These women are every woman: Jasmine, the 30 year old single Pharmacist; Anthonia, the 28 year old unmarried nurse; Moremi, the 31 year old engaged social worker (and occasional tailor); Offiong, the 30 year old wife, mother, and Lawyer; and Ebele, the 31 year old wife, mother, and bank manager.Individually, they’ve got their own issues in their homes, but collectively, they are every woman.
Today, it’s Ebele’s turn to share.
There are so many times I think back to when I was young and fantasizing about married life, and I wonder if this is the life I imagined I would have as a married woman; the answer is no. I have always thought of myself as a wonderful woman that any man would be lucky to have. I cook, I clean, I am submissive, I am respectful, and I handle my end in the sack. However, today, I find myself stuck in a situation I did not see coming. Okay, maybe I saw it coming, but out of my idiocy I chose to ignore it.
Honestly speaking, I cannot tell you anything that is special about my husband, Uzo. I cannot think of anything about Uzo that makes me feel special. In fact, he treats me like my life depends on his love. I met Uzo when I was only seventeen, and we started dating when I was nineteen and he was twenty-three. Even then, he never did anything special for me.
We met at a movie theatre and he gave me his business card and told me to call him. I was with Nia and Jazz, and Nia immediately developed a passionate dislike for him. She said he should have asked for my number instead of just saying I should call him. I didn’t care about what Nia had to say. I called him the following day and we went to see a movie. Believe it or not, but that was the only date orchestrated by my uncaring husband.Every other time we went, I had to pull teeth to get him to go.
I was only twenty-one when he proposed, and twenty-two when we got married. My friends all thought it was too soon, especially Nia, but I didn’t care. You see, none of my friends thought my relationship with Uzo would ever get to the altar because he never treated me the way a man ought to treat his partner and lover. My friends’ pessimistic regard towards my relationship was my motivation to get married. Now I have realized it was a stupid move because I am the one paying the price, not them.Over the years, Uzo has not changed one bit. If anything, he has become worse.But my husband is not all bad; sometimes he actually treats me nicely, but for the most part he makes me feel like he only married me for the purpose of sex and children – both of which I have given him, and the former, I continue to give him.
I thought about leaving Uzo several times, but I didn’t because I was afraid of what my friends would say. I could just hear Nia saying, “Bitch, I told you so!” So I chose to remain in a marriage where the love was and still is going in only one direction. To further reinforce my decision to stay married, I got pregnant – three times, so now, I am an unhappily married mother of three. I have been married for exactly nine years, and now, even though the will to leave Uzo is still there, I simply cannot summon the strength – or courage. Besides, I’ve got my three lovely angels to think about. It’s not their fault that their mother is an all time fool.
I was in the kitchen chopping the tomatoes for the egg-stew I was about to prepare for dinner before hitting the gym when my husband came walking into the kitchen.
“Ebele, haven’t you finished cooking dinner yet?”
My husband has always called me Ebele. He is so unromantic that he has never even called me anything other than my name. He has never even called me Ebby like my friends, so of course, you know he has never called me any of those sweet words like, honey, sweetie, and baby that I hear other husbands (like Offy’s husband, Austin) call their wives. I have called him baby and sweetie a lot of times, but he has never reciprocated.I will never admit this to my friends, but my husband is the most terrible lover I have ever had; that would explain the huge collection of sex toys I have. In fact, the only thing Uzo is good for is getting me pregnant. Uzo gets done before I even get wet; it’s a wonder how I have survived this long with him.
“I’m not done yet, Uzo. I just started ten minutes ago.”
“Well be fast about it; when a man gets back from socializing with his friends, he expects to have food on his table.”
I chose not to dignify his obnoxious comment with an answer. Uzo can be so mean to me sometimes that I just break down and cry. Telling me that he expects to have food on his table is one of the nice things Uzo says to me. Sometimes I cheer myself up by imagining Uzo being married to Nia; those two will fight even while having sex. But on second thoughts, I know Nia would never end up with a man like Uzo. Nia is such a strong girl, with strong convictions about her worth as a person and as a woman, which is why she never takes shit from any man. Funny enough, her bitchy attitude keeps them coming back for more. I, on the hand, I have the calm attitude and the nice personality, but look what I ended up with. If only I could take back the hands of time; and to think there were so many other men who wanted me, but I foolishly stuck with Uzo.
“Did you do my laundry yet?” Uzo asked me nonchalantly.
“Uzo, I have been busy. I will do it when I get back later.”
“Where are you going?”
“To the gym with the girls, Uzo. The same thing I have been doing every Sunday evening for the past several years.”
He looked at me like he was disgusted, and then he scoffed and said, “l don’t know why you keep wasting money at that gym; you’re yet to lose a pound. Unless the gym you go to is an all-you-can-eat buffet.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. No, he did not just tell me what he just told me. I was pissed; more like enraged. “Go straight to hell, Uzo! In case you have not noticed, you’re not exactly turning heads either.”
“Yes, I may not be turning heads, but people do not think I am pregnant twelve months a year.” He said and laughed afterwards. What the hell was so funny?
“Like I said, go straight to hell.”
“You need to stop saying that because you know no sane man will marry your fat ass if I go to hell. Be careful what you wish for, and hurry up with the food, please.”
He walked out of the kitchen and left my fat ass to cry by the sink. I was tempted to tell myself that this marriage was over, and that I was going to file for a divorce first thing in the morning, but who was I kidding? Since I met Uzo, I have thought about leaving him every single day, but here I am with three kids and sagging breasts, I still haven’t left him. Will I ever? This isn’t the first time Uzo has called me a fat ass, and I know it wouldn’t be the last either. He has said it so many times that I have even grown immune to it; I don’t cry about it anymore. But I cried today because today is our anniversary; today marks nine years of misery. I left him a gift on his side of the bed, which he probably hasn’t seen, but even if he has, it will not make any difference. As usual, I know he did not get me anything.
So if you’re wondering why I’m going to the gym with the girls instead of celebrating my anniversary with my husband, it is because there is nothing to celebrate. I would rather be with my girls today; at least, they’ll make me laugh. I was still lost in thought about my miserable life when the phone rang. I picked up the cordless phone in the kitchen and pinned it between my right shoulder and right ear and continued with my cooking.
“Happy anniversary!!!” It was the girls. They made a conference call to my phone to wish me a happy anniversary.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I said with a sad voice. I wasn’t even trying to mask my pain. I have masked it for so long, and look where it got me. I have realized that talking to my girls has always made my lo
ad seem a little lighter. Sure, Nia might pour insults on me, but truth be told, I deserve every one of them.
“So we assume you’ll be staying home today to celebrate with Uzo, right?” Offy asked in her usual lively voice. What the hell was she always so happy about?
“Offy, get real!” Nia barked at her.
“Don’t start, please.” Jazz said.
“You coming, Sweetie?” Mo’ asked.
“Yes, I’m coming.” I said disappointedly. Of course, I didn’t want to go to the gym on my anniversary, but what was my other option – stay home with Uzo? No, thanks, I’ll pass. “Thanks for calling. I gotta go finish preparing dinner for the kids, so I can be there on time.”
“Alright, sweetie, we’ll see you there.” Mo’ said. What’s with the sweetie thing today? Mo’ was hardly ever this nice. Maybe Babz put it on her real good or something.
Finally I was done with dinner. I served the kids, left Uzo’s food on the table and stormed out of the house in my sweat suit and clean clothes in my gym bag. We did our regular routines and retired to the sauna to gossip. Mo’ was unusually happy; she seemed so happy that I was starting to feel she was faking it.For one thing, she had ‘sweetie’ after every other sentence. This was very unlike Mo’. Something was definitely up, and it was only a matter of time before we found out what it was. In the mean time, we talked about Jazz’s date.
“Jazz, you never gave me any feedback on your date with Mark, so I take it everything went well?” I asked.Mark was my coworker, and he seemed so nice, so I decided to set him up on a blind date with Jazz.
“Like hell it did! Where did you get that punk from?” Nia asked.
“Why, what happened?” I asked, with worry in my voice.
Jazz narrated the entire story of her date with Mark that never came to pass, and how she ended up going out with Ralph. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was unreal!
“So how did it go with Ralph then?” I wanted to know.
“Worse.” Jazz said sadly. “He’s married. With a pregnant girlfriend too.”
“Oh my God, what happened?” Offy asked.
“Girl, I don’t wanna talk about it now. But long story short, the girlfriend came into the restaurant and poured his food on his face. She accused him of cheating on her. Apparently, he had told her that he was taking his wife out when it was really me.”
“Damn!” I exclaimed. Men like Ralph make me feel like Uzo is a wonderful man.
“Aww, are you okay, sweetie?” Mo’ asked.
“Mo’, cut it out!” Nia yelled. I guess she couldn’t take it anymore.
“Cut what out?” Mo’ asked, pretending not to know what Nia was talking about.
“Cut out all this sweetie bullshit. This isn’t you, so what the hell is wrong with you? Babz finally leave you?”
We all laughed, but Mo’ wasn’t laughing.
“Oh my God, he left you, didn’t he?!” Nia said, with her eyes wide open.
“Yeap, he did. So I hope you’re happy now. But don’t worry, I’m perfectly fine. I’ll get another man in a heartbeat.”
I don’t know why Jazz and Offy were quiet, but I was quiet because I was just too shocked for words. I have always feared that Babz would one day get tired of Mo’s arrogance and call it quits, but I didn’t really think it would happen. Even Nia was too stunned for words, and that almost never happens.
“Mo’,” Nia said.
“I don’t wanna talk about it, please. Babz is a fool to have let me go, but I really don’t wanna discuss it.”
“You sure, Mo’? Cause you know we are here for you.” Offy added.
“Yes, I’m sure. Can we talk about something else now, please?”
“So what did Uzo do for you, Ebby?” Offy asked me. I guess that was her way of changing the subject per Mo’s request.
Nia gave Offy a do-you-think-she-will-be-in-the-gym-with-us-if-he-did-something look. I ignored the look on Nia’s face.
“Can you believe Uzo didn’t do anything for our anniversary?” I asked, speaking to no one in particular.
“Yeah, we can. What we can’t believe is that you’re asking us that damn question. When has he ever done anything for you?”
“Take it easy on Ebby, Nia.” Jazz said.She finally spoke up; I guess she had recovered from the shock of Babz leaving Mo’.
“It’s alright, Jazz. I know she means well.” I don’t know where I got the energy to say that, but I meant every word of it. If you don’t know Nia, you would think she is a mean bitch – well, maybe she is, but underneath all that seemingly mean heart, she is actually very sweet, and she has our best interest at heart. The fact of the matter is that none of my friends have previously been or currently are in a relationship like mine. I have always struggled with being myself; I’m one of those passive-aggressive people. I always say things are okay with me even when they aren’t. So in retrospect, I cannot completely blame Uzo for treating me the way he does; it’s not like I ever put my feet down and said I wouldn’t put up with his bullshit anymore.
At this point, I believe that I have given Uzo everything that I possibly can, so I cannot say that he treats me badly because I do not give him enough. If anything, I give him too much. I’m not sure, but maybe if I didn’t have kids, I might have left Uzo, but I don’t know for sure. After all, I had the chance to leave him long before I had children, but I never did. It is my ignorance and stupidity that put me in the situation that I am in right now. I wasted my time trying to prove to my friends that Uzo and I would make it, but now I don’t see the point. We may have made it, but we aren’t actually making it. We’ve got nine years of marriage under our belt, but I can count the happy days on my fingers. My children are the only good things that have come out of my union with Uzo. Everyday he breaks me down emotionally and mentally.
Sometimes I wonder if I should feel lucky that my husband isn’t cheating on me or hitting me, but I cannot really say that what I am getting is better. Besides, I don’t know for sure that Uzo is not cheating – I just don’t have any proof that he is. Uzo and I have never made love; all we do is have sex, which we do whenever he feels like it. If I want to, and he is not in the mood, then nothing happens. I don’t even know if my husband loves me. I don’t remember the last time he told me he loves me. He eats my food, exercises and expands my vagina, gets me pregnant, loves my children, and then breaks my heart every chance he gets.
Jazz is always complaining about not being married, but she does not know what I would give to be in her shoes. Offy has a great husband, Mo’ had a great man, and Nia is one strong woman. Basically, all the time that I wasted trying to convince my friends of the alleged true love brewing between me and Uzo could have and should have been used meeting and being loved by a man more deserving.I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I honestly wish I could go back in time and redo things.
“Sweetie, are you still here?” Mo’ brought me back to reality.
“Yea, I am.I was just thinking.Just thinking as usual.”I told her,
“Yeah, well, you should have thought before getting involved with that good for nothing thing you call a husband.”
“Nia!” Offy exclaimed.
“Offy, don’t Nia me. You all need to stop sugar coating things and tell the girl the truth.”
“Yeah, well, she gets it now, but it’s nine years late, so what difference does it make if we sugar coat things or not at this point?” Jazz asked me.
“You have a point, sweetie.” Mo’ said.
“Mo’!” Nia, Jazz and Offy all exclaimed. I guess they were all tired of hearing the sweetie crap; we all knew it was just a hoax. She was trying to make us believe she was happy even though she was dying inside. She kind of reminds me of myself. It’s only a matter of time before Mo’ reverts to her old ways of being nonchalant and arrogant.
“By the way, did you get him anything?” Jazz asked all of a sudden.
“Yeap, I always do, don’t I?”
“It’s good that you got him something.” Nia said.
We all turned to look at her like she was crazy. Certainly, Nia did not just concede that I got a gift for Uzo. Woah!
She noticed we were all looking at her like she was crazy, so she said, “What?! Don’t look at me like I’m mean. I just don’t appreciate the fact that she never gets anything back in return, but as Jazz rightly said, it’s been nine years already.”
From the looks on our faces, Nia could tell we weren’t buying what she just said; we knew that deep down inside, it was still biting her skin.
Finally, Offy said, “Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to take a shower. I’m starting to suffocate in here. Besides, I don’t trust Austin with Ekanem.”
We all went into separate, individual stalls to take our showers. After dressing up, we bade ourselves farewell, and drove back to reality. While I was driving, I couldn’t help but cry – again. When you’re driving and you mistakenly take a wrong turn, you can just make a U-turn and go back the way you came; when you pick a wrong major in college, you can always change it down the line, or get a degree and go back to school for the major you actually want, but what do you do when you marry the wrong man and have three children from said marriage? Divorce is easier said than done. If I divorce Uzo, my kids will suffer. I don’t want to put them through the stress of going back and forth between mom and dad, and I certainly don’t want to fight for their custody in court, which I know Uzo will do.
In my absent-minded driving, I saw the red light in front of me, but did not realize how close I was to the SUV in front of me, and before I knew it, I drove right into the rear end of the vehicle. My car pushed the vehicle a little forward, and I jerked forward with some force, but thank God, the air bags did not go off, and I did not sustain any injuries. I saw the driver’s door open, so I knew the driver was about to step out of his or her car, analyze the damage I caused, call the cops, and exchange insurance – just the usual. When the door opened up and he stepped out, I almost passed out.
My God, he looked edible!