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Monday, November 30, 2015

'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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