Mad as mad can be, that I allowed this to be me.
You cheated on me, playing hanky panky, with all the fancy ladies.
I took it with stoicism, and a whole bunch of Catholicism.
You walloped me up, and pummeled me down.
I tried to run, but never got far.
I turned to you, yes you, you, all of you.
Y’all said to return, have faith and pray some more.
I fretted, I pleaded, but deaf ears could not hearken.
I prayed, I cried, I fasted and I called on all the Gods.
But it seemed neither Heaven nor Hell cared to hear my call.
Now I am here, trapped in this bubble.
My soul is anguished, raging with fury.
Do the dead talk? Who knows?
Soon enough you will know!
My name is Nnedimma and I have a lot to say. I would however, like to ask you a question: How do you fix something that has been so broken? I tried to do so. Hanging on with bare tentacles to a union that had gone down the slope faster than a flash flood.
I was a starry eyed bride, full of hope and anticipation of forever after. It was a splendid wedding ceremony, with all the required glitz and glamor. The honeymoon at Obudu Cattle Ranch was filled with raunchy moments as was anticipated, but we soon touched down to planet Earth several months thereafter.
Let me take you down memory lane just a little bit. I met Fidelis one Saturday afternoon at a gas station. The petroleum product scarcity in Lagos was as impossible as ever and I was scared of purchasing black market fuel that was sometimes adulterated. I had just bought my car through a loan scheme that was offered by my bank and did not want to take the chance of buying road-side product that might lead to the breakdown of my newly acquired ride. I therefore preferred to queue up at an impossibly long and rowdy fuel line. I was practically the only female in a maze of rowdy men who were struggling and maneuvering to secure their own purchase.
After what seemed like hours of sitting in the car under the sweltering sun, the Manager of the station decided that they were closing sales after a few more vehicles, and everywhere just became a mad house. The men rushed to the pump, jostling each other for vantage point, and even passing a few bucks as bribe to the attendant so that he would fill their jerrycans. I tried to jostle along with the bunch of men who were a mixture of the good, the bad and the downright dirty. Unable to make any headway, I was tired of being pushed back and forth, I dishearteningly turned to go back to my car and drive away; resigning myself to the use of public transportation until things eased off, when this good looking guy approached me and asked if he could be of assistance.
I emptied my tale of fuel woes and frustration to his interested ears without really expecting much help. He asked me if I could be patient for just a little while and assured me that once the cars thinned out a bit, he would help me procure some fuel, since the station manager was a friend of his. I happily complied and got the promised assistance in exchange of my phone number – I felt grateful enough for the help to graciously give him my number.
Gradually, he warmed his way into my life. He would call to ask if I was in need of fuel or just to say hello. I was not in any relationship and my life seemed to revolve around my banking work, attending social engagements, church activities and more work. I sometimes felt lonely and was looking forward to having my own man. My long standing relationship had fizzled out when he left for Malaysia in pursuance of greener pastures and I was not eager to pursue an affair that was on the road to nowhere.
Our relationship blossomed very quickly and soon after he was hinting on tying the knot. As far as I knew, he was working as a Real estate agent cum business man who brought in cars to sell and lived in a nice two bedroom bungalow in Abraham Adesanya. That was enough for me. We would pool our resources together, I told him, besides I thought that as a team we could achieve a whole lot. Seven months following courtship, we walked down the aisle. In retrospect, I now realize that he had stylishly coerced me into footing the bill for our marriage.
Fast forward to six months after wedding: He claimed Realty business was not moving so well, he claimed that his business partner that sent the vehicles was cheating him and that he was no longer interested in dealing with him. I totally believed him and empathized with him. I did not mind using my income to support both of us hoping that the flow of the tide would change soon enough. I would leave early for work as usual, whilst husband dear would occupy himself getting his groove on with the neighborhood chicks and the tide continued to ebb as the days trickled by and I began to get worried.
I cajoled him to seek a paid job and that earned me the first beating. The first slap seemed like a joke as shocking as it was for me. I excused his beatings, penciling them down as frustration. I tried not to nag; he said I did not care. I tried to encourage him; he said I was talking to him in a condescending and arrogant manner. There seemed to be no right way, and the beatings continued. I tried to hide my misery and predicament until I could no longer hold back.
Turning to close friends and family for support, I got asked a lot of questions and a sack full of advice. Stop nagging him. Pray harder. Fast for him. Are you giving him enough sex? Does he like your cooking? Why not hand over your salary to him, so that he can feel in charge? Have you tried to stop getting home so late? What of a baby? When are you guys planning to start a family? On and on it went; but the most common advise was that marriage was for better for worse; to just stick it out and it will get better over time.
I chose to stick it out and finally got pregnant. Feeling as sick as a dog, I excused myself from work to go home and rest. Yours truly was very busy engaging the neighbors nanny in a torrid afternoon sexual session and I became privy to the distasteful scene. We had a bad fight, and the early pregnancy came down. I took off home to my sisters house, distressed and broken.
Weeks following, he came begging cap in hand, promising change and every possible promise. Tired of feeling like a failure for not making my marriage work and with advices ringing in my ears, I chose to try again. I obtained loan with his constant cajoling to assist him start a new venture and he simply applied the loan on ventures unknown. Months passed down the line and when there was nothing to show for the venture, I decided to play detective to get to the root of the matter, my trust in him had wavered badly.
My discoveries were very discomfiting. The neighbors nanny was fully expectant and my money was financing an apartment for her. I lost my cool, in total fury, embarrassment and bitterness, I fought. I fought with all my might, biting, scratching, screaming, crying until the lights went out and here I am.
Yes, I am alive but motionless. I can hear from a deep void, the consistent repetition of the Holy rosary from my mother as she petitions Heaven to wake me up from my deep slumber. I can hear the whoosh sounds made by the strange machine close to my narrow bed. Sometimes, I feel myself float out and come back to roost, searching for dear Fidelis to teach him a lesson or two. I cannot wait to burst loose from my motionless state of nothingness.
I blamed myself for my ignorance and naivety. For falling in love with the notion of love, that I failed to identify badly damaged goods. Filled with the confidence that I could influence my man to positive change through the mere force of my love, little did I know that it took far more than loving a man, far more than looking good, far more than satisfying all his sexual cravings as much as is humanly possible and far more than cooking delight-some meals to keep his roving eyes, his furious punches and his profligate manners at bay.
Little did I know that I was not the one that could bring a change within him if he was unwilling to change.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha
Foot note: The Obudu Cattle Ranch known presently as the Obudu Mountain Resort is found on the Obudu Plateau close to the Cameroon Border in the northeastern part of Cross River State of Nigeria, approximately 110 kilometres (68 mi) east of the town of Ogoja and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the town of Obudu in Obanliku Local Government.