My marriage failed because I was not frugal enough. Although, I was convinced on the day of the wedding that we would not last a decade –perhaps less — not because we were bad for each other but good; I decided to make that choice, although hard, to feel what such failure will actually look like.
I met my ex-wife at a dinner organized by a servicing firm we contracted for in Port Harcourt. It is the early months of 2007 and the town was boiling with political turmoil.
The event had brought together a good number of high classed managers and Chief Executive Officers, stakeholders and other key players in the oil and gas industry of that era. In attendance, also, were politicians who had stakes in the industry.
More so, it was an election year and they needed all the financial support they could get from the industry players.
The venue was an exquisite three-star hotel in the heart of the town’s Government Reservation Area with top-notch services to its name, all-round security with chauffeurs for hire.
The dinner kicked off at about eight in the evening in high notes. The guests were robed in their best attires, glittering under the ambiance of the night’s kindness.
As a single guy with a good paycheck, I had high hopes of an awesome evening; not just about the dinner but the after party booked in a poolside club at the edge of the town. More so, about the possibilities of meeting someone that I would impress.
I was not where I wanted to be in life then but I was comfortable. I had a nice car and a nice apartment in a serene part of the town and had some degrees and other glories to my name. My job came first and every other thing came second but I was ready to change such routine to incur more flexibility.
I was not complaining about anything; my only responsibilities was to myself but in all, I needed company, not just for the night but forever.
I needed someone I would wake up to very early in morning and run chores with, laugh with and argue with when those circumstances arise.
Living alone was becoming more boring as the day went by and both the body and spirit desired a company.
I arrived the venue a bit before the due time. My boss and I had been billed to talk with one of the governorship aspirants over some deals that would put us where we wanted to be. It was a very expensive deal and was in another hotel on the same street.
Although we came out of the meeting with bundles of optimism, I felt the urge to keep off people for the night and stand in solidarity with my struggles.
I sat that evening taking mental pictures of every lady that came for the party, separating the singles from those that had been taken and those who had not been taken from those who wanted to be taken.
It was not a daunting task, especially for the streets smarts. We lived it every day. They also came with class difference and it slipped through the cracks through which they had packaged themselves.
The street girls picked by those who had their time were at a great length distinguishable from staff of different firms that graced the dinner. It is almost easy choosing between she that was from the street from she that was from the corporate world by the way they appeared and their lines of communication at the dinner.
Champagne flowed. A high-life band was also at a corner entertaining the guests and bruising the souls with good music. Those with company danced. Those without tapped their feet to the floor with their hands dug deep inside their pockets.
There were also pockets of introductions by the CEO; with business deals initiated over glasses of champagne. They made it easy in so many ways.
I glowed at her with an around attention the moment I saw her. It was awesome in awkward kind of way but, that night was the beginning of the misery that would last me for years; the misery of the imperfections that should have been perfect, of that that never was and those that would eventually become.
It was not love at first sight. It was something deeper than that; the attention to the command by your instincts and the crude imagination of the blessing that comes with such conformity. And, you keep sinking until you are drowned in its mysteries and it pushes you to the edge of the river bank and ties you to a stake.
She was exquisitely dressed; a lovely red gown that announced her from miles away. She was beautiful too and ravishingly so, with the shape of an egg.
One would marvel at the discovery of her origin-an indigene of a Christian community in Borno state with pockets of degrees in accounting, specialization in oil and gas auditing and other credits to her name.
The night was Gravitating towards its aura and it felt like Christmas in February. I was wowed out of my composure by her grasp of trends, with due attention to politics. It was not hard noticing that she liked me too the moment we began talking. Her almost never-ending admiration for the tux gave her out easily, even though she struggled to hide it.
I was not that good talker and she enjoyed that fact too and took her time telling stories about spreadsheets and the rest of the world.
It was late at night and the town had gone to sleep. We drove in my car to her apartment because her company driver had left and it fell on me, the responsibility to get her home. However, letting go off each other was hard and within months, we were deeply in love with each other and had begun going out on dates and making marriage arrangements.
Having a lady in my life came with certain challenges and changes. First, I had to explain away issues that I would not have bothered to on days that it was just me housing my emotions. We had become two and that means accommodating express opinions about the way you did things, especially the finances.
Secondly, Everything was placed under the strict rules of spreadsheets. It was said to be necessary and the best practice. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. It helped initially but life became boring as well. I was a spontaneous being. I love surprising those whom I had a thing for with things I felt they would appreciate.
It was nothing really, just an honest objectified expression of appreciation. However, I would go on to trim such ‘irritating’ behavior of mine even when I did not see the need.
Love does a lot in the life of a man. It saves you the same way it breaks you. At the end of the day, you find yourself desperately trying to wiggle your way out of that confinement, to breathe a bit of fresh air from the oppressively and choking hold it has exerted on you.
I had invited my friends for the engagement party. I felt that life should be progressive even within the confinement of tough circumstances. It had come with plenty misgivings; one minute, you are spiraling on the floor from humor. The next minute, you are on your knees praying for freedom.
The venue was at a lounge in the heart of the town. I loved the expression of opulence, albeit mildly but opulence always comes with a price and prize. Yet, it had potentials for beauty, in an amazing way.
My boss had come with his wife and stood gallantly in support. The air was infected with joy and happiness, friends cheered and teased. I was nervous, and then uneasy. I felt outdone by the frittering energy that had characterized the night. That was not me that night, cold and weak even in the face of victory not defined.
I was about making one of the biggest promises of my life and also taking one of the biggest decisions in my life. Yet I sat and asked myself severally these questions ‘are you sure you want to do this?’
I was not able to answer that question. There existed conflicts on my mind, of both hope and despair and the desire for perfection. I held on to it diligently.
I popped that question. My knee was on the ground in a classical gentleman style. I was impeccably dressed too and the night was sifting through. She knew I loved her. I knew I loved her. Yet, within those bubbles of expectations, she stared at the ring that had cost nothing more than a fortune and said No!
There was silence inside the lounge, such silence that was swallowed by the dropping of a pin. I was still on my knee, confused as to what to do with the wrap of rejection that had been handed to me. It felt like I had the weight of the world on me. Such mistake are not one that you survive easily. I know! It’s effects last a lifetime and I was not prepared for it.
I was enmeshed in a continent of thoughts and, it was like standing in the rain and watching your life fall apart.
One minute, you are a bundle of joy wrapped with optimism; next minute, you are hoping the ground opens and swallow you. There was magic in that moment, albeit negatively, it was like that that karma brought back but her hands were on my bent head to confer the needed solace to my sorrows.
She did not say No because she did not love me. She said No because she did actually love me beyond the expression of it, more than the world would understand. Her style was not for the modern man that I had worked towards all my life. She lowered her self and whispered into my ears, words that felt like cold water on a heavily sweating body ‘I can’t accept this ring because it looks too expensive. Get me something ordinary and we would proceed’.
Well, there was hope, such that brought succor to a wandering though and had lowered my blood pressure. I beckoned to Fokorede; one of directors in charge of logistics in our firm. He approached in measured steps, and reluctantly too. Every step was that of pity. I needed some. He bent and I whispered into his ears. It gladdened his heart and he flew out to the streets with the speed of light. Few minutes later, he came with a new ring and I popped the question again, this time, more sober than I did the first time.
I shivered for the disappointment she had to deliver. They were crippling in effect and from that day, something unknown died. I know I was in love with her. It was a fact that I could not dispute even in my dreams. It was just another day in the lives of two people in love I had said to myself in a consolatory attempt.
However, that was the energy that sharpened the the weapon of our separation, the tool that hastened its victory and the seal of approval that put a final stop to all those maybes.
After the birth of my daughter, the gap between my ex-wife and I grew wider. It brought about so many non-pleasurable circumstances. I love my daughter more than anything there is to life, it’s a fact, and I communicated it every day.
Nevertheless, that which traditions had failed to accommodate had made that love look Spineless, but in all, we determined to stick our troubles where the sun doesn’t shine just for her sake.
People whom I spoke to felt that, well, we could fix it. We tried, doing everything within our means just to fix it.
However, some things when broken can never be fixed. Yes! How do you even begin to fix a broken bottle with tens of particles scattered in places that you do not know? You keep sinking deep into its shallowness. For that was what we had become; two parallel lines that branched out from a source and determined never to meet again!
She wanted to live as spartan as she could be, but I had the way I wanted to live my life in me, how I wanted to raise my child. She deserves the best of the bests.
We were two strange cells in a tissue of discomfort. We avoided ourselves yet there was no happiness. Nothing worked, rather, they got worse and before my daughter turned three and probably, a time for another pregnancy, we were in court begging the judge for separation.