By Bunmi Sofola
ABOUT two years ago, Joy learned that Saheed, the electrical engineer she got married to nine years ago when they were abroad was not, in the eyes of the law, her husband at all! “In fact he was a bigamist,” she said, “and our marriage was a sham. He had not divorced his American wife, Rita, a teacher, the mother of his three children – when we made our wedding vows in Britain. Rita had refused to get a divorce and the two simply went on their way.
“Saheed’s audacity went further because he committed the same crime again. After his marriage to me was finally exposed as fraudulent and finally annulled – but before he was officially divorced from Rita – he got married bigamously the second time when he re-located to the country to Joko, his third and current wife. I was absolutely stunned when I realised the scale of Saheed’s deceit. I
never thought he was capable of breaking the law knowing how strict the Western law is on bigamy. And I felt so stupid that I’d been taken in by him. As a lecturer in the university, I’m supposed to be very intelligent. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to people like me. It was really embarrassing.
“Saheed was the first man I’d really loved and I thought he’d loved me too, but when he was exposed as a liar and a fraud, I began to question everything he’d done. For a year after he was exposed, I felt total despair. A lot of my friends tried to console me by assuring me he did love me, but I honestly wonder. I think it was very convenient for him that he travelled a lot for work on ‘business meetings’ , his opportunity to see other women. He told so many lies. On one particular Christmas Eve, he dashed off, supposedly to see his first wife Rita who’d been rushed to hospital with pneumonia. I’ve since learnt that she wasn’t ill at all and he hadn’t been to see her. So where was he?
“And although he earned a lot, he never had any money. We lived in the house I owned so he could pay child support and reduced some of his credit card debts. Now I wonder if there were multiple wives and houses, perhaps even other children, he was paying for. I wouldn’t be surprised if more women came out to say he deceived them too. Meanwhile, the scheming philanderer now lives in Lagos in Joko’s house. His estante agent third wife who’s a couple of years older than he is. I bet she’s unaware he’d been convicted abroad twice for the same offence. He was first convicted of bigamy, fraud and falsification of a legal document following his ‘marriage’ to me, and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work. The court was told that he married his first wife, Rita, almost 30 years ago but they had never formally divorced. His lawyer alleged the first case of bigamy against Saheed had taken a long time to get to the court and by the time it had, the new offence had been committed.
“To this day, I have no idea how Saheed got hold of the forged decree absolute. He just disappeared for a few days and produced it. It had a court seal and appeared to be authentic. I was certainly convinced it was real – and evidently so was the registrar. I was already 35 by now and keen to start a family. Unfortunately, due to the poor quality of Saheed’s sperm, I failed to become pregnant – even after I’d undergone a couple of IVF. And each time that failed, it became harder emotionally. When I was nearing the big 4-0, I knew it was time to give up. I thought I had to look after what I’ve got – a loving husband and a good life. But after we celebrated my 40th birthday, the intimations that all was not well began to build up.
“Saheed’s schedule became very erratic and he became jealous of my wide circle of friends. He became moody and distant but while he tried to restrict my socialising, I had to endure his frequent and sudden absences. Four years ago, he made plans to attend a business trip to Nigeria and my suspicious were aroused. When he returned, I looked through his wallet and discovered two plane tickets from Lagos to Abuj a. I also found a scrap of paper with the name Joko and a phone number on it. When I confronted him, he said I was ‘deceitful’ for looking through his wallet. Later, he admitted Joko stayed in the hotel he stayed in briefly in Lagos.
“I was distraught. Saheed said we both needed ‘time alone’, and shortly after, having guessed his email passcode, I unearthed details of a property he’s arranging to purchase and shook almost violently when I found out it was Joko that arranged the agreement. I felt sick. When I confronted him again, he accused me of being deceitful and stormed out. I didn’t hear from him for days. I thought my life had ended. It was worse than knowing that I wasn’t going to have children. I could hardly pick myself off the floor.
“Then came the day I got home to find all his stuff ‘had gone from the wardrobe. I half expected it. Still, I was in tears – the next day was Valentine’s Day and I’d expected a sort of magic. In the end I had to see my lawyer. It was the day I got the most momentous shock of my life. 1 was talking to him about a possible divorce when my mobile kept on ringing. Finally, I answered and it was Moni, Saheed’s sister-in-law. She just told me: ‘Joy,he’s still married to Rita!’ I said: ‘He can’t be. I saw a decree absolute.’ But Moni, who’d always been supportive of me said she’d called Rita, wondering if she knew where Saheed was. During their conversation, she had said Saheed and I had married – and Rita had replied: ‘I’m still married to him.’
“I was outraged by Saheed’s duplicity and reported him to the police. By the time he was sentenced for bigamy – he was already in Nigeria and had committed a second bigamy offence by marrying Joko. The whole show was online and I was in shock. I learnt that Joko is standing by her man. She is in Nigeria and in spite of my ‘bitterness’ Saheed was a good man and she regarded herself married. Well, goodluck to her. 1 wasted my child-bearing years with Saheed, and in some ways, 1 feel he robbed me of the chance of having children. He was a very deceitful and manipulative man, and I wished I hadn’t let myself be bullied by him. He’s obviously a fantasist. Outwardly, he’s the image of respectability, but there’s a very twisted side to him”.
Get A Grip On Your Life!
How many of you spend more than an hour listening to the chatter inside your head? Everyone realized that every day they wasted precious energy listening to the tape that plays inside their minds, saying things like “That wasn’t very smart. You shouldn’t have said that. Look what you did this time.
You really blew it; you’re just like your father.” But what is most disturbing is that no matter how many times you’ve heard it before, you still listen and take that voice seriously. Sometimes you listen so intently that you can’t hear what the people around you are saying.
Maybe you have even avoided going to a party so you could stay home and listen to that box. Some of you have stopped yourself from pursing a better position or going back to graduate school, basing your action solely on the feedback you’ve received from your charming little shadow box.
Some psychologists have suggested inventing an automated version of your box that will programme your internal dialogue; that way you don’t even have to say it to yourself. You could use it as a talking alarm clock and wake up to “Good morning, you look awful today. Nothing worthwhile is going to happen. You don’t have what it takes. You might as well stay in bed because no one notices you anyway.”