By Yetunde Arebi
Oftentimes, just when we think we have seen it all, then something happens, and we discover there is still a lot that we are yet to see. I am never one to dismiss anything as a lie. I may ask questions, but it is simply to clear the grey areas and sift out the facts. Never to condemn.
For even the Bible acknowledges that the heart of man is deep and desperately wicked, such that no one can fathom it. Thus, once a while, even with my over 20 years experience of dealing with relationship issues, I still come across stories and events that fall my hands, as the slang goes.
Last Tuesday happened to be one of the most stressful for me this year. In my bid to ensure that I was well prepared for the long hours of harrowing traffic experience on the Apapa-Oshodi Express Road en-route back home at the close of the day’s work, I slipped out of the office to fill my tank at about 2.00pm and it proved to be a great mistake.
The car stopped a few meters from the filling station and after several failed attempts to restart it, I had to walk back to the office to get help. Investigation eventually revealed that the fuel I bought was heavily diluted with water. I spent the next four hours at the mechanic workshop where the tank was jacked down and almost everything on the fuel channel was tampered with before the car could start again.
I spent another three and half in the traffic jam just to make a U-Turn to the other side of the road, to arrive home at almost 10.00pm. But as they say, all things work for good, as my forced relaxation at the mechanic village did not go to waste.
About six guys worked on the car and we talked about almost any topic you can imagine until we eventually ended up on relationships. This was after their two female visitors had left. One of the women was the girlfriend of Waheed, who appeared to be the leader of my rescue team.
The woman had come to complain that she had not heard from Waheed since he left for the Sallah holidays and wanted to know, albeit in a jocular manner, if they were still an item. It was not a private conversation; it was open to the house and I guessed it was a deliberate attempt to box him into a corner or whip up sympathy and support from his friends.
It was also very clear that this was not the first time that she’d had to do this. I could feel her pain and I felt very sorry for her. If you have ever fallen in love with the wrong person, or been in a lopsided relationship where you are giving more than you are getting, then you will understand how traumatic and unhealthy such a relationship can be. I pretended to be busy with my phone, my ears acting as antennas trained to capture all sounds around.
The ladies did not appear like the typical local girls you are wont to find at such places. They appeared neatly and responsibly dressed and spoke decently enough to pass the first impression test. But Waheed paid them little attention. He ordered for soft drinks but they opted for water and engaged in little conversations with some of the other guys.
About 20 minutes later, they were done and bade us goodbye. Waheed saw them off and on his return, his buddies pounced on him. First they rained abuses on him, then it turned to admonitions, then warnings.
They all seemed to agree on one thing: that the lady would make him a good wife; that he must stop believing that all women are the same; and that he could not continue to live like a hermit because of one bad experience. Trust me, I never allow moments like this pass me by. So, I asked Waheed if he does not like the woman.
Initially, he told me not to mind his friends as he was not looking for a wife. I asked why not, if he was not married and there was someone that obviously was very much interested in him. He tried to close the conversation, insisting he was just not ready for commitments but his friends refused to back off, drawing me into the discussion. Little did they know how thrilled I was. They bombarded me with questions.
“Madam, is it good for a man of this age to be living alone? At least, he should have someone to take care of him, cooking his food and washing his clothes. (Is that what wives are for? Na wah oh!) The lady is a good woman! She is not a liability like many of these young girls. She is a hairdresser and has her own salon.
The poor woman left her shop to come here, and see how he is treating her! If she slips from your hand you cannot get anyone better! Madam, is this woman not beautiful enough?” “Mr. Waheed, what is wrong with the woman?” I asked. “Why don’t you want to marry her? You know, It is not right to waste her time, if you know you are really not interested.”
Waheed finally let down his guard. He told me his friends were hypocrites and were aware of the things he went through with his first wife. One of them chipped in, “Since when? How many years ago was that?”
Waheed ignored him. He told me that he has no problem with the lady and has been seeing her for close to two years. The only problem is that he has explained to her that he is not committed to the relationship.
“Why?” several of them chorused at the same time. “Are you all mad?” he shouted back. “Madam, ask him why? What has happened to him that has not happened to any one before and would not still happen to someone else in future? Tell madam, let her say something on this matter.”
Waheed said nothing and continued working. But by this time, I was too excited to allow the gist escape me. So, I tried persuading him. I told him that sharing the problem with me might provide him another insight different from all he’d heard in the past; that though no one could force him to get married to the woman, they could help him open his mind to the possibility of taking other women. It worked!
Waheed turned to me, “Madam, let them tell you now. They know everything.” The most vocal of them all bursted out: “Madam, if a man finds another man on top of his wife, should that be the end of his life? Should that inform his decision not to remarry?”
I was not surprised. I had guessed as much. “Mr. Waheed, is that all?” I asked “That is almost like a normal development these days oh! I even thought you were going to say that you caught her trying to poison you or something more serious”, I said. Finally, I got through to Waheed and he dropped what he was doing to look at me.
He told me that there was no difference between what she did and what I just said. He insisted that it was God that saved him and that had he ignored the neighbours’ gossips, he probably would be a dead man now. He then lurched into his story. According to Waheed, he married his young beautiful wife at the age of 18.
She was a secondary school drop-out haven conceived their first child in school. Being the last born of her family, she was loved and pampered by everyone, including her father who insisted that she was the reincarnate of his mother and gave her everything she wanted. They were encouraged to move in together when they discovered she was pregnant. She would eventually learn a vocation, they decided.
On the birth of their first child, the baby girl was quickly weaned and taken over by her parents who insisted that she was too young to take proper care of a child. It was not a surprise that a few months later, she was pregnant again and this time, one of her older sisters also took the baby girl away. Then, a third, a boy also came along.
Though Waheed wanted them to keep the child, his wife insisted that it was time she started a business, so the boy was sent to another of his in-laws and they continued living alone. He insisted that they had no problems until the day one of the neighbours cornered him to ask what deal he had with Mr. Mike, which warranted him visiting their room almost every night.
He said he was shocked as it was news to him. Mike had never visited his room to his knowledge and his wife had never mentioned such to him. Mike, his wife and two children live in the room opposite his own and besides the normal neighbourly banters, they had nothing in common.
But the neighbour insisted that he as well as a few others have seen Mike walk into their room in the dead of the night, and he advised Waheed to device a way to find out Mike’s mission without alerting anyone, not even his wife.
Waheed said he had to keep vigil for several nights before Mike walked into his trap. He said that night, his wife refused his lovemaking advance, insisting that she was tired. Then he noticed that she later got up to go to the toilet which was at the back of the house. But on returning, did not lock the door and did not return to the bed but laid on their double sitter sofa.
Shortly after, Mike peeped inside, softly stepped in and went down on all fours, crawling like a baby into the room. Then his wife joined him on the floor, opened her wrappers and they began having sex, right there on the floor, while the husband slept on the bed, in the same room!
By the time Waheed finished, my eyes were almost popping out of their sockets. If he was not the one narrating the story, I would have found it almost unbelievable. So, what did he do? Waheed insisted that but for divine intervention, he would have killed the man and subsequently become an inmate at Kirikiri. He said he grabbed the first object within his reach which turned out to be an empty beer bottle and smashed it on Mike’s head.
The force was so much that the bottle broke but Mike sprang up without even making a sound and ran to the backyard. He caught up with him and wanted to stab him with the bottle but something held him back.
He said he dropped the bottle and began raining blows on him but Mike never made any attempt to defend himself. He did not shout or raise his voice but crouched down on his knees, pleading for forgiveness as the devil was responsible for his actions.
What did the neighbours do? The sound of the stampede brought the neighbours out and they wanted to know what was happening. Waheed said he was too ashamed, more for his wife than for himself to announce what had happened and Mr. Mike was just pleading for forgiveness and that the neighbours should beg him.
Waheed later discovered that Mike’s wife was aware of the illicit affair long before then but kept quiet. She was probably afraid of her husband. She refused to plead on behalf of her husband but hissed loudly and went back into her room. By this time, Waheed’s wife had fled the compound into the dead of the night.
That was the last time she came to their house. Mike went to work and did not return for several weeks too. Shortly after, they moved out of the compound and they have never met again. What of the wife, did their families not try to intervene? Waheed claimed he refused to tell anyone and that he would always insist that they asked his wife.
It took several months before he told his side of the story to his in-laws and it was because his wife had confessed only half of it. She omitted the fact that she was caught on the floor of their room while he slept on the bed!