‘Deji has impregnated another woman.’ Laura blurted.
‘Oh my God.’ I shouted.
‘Can you imagine? After all these years. After three children. This is how Deji chooses to reward me, by taking a new wife.’ Men and the pain they cause with what should ordinarily be a sugar stick.
‘Please calm down.’ I pulled Laura close.
‘Calm down? How can I calm down? 25 years of marriage is about to go down the drain?’ Her voice dripped pain.
‘Still, you must stay calm so that you can take the right decisions, make appropriate plans. The way you are now, you are just going to do something rash, something you and everybody will regret later.’ I tried to reason with her.
The most dreaded bus stop in marriage for most women is where she finds out that her husband is bringing in a new wife or has impregnated another woman.
‘Is what Deji did rational? Is it nice? Is it appropriate? Why should I now be the rational one? What has being calm fetched me now? All the years of my devotion and support, what do I have to show for them?’ Her eyes misted over.
‘It is still your home, your marriage. You are still Deji’s wife. The wife of his youth, the one who has been there by his side all these years. It will be foolish and defeatist to abandon all your hard work now to one new comer, probably a waka-pass. You want another woman to raise your children, sit beside him during your children’s weddings and graduation parties? C’mmon now. Girl, open your eyes. Don’t let the juju of the pregnant girl catch you o.’
‘Yes, I know she has jazzed him but the two of them will die first before I let one opportunistic witch raise my children.’
At this point, I covered Laura’s mouth with my hands.
‘Laura, control yourself. You cannot and should not say things like that. It’s dangerous. What if someone hears you making this kind of threat and then something bad happens to Deji or the woman?
‘I don’t care. I’m past caring. I don’t care anymore.’
At this point, she totally broke down, crying from the bottom of her heart. It was not a pretty sight because Joke is ordinarily a strong woman, brave and resolute most of the time, even in the face of mean circumstances. But this Deji’s indiscretion broke her. She was angry, livid even. She made a lot of unprintable threats. She simply felt the end had come and or she wanted to end it all. That was about five months ago but she is calmer today, still angry but handling it with the appropriate level of maturity, according to my play book, yes my playbook. And you’ll get a glimpse of some of the pages shortly.
The most dreaded bus stop in marriage for most women is where she finds out that her husband is bringing in a new wife or has impregnated another woman. The infidelity card is like a regular bus stop, strewn everywhere. Many men will park at the ‘girlfriend bus stop’ at one point or the other. More and more wives are finding ways to handle that. However, it is a different kettle of fish when half a dozen of your husband’s relatives arrive on Saturday morning and start a long homily about how an addition to the family should not be resisted. The Yorubas, my people, are probably the most dramatic when they arrive with the ‘breaking news’ of the arrival of another woman in a marriage. Their proverbs are colourful.
‘You should not be angry when God doubles your joy.’
‘It is always more glorious to walk in a group than to walk alone.
‘The knife has already cut the child’s finger, it can’t be reversed’
‘Two vegetables can co-exist in a plate.’
Once a Yoruba wife hears two or three of those proverbs, she knows her marriage is entering a new phase, that her life as she knows it is about to be altered forever. Yes, forever. Sometimes the new woman on the scene is not yet pregnant but husband dear has paid her dowry; meaning the die is cast. Sometimes she is pregnant, which makes it more painful when the wife at home is yet to have a child. That’s when they start their sermon with this popular one;
‘It is the head of one child that will attract more children.’
Translation: the new woman is pregnant and her baby cannot be delivered outside wedlock because it is this new baby’s cry that will call forth the babies the wife at home had been waiting for.
Then there is the most devastating scenario. Husband dear continues to play good, devoted man at home, even officiating in church while his seed of indiscretion grows inside another woman’s womb. Then one day, Madam stumbles on the ‘untold story’, maybe in a salon, in a friend’s friend’s shop, at a social gathering. Of course, once skeletons in a closet come out for air, they never return inside the closet. The cacophony that welcomes them is too welcoming.
Anyway, does it real matter how or where the news of another woman, especially an already pregnant one is broken? It is still a devastating scenario. The affected wife is left reeling. First she tells herself ‘my husband cannot, will not do that to me.’ That is speedily followed by screeching rage as soon as she confirms it. Most likely, there will be threats, pleas, counter-threats, and ultimatums from both sides and general pain on all sides. Trust me, no matter how colourfully convincing the family breaks this news, nothing prepares a wife for the trauma of another woman expecting a baby for her husband. So what is she supposed to do or not do?
She can scream, cry and generally be miserable.
Who this one hep, as they say on the street. Yes, she should cry. She has been betrayed. Her marriage is under threat. Her life will most likely change forever. She has earned herself some crying time. It is important and better to vent than to bottle it up. But it is futile in the long run to end up in a psychiatric hospital just because your husband impregnated someone else. Why should you suffer while he gets all the pleasure? If you become hypertensive at this sad bus top, your philandering husband would still be banging his way to the next bust stop. If you were already hypertensive and you suffer a stroke because of this painful episode, your children will suffer, you will suffer and the pregnant one will take your place. Just imagine yourself in a wheelchair, soiling yourself while your husband burrows deeply in between the woman honey pot. Picture your helpless children thrown out of school because ‘daddy’ is too busy with his new wife and baby. Please ‘borrow yourself brain’ and know that this is not the end of your life or the end of the world. Mourn what you used to share exclusively with your husband. There’s another woman on the scene, that is the new reality but your life must not come to a standstill.
I will kill him, kill his pregnant whore…
Threats are also good. Issue them, but behind closed doors. Nobody must hear you issue them. What if your husband is involved in an accident and dies three days after you issue the threat? What if the new wife loses the pregnancy or dies at childbirth? And you actually had no hand in their untimely end. Maybe you only made the threats in the throes of pain and anger. The whole community will hold you responsible. You will be labelled a witch forever. Even you will question your own sanity and spirituality when you are brought down to earth by such shattering outcomes. Then ask yourself, if you threaten your husband and he actually dies, how do you think your children will see you? Will they believe your explanation or believe that mummy delivered on her promise to kill daddy? No threat, please.
I will move out of the house, I’m done.
Tell yourself, it is your husband’s loss, because it is. If he becomes a new father at 50, his old-age baby will be 20 when he’s 70. He’s the one who will still be monitoring JAMB, UTME and WAEC in his 60s.
This is the most foolish of all action plans in this situation. It is your home, babe. Your territory, sealed and delivered to you in the presence of God and men. You will abandon it for some little thing brandishing a pregnancy test result? We are not sure DNA test will prove your husband is responsible, are we? Maybe she’s even an ‘olosho’ or wakapass who is not even ready to settle down. Even if she’s coming with an agenda to take over, should you just roll over and let her? Why should you just throw up your hands and let one slip of a girl reap the fruits of your labour, inhabit the palace you built with grit, sweat and blood? If you must make room for her, it must be discussed, on your terms, with clear eyes.
Try this tip from Funke Egbemode’s Playbook.
Tell yourself, it is your husband’s loss, because it is. If he becomes a new father at 50, his old-age baby will be 20 when he’s 70. He’s the one who will still be monitoring JAMB, UTME and WAEC in his 60s. He’s not going to ask you for money for baby food and pampers, is he? He will pay your children’s bills now that he’s young and able. He will pay the second batch when he’s old, frail and hypertensive, by which time you should be richer, wiser and calmer. Chin up, cheer up and don’t let him destroy your ‘Buga’ with his off-key rhythm
• Funke Egbemode ([email protected])