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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My husband became a criminal because of my greed for wealth (4)

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That foreign vacation was just the beginning. After our return from the trip, which we all enjoyed despite the rain that fell a lot of the time and prevented us from exploring the city as much as we would have liked, I intensified my efforts in upgrading our lifestyle and status. Some months later, our house on the city outskirts was completed and my husband wanted us to move in immediately.
"We don't have to pay rent again; we are free from Lagos 'landlord wahala'," he said happily the day he broke the news of our impending relocation. There was nothing bad in moving to our own property. The problem was the location which was far from the city centre, in an undeveloped area with poor facilities. It did not just fit in with the kind of environment I wanted to live- a posh place like that of Runo and my other friends.
 Hilary noticed my lack of enthusiasm for the new house.
 "What's the matter, dear? You should be happy that we now have our own property," he stated.
 I told him about my misgivings about the move, like lack of good roads in the area and decent schools for the children and other issues.
 "Besides it's too far from town. How will I be seeing my friends when we will be living so far away," I grumbled.

"Don't worry. With time, we will adjust and you can always come to town once in a while for visits," he stated.
 Shortly after, we moved to the new house. God knows I tried to adjust to our new environment but it was just impossible. There was no electricity as the power company had not deemed it fit to erect poles and connect us. When the residents in the area tried to fix the poles and get a transformer through self-help effects, we learnt the utility company refused to give permit, claiming it was illegal. 
 The roads were more like village footpaths and were virtually impassable during the rains. In fact, my husband had to park his car as it was always breaking down due to the bad roads. He had to resort to taking public transport to and from work. Worse, I could not get any good school around for the children to attend. I was not happy in the new place and at a point, about six months after we moved there, I told my husband that I could not stay there anymore.
 "Our village is even better than here. I can't stay here any more! The suffering is just too much!" I complained late one evening on his return from work.
 "So, what do you want me to do? We just moved here! Endure, with time you will adjust to the situation. Afterall, others are coping here so why can't you?" he countered.
 I was not ready to listen. I had had enough and I wanted out. I had even made up my mind to move back to the city on my own if he was not ready to do what I wanted. Runo had told me I could move to her house anytime I wanted, saying there was enough room for me and the kids if I could not cope with 'that bush place' as she called our new place.
 I kept on harassing my husband so much and even threatened to quit the marriage if he refused for us to relocate, that he finally acquiesced. 
 I found a nice apartment in a very quiet, lovely estate in the city. The rent was on the high side and Hilary complained about how expensive the house was but I pointed out the advantages like proximity to his workplace, a good school for the children and other nice amenities. I was so happy the day we moved in.

  'At last, I'm living somewhere I can be proud to bring my friends to and not be ashamed,' I thought happily.
 I bought new furniture and household appliances as we had left most of our old stuff in our personal house. It cost a lot of money but the effort was worth it.
 "Nice decor. You did a good job here," Runo, who had very high tastes and standards, stated when she visited sometime later after we had settled down in our new place. 
 "Thanks. It was't easy convincing my husband to move here. You know how he is," I said as I served her some chilled wine.
 ***
 Most of our neighbours were wealthy people and this showed in their lifestyle especially the kind of cars they drove. No rickety or 'tokunbo' vehicles in sight but sleek, classy cars. I wanted to 'fit it' so I told my husband we needed to upgrade our cars to poshier models. To my surprise, he did not even argue about the cost. The following month he bought three brand new cars for the family, an SUV for me, a nice salon car for himself and another to be taking the children to school.
 You might be wondering where all the money to fund this expensive lifestyle we were living was coming from for a worker with an average salary such as my husband. As the chief Accountant in the company, I knew he earned well and there were perks attached to his position as well. But I knew it was not just his earnings alone. Truth was that, I did not care as long as my husband did whatever I wanted. 

  At a point I got bored of staying at home as the children were in school so I did not have much to do. To keep busy, I told my husband to open a business for me, at least a shop where I could sell ladies clothes, accessories and gift items. 
 I found a space in a shopping mall not too far from our house. With the capital my husband gave me, I bought goods worth millions of naira to stock the store and the business took off. With time, I started travelling out of the country to buy goods for the shop with money Hilary gave me and some of the profit from the business.
 We were living really well, the kind of 'hight class' lifestyle I had always wanted and I was happy. It was not up to the standard of my very rich friends like Runo, Patra and the other ladies in our group, but at least we were getting there. With time, I hoped to be among the top class people, living really 'big.'
 After that first vacation in London, we would spend subsequent holidays abroad in different countries including the U.S, South Africa, France and the Caribbean. My husband never complained anymore about the cost; once I make a request, he would grant it unlike before when he would grumble about the money. 
 You might think my husband is a weak man who can't say 'No' to his wife. It was not that- something else was involved which I will explain later.
 Anyway, things continued to go well for us till about two years ago. One day, my husband came home and told me he needed some money for a project he was doing.
 "I need about a million naira. I will pay you back once the 'project' works out," he assured me. I had some cash I wanted to use to order some goods from Turkey and Dubai but I felt that could wait.
 The following day, I gave him the money. Some days later, he asked me for another one million and I became suspicious.
 "Dear, what kind of project is this that you keep demanding for all this money from me? I can't take more money from the business or it will affect it. As it is, it was the money I needed to restock that I gave you last week. I don't have money left," I told him. He looked downcast but he did not say anything.
 Some days later, he came back from work around noon which was unusually early. He said he was feeling unwell and had taken a few days sick leave from work.
 "Let's go to the hospital if you are sick," I stated. But he said it was not necessary, that he simply needed bed rest. I gave him some paracetamol and he went upstairs to bed.
 He had been at home for about three days when we got unexpected visitors early one morning. Three policemen came and picked up my husband on corruption and theft of funds charges.

  "Mr Hilary, you are under arrest for theft, fraud, conspiracy to defraud and other offences," one of them said.
 I could not believe what was going on. My husband a thief? How come? Who did he steal from? Were some of the thoughts that were going through my mind as I watched the officers handcuff my husband.

  "Please, leave my husband alone! He is a good man, he hasn't done anything wrong," I shouted as they led him away. They ignored me, took my husband to a waiting vehicle and drove away.
 It was later the full story of my husband's fraudulent acts came out. Some external auditors who came to check the company's books discovered massive fraud in the account department, with my husband alone responsible for the disappearance of over 100 million naira

  I nearly fainted when I heard the large sum he had stolen.
 "So, all the money we have been spending was company funds," I said when I went to see him in the police cell where he had been detained.
 He shrugged and said:
 "Who caused it? You! It was your incessant demands and love of a flamboyant lifestyle, to be like your rich friends, that pushed me to this. I had to meet up and where was I supposed to get the money from? The moon?" he said sarcastically.
 Due to the case, our properties were seized including our personal house, all the goods in my shop, cars and others. Even our accounts were frozen. My in-laws, on hearing what happened to my husband and my role in it, came and took my children away, stating that I would infect them with my 'bad character' and ruin their lives with my greedy ways.
 Even my step daughter Estelle, now a big girl attending one of the universities in town, refused to have anything to do with me, calling me a 'bad woman who ruined my father.'
 Later, the company took the case to court and my husband was given a ten year prison sentence. 
 He has been in prison for about a year now. Our lives have been turned upside down by my husband's actions which nearly everyone is blaming me for. I know I wanted to live 'big' but I never told him to go and steal. 
 After a while, I had to move out of the duplex we lived in to a room apartment in another part of town as we could no longer afford the rent on the property. My business is gone, husband in prison and my children taken away. To worsen matters, I have been struck by a strange ailment which I have found out is spiritual. You see, a friend had taken me to see a native or 'juju' doctor sometime ago who gave me a charm that would make my husband love me more and do my bidding all the time.
The downside was that I must not stop using it on my husband or there would be a problem. It turned out the strange sickness is the problem.
Now, I live in constant pain and misery, all alone now, no money, family or friends. Runo and the other rich friends of mine all abandoned me as soon they heard about our troubles.
So was it all worth it? We lived big and enjoyed life, living beyond our means on stolen money, but now we are paying the price. A very high price at that! Where do I go from here?

  • What do you advise Annette to do about her situation? Readers reactions are welcome!

The End!

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


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