I am very heartbroken as I speak to you, I don’t think I will live to see 2024. It is the story of my life. The story of mistakes I made and the man who will be responsible for my death.
Years ago, before this Japa syndrome began. In the early 90s, I finished secondary school and through a friend who worked in the airlines in those days, Air France, I travelled abroad. Getting my papers was not a big deal back in the day. I used my friend’s papers and after about four years, I got my papers. In those years, I had saved to start buying my own house and send myself to get more education. I was quite resourceful.
You see, back then, your people were not interested in whether you were abroad or not, they wanted you to get married and have children. I was the first daughter of an Igbo family and I was expected to start a family at the age of 27.
What I didn’t tell my family was that I already had a son in the US.
I’ll tell you about that shortly.
My parents wanted me to be properly married. I came home and a husband had been found for me. He is Igbo like me, his name is Franklin.
Franklin had finished secondary school but didn’t want to trade. He wanted to go and further his education. I told him that was not a problem. I would work and he would go to school and when he was done with school, we would have children. That was the plan. My working meant sometimes, I did three jobs, just to ensure the mortgage was paid and we had food on the table, plus I had a growing child. It also meant that the small money we were sending home to build our own house in the village was steady.
Of course, when he came to the US, I introduced him to my son, James. It didn’t take him long to notify his people that I was a tramp who lured him abroad. He told them I was forcing him to make James his heir!
What crap is that?
This isn’t true. I wanted to be honest with him. We were married and this was meant to be between us. Eventually, everyone at home knew about James and I was labelled a golddigger who lured their illustrious son to the US. It is ridiculous because there was no gold to dig for with Franklin.
Anyway, I worked for the next five years while Franklin went to school and when he was done and got a job, trouble began for me.
What I thought was a beautiful arrangement was beginning to turn sour. Granted that the marriage between Franklin and I did not start as a love relationship, I was willing to give it my best shot, which is why I sacrificed five years for him to go back to school, and begin work.
Like I said, before I went home to marry Franklin and bring him to the US, I was in a relationship with a Caribbean man who loved me. My family at home wanted me to marry a Nigerian, someone from our side, so every time I spoke about Jim, my lover, my family would reject him and tell me not to incur the wrath of our people by bringing home a foreigner. Unfortunately, I had to end things with Jim because of my family.
But Franklin was not happy.
After he had secured his papers in the US, he began to have a series of affairs. He told me as an Igbo man, my James would never be his heir.
Tell me, who wanted that? Not me, certainly.
Well, things got bad between us. He moved out and vowed never to have anything to do with me again.
To be honest, there was no love lost between us, so I was kind of relieved but thankful that I had slaved for this pig to just have him walk all over me like this. He left me and my little boy and I resolved to pick my life up once more.
I made up with Jim, the father of my son. It wasn’t easy getting back, long story there but we got back again. Plus, Jim had become sick at that time, so it kind of worked out.
Jim moved in with me and his son and though we never got married because I hadn’t got a divorce from Franklin, we lived….quite happily for a while.
Out of the blue, Franklin came knocking on our door. He began a fight with Jim calling both of us nasty names and demanding Jim leave his “wife and son and his house.”
The guy was disillusioned.
Who’s his wife? Who’s his son? Which house?
Certainly not me, whom he had called a whore several times, not my son, who he had called a bastard several times, nor my house, which was still in my name!
Franklin had abandoned us for more than two years and suddenly surfaced to lay stupid claims!
I was going to have none of that and threatened to call the cops.
Well, I wish I had as soon as he knocked on our door that day. Unfortunately, Franklin engaged Jim, who had been sick at that time, in a fight.
While I tried to come between the two men, to stop the madness, Franklin drew a knife and stabbed my Jim!
He stabbed him multiple times and took off!
I called an ambulance but when they arrived, it was too late for Jim. It was too late for a precious soul.
And when he died, I died too, only I wasn’t buried.
His son was there when he was stabbed and watched his father die.
Franklin was arrested three days later but this won’t bring Jim back. Franklin was charged with murder and got 25 years to life.
Yes, Franklin will likely spend the rest of his rotten life in jail but my Jim has been taken from me forever. This is harder to bear because now I am old and alone. Stuck in a life I have no wish to continue with. Franklin took the one precious soul I most cherish. Since then, nothing has worked quite well for me
I miss my Jim now more than ever and yes, it’s been more than 20 years but it seems like it was just yesterday.
My son is grown and has a life of his own but I can’t find mine again. I have no wish to see the New Year.
This is my story, share it with everyone.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)