By Bunmi Sofola
WE’VE all failed at one project or the other and learnt to move on. But a lot of people have received such mighty failures that they’re just not able to shake off… and the depth of despair they feel is difficult to bear. A few years back, Remi, 24, got married. “Adam and I had been together since I was 19,” she explained. “We met at the university. He was a couple of years older and as soon as I finished my youth service, we got married in a lavish ceremony paid for by my parents. His parents did what they could as their finances were limited but I didn’t mind. Money had never been an issue with us.
“After the wedding, I was looking forward to starting a family, but after just 18 months, my new husband told me he wasn’t happy. He stayed out late most of the time—it was as if he was scared to come home. Our dreams of having children obviously meant nothing to him as he wasn’t around to make it happen.
“In the end, he said he didn’t love me anymore and moved back with his parents. He had the decency to tell me he’d met someone else. You can imagine how devastated I was. Our signatures were not yet dry on the marriage certificate when the union hit the proverbial rocks. Most of our wedding presents were still intact, and when I asked him to take some of them, he refused. To this day, a few of them are still unwrapped. What would have been the purpose?
After he left, I felt such a failure as a woman and couldn’t face meeting people for months. I thought I’d let down my parents and wasted their money.
“But worse, I felt like a failure, I tortured myself by thinking if I’d been slimmer, more adventurous or prettier, he’d never have strayed. For a long time, I was incredibly depressed but I’m gradually rebuilding my life. I’m still wary of men and I don’t think I’ll ever be the confident person I once was. I’ve had a few relationships one of which resulted in the birth of my lovely son who is now two years old. I can’t imagine marrying again though. When you’ve failed to keep the man you love, you’re scared to love again for fear of history repeating itself.”
While to some, passing exams is a breeze, to Ibi, its’ become a nightmare. “In my secondary school years, I was more interested in boys at school,” she explained. “So, it was no surprise when I failed all the subjects in my WAEC exams. I had extra lessons as the years went by for re-sits but despite working hard, I failed again… . I felt I’d let down my parents as my other siblings didn’t experience any failure in their exams. I dreamt of being a nurse, but needed to pass my WAEC or GCE O levels. The best I got out of my efforts were a ‘C’ in English and Religious Studies. I’ve no idea why.
“I’ve started countless evening classes to try and pass the exams but I never managed to complete the course for varied reasons. Now I’m married with two young children and my studies are at the back burner. Maybe I’m scared of failing again, but the worst feeling is of regret—I wonder what my life could have been like if I’d passed my exams and got the job I wanted. Now I involve myself in the retail business and I’m not doing badly. Sadly, I might never be able to help my children with their homework when they start proper school.”
“Later that evening, a staff who lived on Paul’s block asked for a lift home. As soon as I dropped her, out raced Anita, she was heavily-pregnant and was yelling at me to stop the car. She was furious too. ‘You’ve been sleeping with my husband,’ she yelled. ‘He’s just a friend,’ I stammered. How much did she know? Then Paul rushed out to meet her, ‘I’ve told her everything,’ he said, giving me a blank look, no word in my defence. ‘You cheap prostitute,’ Anita bellowed at me. Frantically, I reversed and sped off. I was ashamed of what I’d done to that poor girl. My selfish lust had led me to betray another woman. I prayed they’d patch things up in spite of the fact I was really hurting.
“A month on, I was getting supper for my two kids when the eldest ran into the kitchen. ‘Mum, someone’s attacking your car,’ he screamed. I ran to the window and there was Anita in front of the house, heavily-pregnant. She was swinging an iron rod into my car’s side window, smashing it and crying hysterically. It was then the full horror of what I’d done hit me. I knew what it was like to be pregnant and hormonal. How must it feel to know your young husband has cheated on you? ‘Come in and let’s talk,’ I tried to persuade her. ‘Prostitute!’ she howled, hurting the rod through the windscreen. ‘You bedded my husband! By this time, a few of the neighbours were out, taking in the little drama.
Instead of anger, I felt such sympathy, I’d have done the same in her shoes. As I raced towards my car, she rushed at me and punched me in the stomach. A neighbour ran over and pulled her away. She jumped into her car, and rushed off, sobbing. My neighbour urged me to go to the police but I shook my head sadly. I deserved what I got, I slept with her husband at her most vulnerable…. Yet, it takes two to tango. Paul was to blame as much as I. That incident killed whatever love or respect I must have felt for him. He was just a pathetic little man who’d cheated on his pregnant wife and used me for sex. He was as guilty as I was, if not moire.”