By Bunmi Sofola
LAGOS life has never held thatÂ Â much excitement for me, â€œsaid Kike, a 38- year old mother of three. â€œWhen I was admitted into a nursing school in Lagos after my secondary school, I was ecstatic. But I soon saw Lagos for what it was – a city with a frenzied lifestyle that I could never catch up with. Iâ€™d been born and bred in a fairly big town but to protective parents.
When I came to Lagos, I stayed with an uncle, my mumâ€™s elder brother, and was amazed at the freedom he gave his children, including me. My parents thought I would be safe staying with my uncle instead of the den of vice they thought the nursesâ€™ hostel would be. But in six months, Iâ€™d lost my virginity to a man who said he loved me. The depth of his love became shallow as soon as he found another conquest. After a few more sweet-mouthed fickle men, I was thoroughly disillusioned and cynical about love.
â€œWhen I finished at the nursing school, I worked for close to a year in one of the teaching hospitals before I snapped up the offer of work with another uncle who just opened an ultra-modern practice in our town. I was glad to be back with my parents even though the hospital offered accommodation. The salary was good and I soon got together with lost friends.
I was working nights some few months later when a man was brought in with a nasty gash on his leg. Heâ€™d accidentally fallen into a ditch during the rainy season. I tended his wounds and he wanted to know if I could come to his house the next day to dress his wound. He said he would make it worth my while if I came. So I went. â€œHe was much older of course and a bit on the stocky side, but distinguished and sophisticated.
When I looked at the card heÂ gave me, I discovered that Gbade was his first name and the address was the impressive factory that had just been opened on the outskirts of town. The houses address was one of the fancy houses that were recently sold by the state government at the townâ€™s GRA. I was shown into a very posh living room, with leather sofas, glass-top dinning table, impressive bar and other nick-nacks.
As I dressed his wounds, he chatted, but you could see he was trying to find out all about me, I told him of the nasty experiences Iâ€™d had with men and that I was bidding my time in looking for a boyfriend. He asked me to stay for lunch and the meal the cook prepared was like a feast. When I was ready to leave, he gave me an envelope for my â€˜troubleâ€™ and asked the driver to drop me at the hospital in one of his posh cars.
My eyes nearly popped when I checked the envelope and saw how generousÂ he was. I went to dress his wounds a few more times and got to know him better. He taught me how to have wine with my meals and it was during one of my tipsy moments that we kissed and made love. Of course heâ€™d told me that he was married and that he used this beautiful house as his â€˜baseâ€™ four days a week. The rest of the week he spent with his wife and two daughters.
â€œSix months after I met him, I discovered I was pregnant. It wasnâ€™t planned. He refused to use the condom because he said he couldnâ€™t be bothered fiddling with the stuff at his age. My contraceptive must have failed and when I told him, he asked me to move into the house straight away. I was aghast. What would my parents say? â€œIâ€™ll deal with them,â€ he assured. I was at work when he went to visit my parents.
My mum found time to call my mobile to tell me what to expect from my dad but she said he would come round in the end. When I got home, dad really tore into me. What example did I think I was setting for my siblings getting hitched to a married man? Was a second wife the best I could do? I wish I had the nerve to tell him the rotten treatment Iâ€™d been subject to byÂ former boyfriends, but my mum had warned me not to contradict him.
He took his time in giving his consent for me to move into Gbadeâ€™s house and he didnâ€™t visit until Gbade had done the traditional wine- carrying ceremony. When he eventually visited, he admitted Iâ€™d really struck gold. Gbadeâ€™s wife never came to the premises – I doubt if she knew of its existence as he had another flat at the factory. Every weekday, his wife would call around 7.00 p.m and that was it. â€œWithin eight years, Iâ€™d had three lovely boys.
I have since left my nursing job to be a full-time housewife. My husband sees to it that I want for nothing. The kids are well taken care of and heâ€™s rebuilt my parentâ€™s house and given them a car. Just last year, on his 60th birthday, he transferred the ownership of the house to me and has been buying shares in the boysâ€™ names. Heâ€™d told me he didnâ€™t want any embarrassment with his wife when he eventually dies, that I wouldnâ€™t need to fight his family over any inheritance and he is true to his words.
â€œNow that the children are not so young, Iâ€™m thinking of starting a business of my own and heâ€™s encouraged me to do that. I pinch myself at times to believe my good luck. Some of my friends are still struggling with their not-so-young husbands and a few are divorced. The other woman? If this is what itâ€™s all about, then I feel privileged and grateful to be one!â€