Sunday, 22 April 2012

Even Men Hurt 2-Never Good Enough

I looked down examining my toes. I had being looking at my toe nails since Toye started telling me about his experience with my friend. I was too embarrassed to look him straight in the face. I knew things were not okay between Toye and Oyinda but I never knew that it was this bad.

I have known Toye and Oyinda for over twenty years now. Toye, I can describe as easy going and hard working, upwardly mobile. He is someone I will portray as loving life and good things despite his easy demeanour. I met Oyinda through a friend of mine and we hit it off. Oyinda is very creative and talented. I admire her for her various talents especially her entrepreneurial skills. She is smart, good looking and always seems to know what she wants out of life. Oyinda and Toye met about the same time I became friendly with Oyinda and despite all doubts and misgivings, they got married. 

Fifteen years of  matrimony with two boys, the marriage is threatened. My friend, Oyinda has moved back to her parents’ house despite all pleading for patience, she is adamant. For some reasons I couldn’t believe that her husband was as culpable as she would want me to believe. She did not give any concrete reason for this quarrel which led to moving  out of her matrimonial home except that Toye was not good enough. I am aware that they have being having on going issues but I strongly believe that it did not warrant the steps she had taking.

Yoruba speaking people have a proverb that only a wicked person would judge from hearing one side of a story.. That’s just the case here. I sat still counting my toes as Toye narrated his experience.
“I hurt and I don’t believe I deserve what Oyin has done. I have done everything to satisfy her. I rented an office for her and paid three years rent in advance but she didn’t step into that office until six months ago when the rent was about to expire. Her anger is based on the fact that I refused to renew her tenancy. Haba! I work hard for my money and I can’t be wasteful. I tried reasoning with her all these while to go back to work. Our plan was that she would start work all over again after putting to bed but she simply told me she could not nurse her child in her office. This office was not in the public market of Tejuosho but at Adekunle where she had everything. I paid premium for it but no, it was not good enough. I have started many businesses for her but nothing seems to work. At the end of the year, I wouldn’t see either the seed capital or the profit. Even if she did not make the profit, she should at least let me see the capital. So I made up my mind. No more after this. I am better investing my money on stocks than wasting it on a bottomless pit business.” He said angrily “What attracted Oyin to me were her creativity and her entrepreneurial skills. When I met her she was so hardworking and serious about her business but that is not the case now. I really don’t know what she does with her time except she runs around like a headless chicken.” He continued bitterly “I don’t have a say when it comes to the children’s welfare. She often takes decisions without consulting me. It doesn’t even matter if I have objections or if I can’t afford her latest brainwave. I feel as if my relationship with the children starts and ends with supplying money. I am like a father Christmas to my own children and I want more than that. I want a relationship with them. If I correct them when they are wrong she flies off the handle, if I play with them she sneers that my language will corrupt the children. With her, I can’t get it right. You won’t believe I feel inferior in my own house. I never seem to know the right thing to do. Sometimes, I am at a total loss at what to do.”

He kept quiet for a while. I looked up to glance at him. All I saw was pain and I felt tightness in my chest. I felt sorry for my friends and I just wished things could be different. I wish they could reach out to each other.
“You know she slapped me.” He said looking lost and sad. “She slapped me in the presence of my friends over an imaginary girlfriend. I don’t even know who tells her all these nonsense. She said she saw a girl in my car. Imagine that!” He laughed bitterly shaking his head. “I am not boasting. I can have any woman I want in this Nigeria and beyond but that’s not the type of life I want. I know what it is to come from a broken home and I don’t want my children to go through it.” He shut his eyes rocking back and forth. I was afraid that he would cry. I wouldn’t know what to do if he did. He kept on rocking back and forth. Suddenly he stopped and stayed motionless for a while. “Toye” I started to say something soothing to him though I was lost for words but I felt it was appropriate to say something palliative like “it is well” or “God knows” but he raised his hands indicating that I should not say anything.
“Ose, I love my wife and I will take her back if she is willing especially because of my children. I don’t want them to suffer."

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Even Men Hurt 1-My 'Ariya' Wife

There is something about me that attracts a total stranger to me like the bee to the honey. It could be downright embarrassing, sometimes overwhelming but most times humbling. I am truly honoured by a total stranger pouring out his heart out to me.

I remember some years back, just a young girl on her first job. I had just collected my first salary and I thought it called for celebration. I got home early enough to go out again. So I changed from my office attire and wore something comfortable. I stepped out of the house and stood for a while trying to decide where to go-not that I had too many options in those days. I pondered on if I should walk down to the stores down the road or visit the snacks bar. I was still undecided when a black Golf car stopped in front of my house. There was nothing unusual about it since my house was on a major road; people usually stopped to ask for direction.

The man in the car let down his window and I peeped in to see if he was someone I knew. “Good evening” the stranger greeted
“Good evening” I replied waiting for him to ask for direction.
“Can I offer you a ride to where you are going?” he asked   
“Oh thank you. I am just going down the road” I replied and started walking away. The man got out of his car and followed me.
“I can actually drop you wherever you are going” he said persistently. I ignored him and wondered if there was more to this offer. I hated the idea of the man trying to pick me up and I was increasingly getting angry with his pushiness.
“Actually, I am sorry for harassing you. Let me rephrase, I need to talk to someone” he said sounding very desperate. I turned round sharply to give him a snide remark but what I saw in his eyes stopped me. It was raw with naked pain. This stopped me in my track. I starred at him wondering if it was a plot to “toast” me but the pain in his eyes convinced me that the pain was sincere enough.
“I am really sorry but I need to talk to someone desperately. I left my house in frustration because I don’t want to commit murder.” He said anxiously. I kept quiet wondering why he picked me to talk to. I was still a bit sceptical about his intensions though.  
“I can park my car and we could walk while I talk to you. I am not going to harm you” he said eagerly. I looked at him pondering. Now, I am not a sucker for situations like this but there was something so sincere and hurting about him. Eventually, I reluctantly agreed that we should walk down to the snack bar wondering if I did the right thing. We got to the bar, ordered what we wanted and sat down. The bar was somehow empty that day which was unusual since the place was always active. That was the reason I picked the place.
“I am sure you must wonder why I want to talk to a total stranger but I am going through a tough time at home. I love my wife but she is driving me round the bend and I don’t know what to do about it.” He said “I met my wife in the University but we didn’t start dating until well after graduation. My wife is from a wealthy family and I am from a poor one. I had loved her since University days but I could not bring myself to express my feelings. She belonged to the hip girls on campus and I was just a struggling undergraduate. I did every odd job to see myself through school. I played football. I was on the University team so I was popular. She and her friends used to come around to watch us play but I was scared to approach her. We graduated and went our different ways and I didn’t see her again until the day she walked into the bank where I work. I was excited to see her and believed that God has given me a second chance. I was in a relationship then but I didn’t love the girl. I quickly broke up with her and made an aggressive move towards my wife and luckily enough she agreed. A year later we got married and that had being my undoing” he explained as I kept silent wondering where this was leading to
“It has being one wahala after the other since we got married. She is spoilt and does not know how to take care of the home and the children. All she is ever interested in is partying. Her weekend starts on a Thursday and she and her friends would go from one party to another and then she gets home so late. I have tried talking to her to no avail, I am fed up” he said looking distraught.
I kept quiet since I didn’t know what to say to him. Somehow, I realised that he just wanted to pour out his frustration.
“I got home today and she’s left for one of her parties despite the fact that I banned her from going. I mean she left the children with the housemaid and left me a note that she has gone to a party with her friends at Ilesa. Can you imagine that? I work hard to take care of the family while she is busy gallivanting with her friends. Who knows what they get up to?” He lamented.

I sat there listening to him. I thought of what to say to him but was lost for words. I knew back then that letting off the steam was good for his soul but I thought I could say something intelligent to soothe his pain but I was lost for words.