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Few months after marriage, he would return home drunk every night and threw himself lazily on the couch. Sometimes he would throw up disgustingly on the floor and bludgeon her mercilessly if she dared grouse. One night, after getting so sozzled, he bruised his knee and vented his anger on her as she opened the door to let him in- he choked her throat, pinned her against the wall, and unleashed a thunderous slap on her face. He nearly killed her if not for that perceptive next door neighbour who dashed out of his room to intervene.
Apart from being a no-good drunkard, he was a notorious fan of the 'reward for passion' bet where he would divert and exhaust his hard-earned income every weekend. He also had a mistress with whom he routinely lavished love and money.
The writer had lived all her matrimonial life in extreme pain and anguish- there is no greater matrimonial suffering than that of a wife who wakes up each day to receive blows and criticism of all sorts from her husband and gets deserted after being impregnated. Although she had vowed never to leave her husband's house come what may, she eventually reneged on that vow when it became obvious that she had married her own enemy.
At a point in her story, she shares pleasant memories of their pre-marital life and how she had been blinded by love and pleasure- he would buy her lunch, honour her friends with some takeaway, and appreciate her with some cash. Sometimes he would take her to the beach on weekends where they would promenade along the soft terrain and retired to the beachfront restaurants to grab some quick pizza. Then once in a while he would take her to the cinema to see the latest movies.
However, as time went by, cabarets and bars became their stamping ground where he would smoke like a chimney and drank himself into oblivion; sometimes he would natter on about his achievements and dally over a cup of beer until the bar announced its intention to close for the day. Then he would totter home in her arm.
'He was too addicted and I was too blind to notice even though my eyes were wide open,' she says as she brings her narration to a close. Her story is somewhat similar to Aunt Allice's; the only difference is that Aunt Allice's husband was not a smoker neither was he a drunkard, but he had this extreme nonchalant attitude towards his family; there was never a day he had money; he would pull out his pockets in anger and yell wildly. Most times, she had to incur credits to feed the children and solicit loan to settle their school fees.
Her life became more miserable when her only compassionate civil servant old friend was owed six months salary- she had nowhere to turn and her in-laws accused her of bringing bad luck to the family when, in reality, nothing seemed to augur well when she joined the family. Her closest friend once tried to stop her from marrying him but she wouldn't listen. Her response had always been, 'I love him and I don't give a damn what you think about him. That he has not a penny to his name is immaterial; Rome was not built in a day.'
She once considered filing a divorce but withdrew because she wasn't sure who might have custody of the children and wouldn't risk being subject to any condition capable of limiting her right as a mother. Hence, she resorted to staying up late to plan so that it would be fairly easy to survive the next day, though no matter how she tried, her children would still have to endure hunger until that time her creditor deemed fit to give credit- ojisaaro kind of excuse. Then she would engage in herculean tasks towards paying off the debts- it was an experience that wrung her body and soul.
There was a time she visited Granny to get some foodstuffs; we could barely recognise her; she looked extremely pale and thin. Though she wasn't that fat before she got married, she had a svelte figure- I'm sure that was what attracted her good-for-nothing husband. When we asked her what had gone wrong, she narrated how her husband would launch into the street and fritter away his salary while she and the children would languish in severe hunger. Sometimes he would batter her to a coma, make careless statements about her family, and threaten to evict her. We couldn't hold our tears when she unveiled the injury she sustained in the recent clash. Although Granny was so disappointed to see how her daughter had been brutalised by the man who once vowed before man and God not to attempt anything that would cause her to rue the day she accepted him as in-law, she couldn't stop her daughter from returning to his house as it's a taboo, especially in Yorubaland, for a wife to leave her husband's house- we only saw her off to the bus and bade her a sorrowful farewell as the bus departed.
Later at night, Granny summoned me to her room where she narrated her experiences with men and expounded on how a man can be the biggest problem in a woman's life. Her first fiendish experience was when she lost both parents and kept in custody of an unmarried paternal uncle who, one night, attempted to rape her after getting totally plastered. She escaped into the night and turned a vagrant sleeping in kiosks. She eventually became a hawker at Iwo Terminal in Ibadan where an unwanted admirer, Adigun, a taxi driver connived with his acolytes and violated her.
Several years later, she got married to a famed bolekaja driver whose sense of humour and innocuous jokes would practically make a woman propose. Their marriage, though void, was just some months old when the unexpected began to happen- he would kvetch peevishly about little things and peck at his meal as though he had been fed by a mistress.
When she eventually became pregnant and gave birth to twins, he abandoned her which forced her to join the likes of deserted mothers who beseech passersby for money. She would wake up as early as 4:00am to take care of her babies and set off for the street before dawn and return at twilight when the sun had completely gone below the horizon.
The pressure of breastfeeding two babies and that endless waiting at the mercy of snooty city slickers shrank her to the bone within six months- she looked more like an infected person. At a point, nothing seemed to amuse her anymore; the only time she would smile was when dandling her babies, especially during the blazing hot noon when they would need much mirth to remain calm.
A year later, a solicitous merchant friend who had travelled several miles to trade in the commercial area of the city ran into her husband at a downtown store, but he had vanished before the news could get to her.