It has been raining for over 40 minutes…Well not actual rain, yet not drizzles. Somewhere in between. Segilola lit a cigarette, what she considered to be her only vice since it was harming her health. She is a doctor and she knows what is good for her but she just would not do it. She took a slow, long drag and inhaled to the bottom of her lungs, held it there for about 6 seconds and then did a slow nose/mouth exhale. She loved the way it made her feel woozy, then dizzy. The sound of her phone ringing brought her out of her reverie.
“Hi dear”, she answered, attempting to sound cheerful.
It was Onome calling… Onome Makinde or was it Akindele, whatever, Onome was a pretty messed up girl and was her kinda ex-friend trying to make a come-back. Her story buttressed Segilola’s resolution never to get married. What exactly is the reason why people get married? What is the point of subjecting oneself to a lifetime of either boredom or regret. The thought of being with one person forever was one Segilola refused to even consider. The only way she would ever agree to marriage is if she finds a man who was okay with an open relationship. You can do your thing. I can do my thing. But please let us not pretend we are faithful to each other. It was not just about the sex, it was the thrill of meeting a new man, fronting for a bit or brazenly seducing him till he gave in. In marriage, all that is lost. You are with the same man, kissing the same lips, shagging the same man forever. She shuddered at the thought.
What irritated her most was the lies. Men lie. These days, the women are worse. Would it not be better if both parties laid their cards on the table: we marry but you can do you and I do me.
“Segi, please are you home?”, Onome asked sounding a bit shaken.
“Where are you and what is the problem?” she quipped, taking 3 quick drags. This time, she exhaled immediately, slightly upset at the disturbance.
She was in no mood to receive any guest or play host in any form. She just wanted to be alone, read a book, smoke her fags. It was either she lied that she was not home or she appeared liked a bad friend by telling Onome she was unable to see her. She frowned, waiting for Onome’s response.
“I am at home. Can I come to yours now? Are you at home?”, she sounded impatient with Segilola’s evasiveness.
“Yeah, I am. You can come but what is the issue?”
“It’s Jide”, she mumbled between sniffles.
“Hmm, okay. Take it easy. I’ll be expecting you”, she said as she threw on some knickers and yesterday’s clothes and dragged herself to the living room to wait for her guest.
It was the exact story she expected to hear. Onome had snooped on Jide’s phone on Saturday and saw a text message from an unsaved number asking what the plan for that evening was. Refusing to accept it was a benign message, she promptly inputed the digits into her True Caller app and lo and behold it was a female name that showed up. At about 4 pm that same day, Jide had a second shower, got dressed to the nines, picked up his briefcase and the keys to his new car and announced that he was off to a business meeting.
With the information she had, she decided to probe. She asked him who he was meeting with and he responded that it was himself, Chinedu, his male colleague and a potential client, one Chief Eruwa. As soon he spoke those words, she confronted him angrily with her proof of a lie and announced that she was fully aware that he was meeting up with a girl whose name is …cant remember what she called her but she definitely mentioned the name to her husband.
Jide was half stunned, half angry and still proceeded to go out without saying a word. He didn’t come back home that Saturday and didn’t pick her calls either. Today, the next day, he showed up at 2pm still not saying a word. She screamed at him and in response, he slapped her and told her never to touch any of his phones or snoop on him again. Somewhere in their fight, he admitted seeing another woman who brings him peace unlike her. It was after that encounter that she picked up her phone to call Segilola.
Onome has never been happy in her marriage. I am one of the few, if not only friend who told her not to marry Jide. I know, for a fact, that I am the only one who actually told her outrightly. The other two semi-bold girls had, at best, hinted at it. I damned the consequences against the warnings of mutual friends who said to leave her alone and pray for her that God will reveal to her that Jide is not the one for her. What is it with hypocritical Nigerians and prayer? You say to pray for a girl who is about to marry someone we all know is a loser and a cheat. How exactly is God to answer that prayer, pray tell?! To send Angel Gabriel to tell her in a dream not to marry him or to give her the strength to endure an unbearable marriage? Gosh!!!
In my opinion, my telling her was the answer to someone else’s prayers for her. 2 months to her wedding, I sat her down and as kindly as I could, told her right to her face that Jide does not have the ability to make her happy and in fact worst still, he would bring her misery. She screamed at me and promptly dropped me off her bridesmaids list. She refunded the N60,000 I had paid for bridesmaid’s dress, make up and accessories and sent me a text that she believes guests at a wedding should be those who wished the couple well not prophets/prophetesses of doom who believed their marriage will fail and in view of that, she would appreciate if I did not attend.
I was hurt. I was disappointed. I had thought Onome to be a pragmatic and reasonable person who can handle truths, however bitter. I was so wrong. Thankfully, my brother’s son chose that period to make an unexpected and early arrival into the world after 7 months gestation, so I spent that period by his wife’s bedside in faraway Medical Centre Arlington, Texas. That is the only way I was able to avoid too many questions as regards my non-attendance. She took me off her BBM as well but we have loads of mutual friends and Jide is a typical “Lagos bobo” so their engagement and wedding pictures were all over social media and my BBM updates as well. I saw the other bridesmaids looking resplendent in the fabric and style I had chosen. I’m glad she was not childish enough to change it.
Onome looked beautiful in both her traditional Urhobo and Yoruba attires. Everyone looked great but I was sick to my stomach when I saw updates from our friends saying things like “Happy Married Life to the most amazing couple”. “I know your marriage will be awesome”. Even Bisi, a bridesmaid, who the week before had told me Onome was making mistake, wrote a long epistle on her instagram page about how great they are together. Hypocrites!
Two months into their marriage, I bumped into Onome in Balogun market. She looked into my eyes and kept walking. I had neither the strength nor the inclination to go after her in the crazy busy market and anyone who knows me knows I’m too stubborn to apologise for a good deed of mine and I have no tolerance for bad behaviour so I hissed and carried on with my fabric shopping. Just 2 weeks after our Balogun market encounter, we met again, this time, at a spa. I met her there waiting her turn but I had pre-booked so as soon as I walked in, I was attended to and ushered into the room for my spa treatment. She looked upset but the receptionist was quick to tell her that walk-ins generally have less priority in comparison to those who had booked and paid beforehand. We never saw again at the spa but that night, she sent me a WhatsApp message saying it was nice to see me. I didn’t respond immediately and waited about 2 hours after reading and sent her a smiling smiley, the one with no teeth. She wasn’t worth the teeth.
The next day, she called and sensing my coldness, said she was coming to mine. I was tempted to tell her I was unavailable but concluded instead that she was not worth my lie. She showed up 10 minutes after and within a few minutes, opened up to me. She cried and cried, telling me I was right and that her marriage had been hell. According to her, two weeks after they returned from honeymoon at the Maldives, Jide resumed hanging out with the boys and clubbing. She didn’t think much of it until she saw a condom in his wallet. She asked him about it and he claimed his friend put it in there and that he was even more shocked than she was to see it. Thank God he uses condoms, I thought to myself.
I didn’t need all that explanation to be honest. I personally have caught Jide in compromising positions at the club many a Friday night. He was a cheat and didn’t even try hiding it. I don’t even know why Onome accepted his proposal. It takes a lady of little or no self esteem to think its okay to be married to such a man and cry when accepting the ring that should have been flung in his face! Up until the day he proposed (and possibly after), he was in serious relationships with at least 3 other girls, so serious that in the eye of external observers, any of his girls could have been proposed to. When he gave Onome that ring, it was as though she won the race because, trust me, there were other contenders. One of the other competitors is known to be a good girl, a young Ibo girl who was reputed to be a virgin but whose parents were both pastors, slightly tribalistic and just would not accept a Yoruba boy whose parents were both politicians, chiefs and non-church goers (what a lethal combo, they must have thought!). They just would not allow it. So Onome was the next best thing and she got the ring.
I gently patted Onome’s back as the tears rolled down. She had wept and sobbed and now was exhausted. The only advice I have is a divorce! Onome was just 28 and many people in happy marriages today had not even met their spouses at that age. Unfortunately, as crazy as I am, I wouldn’t even dare offer that advice. I decided to follow the crowd and speak those words I absolutely have no belief in: “pray and fast, he will change”. Those were the words she said even her mother had spoken to her. Her mother had reminded her of how she had suffered so much in her marriage too and that no one ever has a problem-free home. Her mother had said that all her friends who appear happy all the time in photos etc are pretenders whose true and unedited stories if she heard would make her thank her God that all Jide was doing was cheating and giving her the occasional slap.
If her own mother can advocate staying in agony who am I to suggest otherwise. Had they been in my kind of idea of marriage, no one would be hurt as there are no such expectations of fidelity. Her mother had agreed with her that they would not tell her dad but would commence on a seven day fasting and prayer session. She asked if I would join my faith with theirs. “No problem”, I responded fully aware that I would be breaking each day’s fast with my 9:30 am breakfast. No time!!!
These questions play around in my head:
+ Should you tell your female friend she is about to make a terrible decision by marrying a certain man or do you keep quiet hoping she will either find out through some other means or for her sake, the man will change?
+ As a woman, would you want to be told that your fiancé is a cheat just a few months to the wedding?
+ As a parent, all the vendors have been paid and IVs sent, but you discover your son in law to be is a philanderer. Would you pray it away or face the situation head on and advise your baby girl to move on?