MUCH as it is still an accepted standard here in Nigeria that the ultimate goal of both male and female in a stable relationship is marriage; lots of people are now wary of it. Quite a number have refused to even think of it either because they’d had a nasty marital experience or because they got jilted. Only one of the people I talked to refused to get married because he didn’t want it.

Love gone sour

lyabo, still beautiful with three children—works as an executive secretary in an oil company. A graduate, she rubs shoulders with her male counterpart and it’s when she’s home she gives a thought to her loneliness. “On a second thought. I wouldn’t call it loneliness,” she told me. I’ve never been married anyway. I was a romantic fool but not any more, when I was 18 and just fresh out of secondary school. I met and fell in love with Cornelius. Handsome and well loved by the girls, I always wondered what he saw in me. I was not all that beautiful and was far from sophisticated. He always assured me that he liked his woman quiet, and sophisticated women in his opinion, didn’t make good wives.

“I worked for three years while he worked towards going abroad to further his studies. We were already engaged then, so I helped him to save…. The understanding was that I would later join him abroad after he’d settled a bit. The day he was leaving, he had all my life savings tucked inside the inner pocket of his jacket.

“When he left, I felt lonely and listless. We’d constantly gone out together in the three years I knew him and now that he was not around, I missed him a lot. We’d both talked about what I would study for when I eventually joined him and we decided on secretaryship. To make things easier for me. I studied shorthand and typing at evening lessons. Cornelius’ letters and phone calls steadily poured in, but not the romantic ones lovers get. He was always telling me about some parties he attended, the people he met and exciting things he still wanted to do. Wish you were here’ he always said in his letters but I knew he didn’t miss me half as much as I missed him. All that would change when I joined him in Germany, I consoled myself.

“Only I never had the chance. Corny wrote that he had a girlfriend. He warned me I shouldn’t take that as an excuse to look for a man myself. All the boys did it, he said; and very few got married to white girlfriends. Getting girlfriends during winter was a guarantee for a warm bed. I didn’t know what to make of his letter and when the next one came, I was shattered. He wrote that lately, he wasn’t sure about anything—least of all about getting married. He wanted time to get ‘himself together’ and while he did that I was to get myself a boyfriend too. If God meant us to get married, we would in the long run. Subconsciously, I must have guessed something like this would happen because I wasn’t really heartbroken. I was hurt and disappointed but I didn’t feel I would never recover from the shock. I told my parents and it was decided I should go abroad for my secretarial studies. I was 22 and still hopeful of eventually settling down. So I went to London to study and put my bitter experience behind me. I didn’t get my fiance’s letter and I never bothered to write him.

“I finished secretarial studies two years later and put in for advanced studies. I lived in a pleasant hostel and had my own share of dates. Meanwhile, I had nobody I was serious about. Dupe, another Nigerian living in the hostel, was my very good friend. She was out one day when a man called with a message from her parents. I took the message and he stopped for coffee. He told me he was a medical student. He went home on holidays and he’d just been back. From the way he spoke, his parents were a bit on the wealthy side because they paid for him to come down. He promised to come back the next day to take Dupe and I out.

“When Dupe came, she read her message but didn’t know who the man was. When Dolapo came the next day, she still couldn’t place him but he said he was a good friend of his eider brother. Anyway, we all went out together and I guess I fell in love with him there and then.

“It was the beginning of another meaningful relationship for me. I finished my studies and got a job just to be near him. He was all the things Cornelius wasn’t and we constantly talked about marriage. But he put his foot down about getting married before he qualified and I reluctantly agreed. A year after we met. I had his son. I wasn’t married to him then, I just couldn’t get an abortion that easily abroad and besides we would be getting married soon.

“I left London before he did. I wanted to visit his parents but he asked me not to. He would prefer for both of us to visit them together. I thought they knew about me all along and he assured me they did. I was a bit defiant the day I left my office in Lagos and went to his posh home at Ikoyi. His parents didn’t look like they’d seen my picture and when I mentioned his name, they motioned for me to come in. His mother was a bit talkative. Did he send a letter? It was a long time he wrote and when she wrote him about his son being ill, he didn’t even reply. Was he alright?

“At first, I thought I was in the wrong house but then I saw the photograph of Dolapo in a corner of the house and my doubts vanished. But who was this son they were talking about?

“I told his mother I didn’t have any letter for her and instinct kept me from telling her about us. As we chatted, she told me about Dolapo, how she implored him not to get married until he finished his studies. But he insisted and they had to pay for him to come down for the wedding. His wife, a university graduate had his son six months after the wedding.

“The pieces fell in. So the first time I met Dolapo and he told me he’d just come back from having a nice holiday, he’d just been back from getting married. What stopped him from telling his mother everything I would never know.

The next day I wrote Dolapo about what I’d learnt. He never bothered to write back. I was already 28 then and was fed up to the back of my teeth with relationship problems. I didn’t take men seriously and the years rolled by. Six years ago, I met a married man and had twins by him. He still maintains the kids we have together. Whenever he stops I’ll be in a perfect position to cope. I have a good job and healthy children. I don’t think I’ll ever want to try for marriage again. I have had enough!”

Segun is now 40 years old. Ten years ago, he was a dashing man-about-town. Very tall, good-looking and with lots of money. Me had scores of attractive females at his beck and call. He even had his pictures in the papers once emphatically saying in an interview that marriage was not for him. I ran into him a few days back. The years have taken their toll on him but he still manages to look good—despite his pouch. He still has money and his drink is still strictly champagne—which he always carried about in the boot of his car for ‘emergencies.’ I asked if he was married now and he roared with laughter. “I meant it when I said I would never get married,” he told me, a devilish twinkle in his eyes.

“Why should I? My father never did and he had me and lots of other kids to boot! Never believe it when they tell you that as a man gets older, he would  consider having a permanent relationship with a girl. That’s all a load of bull!

“To be frank, I met a girl who came close to being the lucky one. She was very pretty and just out of the university when we met and I saw her regularly. For two years we were very close and I was prepared to sacrifice my principle of no marriage for her.

Unfortunately, I discovered she was stringing me along. All the time I thought I was her number one love, her fiance was abroad studying. Two weeks before he arrived, she told me all about the promise she made to him and the fact that both sets of parents had already known about the relationship. She couldn’t back out.

It wasn’t her fault really, I never gave her the impression that I was very serious about her and since she wasn’t the only girl calling at the house, she naturally assumed she was one of the crowd. I was only a stand in for when her fiance arrived.

“When he did, I even took her to the airport to meet him and it was my car she used as her bridal car! Isn’t that a laugh! When I saw her in the church, I had a big lump in my throat. This was a girl whose body I knew every inch of, who I was madly in love with and she was now promising to love and cherish another man. It was then I knew what it was to be heart-broken.

“It took me quite a while to get over her, believe me. But since then, I’ve never had anyone quite like her. To this day, we’re still very good friends. I help out financially whenever she asks and we even make love once in a while.

“It’s funny the length some girls will go to pester you when they know you have money to spend.  I have three boys now by two women and the women are always quarrelling. They come to my house regularly because the kids live with me—I won’t have it any other way. Suppose I had married the girls and they were both living with me?   Heaven knows what peace of mind I would have. I am not a one-woman man. I love girls and I get tired of old girlfriends easily. As long as you have money, finding the right girls won’t be much of a problem.   So why complicate things by getting married?”

Wishing you readers a happy New  Year!



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