By Yetunde Arebi
What would be the right reason for a man to take another wife? Many would rightly say infidelity because our cultural and popular religious beliefs forbid it. However, some people insist that infidelity is only one of the reasons. There are legions. Even food can cause serious problems. I’d not seen Mr. Ogidan, an old family friend for many years. But we recently met at a party and we got into this discussion, along with some other friends. We’ll take Mr. Ogidan’s first, then two others at a later date. Ogidan says Subu, his wife needed the competition to set her right. His story:
“I’m sure not too many men today, will intentionally set out to take a second wife, or practice polygamy. It is not common again. In the olden days, maybe. Most people around my age, 52, were products of such marriages, they were victims of the ills of polygamy and those who were not direct victims were close observers. They know that in a polygamous situation, there are no winners or losers. Most people I know would rather not take other wives. Men do discuss these things too, you know. We are more exposed and we know that women are the same, only a few differences. However, these do not stop men from playing around or falling victims of what they dread most. I am a prince, my grandfather, an Oba married 27 women. My father had four. So, I witnessed some of the negative influences of polygamy and long before I married, I vowed to have none of it. But it did not work out as I planned and I can boldly say it was due to no fault of mine. I was pushed into it by my wife. You see there are times when situations are beyond your control and you are forced to take drastic decisions.
I met Subu, my wife, here in Nigeria and because I was convinced that we could build a great relationship, I decided she should be the one. I already had plans to go to England for further studies, so, everything fell in place. Travelling had not become the herculean task it is now. I left first and she joined me a year after. Everything was good except that Subu was too possessive. To make matters worse, she had a very terrible temper and caustic tongue. If I dare to look at any woman, she must be my girlfriend. Should a friend invite me out, it must be to take me out to meet some women. Subu’s idea of recreation was only to sit at home in front of the Television and at best, attend a wedding or naming ceremony. Any other thing was a waste of time and unnecessary socialising which no serious person should partake of, if they want to stay out of trouble. In the UK, our life style was largely regimented by Subu.
We were in the UK for 12 years before we relocated back to Nigeria, then things became worse. Subu figured out in her head that two hours was enough to get home from Ikeja where I worked. So, by 6.00pm or thereabouts, I had to be home if I did not want any trouble. Should I by any chance come home later than 6.00pm, I must have been delayed by a woman. Subu had such vile things to say about every woman except herself. Initially, I thought it was part of the aftermath of growing in a polygamous home, but I soon discovered it was an obsession and I began feeling resentful about it. Yet, I remained faithful to her. For good 17 years of our marriage, no other woman saw my nakedness but my wife. Yet, she was not satisfied. She refused to even believe me whenever I said I loved her. I’d tried to prove it in so many ways, over and over again, but it seemed as if she forgets it even before I’d finished saying or demonstrating it. She was such a pessimist. She would never fail to remind me that all men are the same, treacherous, and since I am a man, she could not expect anything better from me.
Her attitude got worse with the years as my status changed from suspect to culprit. I’d already been found guilty without an offence or trial. So, with time, I began to develop a thick skin to her accusations and threats. We all know that Lagos is not a very comfortable city to live in. The traffic jams are so heavy compounded by the bad state of the roads, but if I didn’t want trouble, I must just find my way home within the time permitted by Subu. Sometimes, she’d gone to the extent of not giving me food. I was as if I was in a concentration camp. I had friends who were enjoying themselves without much consideration for their wives. I did everything within recommended time and moderately too. It was not because I was a fool or did not know what to do with her. I even used to tell her that if I was interested in other women, she could not stop me. Personally, I just did not want to have anything to do with polygamy because a man can never be too careful where all these women are concerned. Women! If you really know them, are always a step or two ahead of men, no matter how young they are. Even if I wanted to hurt Subu, I had great love and respect for her mother and was wary to ruin the relationship we had. She is a very beautiful soul and treats me like her own son, always supporting me against her own daughter. She was always warning her that she would eventually push me to the wall, one day.
As fate would have it, that day came seven years ago. It was during the rainy season. It had rained very heavily that day and by the time I finished for the day, it was late. I left the office about 7.00pm but did not get home until almost 11.00pm. My darling wife had locked up the house and when I arrived, she refused me entry. In my own house oh! After shouting for almost fifteen minutes, I realised that she was really serious about my going back to where I was coming from. I decided to go and report her to her mother who lived in Ilupeju. The woman was shocked that her daughter could do that to me at that time of the night. It was on our way back to our house that night that, I made up my mind that I’d had enough. She couldn’t do more harm than she’d done to me already if I took another wife. Subu finally opened the door when she heard her mother’s voice. To make matters worse, mama refused to pass the night at our place because she was pissed off with her daughter’s attitude. I had to take her back, all in the dead of the night and Subu did not care if anything bad happened to me. I vowed right in the presence of my mother-in-law that I would start shopping for a second wife the next day.
Naturally, I did not expect Subu to serve me food nor allow me peace for what was left of the night and she did not disappoint me. She made all sorts of threats but, I was already beyond any care in the world. I did pick up a girl that very week, my secretary’s friend. Six months later, the lady became pregnant and I married her at a real traditional wedding with all the families present. My wife made all her usual threats. She wanted to return to England with our children but I knew she could not afford it since I would not foot the bill. The amazing thing was that the children were not really surprised at the development after I sat them down to tell my side of the story. Added to all they’d witnessed, I probably came out with a clean bill. They had all had a taste of their mother’s nagging expertise. Ahhh! Subu is never tired of nagging.
Well, I can’t say that I’m very proud of what I did, but I cannot also say that I regret it. The woman knew why I married her and I know deep inside of me that she has tried her best to be all that my Subu is not. She doesn’t question me unnecessarily. She knows that when I’m not at her place, I’m with my other family. She has two children, a good job and living the life she wants to. She is an extrovert, unlike Subu. She is able to enjoy her life on her own without clinging to me all the time. She is confident and makes me happy. Somehow, I believe God compensated for all my troubles with Subu. Ah! She was really very nasty but she has since mellowed down a lot. She had no choice. It was either she accepted and stay in the home we’d built together or leave. I had to make her understand that I will not stop her from leaving but she would be doing so without the children. Perhaps, it is true that some women need competition to stay in line. Subu still nags, but she knows I don’t have to bear it. I have a choice. I don’t intend to take a third wife, these two are enough. God has been really good to me”.
Hmm! Is nagging enough reason to take another wife? Do have a wonderful weekend!!