My name is Kelechi, and I’m married to Hygenius, the most useless husband any one can ever have. We have five children- Ugochi, Tobenna, Udodi, Grace and Fortune. All of them except Grace have brains like their father- fish brain. I would have married Chukwuka, the doctor’s son, if I had not foolishly gotten pregnant for Hygenius. You see this my husband? He is a lazy, irresponsible, good for nothing man. Since he lost his job as a clerk with the Local Government six years ago, he has refused to find another source of livelihood. Instead, he would come to my shop every afternoon to sit and lament on how he was unduly retrenched. Of course, he would have a bottle of large stout in his hands. The man just disgusts me. How can a grown man abandon the responsibility of bringing up five children to his wife? Haba! You sef, reason am. I was already tired.
This morning, as I prepared to go to my shop in the market where I sold foodstuffs and provisions, I heard him call my name.
‘Mama Ugo’, he called.
I just hissed silently to myself. I never answered him at the first call. I waited for him to call the second time.
‘Mama Ugo’, he called again, louder this time.
‘Ehen?’ I responded. ‘Ogini?’(what is it?)
‘Come out please. I want to discuss something with you’.
I walked out of the room into the sparsely furnished sitting room.
‘Yes?’ I said as I looked at him.
‘Ah ahn. Are we fighting? Sit down na’
I already knew what he wanted. Money.
I sat down.
‘You see’, he started. ‘Since I lost my job at the Local Government, I’ve been trying to see how I can get something doing’.
I yawned. This wasn’t the twentieth time I was hearing this. In fact, this was his pick up line anytime he wanted to ask for money.
‘How much do you want?’ I asked irritably.
He smiled. ‘Nwunye m (my wife), you know Ogadinma just came in from Lagos last weekend. We met at the beer parlor yesterday and he was telling me that he now deals in fairly used motorcycles. He said he can get one for me, so that I can use it for business.’
I looked at this man. What was he saying?
‘Hygenius, you want to be driving okada (motorbike) all over Enugu?’
‘Do you have a better business idea for me?’ he asked annoyingly.
I hissed. This wasn’t the first time he had attempted venturing into business. Three years ago, he collected Two Hundred Thousand Naira from me to venture into rice business. He ended up squandering the money and subjecting us to hardship for almost a year. I had to work myself to my bones to get us on our feet again. Last year, he said he wanted to go into fresh fish farming. We quarreled for days before I finally gave him One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira, my hard earned savings. The business started quite well but Hygenius was a careless man. I didn’t know what he did, but the fish started dying one by one. Out of fear, he sold the remaining fish to Mr. Nwaba at an incredulously low price. When he informed me, I almost strangled his neck. I didn’t give him food in the house for weeks. Shebi no food for a lazy man?
‘How much do you want for this business?’ I asked again. God knows I was not going to give him a dime. I had just paid school fees for Grace and Fortune and so my savings were very low. Also, I was seriously saving up some money to buy the lace material Mrs. Orakwe was selling. Her daughter would be getting married in September and it would be a high class wedding. It was even rumored that the State Governor would be in attendance. The lace material and head gear cost Sixty Five Thousand Naira and I had promised myself that I would buy it at all cost. I cannot be left out, mbanu (no way).
‘Do you have One Hundred Thousand Naira?’ he asked.
I stared at him in disbelief.
‘Are you mad?’ I asked as I eyed him contemptuously. ‘I should give you One Hundred Thousand Naira so you can squander it again, abi? Did you even ask me how Grace and Fortune’s fees were paid? Mtchewwwwww’, I hissed loudly.
‘Is it because of One Hundred Thousand Naira that you are running your mouth like Ezeagu waterfall?’, he attacked. ‘Ngwa (Alright), do you have Sixty Thousand Naira? I can manage that one’.
I stood up. ‘Hygenius, I don’t have One Naira to give you. Ogadinma is your friend abi? Ask him to give you the okada on credit or on hire purchase. As you make money from it, you pay him back. As for me, I don’t have kobo to give anybody in this house’, I said with finality.
Hygenius was already angry.
‘I don’t blame you’, he responded. It is the Local Government I blame. You wouldn’t have been spitting all this dustbin from your mouth if I still had my job’.
‘That miserable job. When you had it, were you better off?’ I retorted.
‘At least, it was the money from that miserable job that bought you the wrapper you are now tying on your waist, useless woman’.
‘Stupid man’, I replied.
He glared at me and walked out of the house.
I finished up preparation and went to my shop. Sales were very good that day and I made plenty profit. Grace came later in the evening to help me out. As I told you earlier, Grace is the only sensible child I have. When it became very dark, we closed and left for home.
Hygenius was not at home. I knew he would be at the beer parlor as usual. Sometimes, I wondered how unfortunate I was to be stuck with a man with no future ambition. I entered the bedroom and locked the door. I sat on the bed and counted the money I made today. Forty Six Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty Naira. I smiled to myself. Quickly, I removed Five Thousand Naira from the money. I would pay the remaining into my business account tomorrow. I went to the wardrobe and brought out my iron box and opened it. From beneath all the old clothes and wrappers inside the box, I brought out my kolo. This was where I was saving money for the lace material. I was the only one who knew about this kolo. I hid it very well because if Hygenius got to know about it, that would be the end of it. Tonight, I was tempted to break the lid to see how much was inside but I resisted the temptation. I will break the lid next weekend. I quickly covered the box and returned it to its place.
The next morning, Hygenius brought up the issue of the motorcycle again. It was gradually annoying me. We had a very good quarrel that morning before I went to the shop. I wasn’t going to give him a dime, I told myself again.
Five days later, I was in the shop when I received a call from Mrs Orakwe.
‘Good afternoon’, I greeted.
‘Nne good afternoon. Ke ka unu di?’(how are you and your family?) she responded.
‘Anyi dicha mma’(we are all fine), I replied. ‘Unu n’akwado ofuma?’(hope preparations are going on smoothly?)
‘Yes o’, she said. ‘I’m calling to know if the money for the material is available now. I will be going to Lagos the day after tomorrow to pick it up’.
‘Yes, it is available. I will send it across to you before the end of tomorrow’.
‘Okay. Greet your husband for me’, she said happily.
‘Mmmm’, I muttered. With that, she ended the call.
I suddenly began to feel uneasy. I couldn’t explain it but I wasn’t comfortable. I decided to go home and I told Grace to watch over the shop.
Immediately I entered the room, the uneasy feeling deepened. I quickly opened the wardrobe and discovered that my iron box had been shifted from its original position. With trembling fingers, I opened the box and, lo and behold, my kolo wasn’t inside. I must be dreaming, I told myself. I searched frantically for it but it wasn’t there. My heart was beating erratically. I rushed out of my room to the children’s room and found Tobenna sleeping on the bed. My fear turned to anger. Why was he at home at this time? Tobenna was a third year student of Enugu State University and he was supposed to be in class by now. I tapped him vigorously.
‘Get up biko (please), you this useless boy’, I shouted.
He turned, opened his eyes slowly and squinted at me.
‘Please don’t shout in my room. I’m having headache’, he said lazily.
The stench of alcohol filled the room. This boy had been partying all night again.
‘You are very stupid’, I replied angrily. ‘That headache kill you there. Your mates are in class and you are here sleeping away your destiny. Well, that is your business. God knows I have done my part. Where is the money you took from my room?’
‘Don’t ask me stupid questions. Someone went into my room and took my money. Please give it to me’.
Tobenna hissed loudly. ‘Mummy, go and ask your husband and stop disturbing me. He was the only one at home when I came back, and he was in your bedroom. Abeg(please) close the door for me when you go out’.
With that, he adjusted his pillow and closed his eyes.
I sighed in exasperation. Could Hygenius be the culprit?
I rushed to my room, picked up my phone and dialed his number 12 times. With each ring, my suspicion and anger grew. He didn’t pick up. I then went into the kitchen to get a cup of water. Lying on the kitchen counter was my beloved kolo, smashed open. I let out a scream and sank to the floor. Hygenius has killed me. In a flash, all the pictures and images I had about rocking the lace started going down the drain. I suddenly had a headache. See ehn, let me advice you. It is better to remain single than to marry an irresponsible man.
That evening, Hygenius came home with a motorbike. I was already waiting for him in the sitting room. The idiot came in, grinning from ear to ear like a roasted goat.
‘Hygenius where is my money?’ I shouted as I grabbed his shirt.
‘Hygenius, don’t let me call thunder to fire you o. Where is my money?’
‘Kelechi relax biko’, he said calmly. ‘I will pay you back. Can’t you be happy for me that I have purchased the motorbike?’
‘Hygenius God punish you’, I screamed. ‘May lightening scatter your dentition. You took my hard earned savings without my knowledge to buy a useless motorcycle. You will give me back my money today’, I screamed loudly as I dragged him violently.
‘Kelechi respect yourself o’, he called out. ‘Don’t get me angry o’
‘Hygenius I curse the day I married you. You are a national disgrace’. I had started crying.
Tobenna came out of the room.
‘You people should allow someone sleep in peace na. What is all this?’ he questioned.
‘You’re very stupid’, I retorted. ‘You better get out of this place if you don’t want me to pounce on you, anuofia (animal)’.
He hissed and walked out of the house.
I was devastated. How could Hygenius do this to me? I wept, not just because he took my money but because I knew the business would not last. My money would have gone down the drain, just like that.
The neighbors separated us that night. I slept in the room while he slept in the sitting room. My heart was so bitter. The only reason I was still in this marriage was because of the children. Besides, where else would I go to? I had built all my life around Hygenius and my children. I thought deep into the night and slept off.
Before, I could wake up the next morning, Hygenius had left the house. Good for him, I thought. I had swollen eyes caused by lack of good sleep. I prepared and left for the shop, hoping to make good sales.
At mid-afternoon, I received a call from Ulasi, our neighbor.
‘Mama Ugo, Police don carry your husband o’
‘Police? What happened?’ I asked sharply.
‘Dem talk say the okada wey he dey drive no be him get am, say he thief am’.
‘Thief? It’s not true’, I responded. ‘He bought it from Ogadinma’.
‘Ehn, na wetin I dey talk be dat. Ogadinma no be correct person. Na okada wey he thief he dey sell. Na stolen okada he sell give your husband, na why police carry your husband’.
I got up slowly from the chair.
‘Where are you now?’ I asked him.
‘I dey police station. Dem talk say make we bring fifty thousand naira before dem go release am’.
I sighed. Hygenius has officially killed me. Stolen motorcycle? How do we get out of this?
‘Hello? Mama Ugo you still dey there?’ Ulasi called out.
I didn’t respond. My heart was too heavy for me to say anything. I sat down on the chair and stared expressionlessly into space.
To the Singles,
Who you marry determines how far you go in life. Choose wisely. Don’t get carried away by the temporal things, check out his/her vision, values, belief system and character. Most importantly, trust God to choose for you. He knows how to give good gifts, and He will give you beyond what you ever ask or imagine. However, while you wait on the Lord, prepare yourself to become the best wife/husband. Read books, build character, work on your attitude, create healthy relationships and above all, build spiritual stamina. Marriage is spiritual, so you need a genuine relationship with God to sustain it.
To the Married,
First of all, only a home built on the rock can stand the test of time. Make sure the foundation of your home is on Jesus, the solid rock. In case you made a mistake and started out wrongly, it is not too late to make a U turn. Allow Jesus be the chief cornerstone in your home. Secondly, marriage is the union of two imperfect beings. Accommodate, encourage, support, forgive, help, strengthen and love each other. There is no perfect marriage anywhere. You see that marriage you admire? It is because the parties involved made a commitment to make it work, no matter what. Make that commitment today and work towards it. With Jesus as the captain of the ship, you’ll have a safe landing!
God bless you.