We didn’t know much about marriage. We didn’t know anything about it, really. All we knew was that when a girl was considered “ripe”, any man who desired her as his wife would approach her family and express his interest. And after a few ceremonies, she would be shipped off from the village to be his bride, never to be seen again.
Was it strange? Yes. But to teenage me, that was just the way things were for girls. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when the same thing happened to me.
He’d come home for the same reason the other men did, looking to get married after attaining a reasonable level of success in the big city (Lagos). He showed up at my house with gifts to talk to my mother and said he’d seen me around during his time back. He referred to me as “a beautiful wildflower he wanted to pluck before anyone else.”
A few weeks later (with every important ceremony done), I was leaving everything I’d ever known and was on my to Lagos as someone’s wife. I didn’t know what to expect, but I replayed the advice my mother had given me before I left.
“Your husband is the head and you’re the neck. He is your master now. Be submissive, just like the bible says.”
Something along those lines sha. It’s been such a long time. Anyway, those parting words from my mother were the reason I dismissed all the warning signs. It’s funny because he never even tried to hide them.
Ignorance is a terrible thing.
Even though he wanted me to be a housewife, he insisted that I get a degree for some reason. He would drop me off every morning and come pick me up on his way back from work. One day, I lost track of time chatting with classmates which meant that he had to wait longer for me outside the school. As soon as I emerged, he rushed towards me and set my cheeks on fire.
That was the first time he hit me.
And it wasn’t the last.
He pulled me out of school, telling my mother that I had repaid his kindness by engaging in group sex sessions with my classmates. He began policing my movements after this. He accompanied me wherever I went and if I so much as looked in the direction of another human male, I was in for a beating, followed by weeks of being called every vile name you can think of. I couldn’t sleep. He wouldn’t let me. He’d wake me up in the middle of the night to ask how many men I’d slept with since I married him. The electrician. The carpenter. No one was exempt.
Things didn’t change with the birth of our son. While pregnant, he asked if the baby growing inside me was his.
That was what broke me. I almost died during childbirth because my blood pressure was dangerously high. When my mother came to stay with us after I gave birth, I told her about everything that’d been happening. She confronted him and he threw her out. Told her she wasn’t welcome in his house anymore.
She died of a stroke not long after. He didn’t let me attend the funeral.
I wish I’d known at the time that cutting me off from the only family I had was the last step in ensuring that I had nowhere to run. I had no family, no friends, and no money. He’d even cut his own family members off for what I now suspect was the same reason.
I was helpless.
Until he became ill.
It started with headaches, tiredness, and peeing a lot. He hates going to hospitals and figured it was something benign so he decided to self-medicate. That’s been going on for four months now. He’s lost a ton of weight and recently started complaining of abdominal pains. When I suggested that he go get checked out at a hospital, he threw the 1-litre bottle of coca-cola he was drinking at my head and told me to shut my whore mouth.
It became apparent (at least to me) when his right foot started to…decay that whatever was going on with him was not something that could be treated with paracetamol. I use the word “decay” because after I began cleaning it with warm water every morning (at his behest), it began to smell. I’ve thought of getting help, but these past four months have been the most peaceful of my married life, and I don’t want to ruin that. Plus, this arrangement fits perfectly into my plan so I can’t complain.
You see, I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong with my husband but it’s pretty clear that he’s dying. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier.
Is it terrible that I have to go through so many cans of air freshener to keep his foot from stinking up the house? Yes. But it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
I stood at the alter on our wedding day and made a promise to God to be with my dear husband till death do us part. How could I break a promise I made to God?
Who am I to stand in the way of death?
Click here to read other stories in the NIGERIAN HORROR STORY series.