My children sent my wife packing from my home. It is not their business what happens between a man and his wife, not their business at all!
They said my wife should leave the house they pay rent for, they said they would not send me my monthly allowance as long as my wife lived with me. They came and drove her out of the house we shared.
But you see it is not their fault, it is all due to old age; if I was a younger man, able to feed my wife properly, would anybody come and try this nonsense with me? I would have told them, ‘To hell with your money!’
How did it start?
I met my wife about 5 years ago; she had been married before, to two other men; one died, the other one, she said was abusive. I was 64 years old then, I am almost 70 now; I am not a young man; look at me!
I have also had two wives previously; none of them live with me now but they both had children for me, who of course are all grown. I have five of them; two are abroad and three are here in Lagos. And these children are the ones sending money for my upkeep. They contribute and send to my account and I am grateful to them. They pay my rent. But look at things now; they have all taken their mothers to live with them and I am all alone; they left me alone!
When I need to eat, I have to wait outside the house to find someone to buy food for me or wait for people hawking food. When I complained about this, they called me an ingrate, I told them, ‘You are evil children,’ I cannot cook for myself and when I tried to, I often forget the food on fire and it gets burned. where are the women who are supposed to be here with me?
I knew I had to have a good woman with me, if not for food, for companionship as well, because this house is lonely. Since my children have taken their mothers away from me; I don’t find any reason to stay home so whenever I have any opportunity to go out, I do it.
I don’t have a car so it’s mostly by public transport and with the way things are now, even before then, it was always trouble hopping from BRT to danfo or okada; the way these people drive is mad. I often ask myself, why go out? It’s too much of a trouble.
But I hate staying in the house alone!
How much tv can I watch day in and day out?
I have few friends around and sometimes, even phone calls can be tiring.
These children are not considerate of me at all!
They said I was wicked to their mothers; I told them, what happened between me and their mothers are our businesses, not theirs! I did what I could for them as my children, I owed them that!
And the women too, from going to take care of their grandchildren, just packed their loads and never came back! It is wrong!
I am alone!
I met my current wife at the market when I went to buy things to cook, that day, I wanted to eat fish, so I went to buy at the frozen food store close by; she worked for the owner of the store.
She was friendly; asked why I was the one buying fish and not my wife. I told her I had no wife. If the last wife left you more than six months ago and keeps telling you she doesn’t know when she would return, would you consider that one a wife?
She went abroad to take care of her grandchild, yes, our grandchild and every time I asked my daughter, when is your mother returning, she would say, ‘ask mummy.’ I would ask my wife, when will you return, she would say, ‘When they buy my ticket.’
That day at the frozen food store, I didn’t feel like going home, I asked Gladys, that’s her name, I asked her how best to cook the fish…you know…one thing led to another and she soon began to come and cook for me and I paid her.
She would cook and put them in the freezer; even that was work because is it not when I remember the food is there that I would bring it out to heat in the microwave?
I am not equipped to cope like this!
I asked Gladys one day if she liked me enough to live with me because after sometime, I realised I liked her company; she had three kids for her last husband and was fed up with the marriage. At 54 years, then, she was old enough to decide what she wanted; so I invited her to move in with her kids.
We have been together now for five years… other things have followed of course, we are not made of wood, you know.
Oh no, we didn’t do any wedding or engagement, aren’t we too old for that? We both agreed to be man and wife and that is all that matters.
So, well, after some time then I began to ask my children to raise my allowance. There are more mouths to feed; and that was when the wahala began. I am their father; if I should ask for a raise, it is because it is needed.
I would not inconvenience them for nothing; I needed drugs, as well and I needed to do things in the house, maintenance, toilet bowl was broken; the kitchen cabinet was in a shambles…that is all I needed the money for but they said it was because of Gladys and her children.
Well, if they hadn’t abandoned me, would I go looking for a Gladys? Would I go acquiring more children? And now that Gladys and her children are with me I can eat well and even enjoy seeing people around me, should I now abandon them and say, I can’t feed you, I can’t be responsible for you?
They came one day, the ones here in Lagos and they told Gladys she had to go or they would stop paying rent and sending me money! My own children, that I suffered for! See life!
Of course I didn’t agree for Gladys to go; I walked them out of my house, if you cannot respect my wife, leave!
They said her children were walking around and with coronavirus out there, they are afraid for me; that is not true!
They that came to my house, do I know where they too have been? if they are even the carriers of the virus?
Will I ask Gladys and her children not to go out and look for how to earn their income? Gladys still works for the frozen store at the market and her children help at the market too, yes.
But my children came one day when I was out; I went with a friend to Abeokuta to see my elderly sister who I was told was sick, it was even her son who came to pick me, we couldn’t return to Lagos the same day because of curfew.
It was while I was away for two days that my children came and packed away her things and threw them out! They threw Gladys and her children out!
I cried. I cried that day. I cried!!!
….wicked children…I am sorry but it still pains me so much that I can’t fight them the way I really want to…I still cry at this treatment…
Gladys left; she went to stay with her aunty at Okoko; the aunty has a big house that is almost abandoned because the place is far from town; nobody wants to rent it but it is ok. That is where I am moving to. I am almost 70, what do I need to go out for when the people that care about me are around me?
We will live in that house together. Is it not to find something to eat? Let them continue to send the small amount they have been sending; they should not send rent, I will manage with Gladys.
My prayer is that they will also grow old one day.
(series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)