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Saturday, November 28, 2015

'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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