Our love affair started when we were in school. We did a course together and became friends. Later, we found warmth in each other’s presence so we became lovers. Our first goal was to help each other get through the difficulties of academic work and later see what life will throw on our table. It got tough, especially for me during our last year in school. I got robbed on my way to school one late night. The robbers took my phone, my laptop, and my school fees too. There was no way I could go back home and ask my parents to pay the fees again. They didn’t have it so I had to find a way of getting the money. That was when the kindness of my girlfriend came shining through.
She called her parents and lied about some things she had to buy in school. When they sent the money to her, she gave it to me. It was about half of the fees. I took loans from friends and also did some work for some people to raise the rest of the money. One day I was at the hotel when she called me, “I have something for you. Come outside.” I went to her and she gave me a black bag. I opened it and it was a new phone. “Where did you get it from? What did I do to deserve this kind of kindness from you?” She answered, “That’s what love is all about. providing help in times of need. I saved and bought it for you so you can drop that yam.”
If I didn’t know how deep her love goes, everything she did for me during those moments showed me how deep her love for me was. I made a promise to myself, “I will do everything within my power to marry her after school. If I have to chip off a piece of the sun to be able to marry her, I will do it.” I made the promise not because I felt indebted to her, no. I felt a woman who can come through for you in times of need is worth the catch.
We completed school and completed national service.
A few months after national service she got a job. I kept hovering around the place I did my service, hoping they will see my efforts and hire me. They saw my effort. They saw the value I brought to them but they told me, “We are not hiring currently. Anytime opportunity comes around, you’ll be the first person we will contact.” New service personnel came in so my use was over. My rent expired so I packed my things and left the town to the town where my parents live. My girlfriend was my motivation. Everything I desired, she was at the center of it. I was struggling through life, huffing and puffing just to make things right and get married to her. Again, she came through for me. She gave me money when I needed it. She put in word for me wherever she went so I could get a job. She came home to visit often so my parents got to know her and called her an “in-law.”
All I need was a job to be able to marry the woman of my dreams. The job came two years later. I worked for two years, saved enough money, and got married to her. We dated for eight good years before the heavens opened the doors for us to be able to get married. I held her in very high esteem and everything I did showed the important place she wield in my life.
Three years after marriage, we were struggling to get pregnant. She was mostly worried. I was cool about it because I knew where babies come from and where they come from, they take their time and come when they want to come. Sometimes we mortals cannot do anything about it. We can only try but our efforts can’t turn things around the way we want them to be. While she was going from place to place seeking medical help, I stayed back and gave her the comfort she needed. I told her, “They say there’s nothing wrong with us. All we need is patience. Why don’t you forget about it and let’s live our lives? Babies will come when they will come. Let’s enjoy our childless lives before they come and give us wahala.”
When a woman wants something, she never rests until she gets it. My wife never rested. And then she started traveling to her parents every now and then. Once or twice a month, she traveled to them. She said, “Mom knows some local leaves that can speed up everything. I have to stay close to her so she can help.” I didn’t fight her. I didn’t try to stop her. Anything that made her happy was my desire.
One early Saturday morning I tried calling her phone. She had gone to her parents on Friday after work and didn’t call when she got there. I tried calling to ask if she had gotten to her destination but her phone was off. I figured she might have run out of battery so she will charge her phone and call later when she gets there. I waited all night until I fell asleep but her call didn’t come. When I woke up the next morning, I started calling her phone. It went through but she didn’t pick up. I got worried. I called her father and after exchanging greetings he asked me, “I hope my daughter is doing well too. Extend my greetings.”
I didn’t understand it. “Or the father is not in the house?” I asked him, “Are you home?” He responded, “Yeah I’m home.” I asked, “Can I speak to mom too.” He gave the phone to his wife and we talked. My mom-in-law said, “Eiii as for today you’ve called us. You’ve done very well. I hope our daughter is doing fine? She called yesterday and I even told her to greet you for me.”
My mind started going in circles. If she’s not with them or doesn’t go to them then where does she go? A lot of scary answers ran through my mind but I hushed the voices in my head so I don’t get things wrong. Later in the day, she called me. She apologized for not calling. She said her phone went off and she got home very tired so she slept while the phone was on charge. Early in the morning, her mother took her to see someone. She thought it was going to be a short visit so she didn’t take her phone along. I listened to her every word and nodded my head. I didn’t say anything to give away what I’d found. She came back home on Sunday evening. I heard her on the phone telling her ‘mom’: “I’m home ooo.” After a while, she said, “Oh I will tell him. He’s even here.” When she took the phone off her ears she told me, “Mom said I should extend her greetings.”
The storm in me started raging. I told myself, “Alex, calm down before you break the bridge you’ve built.”
She went to bed and I went working. Her phone had the same password I knew but her Whatsapp had a different password. I went through text messages and saw Momo alerts. She was sending money almost weekly to a certain guy called Addo. I went through her call log and Addo was the last number she called. Her mother’s number wasn’t on her call log. I started shaking. My heart got restless. I started thinking of all the means I could get to her Whatsapp but there was no answer. The next morning I saw her typing and wearing a smiling face. I got closer and snatched the phone. She didn’t know what was going on so she sat there looking at me. She was even smiling. I stepped out and locked the door. My thumb was touching the screen so it doesn’t get locked. By the time she got up and started banging the door and screaming, I was comfortably seated in the hall going through her phone.
She had been seeing the guy for some time. They were high schoolmates. She was sending the guy money because he lost his job. The guy has a son from his failed marriage and according to the guy, his ex-wife had been threatening to send him to court for failing to take care of their child. She had been going there to cook for him and warm his bed too. They referred to me as ‘Koo’ in their messages; “I hope Koo is not around.” “Are you sure Koo is not suspecting anything?” Their chats weren’t naughty but you could get the drift that a lot had been going on.
When I opened the door and threw her phone at her, she was already on the floor begging me. I asked her, “What are you begging for?” She was crying. She couldn’t talk. All she said was, “Everything. Please don’t leave me. It’s the work of the devil. I swear I will do anything you ask me to do. Please don’t leave me.” My pieces were breaking down bit by bit. I was dying slowly. I thought my heart was going to stop. I even thought of resorting to the rope to end everything but thank God for strength, I was able to go through a night and then another night and another one until I opened up to her own parents. Through the pain and everything I was going through, divorce never crossed my mind. I don’t know why. A lot of crazy revenge went through my mind but divorce wasn’t one.
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Her father did a marvelous job for us. He left everything to me to decide. He met me one on one often, asking about my state of mind. I poured everything out to him. He only said, “Think of what can reduce the pain and do it. Find a new place and live. Get time to think about the whole thing and decide whether to forgive or call it quit.” I left the house for over three months. When I came back we talked extensively about the way forward and how she was going to carry herself about to aid the healing process. Forgiveness didn’t come all at once. Even as I write this, total forgiveness hasn’t arrived though it had been a year already. She’s making every effort to make me forget but it’s hard. She even looks miserable looking at all the things she’s doing just to make me forget.
For the past year, I haven’t been able to kiss her. She tries to kiss me and I remember the probable places those lips had been then I pull off. She’ll stand there embarrassed but I can’t help it. She touches me and I cringe because I know where those fingers had been. I stand naked in front of the mirror, look at my body from hair to toe and ask myself, “Was she comparing the two of us while she was doing it with him? Yes, she did and I fell short. It was the reason she chose him.” We’ve never had shuperu in a year because I know where that ‘hairy canal’ had been. Why am I even still with her?
Recently, I’ve been thinking about divorce often. I know if we divorce she will find peace. Both of us are suffering in this sham we call marriage. Only a divorce will help I know, but I’m scared to let her go. Apart from this infidelity, she had been a wife and more. She had been a pillar and more. She had been the anchor that held the ship in place. It’s these reasons that make me want to keep this marriage though it’s broken from the inside. I wrote this story to ask if there is an easier step to total forgiveness. I’ve read books. I’ve read opinions from men who had been able to forgive but I can’t seem to let myself go and enjoy the marriage again. I’m not angry with her. Far from that. When I smile, it’s a genuine smile. We talk and sleep together. Everything is fine except that I can’t bring myself to be intimate with her again because where her body has been keeps haunting me.
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–Alex, Silent Beads!