I met my wife in Lagos at church and we courted according to our doctrine; I then went to her father’s compound in the village and we did our igba nkwu…the truth is, nothing prepares you for the twists and turns of marriage.
You see, my wife is mental and nothing prepared me for this. When elders say, go and find out about a person before you marry them, my brother pay attention and learn from those of us who did not listen.
So what happened. Well,she didn’t just suddenly become mental.
It started after she gave birth to our second child. It was a long and hard labour, in fact after I saw how she suffered, I decided we would not have another child again. I just couldn’t bear for her to go through all that pain again. How can a woman who labored for two days be asked to bring another child into this world again? It would kill her and then what would happen to me? So, I decided we won’t have another child again but fate had already made the decision for me even as I was praying to God to spare my wife’s life, telling God that after this episode of long labour, never, never would I get her pregnant her again.
There was nothing to make me suspect that my wife would never be the same again after the birth of our second son.
The initial explanation I got as to my wife’s strange behaviour was from the midwife who told me that blood rushed into her brain when she was in the labour room.
Nwanne refused to let her own child suckle, she refused to even carry him. She refused to eat, she would just break down and start crying long agonizing cries…over nothing really.
‘It’s the blood that entered her brain, she will be ok after some time,’ that’s what the midwife just kept saying and so we kept trying to treat her with agbo while we had to buy formula for the baby.
I didn’t understand it then because what I know today, I didn’t know it then. They say some women suffer from such things. My wife’s mother came from the village for omugo, she tried her best to get my wife to be reasonable but it did not work.
At this time, I was exasperated myself. So when my mother- in- law suggested taking my wife to the village to treat her and care for the child, I was relieved. I agreed. Got them transport and they went home. They were in the village when I heard that my wife’s mother’s sister also went mental after childbirth.
Ok. You know we dedicate our children at three months, we couldn’t, my wife was worse. She was behaving like a mad woman; tearing her own clothes, refusing to eat, just talking nonsense.
All the herbs and treatment they have been giving her in the village did not work, so I couldn’t bring them over to do the baby dedication. What are we dedicating when mother of the child is not well?
You know, this is not even the kind of talk you talk with people except they are very, very close to you. So when people asked me say, ‘where is mama bomboy?’ I say, ‘She is enjoying life in the village.’ Can I tell them my wife is mental? It is a shameful thing, you know.
After some months, I told a friend who works in a hospital about my wife’s condition and by that time, we were already suspecting that maybe this is even jazz because how can blood in the brain cause someone to go mad? Is blood not in our brain already?
So, my friend now said she can be treated but that we wasted too much time. That we should bring her to Lagos and take her to Yaba…
My mother- in- law did not agree at first so I had to plead with her.
“If you want to see your daughter healed, you have to agree and you have to come with us because I don’t trust any other person to have the patience to care for my wife like you. Is it my own sisters who will cook and clean for her? They may do it for some time but I don’t trust they will do it all the time, you know, she shits herself many times; until we began to use adult pampers for her, I swear, it is not easy. My own mother is old and can’t even take care of anyone.
We came o, to Yaba. After all the wahala of registration, everything, they wouldn’t admit her, they just said they will be treating her as an outpatient. No wahala.
They have been treating her since, she is not cured o. My mother-in-law said she couldn’t continue after more than one year, no real improvement. The drugs just slowed her down. She was not active but she was also not violent. I guess my mother-in-law just didn’t understand, so she suggested we go see a pastor who can cure her somewhere near our village.
I asked her saying, what of your sister that also ran mental, did you take her to the pastor? But mama believed in the pastor.
I could not leave my job because there are bills to pay and all I earn goes to taking care of my wife and the kids. As you can guess, many things are just kept consuming money; rent, school fees, nanny to help my in law with my wife and the kids… how for do na?
Anyway, we have been like this, 12 years now. We have been like this. My mother-in-law passed away two years ago. The woman tried. She tried ooo. I am sure it was the heartbreak of watching her daughter turn into something else that finally killed her.
My wife can’t live with me in the house, I had to take her back to her father’s house. I wish I could keep her with me. But who will take care of her for me when I have to work everyday? We tried two nannies after my mother- in -law passed, one left after just one week, the other was caught hitting my wife. Can you imagine? So, I had to take her back to her father’s house.
In all of these, I won’t tell you I have been a saint o. I don’t have a girlfriend per se but I don’t want to keep changing women like tissue paper. I want someone I can come home to. Someone I can discuss my life with. I want a wife, I want to remarry but I still have a wife! As a catholic, I can’t divorce my wife in her condition and yet I can’t remarry and I don’t want to be jumping from one girl to another, I am tired of it. I am a man, I too have needs, my wife is still alive and I can’t kill her. I am just so depressed and confused.
My people tell Catholic church to free me o.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)