for the lucky ones, lover) for better for worse, in sickness and in good health. As a Nigerian woman, marriage also means more than just matrimony. It is a pact of submission, responsibility, tolerance and sacrifice. Oh, the sacrifice! Mothers never prepare you enough, fathers don’t even understand, and your in-laws expect a robot that will yield to their every command. To be honest, marriage isn’t a wonderful thing; at least, it wasn’t for me.
My name is Olutade Adeola and a native of Ondo State. I was almost 6-feet tall, dark and moderately thin. I wasn’t looking bad, and even though I was beautiful, I was as smart as they come. At 28, I had my inaugural speech and became a professor of economics.
My parents made a wonderful couple for as much as I can remember. Unfortunately, my dad died when I was 8, so you should take my judgement of their marriage with a pinch of salt. Unlike my educated father, my mom never got admitted to a higher institution, not because she wasn’t academically sound, but because her parents wanted her to get married quickly. She however never objected to their notion because she herself was a traditionalist to the core; I had to kneel fully when greeting her and my extended family until I was done with my Master’s degree. In fact, if not for wonderful Uncle Gbade and my impermeable doggedness, my mom never wanted me to do the Master’s program. She felt I would not get a man to propose to me, if I was too educated.
I thought I had heard the end of it until my 29th birthday. As usual, my mom called me in the morning to pray for me and wish me a happy birthday. After about 30 minutes of prayer (trust me, it wasn’t exaggerated; I could have baked two cakes in that time), my mom started.
“Adeola mi, when are you getting married?” she said with unusual seriousness.
“Mom, we talked about this. I haven’t gotten any man…at least not one you will accept.” Remember I told you my mom was a traditionalist? Yes, she would not let me marry my ex-boyfriend, a talented surgeon and my first love, because Uche was Igbo!
“You know those Igbo people can be very hostile” she said like she was about to gossip “Your in-laws would put you through a lot if he dies. Do you remember what happened to my nephew, Bola?”
“That doesn’t mean it will happen to me, mom. I really….”
“You better snap out of it! I will never give you my blessing if you try to marry Uche.” Yes! The parental blessing; another way they try to subtly hook you down. “You will soon be 30 o! You better know what you are doing.”
I sighed and rolled by eyeballs. “Ok mom, I will do my best. Are you happy now? Thanks for ruining my birthday!”
“I am doing this for your good ni. See you!” she hissed “Men are scarce these days, especially the good Yoruba ones. Up your game and stop behaving like a bookworm káà kiri! Me I want grandchildren soon o!”
“And who told you I want to give birth?” I teased her.
“Ah! You that I see my 5 little grandsons running around!” We both burst into laughter.
“Màámi! I have to get to my office in the next hour. By the way, how is your chemotherapy going?”
“Wòó, I am just trying my best. I am still at the clinic right now. There is nauseous and pain, but there is really nothing I can do about it.” There was a moment of silence and sadness for both of us. She was battling with stage III cancer. I sighed and then she continued.
“Oh, how did it skip my mind! Do you remember Femi?” my mom asked with newly found enthusiasm. After about 30 seconds of thinking and countless descriptions by my mom, I remembered him. He was the son of one of my mom’s few friends.
“He just got back from Germany after 10 years. He is a big business man now o. And he is a nice, fine, SINGLE, boy. So… I gave him your number and told him you will see him this weekend.”
“MOM!!” I was so pissed! How could she do something like that!
“My dear, my airtime is almost exhausted. I will send you iyán and èfó rírò in the evening. Bye!” she quickly squeezed in and chuckled before cutting the call. Frustrated as I was, there was nothing I could do. At least she didn’t marry me off when she had the chance too. Now, I had to start planning a date with a Femi; every Nigerian Twitter user knows that Femis are scum bags! I shrugged off the thought and got ready for work, and to my surprise, my birthday went very well.
To prevent my mom from breaking down in tears and to try my luck at this dating thing, I met Femi. Even though we didn’t spend over two hours due to our busy schedule, I enjoyed myself. He was funny, good looking, brilliant and he had money. I was financially comfortable, but damn, he had money! “Maybe it is time to settle down?” I thought to myself. Besides, I was tired of getting unsolicited marital advice from the old women at my church.
We had gone on a second, third and fourth date and were already getting fond of each other when I got a call from my mom’s doctor that she was dying. We hurried up to the hospital, and I saw my mom in a very bad state. We hoped for a miracle, but it was certain she was going to die soon. Even though she was in pain and was weak, my mom reached out for my hand and that of Femi. She then joined our hands together.
“Femi, my son. I want you to marry Adeola before I die” she said with her frail voice. I could not say anything. My mom was on her dying bed and she was still hell-bent on getting me married. I just burst into tears, not because of her request, but because I felt guilty. Guilty for not getting married on time and providing her with grandchildren.
“Uhmm…O..Ok ma” He stuttered and looked at me, expecting a reaction. I nodded my head in affirmation; that was the least I could do for her.
The next few weeks went fast.The introduction, engagement, and finally the wedding took place a month after the hospital incident. Something felt wrong, but I just wanted to get it over with for my mom.
After the wedding, we went for our honeymoon in the Bahamas. It was lovely, and Femi was very caring. I however had a problem with him; Femi began showing signs of abusive perversions. I expected the normal sexual urges, especially as his wife, whom he had never slept with, but that wasn’t it. He would make me watch obscene films and then do things that I could never have thought of in a million years. He was passing advances to me about five times a day, and I was usually worn out by the end of the day. This went on for days on end, but after a month, I couldn’t do it anymore. He noticed my reluctance and wasn’t happy with it. Instead of having a discussion with me and being considerate, my husband started treating me like a can of maggots. Femi was becoming a… a FEMI! He started getting aggressive and everything I did was irritating to him. One night, I told him I wanted a break, and he broke my right arm.
After the honeymoon, I wasn’t myself anymore…
One year later, as I was driving back from my physical and mental therapists, I kept thinking about the life I would have lived if I was allowed to marry the person I wanted and at my own time, and not be subjected to some unwritten rules on how to live my life as a woman. Don’t get too educated! Don’t marry late! Don’t marry from another tribe! Now I was in a mess I never signed up for and my mom was already dead. I had known Uche for 4 years and I was familiar with every side of him; the devil you know, they say, is better than the degenerate Femi you met only a month before getting engaged too. I was now a victim of most forms of abuse and it affected everything I did. I had to hide scars, I stopped going to church and now I was planning to kill myself. Yep, I am committing suicide right now. My phone vibrated and I saw a text message from my husband that just suffocated every desire I had to live. Fortunately, a man was hawking ratkillers and pesticides just in front of me. In my rage and self-pity, I got down from my car, bought the infamous Sniper, and drove back home.
I went straight to the sitting room (with my still painful right arm), looked around at the pictures on the wall of our duplex and burst into tears. Then, I downed the whole bottle of pesticide, and fell to the fall with the increasing pain. I looked at my phone to take a last glimpse at the very text message that prompted my suicide. Anger, sorrow and hot tears were all that was left in me as I read it:
“Adeola, I just wanted to inform you that I am taking a second wife. Her name is Ngozi and she is my secretary. We will be coming home together; cook for us”
Over my dead body!
Oluremi Daniel Ayanfeoluwa from Abeokuta in Ogun state is a young student, a classical musician in training, a Christian and a science enthusiast. He also loves dogs, fashion, photography and intellectual stuff. Hr can be reached via email@example.com