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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Agony of a second wife (3)


It wasn't just my mother who was opposed to my union with Frank. Expectedly, his wife did not want anything to do with me and swore that it would be over 'her dead body for her to share her home with that husband snatcher' as she referred to me.

But I was not concerned about her for Frank had assured me, he would sort things out with her. It was my mother that bothered me more. She remained adamant in her opposition to my marrying Frank. She distanced herself from the marriage preparations and refused to play her role as the mother of the bride. I felt bad at her attitude, seeing her as a bad mother who did not want her child's happiness. 

'Enemy of progress,' I grumbled to myself on several occasions.

To make matters worse, on the day Frank and his people came to my house for the engagement and payment of the dowry, my mother was nowhere to be found. She simply disappeared! It was one of my aunties, her younger sister who stood in for her as the bride's mother. 

 The ceremony went well, however and Frank and I became man and wife. I immediately moved into my new home with my husband and a new life began for me. What about his first wife, you might wonder. Well, the woman had in anger, moved out of her matrimonial home with her daughter. Frank told me that she had declared she would rather stay under one of the numerous bridges in Lagos than share her home with me.

 To me, it was 'good riddance to her' and I happily took over the house as the new 'madam.' By this time, I was already about six months pregnant. A month before my due date to deliver, Frank sent me abroad to stay and prepare for the birth. It was there I had my beautiful baby boy whom Frank named Philip after his father who was late.
  
 To mark the birth of his much longed for son, Frank threw a lavish party at our home on my return from the U.K. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I felt so happy, so proud as I held my baby in my arms, with the numerous guests trooping in to congratulate me and drop money and gifts for the baby.

As for my husband, his love for me seemed to have increased a hundred fold and he couldn't do enough for me. He gave me so many gifts including some very expensive jewelry. And to top it up, he bought me a house. I was at home one day, nursing the baby when he arrived from the office with a large brown envelope which he dropped by my seat.
"What's this?" I asked, looking at him curiously.
"Why don't you open it and see," he replied, smiling as he sat in a nearby chair.
  
I hurriedly opened it and when I saw the deeds to the property in my name, I almost dropped the baby out of shock.
"Hey! Careful. Don't drop my little boy," he said, coming over to take the baby from me. He had fallen asleep so Frank placed him in his little crib.
"Oh, Frank! Is this really for me? So, I'm a landlady now! Thanks so much, honey! I really love you...!" I said excitedly, going over to hug him so tight, he jokingly said I should stop before 'I broke his bones!'

Losing my baby
Little Phillip was about two years old when the tragedy that turned my otherwise happy life upside down occurred. We had a swimming pool behind the house as Frank loved to swim. Though I could swim, I preferred sitting by the poolside in a deck chair with a cold drink, watching as he frolicked in the water with a friend or two that usually came over on weekends to hang out with him.

That day, I was alone in the house as my husband had gone to work. I went down to the pool, not to swim, but just sit and read a magazine. Later, Phillip, who had been taking a nap upstairs woke up and the maid brought him down to join me. I played for a while with my baby, then went into the house to do something, I can't remember now. The maid was with Phillip so I felt he was safe. 

Some minutes later, I heard a piercing scream and abandoning what I was doing ran quickly downstairs. It was a horrible sight that met my eyes: my precious son had drowned in the pool!
From the incoherent statement the sobbing maid made, I gathered she had left him briefly to get something from the kitchen and he had fallen into the pool in her absence.

I could remember screaming and shouting, and I was even ready to drown along with him if I had not been restrained by one of our drivers who was around. Though he quickly rushed the boy to the hospital, it was too late. He was already dead!
I was grief-stricken and nothing anybody said could console me. I wept all day and refused to eat. But even in my grief at losing our son, I could see the effect on my husband. He took the boy's death badly. For days and even weeks after, he would stay in his room drinking and listening to very sad, melancholy music.

When my family heard about what happened, my father came to see me without my mother. Two of my siblings were with him. My mother's absence showed she was still angry with me over my choice of a husband. I felt bitter that she could not even put the past behind and come to see me in my time of distress.
Later, we recovered somewhat from the tragedy and forged on with our lives. Before my son died, I had discovered I was pregnant again and the doctor, our friends and family kept reminding of that- that I needed to be strong for the new life growing in me.

I had a baby girl some months later. We were happy for the new arrival in our home and I was hopeful that things would return to the state they were before we lost our son. Three years later, I gave birth again, to twin girls. Though my husband tried to hide it, I could see he was not too happy that I had had girls again. He had so desperately wanted a son, another boy that would take Phillip's place.

I consoled myself with the fact that I was still young and fertile enough to have more children, especially sons. I was ready to do anything in my quest to give my husband, male issues as I felt instinctively that our future happiness depended on it. I confided my worries to one of my aunts and she promised to help. She said she knew a powerful man of God, a prophet who could help 'turn my womb, so I can only give birth to sons.'
 One day, she took me to this man who prayed for me and applied some funny smelling ointment on my stomach. He assured me that my womb would only produce males from then on.

I believed him so much that when I became pregnant again some time later, I bought clothes for a baby boy. So, you could imagine my disappointment when I had another girl. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughters and I think the world of them. But we live in a society where the male child is highly sought after and a woman who can't give her husband males is deemed a failure, one who has not fully fulfilled her role as a wife.

This time around, when Frank heard I had given birth to another girl, he did not even bother to show up at the hospital. It was one of my elder brothers who came to pay the bills and take me and the baby home. And it was two days after that he came home from wherever he had gone to. I noticed immediately that he was quite withdrawn. He did not show interest in me or the baby unlike in my previous deliveries.

I tried to find out what was the matter, but he refused to say anything. Then one day, he simply flared up when I asked him to help me keep an eye on the baby while I took a quick shower. 
 "Am I your baby nurse that I should carry the baby? Take her with you or leave her there! Don't bother me!" he said.
"But Frank, what's wrong with your helping me with the baby? She's your daughter afterall!" I pointed out.

"Yes! She's my daughter and that's the problem! There are just too many of them! You think I married you to fill my house with girls? Woman, you better wake up to your responsibilities or else...! With that he picked up his car keys and hurriedly left the house.
I knew I had to give him a son or my marriage would be in jeopardy. But try as I could, I could not conceive again. It was as if my womb just closed up. Worse still, my relationship with my husband continued to deteriorate. Before, he would come home straight from work as soon as he closed to spend time with me. Now, I hardly saw him. Sometimes, he would stay out for days and return without explanations. To keep the peace in our home, I did not ask questions about where he had been.

 Later, I started hearing stories of his escapades with other women outside. A friend of mine even saw him at a swanky hotel in town one day with a lady and told me how he was all over her. I ignored all these stories and focused on taking care of my children, all the while praying that God would remember me and give me a son.
Things got worse, however. We had been together for about seven years when Frank simply walked out on me one day. I had gone out that day and returned to see him dragging some suitcases downstairs. His driver was standing nearby to help load the bags in the boot of his car outside.

"Where are you going, Frank? You didn't tell me you were traveling," I stated, eyeing the bags.
"As you can see, I'm leaving," he said shortly.
"What do you mean, leaving? To where" I asked, my heart beating fast with fear probably.
"Can't you get it? I'm going away! I'm leaving you! And for your own good, don't bother looking for me!" he said, as he moved outside to the car park. I followed quickly, shocked at the turn of events. I knew we were having problems, but not to the extent of abandoning me and his family. How could he?

I was not ready to lose my husband so going down on my knees, I pleaded with him to reconsider.
"Please, Frank, you can't do this to me! Don't go, honey! Think of the children! They need you. And I can't live without you!" 
But he ignored my pleadings and hurriedly getting into his car, drove away. It's been over a year now and I have not set eyes on my husband. We only speak on the phone when he calls to enquire about the children. I've pleaded and sent people to him to give me another chance but he remains adamant. Worse, I heard he has started living with another lady in one of his other properties in town and he is planning to marry her.

To be fair to him, he still takes care of us by giving me money for our upkeep. But that's not what I want. I want my husband back. Some people might think what happened to me is the law of karma or nemesis considering what happened to Frank's first wife. Or I should have paid attention to my mother's advice as they were words of wisdom from an elder. Whatever!
Truth is, I still love and want my husband and I will do anything to get him back. He is not actually a bad person, but his obsession for a son has beclouded his judgement. So, what should I do to win him back? Thank you. 


The End!

  

What do you think Nicole should do next?


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


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