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Monday, November 30, 2015

'I married into money yet I'm so miserable' (3)

By the time I met Chief Cyril, he already had eight children- four daughters and four sons. He had two wives none of whom he said lived with him.
 "The eldest stays abroad most of the time while the younger one has her own place in town," he told me. 
 At the time, I wondered why he chose to live like a bachelor instead of having at least one of his wives with him. It was much later that I found out the reason.
 Soon, I wrote my final papers and graduated. For the NYSC, I was posted to Lagos, to serve in Ikorodu town which was a surprise to me as I thought I would serve in another state, having lived in Lagos most of my life. My mother wanted me to change the posting so I could be in the city of Lagos but I refused. It was the first time, apart from school I would be away from home, totally on my own and I liked the feeling of independence it gave me. I however, visited home regularly to check on her and my siblings.

  I was at our house on one of such visits when Chief came to see the family. It was not the first time he did that. Since the day of the quarrel at the factory when he had given us the money for my school fees, he had become close to our family and often visited. That day, he sat for sometime chatting and asking questions about my experiences as a youth corps member.
 Later, he sat with my mother in his car talking for a while before he left with his driver. I wondered what they were talking about but I did not think much of it until a few days later when I was about to return to my base at Ikorodu. 
 She called me into her room and said:
 "I know this must come as a surprise to you. It might even shock you. But the truth is Chief is interested in you!"
 "But Mum, what's surprising about that? Chief has always been interested in my welfare and that of the rest of the family since we met him at the factory," I pointed, giving her a quizzical look.
 She smiled and shook her head.

  "No. That's not what I mean," she said. Then drawing closer to me on the bed, my mother added:
 "Chief wants to marry you. He told me about it the last time he was here."
 She was right. I was not just surprised, I was dumbfounded! I just stared at her, my mouth agape like some of those actors in those Yoruba home videos on TV.
Then I found my voice.

  "Mum, is this a joke or what? You can't be serious!"
 "My dear, it's the truth. Chief wants you as his wife," she restated.
 "But he can't be serious! I mean he's old enough to be my father. He's even older than you and Papa. Besides, he already has wives and so many children. What does he want with a girl like me?" I argued.
 "Well, you'll have to ask him that when you see him. I'm just reporting to you what he told me," she pointed out.

  "And what was your response, Mum on hearing about the proposal?" I queried.
 She shrugged.
"I told him its not my decision to make. That you are old enough to decide what you want. You are grown up now, no longer a child. All I can do is guide and advise you as a mother," she said.
I sat pondering her words for a while before speaking.

  "Well, it's not going to happen. Chief has been very good to me and this family but I can't marry him. How can I marry an old man like that, with grown-up children some of whom are even older than me? My friends will all laugh at me!" I stated, getting up from the bed.
 I left the room and went outside our compound. I stood by the gate and idly watched people going up and down the street. A neighbour and friend Betty strolled by and stopped for a chat. 
 "I'll visit you in Ikorodu one of these days," she said as she walked away.
 That night, I could not sleep much as I kept mulling over what my Mum had told me. I always knew Chief liked me. But I thought I was more like a daughter to him as he had said a couple of times. So, why this marriage proposal now, I wondered, turning on the bed.
   A tycoon's bride
  About two weeks later, a Saturday, I was at the backyard of the corpers' lodge where I stayed, washing my clothes when I was told I had a visitor. Thinking it was Betty, my friend from Lagos, I went outside the gate. It was Chief, sitting calmly in the back of his car.
 He smiled on seeing me and invited me to join him in the car.
 "What are you doing here, Chief?" were the first words I spoke on entering the car.
 "To see you, obviously," he replied, still smiling at me.
 "But you should have called first. I would have prepared something for you," I said. 

  "No need for that, my dear. In fact, I want to take you out. So, go inside and wear something nice, ok?" said Chief.
 He took me to a nice eatery in town. We sat in the secluded booth on the first floor section and it was there that my journey to my present life began. That day, Chief proposed formally to me, stating that it had always being his desire to marry me from the beginning. What made him wait, he said was my education as he wanted me to finish school first.

  He waved all my objections aside, such as the age gap, his wives, wealth, numerous children etc.
 "I'm a High Chief in my community as well as an African man. I can marry as many wives as I want as long as I can take adequate care of them," he argued.
The benefits of the union to me would be immense, he pointed out- my family would kiss goodbye to poverty for ever, my younger siblings would have the best education money could buy, I would live in the lap of luxury and immense wealth for the rest of my days and I would never have to worry about money anymore, my mother would no longer have to struggle so much to raise my brothers and sisters and so on...
 It took me a week to decide whether to marry Chief or not. 
 "I knew you will make the right decision," said my mother when I went to see her in the city. "Chief is a good man. I know he will take very good care of you and you won't regret marrying him," she said, hugging me.
 Chief was very happy when I called him to break the news to him.

  "Alice, you have made me a very happy man!" he said, sounding pleased. 
  At least he was happy. As for me, I felt neither joy nor sadness. Looking back, I believe it was a sense of duty to my family that informed my decision. I had watched since I was a child how my mother had to work so hard to feed the family and take care of us. Our father was useless and had shirked his duties in the home for as long as I could remember. 
 'At least, my Mum can rest now from all her struggles,' I thought as I tried to convince myself that I had done the right thing by marrying Chief.
 Eight months later, at the end of my service year, the traditional marriage rites were done and I became a millionaire's bride...

To be continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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'I married into money yet I'm so miserable' (2)

It was the beginning of the new session at school. The day I was to return, my mother had given me some money, promising to send my school fees and money for other expenses later.
 Two weeks later, I had to go home when the money with me ran out.
 I met her at the shop, looking dejected, sitting with her right hand on her jaw.
"My dear, you are welcome. How's school?" she asked as I walked in.
"Fine, Mum. But what happened? You are looking so sad!" I stated.
 My mother sighed.
 "Hmm. It's that your father again o!"
  "What has he done this time?"I queried. Just then, a customer came and after attending to him, she turned to me.
 "Last week, I was able to get some money which I planned sending to you at school. I remember putting it in my suitcase in the bedroom. But yesterday, when I went to get it to send the money to you, it was no longer there. I asked your younger ones if they took the money but they denied knowing anything about it," she said. 

 It was later, she added, that David, my younger brother, an SS2 student had told her what happened when everyone had left the house.
 "He was sick that day with malaria so he could not go to school. He said your father came when he was alone in the house and had gone to my room. David said he had come out counting a large amount of money. I believe he took the money. I've not seen him since yesterday. Hopefully, he will come home today so I can confront him about it," she stated.

  I felt bad hearing what my father had done, though I was not surprised. He had done worse things in the past. He was a man who could not be trusted.
 We waited for him for two days and when he did not return home, Mother and I decided to visit him at his work place. At that time, my father worked as a security man at a factory that manufactured plastic products at Ogba, Lagos.
 He was not at his post when we arrived. 

  "He has gone to eat at a 'joint' down the road," a colleague informed us. He gave us seats and we sat down to wait for him.
 He returned about thirty minutes later, looking surprised to see us. As soon as my mother set eyes on him, she pounced on him.
  "Where's the money? Ole! (Thief)!" she shouted, seizing him by his shirt collar.
  "Woman, behave yourself! What are you doing here and what money are you talking about?" he demanded.
  "You are asking me as if you don't know? Where's the N80,000 I kept in my bag in the room? Give it to me now or..." she threatened. 
 "Why are you asking me about the money? I don't know anything about it. I..." he said, but she cut him short.
 "Stop lying Papa Alice! David saw you taking the money so bring it now!" she demanded.
 "Alice, you better talk to your mother else I will deal with her o! Tell her to leave me alone!" he said.
 I spoke up then.
 "Papa, part of that money is for my school fees so bring it so I can go back to school as I have already missed so many lectures."
 But he kept denying taking the money while my mother continued shouting at him to return it. The altercation soon drew the attention of some of his colleagues and others around and soon a small crowd had gathered. My dad's boss, on hearing the commotion, came out and took us to his small office at the security post. After questioning my father for a while, he finally confessed to taking the money. He said he spent it on drinking and had gambled with the rest.

  "I also gave part of it to Mummy Vicky," he said, referring to his concubine. On hearing what he had done, I began crying. I ran out and stood by the large gate of the company, weeping bitterly. How could my own father do this to me, I thought as the tears rolled down my cheeks. What was I going to do now? How could I go back to school without money, I wailed, crying profusely with my hands on my head.
 My mother who was still visibly angry came to join me. She was consoling me, with some other people around when a black SUV drove to the gate.
 The security men all sprang to attention as soon as they saw the vehicle and its occupant.

 Meeting Chief Cyril
  Chief Cyril, the owner of the factory had come for his monthly meeting with the management and to check on things. He must have seen me crying and lamenting at the gate of his company for he sent for my mother and I on getting down from the car and enquiring from my father's boss what the problem was. 
 When I told him I could not return to school because my father had drunk away my school fees, he was very sympathetic to my plight and told us not to worry.

  "I'll do something about it. Just wait here for me," he stated, before walking briskly inside the office with his entourage in tow.
  Later, an assistant came with an envelope which he gave to my mother. Inside was a large sum of money, much more than my father had stolen from my Mum. His business card was in the envelope as well.
 We were so happy at the unexpected gift from a total stranger and wanted to go inside to thank him but the assistant said he was too busy to see us.
 "He's in a meeting at the moment. But he said you can call him later on phone," the man said.
  On getting home later that day, I called our benefactor on phone and after speaking with my mother for sometime, I thanked him profusely for his help.

  "Sir, without your help, I would have been stranded at home, unable to return to school. Thanks so much for your assistance. God bless you, sir," I said enthusiastically.
 "You are welcome, my dear. Just let me know if you have any problem at school. And take care of yourself," he stated before hanging up.
 "Such a good man. He didn't know us yet see the way he helped us," my mother said happily, before adding:

  "As for that father of yours, it's only God that will judge him. Imagine drinking and gambling away his own daughter's school fees! What kind of man does that?"
 "Ma, don't worry yourself about my Dad. What matters now is that I can go back to school. I'm so happy!" I said, going into the room to pack.
 That was how Chief Cyril came into our lives. After that initial encounter, he would call me in school to monitor my progress. He also sent me money regularly, 'so as to reduce the pressure on your mother,' as he put it.

  Infact, for the rest of my stay in school, Chief was the one responsible for nearly everything including my school fees, feeding and accommodation in school.
 "I'm doing this for you because I see you as an ambitious young girl who wants to better her lot in life. I want to do the little I can to help you realize your dreams," he said one day when I had gone to visit him at his office. 
 "Thank you for all your help, sir," I said gratefully.

  "It's alright, my dear. You see, I have three daughters who are your age mates. They are in higher institutions too. If they had a tenth of your drive and ambition, I will be a very happy and fulfilled man. But all they do is party, shop and spend my money as if I have a money tree in my back yard!" Chief stated wryly.
 That day, he told me a bit about his family and personal life. Back then, I simply saw him as a family friend and benefactor. He also treated me like a daughter and was really good to me. But things changed between us after my graduation...

To be continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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'I married into money yet I'm so miserable' (1)

I was downstairs helping the maid serve my husband, Cyril's breakfast in the dining room when he came down, carrying his briefcase and a large bag.
My heart fell at the sight of the bag which only meant one thing.
"Darling, don't tell me you are travelling again! You returned from your last trip just last week!" I stated, watching as he handed the bag and briefcase to Kingsley, his P.A.
"Ah, Alice my dear. I forgot to tell you last night. My business partners in Germany want to see me urgently over that contract with the government I got recently. Its not something any of my managers can handle so I have to be there myself," he explained. He came over to the table and picked up his cup of coffee which was served the way he liked it, black with no sugar or milk.

"You know I hate it when you travel as I miss you so much. I feel lonely, all by myself in this big house," I grumbled.
"I know my dear. And I miss you anytime I'm away too. But I promise we shall go away on vacation soon. Just the two of us," he said.
"You said that six months ago, Cyril! All you do is make promises you never keep," I grumbled. 
He took my hand across the table and stated:
"Trust me. I will keep my word this time around. So cheer up! You know I don't like it when you frown like that!"
"Just return before the 14th. It's Junior's school anniversary. He will be participating in the drama presentation and the Principal wants us and the other parents to be there to encourage the children," I said.
"Sure. I should be back by then. I have to rush so I don't miss my flight. Take care of the home, dear!" he said. He hurriedly kissed me on the cheek and was gone.
 I sat at the table for a long time after his departure, just staring glumly at the different dishes on the table; bread, different varieties of breakfast cereal, eggs, oats and so on. My husband had barely touched any of the food and I had no appetite. So much food and no one to eat it.
 I called Rosa, one of the maids and instructed her to clear the table. Upstairs in my room, I thought about the whole day ahead and wondered how I was going to spend it without going crazy with boredom. You see, that was the major problem in my life. Boredom. It might sound funny to some people but that's the truth. I had too much time on my hands and little to do. 

  I had little chores in the house as the domestic staff did all the work. All I do all day once my son, Junior has gone to school is eat, sleep, watch movies, do some shopping and chat on the phone with the few friends I had. In the past, I had wanted to work or start a business at least to keep me busy. But my husband would hear none of it.
 "My wife work? No way! What will my friends say? That I can no longer provide for you? What do you lack in this house? There's money, plenty of it so what do you need a job for?" my husband had pointed out when I brought up the issue of doing something to ward off boredom. 
 On one point, he was right. My husband is one of the richest men around and he is generous with his money. I lacked for nothing be it choice cars, designer clothes, top range jewelry and other good things of life. I had it all. A lot of other women envied my lifestyle and wished they were married into wealth like me. They say I'm lucky and should be grateful for what God has done in my life.
 So, why do I feel this emptiness inside? Why do I feel so miserable most of the time despite having so much? What was wrong with me, I wondered. Was this not what I had prayed for and desired most of my life?
 "Your problem is idleness," my friend Queen had stated severally when I had discussed the issue with her. Queen and I went back a long way and she was one of the few intimate friends I had that I could confide in. We had met over ten years before when I was preparing for the JAMB exams. I had failed at the first attempt and determined to make it the second time, I had enrolled for extra classes at a coaching centre in town. It was Queen's third time taking the exams and her last chance.
  "My father said I should forget about furthering my education if I don't pass this time around. He says he's tired of wasting his money on a dullard like me," she said, laughing. She was lucky. At least, she had a father who cared enough about her future to pay her exam fees. With the kind of father I had, I would have been better off being an orphan.
 He was irresponsible and useless both as father to his five children and a husband to our mother. My father did odd jobs sometimes in factories or as a security man but he hardly worked. Not that he did not get jobs; his problem was keeping them. His drinking habits and general lack of commitment to his duties made him lose most of the jobs he was able to get. He did not make much money but what little he had went into alcohol or his mistress- a widow with seven children. 

  He never cared if we ate, had clothes to wear or a roof over our heads. The responsibility of looking after my siblings and I fell on my poor mother, a primary school teacher. To supplement her meagre salary, she opened a small provisions store not far from our home. After closing from school, she would head for the shop and remain there till late in the evening. My siblings and I helped out at the store after school. Despite all my mother's efforts, things were tough for us and there were so many things we had to do without just because my mother could not afford them.
 Papa was hardly home and even when he was around, he was more of a nuisance than anything. His drunken singing announced his presence in our compound and once he entered the house, he would demand for food from my mother. He hardly gave her money for the family's upkeep and did not care whether we ate or not as long as he was fed.
 Coming from such an indigent background, you might wonder how I ended up with a wealthy man like my husband, Chief Cyril. Well, it's a long story and looking back, I believe fate had a hand in it. And my irresponsible father too...

 A fight at the factory
Luckily for Queen and I, we passed the entrance exams that year and we got admitted to the same university. While my mother was happy at the news, she grew worried about where the money for my fees and school expenses would come from. She contacted some of our relatives who were better off financially than us and a few promised to help. With their support and the little my mother could put together, I was able to go to school. It was not easy but I persevered, as I realized that it was only through a good education that I could help in lifting my family from its poverty stricken situation.
  I was in my third year when an incident happened that nearly truncated my educational career and the bright future I so hoped for...

To be continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

'She left me because I was poor. So what does she want now?' (3)

As you can imagine, my wife's abrupt and unexpected departure from our home left me confused and sad. At first, I just sat staring blankly at the wall in the living room, unable to function. Later, when the twins began crying for food, I had to get up and prepare breakfast for them. That was the beginning. From that point, I became a father, mother and nurse maid to the boys. Initially, they asked for their mother. But after a while, they stopped pestering me about when she would return from the village to visit 'Grandma' as I had told them.
 God knows I made a lot of efforts to get her back but all yielded no fruit. I even travelled to her village to inform her mother and family about what was going on in my home. They told me they had neither seen nor heard from her for months and did not know where she was. The same with her friends when I contacted them; they denied knowing where she presently lived.
 It was only one, Brenda who probably took pity on me and confessed that my wife had warned her not to tell me where she had moved to.

  "Sherri's staying with one man she calls her 'husband'. I saw her once with the man while she was still living with you but she never told me she was having an affair with him. I thought they were just friends. Anyway, I don't like what she has done and I told her so when I went to see her recently," Brenda said.
 She then gave me the address of my wife's new abode. One Saturday morning, my friend Larry drove me down to the place so we could cajole her to return home. For despite what she had done, the truth was that I still loved Sherri and I was ready to accept her back if she was willing to.

  But it was a wasted journey. Sherri, on sighting us at the door of the new-looking bungalow at the Isheri area of Lagos where she lived, started shouting that if we did not leave at once, she would call the police and 'have us locked up!'
 "Dan or whatever your name is, you have the guts to come to my new husband's home! You are not even afraid! I think the poverty afflicting you has affected your brain. You better leave before I call the police!"
 "Please, why don't you just listen to us, Sherri. Dan wants you back home. Just pack your things and let's go," said Larry.
 "Go where? This is my home now! This is where I belong. The earlier this stupid friend of yours realize our marriage is over, the better! You are lucky my husband is not home, or you people would have seen 'fire' today!"
 I spoke up then.
"It hasn't come to that, Sherri. You are still my wife and the mother of my children. The twins keep asking after you. Don't you even miss them? Why don't you come home and see them?"
 "You want me to come home! Alright, wait here let me get my bag," she said, going into the house.
 A short while later, she returned with a bucket of water which she threw on us! Worse, the water was mixed with pepper; so we were not just soaked to the skin, we had itchy skin from the pepper.
 As we walked towards the gate looking like drenched cats, Sherri kept pouring curses and invectives on us.

  "So, you are leaving? Stay now! Useless, jobless idiots! You have nothing better to do than come here to harass another man's wife so early in the day. The next time I see your 'k leg' in this compound, it's acid I will pour on you, not just 'pepper water'. Yeye people! You want to come and put 'sand sand in my garri', spoil all the fun I'm having in my new home. Nonsense!..
  Family meeting
 After that nasty experience, I did not see my wife again till some weeks later. It was at a family meeting that was convened to resolve the matter between us. At the gathering presided over by an elderly Uncle of hers who was the family head, my wife remained obdurate. The old man precisely told her that as far as the family was concerned, I was the only husband they knew; he even ordered her to move back to our home.

  "You have no excuse whatsoever for abandoning your matrimonial home and moving to another man's house. So what if he is currently having difficulties because of his failed business ventures. So? Is he the first man to fail in business and go broke? If every wife abandons her home just because the husband is broke, do you know how many broken homes we will have in the society? What kind of irresponsible behaviour is that? If your father were alive today, he will be very angry with you!

  "I don't know where you got this bad character from because women in our family don't behave in this manner. This young man was good to you and also the family when the going was good. It's your duty as a wife to stand by him now that things are rough. That is what marriage is, full of ups and downs. It's not rosy all the time! You don't run away at the slightest hint of trouble and move into another man's house!"
 "This your so-called new husband is unknown to us. We don't know that man! It's our son-in-law here, Dan we know. So, go and pack your things at once and go back to your home. Go and take care of your children and family. That is my final decision and that of this family!"
 I was very happy at the decision and was hopeful that it would put an end to our estrangement. How wrong I was! Sherri defied her family's order to return home and continued to stay with her new man. To make matters worse, she even threatened to get custody of the twins through the courts if I did not stop harassing her about returning. She already had Dina, our baby daughter and I did not want to lose my sons. It was tough bringing them up on my own but I would rather go through all that stress of raising the boys than allow them brought up in another man's home. 
 I decided to leave everything to fate and focus on my boys as well as resuscitating my business. 

 With Larry's support, things began to pick up for me gradually. A few jobs here and there enabled me acquire some capital with which I began doing business again. Then, to my joy, Larry's business partner in China finally agreed to do business with me on a credit basis based on his recommendation. That turned out to be a major breakthrough for me. I sold the first consignment of goods he shipped to me and promptly remitted the money to him. He was so happy that I met up with the contractual agreement on time that he agreed to do business with me on a long term business.
 With that connection and a few others, I started making money again. I moved out of the house we were living into a bigger place in a nicer neighbourhood. I even got a maid to take care of the house and twins who were growing fast. Then, nearly two years after my wife left me, I started seeing another lady. 

 Doreen was a member of our church. I used to see her around the church but we did not become close until we both became members of a committee set up for a building project in the church headquarters.
 All along, I had stayed away from women because of my experience with my wife. Besides, I always felt at the back of my mind that Sherri might return home one day and what would happen when that day came and another woman had taken her place. But when two years passed with no sign of her, I finally gave up especially when I heard she had had a baby for her new man. I decided to put the past behind me and forge on with my life. 
 It was at this point that Doreen and I started seeing each other. We grew to love each other and best of all, she loved my boys and was always caring towards them. After I had studied her for a while, I made up my mind and decided to marry her. Larry and all my family members were all in support of the union. 

 So, five months ago, they all accompanied me to her father's house in Benin and we did the introduction and other traditional marriage rites.
 Since then, we have been living happily together as a couple. Her coming into my life has brought so much blessings, it's like a new beginning for me. My business is doing so well that I'm nearly at the level I was three years before when my goods were seized at the ports. 
 I'm at a good place now and I'm happy. 

 The only problem now is my former wife Sherri. She suddenly resurfaced in my life after three years of absence begging me to take her back! Imagine that! This is a woman that caused me so much pain and heartache and just when things were going well for me again, she wants to return. 

  It turned out that the man she was living with had a wife who was based abroad. The woman, who owned the house and all the other properties they had been enjoying, suddenly returned to Nigeria one morning. She threw Sherri and her children out, locked up the house and took her husband with her back to her base abroad.
 With no where to go, Sherri felt she had no option but to come back to me! Anyway, I told her when she came to see me in my new office that there was no 'vacancy' at home anymore, that her place had been taken by a woman who understood what real love and marriage meant.
 She has been going about telling all my friends and family members to plead with me to forgive her and take her back. I always tell them that can only happen when 'pigs start flying', meaning never!
 Why would I take a woman back who abandoned me at my hour of need? Who almost blinded me with the water and pepper concoction she poured on my friend and I? In fact, her misdeeds are too many to mention here.
 The only concession I have is to send her an allowance regularly at least for the upkeep of my daughter so the little girl will not suffer because of her mother's bad behaviour. With time, I plan getting custody of the child so she can be with her brothers.

  I'm writing this so the young guys out there who want to marry should learn to choose their partners carefully. Look for a lady who loves you enough to remain with you even when things are not going well, not the one that will run away like my ex-wife just because I lost all my money and became poor.


Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator, his wife and other individuals in the story.

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'She left me because I was poor. So what does she want now?' (2)

The twins were about two years old when the incident that nearly brought my life to an end occurred. It was a call from my clearing agent that started it all. I remember it was early in the morning as I was preparing to take my wife who was pregnant again to her antenatal and to see her doctor before heading to my office.
Paddy, my agent called to break the terrible news that my goods which had arrived that week at the Port at Apapa (Lagos) had been seized by Customs!
 "What happened?" I shouted, slumping heavily on the bed at his words.
 Sherri, who was fixing her hair turned from the dressing mirror, looking at me worriedly. She dropped the hair brush and rushed to my side.
"Honey, what is it?" she asked anxiously, placing her hand on my shoulder.
I placed a finger on my lips to silence her as I listened intently to Paddy on the phone. The more he spoke, the more worried I became. This could not be happening to me, I thought suddenly feeling dizzy.
The call ended and I jumped up from the bed. Picking up my car keys, I headed for the door.
"Dear, I have to go! There is an emergency at the Port! Will explain later!" I said.
"But Dan, what about my antenatal and the appointment with the doctor? We were supposed to see him today, remember?" she stated, coming after me to the living room.
"Sorry, dear, it has to be rescheduled. Tony will drop you at the hospital before joining me at the Port. You can take a taxi back home when you are done. There's some money in the drawer in the bedroom. I've to go!" I said, hurrying out.
I still remember the events of that day like it just happened recently. I remember rushing to the Port to meet my agent who gave me the full details of what led to the seizure of my goods.
The matter is a criminal offence so I can't really give the full picture but just a brief sketch. It turned out that my business partner and friend, whom we often import goods together had added some 'contraband' items to his own consignment without my knowledge. 

When they were discovered during routine checks, my goods were seized along with his since they were shipped together. What saved me from being prosecuted was that my partner confessed he acted alone without my involvement. That however could not save my goods which were confiscated and auctioned off.
The bottom line is I lost everything- my goods, my money even my house. I had used it as a collateral to get a loan from the bank which I added to my own funds to import the goods. It was a short term loan and when the time to pay came and I could not meet up, the bank took the house, cars and other properties to settle the amount I had borrowed.
 I was back to 'zero'- no home, money, nothing! As you can imagine, it was a terrible time for my family and I. We were nearly homeless, so we had to squat with my younger brother Tony who had moved to a small apartment after my marriage for a while. It was while there that Sherri gave birth to our daughter Dina. With her arrival, things became tougher as there was an extra mouth to feed. 
 Tony had a fiancĂ©e who made it clear we were not welcome in their home. To avoid further insults from her, I borrowed some money from my brother who still had some savings with which we moved to a one bedroom mini-flat in another part of town. 
 At the beginning of our problems, my wife supported me and was understanding. But after sometime, her attitude began changing. Either she was always complaining about the cramped space we lived in a seedy environment or that I was not giving her enough money for baby food or to buy clothes for the children.
"The twins' clothes need changing as they have outgrown them. Dina's baby food is finished. I need money," she said one day.
 "But dear, you know I don't have any money. The N5,000 I borrowed from Larry three days ago, I gave it all to you. Don't tell me you have spent everything! You have to be more prudent with your spending now because of our situation!" I stated.
"What? Are you now questioning me about how I spent 5k? What is N5,000? Is that money? Is that what your mates give their wives?" she stated in an angry tone.
 "How can you talk like that, Sherri? You know when we had money, I used to give you thousands of Naira for your clothes alone! So, why are you...?" I started saying before she cut me short.
"That was then, this is now! Now, you are messing up big time. You are no longer living up to your responsibilities as a husband and father. Instead of going out to 'hustle' like other men, you sit here all day complaining about my spending habits and watching stupid football games. Nonsense!" she shouted before going into the bedroom to pick up the baby who had woken up and was crying.
 From the way she spoke, one would think I was simply lazying around all day long at home, doing nothing. It was not so. I went out nearly every day to look for ways of restarting my ruined business but it was tough. There was simply no money and none of my friends were ready to give me loans to start again.
Only very few like Larry were supportive and gave me some financial assistance with which we bought food and other necessities. I even thought about getting a job no matter how small at least to get money to feed my family. But jobs were scarce and all the places I had gone to for work informed me there were no vacancies.
Broken family
Sherri's attitude worsened with each passing day. It got to a stage she stopped giving me food at home, stating that the food was meant for her as a nursing mother and the children and I had to go out and 'sort myself out' as she put it. I had to make arrangements with a woman who ran a local restaurant, a 'buka' near my house to be eating there at least once a day on credit or I would have starved. I would settle her whenever I got a little money from my friend, Larry.

"Apart from not giving me food, do you know she doesn't allow me to sleep with her anymore?" I said one day when I went to see Larry at his office in Ikeja.
"Why? She is your wife! Why would she deny you sex?" he enquired.
"I don't understand Sherri anymore o! The woman has changed so much! Her excuse is that she doesn't want to get pregnant again as we don't even have money to feed the three we have already," I replied.
"That's not a good excuse. Has she not heard of contraceptives? Anyway, I will advise you to take it easy with her. Some women are like that. They can't cope with difficult situations; they expect things to be going smoothly all the time. Life is not like that. Life is like a road that is full of bends and bumps. You just have to learn to negotiate the rough parts when you get there," Larry said.
 "You are right, my brother. And thanks so much for your support. I don't know how I could have coped without you," I stated.
 Larry smiled, stating that it was the least he could do for me considering how I had helped him in the past when I had money.
 "You did the same for me some years back when I had problems in my business. I have no choice but support you now," he said.
"Not everyone remembers the good one had done them. Afterall, you are not the only one I helped, but where are the others? No where! Some hide when they hear that I'm in their offices or homes to see them. That's life!" I said bitterly.
 Later, we discussed some business ideas. My mood brightened a bit when he told me about a good business partner of his in Asia who was considering sending goods to me on credit.
 "I told him you are a reliable person and you always pay your debts. We are still discussing; I hope it works out," said Larry.
 I prayed this opportunity would work out as it could help a lot in my efforts to bounce back to reckoning.
 I got home that day feeling much better than I had been in a long while. At home, I met the twins sleeping in the bedroom and my wife was no where in sight.
 'Where could she have gone?' I wondered as I went to get some water from the fridge.
 Shortly after, she returned with a large 'Ghana-must-go' bag in her hand.
 "Where did you go, Sherri? The boys were all alone in the house! That's not good at all!" I said. 
 She ignored me and went to the bedroom. Thinking she was in one of her bad moods, I left her alone and sat watching TV in the parlour.
 The sounds of the baby crying woke me up early the next morning. I looked at my watch to see it was just past six o' clock. Sounds were coming from the parlour so I went there. There was a suitcase and some bags there which Sherri was about taking outside the house.
"What's going on here, Sherri? Where are you taking those bags to?" I asked.
 "Are you so daft? What does it look like? I'm leaving!" she announced abruptly.
 "Leaving? To where? You never told me you were travelling to see your family?" I said, thinking she was going to the village to visit her old mother, a widow.
 "I'm going away! I'm done with this marriage!" she said, grabbing one of the bags.
   It then dawned on me that this was no ordinary journey. She was abandoning me!
  "But dear, it hasn't come to that! Things are not so bad that you will just walk away like that from our home, our marriage!" I said.
 "That's what you think! As for me, I can't take this anymore. I have to leave before I go crazy!" said Sherri.

  "Please, dear, don't go! I need you now more than ever! Please stay! You are my life, my world! What will I do without you?" I said pleadingly.
 "Stay to do what? Starve to death? I can't o! Let me go and try my luck elsewhere since you can no longer take care of me," she retorted.
 I tried to stop her but she pushed me aside and dragged all the bags outside. A strange man I had never seen before came and took the bags to a waiting car which my wife entered with the baby in her arms and they drove away, leaving me all alone with the twins...

What next? Join us at 4pm today for the final episode of Dan's story!

To be continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Eva Presh, nation's youngest music sensation set to rock music scene

Eva Presh with 2 Face Idibia at the Felabration concert
She is just ten years old, but Eva Presh, Nigeria's youngest rapper and new music sensation, has the talent and stage craft of a much older artiste. This much was on display at the recently held Felabration Concert at The Shrine, Ikeja, Lagos. 
The youngster, not only opened the show, she also closed it, to the admiration of the audience as well as fellow artistes including 2Face Idibia who was visibly entralled by her performance.
The young artiste not only sings and dances, but composes her songs as well. Her inspiration for her music, she revealed comes from her environment. "I compose my songs from story books, novels, events and what people say and do around. And especially in my quiet moment," she said.
On her love for music, Eva enthused: "I love music because it brings harmony and happiness. Music makes me happy, makes people around happy and it sends messages to the world. An example is my new track titled: 'Join me dance for Nigeria' I'm so far the world's youngest rapper and dancer. I started singing at the age of 9. I sing at birthday parties and shows such as LTV end of year party and others.                   
"I released my first hit track titled 'God is bigger than my enemies at ten years old. It was released on September 1 while the video came out on September 5."
Since hitting the music scene, Eva has performed in many shows and competitions in the country including the GCGT show and the Felabration concert which held recently in Lagos.
Eva Presh at the Felabration concert
Her role models in the music industry include Nicki Minaj- "the way she raps, swags, styles and so on- 2Face and P-Square. "2Face is like a father to all musicians because he loves and easily promotes people when you come to him. We met at FELABRATION and he played with me. I love P-Square because they are good dancers and am also a dancer, but my main man in dance is Chris Brown."  
On her experience in the entertainment industry so far, she confessed: "Well, it has not been easy for me as an upcoming artiste; you need to be in numerous shows, have your songs and video on radio and t.v. stations, and so on. I hope to be signed by a record label soon; that's my desire. I promise any record label that signs me that I won't disappoint them. I'll make them proud," she vowed. 

While her brand of music is gospel, she also sings secular music too. "I sing secular songs to send out messages to people and my fellow kids," she said.
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