I am not a widow.
Me and my mother-in-law are as cool as two peas in a pod even though her son, my ex-husband is still alive and breathing.
And here’s the catch, the woman loves me like her child.
I haven’t given her anything to eat o, neither did I take her name and number to any pastor or Alfa to do me magic. She saw how plain and open I was and she is wise enough to know I mean her and her son no harm.
I married a drug abuser.
He had been doing drugs since he was in school and even his parents knew of his substance abuse. Unfortunately, they made the mistake of sending him abroad, thinking by so doing, they would sever his ties with the so called bad gang he was involved with here in Lagos…it backfired.
He hid his habit from them, fooled them for years and eventually, after schooling and working, he came home; we met and got married and that’s when the nightmare began for me and his mother.
At first o, my mother-in- law didn’t like me. We lived in their boys quarters after we got married; my parents- in- law had a big house and two flats behind their house, so my husband and I were given one of the flats, though they called it “boys quarters”, these flats were four bedroom flats. Huge grounds in Ikorodu.
Like most mothers na, I guess she thought her son was too good for me. She would complain about things, you know. I tolerated her and when her complains began to get to me, I told her her son was a drug addict. And I had nothing to do with it.
What was she complaining about?
She said her son was always coming to borrow money from them because he needed to satisfy me.
Hunnm, at first I would keep quiet and would fight my husband over his lies. I was demanding money from him; yes, a few times I would ask but not the number of times and certainly not the huge sums he was fleecing off his parents.
We have a child with down syndrome; Michael is a sweet child and he deserves to be cared for; his school and his needs are special…you know, now. He would tell his parents I was asking for money for doctor visits for our son. Yes, I asked for money, he should provide for his son abi; and yes I have a good business I am running but I am not the boy’s only parent. He should bring the money, if he can’t, then I’ll step in.
Anyway, I finally told his mum the truth…the way she reacted, it showed she knew about his drug abuse.
What was I supposed to do? Abandon him and my son?
I felt it was my duty, my responsibility and calling in life to help these two people in my life so I stayed but when the beating began, when the physical abuse began, I knew I had to run.
You see, many times, mother in law would hear my cries and come get my son away from the house. Her husband, my father- in- law was at that time bedridden with stroke. So he couldn’t intervene, it was my mother- in- law who many times would come between my husband and I and tell him to hit her if he felt the need to beat someone.
These continued for some years until one day, she told me to pack my things and leave.
Yes o. She said if I were her daughter, she would have come pack my things herself; she said she was afraid that one day her son would kill me, then he would be sent to jail and her husband would die from the trauma and she would be left alone with her grandchild who she said she may not even be able to take care of because the pain of losing a husband, and son may also kill her and my son would be alone in this world…
This woman gave me money and told me to leave.
But I had nowhere to go.
I have two sisters I don’t even talk to; we just kind of drifted apart and I didn’t want them to know what I was going through in my marriage. My parents are late and I had few friends, the ones I had had encouraged me to persevere in the marriage.
So when mummy, that’s what I call my mother –in-law, told me to leave, I knew she wanted me safe but I said, “Mummy, I can’t leave.”
And you know what?
At the back of my mind, I kept hoping my husband would change because, this physical abuse wasn’t like a daily thing, it was like maybe…one or twice in like 4 or five months, anytime he was provoked sha and many times, he was often too high to be provoked, just give him money and he would be fine. I run a good business…so…
And again, the shame and embarrassment would be too much until one day, I met an old classmate, way back at a class reunion…that’s how come I began this relationship with him. he too had a bad marriage and well, two cut four and I finally left my abusive husband…
This didn’t happen overnight o.
I finally found a man who taught me I shouldn’t have to live with abuse, that I had value as a human being…I didn’t see all of these in me at all. I just felt it was my lot in life.
I told mummy, after sometime and she told me I should go for it. You know, she said she wished me well.
When I moved out, my husband wasn’t home, mummy helped me move; and she promised to be there for me. The only thing is that she wanted me to leave my son with her…
I couldn’t. I know how close she is to my son, she said I should go start a new life that she would raise him as her son but…that couldn’t have happened, I am still the boy’s mother and I wanted him to be a part of my new life.
My current husband and I didn’t have a lavish wedding, it was quiet. He had twin boys from his previous marriage but they are a lot older than my son.
So when I had another child, this time around, you know, normal birth, normal baby…I invited mummy to meet my new family and she came. She even brought things for us.
As for my former husband, he is at a hospital, they are caring for him…I wish him well.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)