Oh? You are surprised?
Yes, my husband told me for two years that I smelled; he told me I smelled like a he-goat and he didn’t mean it in a harmful way, it was just him expressing himself as best as he could.
In those two years, he moved from our room to the guest room; he refused to touch me and he couldn’t stand to be in the same room with me for no longer than 5 to 10 minutes max!
It got to the extent that I went from prophet to prophet, pastor to pastor, until I had a house-help who told me about a native doctor in her village and that was how I went all the way to Cotonou for help but before I tell you all of this, let me start from the beginning.
How did I get here?
I had a friend; we met in school, same school I went to with my husband
All three of us were friends, we were in the same faculty but not same department; my friend, Kate was my course mate and my boyfriend, now my husband, was two years ahead of us but in a different department.
You know how it is that you confide in your best friend about a boyfriend? How you tell your girlfriend the first time you kiss a guy, the first time you make love…that was howI confided in my friend?
I thought I was sharing secrets I couldn’t share with with just anyone but a friend that loved me like a sister and indeed we were that close; we wore similar clothing, wore same makeup, wore our hair in same fashion, we were called twinnies by other people.
And for years, I trusted my friend. She was with me on the day I gave birth to our first child and naturally became my son’s godmother. I was beside her when she got married and began to have kids, too. She was a regular feature in my life and vice versa.
I was also there for her when her marriage ended after her husband upped and left when he got a co-worker pregnant.
Anyway, one day my husband came home and asked what the smell in the room was all about. I was surprised. He was sniffing and when he got to where I stood, he asked me where I had been. I said I hadn’t been anywhere I wasn’t supposed to be. He told me to go and take a bath that he was perceiving a strange odour from me.
I sniffed my armpits, I sniffed my clothes, I didn’t perceive any smell but I still went ahead to take a bath even though I had just taken a bath a few hours before he came home.
I assumed he must have carried the smell from outside and it was confusing his sense of smell.
My sister, that day was the beginning of my nightmare. After taking my bath, as soon as I entered the bedroom, my husband kept complaining, that I was smelling, he asked me, “Where did you go today? Did you go to the ram market or something?”
Ram market kwa? To go and do what? I asked him.
What would I go and do at a ram market? If I wanted to buy ram meat, I would go to normal market and buy, in short, that day, I never even left the house. I had visitors all day, my friend Kate, included and nobody complained to me of any smell.
That night, my husband and I had a serious quarrel because he kept saying the smell from me was suffocating him! He threw the blinds open, kept the door open…put on the aircon and fan together…and still kept complaining about ‘my smell.’
See me see wahala o!
At that point, I was very angry; I called my three children to the room to ask if they were smelling anything, two of them were teenagers 15 and 13 year olds and my youngest, the baby, seven years old…all of them sniffed me and couldn’t smell anything!
You know, I was both embarrassed and enraged at the same time but my husband just kept telling me, he was perceiving a bad odour from me! And the way he went about it was, “Baby, please, believe me, I am not lying, I am telling you the honest truth, this smell is conk and it is you!”
I believed he was smelling something but for the life of me, I didn’t know what else to do!
I went to take a long bath again that evening… do you know how we slept that night? He put a handkerchief around his nose…to stop ‘smelling’ me.
Two days later, he moved into the guestroom; he told me he was ‘suffocating’ and that he needed me to go and see a doctor.
My sister, I went to several hospitals; no cure. I would get home and oga would say, “baby, the smell is still there!”
I wondered if he was going mad, we quarreled big!
But he was sincere, you know, he was persistent. He doesn’t do drugs or too much alcohol or…so I couldn’t even blame anything for him perceiving what he said he was perceiving.
So I met with some pastors because after a few months, I was told it might be a spiritual attack.
I went to several deliverance sessions in churches and one or two pastors actually told me they could smell it! Yes, one told me exactly what my husband said about the smell and I hadn’t even told him what the smell was about…you understand me? But after prayers and fasting and confessions…the ‘smell’ remained.
Meanwhile, my best friend told me she could smell it too! She was my sister in misery and was also the main person following me to the hospitals, pastors…she was always encouraging me not to give up.
As for my marriage, I became resentful of my husband because, I felt he didn’t try for me. He didn’t follow me to any of the places I needed to go and since he was the one who smelt that thing the most, the least he could have done was to follow to some of these places.
Our relationship became sour from there on; we just said “good morning, good afternoon.” to each other because it seemed he just couldn’t bear to stay in the same room with me for more than 5 minutes; as soon as I entered the sitting room, he would get up to go to the bedroom, if I needed to tell him something private about our children and I go to his room, he would be anxious for me to finish talking…so we quarreled and before I knew it, he was spending more time outside than inside the house. I knew it would be a matter of time before he asked for a divorce.
What did this do to me?
I almost ran mad! Do you know what it means to think you smell and people are just being polite for your sake?
Do I know how many other people ‘smelled’ me?
I was not sleeping well, not eating well, wondering where the hell the smell was coming from? A few months after the smell began, I knew it had to be spiritual but I took me time to accept because as far as I was concerned, I had no enemies, I wasn’t struggling for anything with anyone, so where did this come from?
Anyway, this my story is getting too long. So what happened?
I got one house help from Cotonu, you know, these agoyin girls. You know, she must have overheard me talking either on the phone or when my friend came along to the house. So one day, we were in the kitchen when she said: “Aunty, can I say something?”
I said, “What?”
She said, “This smell that you have, there is one man that is very good in my town, I have heard him cure people like this before, he can help you.”
Let me cut my story short…I went o!
I went to her village, I travelled to Cotonu with this girl o. The man told me my friend wanted my husband for herself…my best friend Kate, yeeeeesss! So she put something on me to make me ‘smell’ to my husband…so that he would divorce me and she would take over!
I was shocked to my marrow because, if it wasn’t because of work, my friend would have escorted me down to Cotonou that weekend.
Anyway, the man said when I got home, I should take sand from the ground and give my friend and that she would start confessing…I told the man I didn’t want any confession, I just wanted to be normal again. The man said, “Well, we have to send this “smell somewhere.”
Anyway, when I got back to Nigeria, the following day my friend came to greet me, I was seeing her off when her car keys fell off her hands. I quickly bent down and scooped it up with bits of sand and handed it to Kate…
Nothing happened immediately, the following day, she came to my house early mo mo…
My sister as soon as. I opened the door it got me, Kate was smelling like a skunk! My children shrank back even my house help.
I would have shrank back but I needed to hear what she had to say.
She had come to beg and ask a favour but mehn…if what I smelled on her is what I used to smell like, no one will be around her for long! She came to ask me the address of the man I went to see at Cotonou, me, I will never reveal it!
That is my story my husband has stopped complaining o.
Me? Sorry ke. I am not sorry it went back to her, what did I do to deserve the pain in the first place?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)