I began a desperate search for a husband when all my girlfriends started getting married, plus my siblings, even the boys were getting steady girlfriends and talks of marriage was rife.
I was their middle sister, in a family with 5 children. I was the one who was brilliant, the one who was pretty, the one everyone thought would never finish school before she got hitched and or pregnant yet, I wasn’t getting the marriage proposal everyone had predicted. I wasn’t even getting along enough in any relationship to be pregnant for anyone.
Like that old advert says, “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” That was my story. Only unlike the advert, I didn’t have halitosis. I didn’t have any physical signs on my body to warrant any repulsion from anyone.
I then began to get tired of being invited to my friends’ weddings or family weddings because you know our people can be nosy.
“Where is your own husband? Even if it is ordinary boyfriend, just bring one.”
“All you do is buy aso ebi, when will we buy your own?”
“See your younger sister’s kids, they will soon be grown enough to marry, what are you doing about your case?”
The others, who think they are better than the outrightly rude ones would say; “Whatever is stopping you, we bind in Jesus name.”
Or they would say, “come to so and so church, they will deliver you from the spirit preventing you from getting a husband”. Or “I think you may have a spirit husband.”
Listen o. Yes, I wanted a husband but my luck just didn’t get one; it was either they would just one day say, “…this is not working.” And before I can say “we excuse me” they are gone.
But you know, despite what you think you know of yourself, people can sway your belief if you are not careful.
There was one relationship I was in, we had done the introduction but he said his mother said she had gone to people, who had foreseen the marriage would not work and so he opted out. There was another who after three years told me he didn’t enjoy sex with me…can you imagine?
So I’ve had my share of heartbreaks and I was about resigning myself to fate when my friend came from London to bury her mum. She called me to come over. Now, this friend had been in touch with me, even while abroad, because we went to the same secondary school and had been good friends since then.
So when she came, I went to Ijebu Ode with her to bury her mum. While we were there, we really had time to talk and catch up in the evenings…you know burial ceremonies take days, wake keeping, burial…reception, Sunday thanksgiving at the church et al. We were there for four days.
My friend told me about a man of God who she had approached and helped her get her own husband. At that time, I was close to my 50th year but people said I looked a lot younger…maybe because I have never had a child before.
Anyway, my friend was so concerned about my lack of husband, she insisted that once we got to Lagos, we would go see the so-called man of God.
I played along because this friend was one of those who remained my friend even after marriage, even before she relocated abroad, she was a constant friend.
Though I had my misgivings, I was an unmarried woman at 49! What husband was coming my way?
What man wouldn’t want a child…I hadn’t hit menopause yet but hey, it could be problematic to carry a child at my age, assuming I even found a man and got pregnant immediately.
More so, I also expected that whatever man would come, would be someone who already had children, was a widower or divorced dad…I wasn’t sure I wanted them either. So you see, I was clear as to where I was going, marriage isn’t for everyone and I happen to be one of the few. I didn’t want to do “anything possible” to procure a husband…until I met the man of God.
I told my friend, “I won’t sleep in the church and one pastor will start sleeping with me under the guise of looking for a husband; I won’t parade myself naked at night because I am looking for a husband..”. I had a list of “I won’t”…because I had heard several stories about the desperate things people did for husbands and children.
I live with one of my nieces, whom I have adopted; I have a good job, a side business and of course, once in a while, I agree it would be good to have your man, instead of sneaking around with another woman’s husband, you know? As you get older, the men get scantier.
Anyway, man of God, talked up and down, side by side, told me I had a ‘spirit husband’ preventing me from getting married. I was expecting him to say I should come to his church for vigil, he didn’t say.
I expected him to say I should go bathe with cut soap, he didn’t. Instead he gave me a simple instruction. “Go to the market, buy cooking salt, whether the one that is measured in a cup or comes in packs, sprinkle it in the market place…your husband will come to you in one week!”
Huh? That is all?
You won’t pray for me?
He said he already prayed.
I was both confused and relieved. Confused because the instruction was so simple, relieved because he didn’t ask me to bring money or come for vigil or…
It was simple, right?
Until I got to the market.
Until I bought the salt at the market one day …
Until I told myself, “Ol girl, how will you start sprinkling salt in a market place? In the full glare of people going by?
I went to different sections of the market…I couldn’t do it.
Market women, traders, buyers and other sellers…it was a hard task my sister.
I just couldn’t bring myself to start sprinkling salt in the market place…I took the salt home.
That’s the thing with anything that is not straight forward…
I was asking myself, would I need to buy another salt if I couldn’t do it that day?
That’s how I began to gather salt in the house; I was going to different markets to buy salt but never had the guts to sprinkle…
When my friend called asking if I had done it, I would either not pick her calls and when I did, I would give her one excuse or another…
What measure of salt, sef? One cup? I packet of salt? How much? 50naira? 100naira worth?
Three months later, I think. I finally summoned courage, what made me summon courage, an old friend, we had lived on the same street growing up; she suddenly called out of the blue, telling me she was getting married.
We are age mates, everyone had written her off; you know, people said she was a failed prostitute from Italy, they said she had sold her womb, they said many nasty things about her. Guess who she was marrying?
My own no even bad reach her own and she was getting married to a pastor!
I went to a market, I will not name, I parked my car, far from the market. Dressed anyhow, sha. Like a house girl…
I bought N100 worth of salt and began to sprinkle it.
They didn’t tell me that in that market, there were heavy traditional people. People who believe in traditional stuff and can see even ghosts…as soon as I began to sprinkle, not openly o…just drop here, pretending as if I didn’t know I was spilling it…
One butcher just shouted, “You this woman, stop that thing or I will expose you!”
I looked at him, he was looking at me so sharply … but I had begun, so I pretended I didn’t hear him. My heart was tearing my chest apart.
The man was still looking at me and attracting other people’s attention, he said, “Taboo! You don’t trample salt underfoot…it is a sweetener; it sweetens life… stop it!”
Before my brain told me to run, one woman selling pepper just gave me one slap from behind. She said, “…don’t come and spoil market for us here! Who sent you?”
“Why are you sprinkling salt on the ground?”
In seconds, three, four, five people were on me, beating me…tearing at my clothes…I was telling myself, “…they will strip you naked in the market…” They removed my scarf, almost tore off my skirt and my blouse as they slapped me and pulled my hair and…
They were shouting, “Don’t spoil market for us…carry your bad luck away…”
I begged them, I told them who sent me, I begged them that I was desperate, that’s why I did it…
The first woman who slapped me was the one who removed her wrapper and covered me…she told the others to back off and took me away from there.
Let me end my story by saying, I will never go looking for a husband in the market place again…I’m still unmarried… and I will never go meeting any pastor or prophet or minister of God for anything…as for the woman, after many months, I went back to thank her.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)