When Fela’s wife walked out on him some 15 years ago, he was naturally devastated. He’d gone abroad for a six-week course from his office and came back to meet an empty house – his wife of 12 years and their three children had vanished. Not only that, the wife had left the keys to the house in the care of the night guard who welcomed him back with a lot of pity in the eyes. Fela still recalls that fateful day with a lot of anger. He told me: “I didn’t know what to make of my wife’s latest idiosyncrasy. She’d been very erratic in her behaviour almost throughout our marriage but this latest stunt she’d pulled, took the biscuit! I ran around looking for her and trying to track down my kids. I later went to her office and she told me snootily that she needed a break from our turbulent marriage, that she’d settled the kids in a comfortable flat. I should therefore go and enjoy my new found freedom, albeit unsolicited!
“For close to two years, I tried all I could to get the family together again, but my wife was adamant. In the meantime, the meals I ate were horrible because, in fairness to her, my wife was a smashing cook. Some house helps I had lasted from a month to maybe six and most of the meals they put on the table would make a dog turn up its nose. For a long time, I made do with meals from the office canteen as it became obvious that girlfriends who offered to help were more interested in what financial benefits they could get from the staggering food allowance they were always quoting.
“Just when I thought I’d reached the end of my tethers, my mum called that her next-door neighbours won the American lottery and would be leaving for the States. She said she’d already had a word with their ‘mama nurse’ who was not only a good cook but a smashing house-keeper, about working for me and she had agreed. I’d known the Calabar woman for years and had even eaten some of the healthy meals she was always preparing, so I went to fetch her.
“The first meal she cooked for me was the best I’d tasted for a long time. She was also a darn good house-keeper and my kids, whenever they came over, took to her. I had my home back without the stress of a disapproving wife. I stopped waving the olive branch at my wife. I have a semblance of peace now and I don’t want any irritant in my life, my meals were always ready, the house spick-and-span and if I wanted sex, that was available too. My kids’ praises of my house-keeper must have gotten to their mother because she started coming for the kids herself instead of asking the driver to pick them up. When she realized how cosy my new arrangement was, she made moves to come back but I wasn’t having any of that. “Of what good would reconciliation be? I have three kids I adore and they are all the children I want. Girlfriends come and go as they please. Some even move in if they need to, but I’m always upfront with them. I don’t want another wife neither do I want more kids. A few clever ones even tried the pregnancy trick but I reminded them they knew the score. The sensible ones have a good time with me and quickly find prospective husbands. I have also helped a lot of divorces get their self-confidence back enough to make a new life for themselves, and one or two married women have been able to cope with their husbands’ sexual inadequacies because I could supply that part of their needs.
“Sadly, my housekeeper of almost ten years is getting on in years but even when she has to go to her village for short spells, she brings a replacement who is always equal to the task. My freedom has cost me a lot emotionally and financially and I will resist any woman who wants to scheme me out of it. The fact that I don’t have a resident wife doesn‘t make me a less responsible man – it makes me the contented, happy man I now am…”
“Why is it that the children of rich parents make lousy partners?” asked Fred when the discussion centred around his broken marriage “Just because my ex-wife’s parents made some input into our financial success, my wife thought I should be eating out of her hands like a dog out of gratitude. For years, I struggled to keep my marriage afloat until the day my wife nearly killed me by smashing a bottle on my head.
“We’d come home after about six years abroad and thanks to my father-in-law’s contacts, we bought a house that was going almost for a song. He also arranged for the mortgage payments so I could use my available capital on my business. It took another five years to get the house into the home it now was.
“The day I decided I’d had enough of the marriage started like any ordinary day. Christmas was around the comer and my wife, the typical Mother Christmas, wanted to buy the whole world presents to show just how rich we now were. She was a chronic shopaholic and had almost exhausted my liquid reserve on presents when she suggested she still hadn‘t bought presents for some relatives. I was enraged. I put my foot down and told her we’d bought more than enough already. She could juggle the presents we already bought to go round everybody. She raged and whined but I stuck to my guns for once. It was about time I became the husband I was meant to be. I felt really proud for not yielding to her whining demands for once.
“A few days later, she phoned me at work, pleading she wanted to stock the freezers for foodstuffs we would need for Christmas and would really need some cash. She sounded so apologetic on the phone that I felt sorry for her. I told her to take some cash from where I’d hidden it in my side of our wardrobe. When I came back later in the day, I virtually fell over carrier bags from various shops she’d visited. With my heart in my mouth, I rushed to where I’d kept the money it was all gone! I charged to where my wife was lounging in the living room. She was stark drunk, staring bleary-eyed at the television.
“I couldn‘t believe the state she was in. When I asked her what she did with all that money, she flew at me, called me a cheapskate and accused me of trying to lower her standards. I shook her angrily, pleading to tell me where the rest of the money was.
‘You bastard!’, she shrieked, pushing me away. Before I realized it, something shattered on the wall beside me. I was trying to ascertain what it was when another unidentified object flew past me. She then lunged at me with another bottle whilst I swung around one of the presents to ward off her attack. In the end, she succeeded in landing a bottle on my skull. Pain seared through me and my wife actually looked shocked.
‘I quickly grabbed my briefcase and made for a friend’s clinic. He put me up in one of their rooms after examining the gash on my head which he later sealed with six stitches. When I went back home, the house was quiet and I moved out most of my things. That was some six years ago and I’ve since settled in my own flat. After being with my ex for such a long time and always living at the end of her neurosis, I’ve found the peace and quiet I craved. I’m not saying I would never get married again but it’s not my priority. I’m so busy now that I cherish the peace and quiet that greets me when I get home.