I could feel my patient reaching to an end. When did I become a slave in my own house?” I scanned the living room for any possible place the keys could be but found none. At last, I decided to try one more time.
“Steph, please let me have these keys, I am really tired and I have no time for fighting this night.”
She smiled. Your getting those keys is over my dead body, go back to where you’re coming from.”
In an instant, I pulled her up and beat her black and blue until she passed out. In the end, I had to rush her to the hospital and it was there we discovered that she was already two months pregnant.
“You have to take it easy with her, Mr. Layi, she’s lucky she didn’t lose the baby,” the doctor had told me. I had wept so much in private on that day, wondering what on earth I had got myself into. I had also hoped my wife would have a change of heart and we would live happily, especially with the realization that we were expecting a baby. I was totally mistaken. Stephanie grew from bad to worse and knowing that I would never do a thing to hurt her considering her situation, she made life a living hell for me. The months flew by and she had a baby boy, Julius. Two years later, his brother, Damola came. Our marriage never got better but I consoled myself in the fact that I now had two sons that I could always turn to whenever my wife got on my nerves.
The boys grew fast and I did all I could to be the perfect father to my kids and the perfect husband to my wife but somehow neither seemed to work out. Stephanie was totally determined to ruin everything and all my efforts at making our marriage work out were frustrated by her negative actions. At a point, I knew she had even begun to pitch the kids against me.
“Julius, here I bought you a pack of chocolates,” I would say.
“Thank you Daddy,” my six-year old boy would say as he came to collect the gift but before he reached me, his mum would bellow nut.
“Julius get back here,” and to my greatest shock, the boy returned to his mother. All my efforts, threats and cajoling to get the boy to come to me proved abortive. It was the same way with Damola, his younger brother.
Soon, I felt my kids drawing far from me and the thought almost sent me berserk. At last, I decided on a divorce and I called on my lawyer and friend, Barrister George Ekpo.
“George, I need to be free from this woman before I lose my mind or before I kill her.” I told him. That was in 1985, about seven years after we got married. My lawyer understood me. Many a time, I had explained my ordeals to him and he had always encouraged me to get a divorce. But I had thought somehow that our marriage would eventually work out.
“I really don’t have a choice here. She has been inciting the kids against me.
The conditions my lawyer told me that would effect our divorce were simply too grave. We had not signed a pre-nuptial agreement, so she was entitled to half of all I had, and possibly more if I intended keeping the kids. I couldn’t believe that and the thought of losing so much of all I had worked for to Stephanie was instantly dismissed to the end. I threw out the divorce option and that turned out to be another big mistake. At least, I could have got custody of the children even if I had to lose so much of my wealth but I didn’t go on with it, and that decision has continued to haunt me over the years.
The years went by and right before my eyes, the kids grew fast and as they grew physically, the more distant they grew from me. I practically knew nothing about them, save that I paid their bills and sent them to school.
Stephanie had totally taken charge of their lives so much that they never ever gave a thought about a father. I continually prayed that they would come to their senses but none of my prayers ever got answered.
I had since moved out of our house into another apartment as I could not bear the situation any more. By then, I was already over 50 years old.
My business and investments grew bigger nonetheless and my stuck at wealth continued to increase by the day but it hurt so much that I had no true family. I was far too scared to begin to look for another wife as my friends and relatives had advised. My only solace remained in my work but that soon had to stop after I had a hypertension shortly after my 54th birthday. All the while I had always had frequent high blood pressure and had been advised to stay away from work by my doctors but had kicked against the idea since that had been the only thing I had left to make me happy. The hypertension had, however, made it mandatory for me to retire as the MD/CEO of my companies as I had to be content as chairman.
I soon employed a maid to take care of my immediate needs at home and she nursed me back to health. Ruth proved to be a true God-sent ad her continued presence seemed to give me the much desired peace and happiness I had never got from a family. We often chatted about a lot of things and I soon found out that I could share so much with her. I summoned up the courage to discuss my family with her and I was touched by the concern in her eyes.
“That was really unfair of your wife,” she’d said after I narrated my ordeal to her, I drugged.
“Well, let’s say I made a mistake from the outset by marrying her.”
“I don’t think so. You were only trying to please your mother. There’s nothing wrong about that.”
I smiled and I meant it.
To Be Continued….