You know all those stories you read online and you say, ‘eiyahh, stories that touch.” Hmm, my sister, that is my story, o!
This man, yes, I will refer to him as this man. When I met him years back, I was already working and driving a small car, you know those Picantos that flooded Lagos in those days? Yes, I was one of those who owned one. I was lucky to have landed a good job but aside from that, na sharp Ibo babe I be na, I know how to do market well.
I started a shuttle bus business on the side; for a church. I got my younger brother to run it for me. After about two years, we got another one; at this time, my husband and I had begun to court, he was doing business in Dubai then.
Then Dubai was a very hot destination for Nigerians and I honestly thought his business was doing good.
What was he doing? Buying and selling na? What else? All kinds of stuff; computer parts, female wears…stuff, sha!
Ok, when the matter got to the point of Marriage, he went to know my people in the village. They met with his, you know the rest how these things are, we had our Igba kwu and church. A few years later the kids began to come, we have five children!
Along the line, his business just began to crumble and this happens when you are fraudulent; you cannot sustain good business on fraud, you just can’t!
To be honest, I began to suspect he wasn’t doing genuine business shortly after we got married. He was dodgy about certain things, certain monies coming in, you know, I would ask him for certain papers and he was quite dodgy about them. I decided to mind my own business, after all he had been doing his thing before we met, so which one be my own?
I also knew I had to separate my business from him. I continued to use my maiden name in all my transactions on my own business.
Then he ran into customs wahala in Dubai, his goods were seized and that marked the end of things for him. Naturally as his wife, I encouraged him to be positive, I told him he had to get the right papers, organize his business in such a way that he would not raise red flags every time he passes through customs.
At that time, my job and businesses were thriving, I had five buses in my fleet, I had two schools and the church as clients; also, I had already bought a land from doing cooperative in my office.
Now, that land was bought with the mind that at least, I would be able to give my sons something to inherit. Land is a surer investment; transport business is good but buses always run down, break down, need fixing with you spending money…you get?
So, I first got a piece of land which I bought in my maiden name. That one became wahala for oga at home. He hala me tire, we had long quarrels. He wanted me to put his name on the papers for the land, me kwa, I refused, instead I put the name of my first son; we have three boys and two girls.
I then purchased a second land, again I used my second son’s name….I was just doing business as per say, e dey my blood and this job may not last. I wanted something to retire to as well; I am not the type of woman who waits for a man to provide everything for her and in a way, yes, I wanted to support my husband’s hustle, if he was unable to provide for us, would I fold my arms but no bi say make I kuku carry the load of provision for my head.
But even before the wahala of his business, I was paying school fees, rent, fueling our gen, paying house helps, lesson teacher, driver…Nne, I was Mrs Man in the house o!
Things got bad and my husband just became a degenerate!
You know, he would faff around and go to the club in the evening and come back at past 3am! Biko which kind wahala be dis?
So, I decided to help out, na, isn’t that what a good wife should do?
I swear, I regret it to date!
What did I do? I asked my brother, who I run the businesses with, I mean the one who manages the fleet of buses and over sees the new business we began, to allow my husband to join him, so at least he would have a sense of responsibility, instead of him parading night clubs like a male prostitute!
Abi? As he goes to clubs, no bi my money e dey go spend there?
Husband joined my brother and after a few weeks, na so so complain e dey complain; my brother did this, my brother did that, wahala every day… ol Gehl, I had to ask my brother to leave!
Because the quarrels were everyday and for my peace of mind, I just begged my brother, biko move to the other things we are doing; I asked him to focus fully on the nylon business we had just begun because all I heard every day was my husband complaining and my brother calling to tell me to tell my husband to back off!
Hummn. My sister
Like I told you, I still had my job and I had five children to raise, so my mind was most times not on the bus business or nylon business.
Then under my husband, who claimed he was helping me save cost that my brother was squandering, the buses would develop fault more often than before; yes, during my brother’s time, the buses too had problems, so it wasn’t a new thing for me.
The difference was that the cost of maintenance skyrocketed! My husband fired the old drivers and hired new ones then he would bring mechanics and his new drivers to me and they would complain about this and that and ask me to bring huge sums of money. At first, I would just sign the cheques for payment of these parts but after like six months, I began to document the things being repaired.
It was just on a hunch; I discovered I was being fleeced by the drivers and mechanics…they were fixing the same things they claimed had been fixed earlier.
Na every six months dem dey repair fuel pump? Gear box? Shocks?
I vexed, one day, I accused one of them of being a thief and cursed him and told him because of this thing he did to me God would punish him. Do you know what the man told me? He said, ‘Madam, na your husband dey do am, na hin tell us to increase price then he will pocket it!’
Nne, I shock but to be sincere, I no too shock because my brother had said the same thing months back.
The driver dropped the bus key and stopped working for us.
So, I had to call my brother, I told him and he told me some of the drivers had called him to tell him the same thing but that he didn’t want to ruin my marriage so he kept quiet after the first time he told me.
Chineke! I said which marriage? Marriage that I had been the one managing since the day we got married. I paid the rents, paid the hospital bills for delivery of all five children, paid the maids, the drivers, bought the land and…and yet he squanders what he gets on ashis at clubs! Abi you think I don’t know that he meets with ashis? Or is he meeting his aunties at the club?
Biko shift o!
I told my brother, enough is enough!
So, I am telling you the same, I no do again… to your tent o Israel!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)