Chapter 1: Now We Know He Married The Bank
The family meeting was particularly well attended than the other ones before. Several In-laws, selected relatives, confidants and friends had come to settle a serious dispute between Fisiola and Setan, her husband of almost fifteen years. This one was much more serious.
Her parents had traveled long distances from their abodes for the crucial meeting which was being held in Fisiola’s newly rented three bedroom bungalow in the posh area of town known as the Alabiamo crescent, Ire-Bode town. The setting of the meeting was the spacious patio of the house which overlooked a huge flower and vegetable garden. It was a breath taking view indeed. Even Setan could not hide his amazement at the opulence of his estrange wife’s new home. All soon sat down on white plastic chairs which she had hired for the occasion. Children were not around or allowed at the gathering because this matter was not for their young ears.
After the pleasantries and some light refreshments, they soon settled down together to hopefully find a lasting solution to the marital crisis at hand. Her mother in-law was late as usual. Setan’s mother was a busy petty business woman of about five feet tall with a slightly rough skin complexion due to overworking in the natural elements or so she claimed. She raised Setan and two daughters almost all alone when her husband passed away many years ago. Some of her late husband’s relatives had helped her financially when they could afford to do so. She was one iron lady to be deal with but Fisiola was considered by her to be a precious daughter in law.
Fisiola smiled when she saw her mother in-law arrive and began to apologise profusely to everyone. Her mother in law smiled fondly and went over to give her a loving hug. Fisi, as she fondly called her daughter in law, had always been kind, respectful and generous towards her. The woman had often joked that Fisi was the reason she was not starving to death. Fisiola had to trust her mother in-law‘s ability to be neutral and supportive.
Baba Taofiki, a grand uncle from her maternal side, cleared his throat loudly to attract attention and silence because it was time to begin the meeting. The attention was immediately rapt as he began.
“You are all welcome to this meeting. May God continue to bless you and preserve your homes as you have taken time to come here today?”
“Amen!” They all chorused happily.
“We will never have marriages crisis like this in our homes and lives .”
Every one replied “Amen.” And it was louder this time.
“We shall not see a good outcome today…”
The old Baba continued to pray but Setan sat there in defiance with his arms folded across his chest and with his restless legs which were shaking vigorously throughout Baba’s prayer. Immediately he thought the ‘ancient’ Baba had finished with his ‘foolish’ praying, Setan busted an angry infantile rant and bellowed at Fisiola directly.
“This woman wants to kill me. I know why I married her and I have done my best for her but she wants to kill me with her nagging!”
The audience was offended by his rude audacity and some remarked that it was a ridiculous outburst of desperation. Baba Taofiki‘s mouth hung in disgust as he felt disrespected.
“A yan ga e lai. You have no respect for me?” Baba bellowed in his bass commanding voice.
“I am sorry, Sir. She makes me so mad.” Setan said, pointing vigorously at his wife who at calmly on the opposite side of the table. She was clearly amused by his display of tantrums again and in the full glare of others..
“Oh...and so she is responsible for your rudeness right now?” asked Baba again and again.
“Aha...!” Wailed his mother, in profuse embarrassment. “Get down and show proper respect to Baba!”
Setan, realising his folly, promptly prostrated before Baba Taofik in prompt apology to the satisfaction of all that was present. The old man eyed him with the annoyance that only a ninety year old could display. Mama Setan gave a worried sigh for her son as Fisiola smirked softly and shook her head in jest as her mind drifted into memories of the past when she first met him. Her husband had not changed at all and it was clear that it was her who did not read the handwriting on the wall.
Setan had always preferred the company of his male friends, watching foreign soccer leagues in local shops and buying rounds of beer and drinking with his comrades. He enjoyed being the ‘man’ among his peers, but not in his matrimonial home. He looked well fed and dressed compared to his wife who always looked tired, basically cladded and overworked. His life was certainly good and robust on her pay checks. She noticed he had lost some weight since she left him.
But Setan began to complain aloud again.
“Ask her what she does with her money?” He spoke again and waved about his arms. ”Didn’t her bible say that she should be helping me?”
Some guests laughed.
“That is his main concern?” They jested in agreement.
Fisiola rolled her eyes and giggled as well. She had been listening to the same whining for years and she was done with the manipulation.
“Well, since you want to manipulate us with the bible today, then I will tell you that I need a ′ Boaz’, a ‘Joseph’ or an ‘Isaac’ in my life. I want a man who wants to work and wants to provide for his family and that is never what you ever want. I want you to be free to find another slave wife.”
Setan was trying to shout her down.
“Keep quiet, woman!” He spat at her. “The bible says you, my wife, should obey your husband and that is me!”
“You are right. The bible says I should obey my husband IN THE LORD. You, Setan, have used me as the provider and not as the wife. I have worked for you for fifteen years in the name of marriage. Allowing myself to be enslaved by anyone cannot be of the Lord!”
“It is God’s will that you should be the one with the money and so why are you insulting me when He made you the provider?”
The older men in the meeting balked with dismay and irritation at his use of logic.
“It is not God’s will but yours and I have to provide because you are lazy man.” She shouted back.
Fisiola was hissing as she raved on without any bashfulness.
“So I am to be punished with burden because I work harder?” Fisiola laughed as she continued.
“I see other women’s husbands and I know that some of them are lunatics like you. Those who do nothing but live off their wives like lice. However, I also observe that there are men who are responsible in all the ramifications of the word.”
“How dare you?” Setan spat back at what he thought was an insult.
“I dare because whosoever holds the gold controls the piper’s tune. I hold the gold and so I will play any tune that pleases me right now.”
“I know you are a sweet submissive woman by nature. It is that your jealous husbandless friend, Moji that is putting ideas into your head…”
“Oh yeah?” Fisiola laughed. ”How amusing for you to say that after all you have always swept my concern under the carpet any time I expressed my displeasure about your passivity in our home.”
“I know that it is that Moji. She is jealous because she is thirty two years old and never been married.” he added adamantly again.
“Moji is engaged.”
“What?!!?” He balked. “How is that possible?”
People laughed out aloud at the gruesome exchange.
“It is very insulting to know that I was a brilliant thinker and smart in making my own decisions before I met you, but now you blame anyone and everybody for my actions and thoughts?”
“How dare you talk to me like that?”
Setan was very unhappy about the way Fisiola’s new assertiveness. This was not the initial plan for his wife.
Setan was a bored Chemical Engineer when he met Fisiola. He had been excited to learn that she was a new teacher in the top international school in town. He was secretly pleased about teacher’s working hours which were better than those of his then girlfriend’s banking job. He quickly dumped the girl for the new one. He had also calculated and compared salaries to make the decision swifter because Fisiola‘s pay check was better than he had anticipated and actually doubled his calculations.
‘She is God sent.’ He mused eagerly and secretly. Setan would resign from the Engineering job almost immediately after the wedding ceremony and to follow his ‘passion’ for scouting for new talents for the international soccer teams. Fisiola was dismayed at the undiscussed actions of her new husband and she expressed concern. He however encouraged Fisiola to stay in teaching because he claimed that it will make her a better mother to their children and an attentive wife to him.
As for Fisiola, she began to note that all he ever spoke about was her job security and salary. He had supported her teaching career and even calculated her annual income in advance before declaring that they should get married. She was alarmed but married him anyway because of her mother’s desperation.
‘A bird at hand is worth two in the bush!’ Her mother pushed her to marry with eagerness.
Her mother thought that her daughter was of age and should be married off quickly that she dismissed the obvious rapidly. However, teaching was not what Fisiola really wanted in life. She had a passion for fashion and sewing bags. Her bags were exquisite and well made to international standards.
Over the years, she had developed sharp tailoring skills and even won many bag design competitions nationally. She informed her fiancé several times about her intense desire to be a bag designer but he would always laugh and scoff that there were many ‘tailors’ in town. He smirked at her lovely designs, brushed them aside and called them ‘nice’. His bad attitude continued even after they were married and became condescendingly worse.
“I wanted to get married so eagerly that I refused to heed to the warning signs.” She had lamented earlier to her lawyer a few weeks ago before the meeting.
Fisiola now stood up from her chair in frustration and pointed to her lined face as she continue to lament.
“Look at me. I am just forty years old and I am already looking like fifty nine. Look at Setan and observe how he like he is still in his early thirties. He even brags about it that he looks younger than me. He does nothing that would age him at all. I left him while I was still sane.”
Setan who was mocking her while she was not looking was caught unawares before he could stop.
Fisiola was embarrassed for him.
‘I hate you!’ was the next sentence she intended to say but it never came out of her mouth but it showed on her face.
She remembered how he would make her do what she didn’t want to do as if it was his calling in life to micromanage her. He kept up with her timetables, constantly bullied her into working and volunteering for projects even on the holidays. He was constantly fearful that she would lose the job.
Anytime that she mentioned to him that she wanted to concentrate on her bags designing and turn it into a business, he would go nuts and throw tantrums against her ideas. There was once a day that he practically ordered her to teach a fashion design extracurricular activity to the secondary learners as if that will satisfy her thirst for the ‘fashion bug’.
Fisiola was getting tired and miserable at work and it showed.
Every time she wanted to resign from the job, he threatened her and fly into raging tantrums when she spoke of creating her own accessory line. To make matters worse, Setan was irresponsible and didn’t want to provide for the family. His wife was now sure that he would have never married her if she did not have a good paying job. He would rather die than take up a job.
“It is just not my calling to work under somebody.” He said repeatedly like it was a verse in a holy dogma.
He contributed nothing except the rent and how he got that was still unclear to her. She was sure he used her own money to pay for it. He had always insisted on a joint account to keep a keen watch on the ‘family’ finances. He would spend money like it was his right even though he was stingy to the account by depositing almost nothing into it.
Fisiola’s ability to demand for the financial accounts and how money was being spent caused constant fights in the house.
“It is not your money but our money!” He argued stubbornly.
Often, she would take her debit card to the ATM machines to discover that the account had been emptied by her husband. Setan was relentless when they argued. To him, she was supposed to give the kids free education and support him until his business became financially buoyant.
“That is fair, isn’t it?” He would say with deluded verve .” Or where do you want me to get that sort of school fees for the children?”
He was relentless as she became more resentful towards him every passing year.
When she complained to her mother and her church pastors, they told her to obey her husband at all cost so that she could save her home.
She was becoming bipolar and it seemed that nobody cared.
Her thoughts were broken suddenly by Setan who was firing accusations at her again.
“Do you know how many women are looking for husbands to submit to?”
“Husbands like you?” She would mock bitterly.
Setan was angry again and Fisiola did not care. He avoided her gaze as he tried to make his point to others.
“I married her, gave her my surname and she is not grateful for that?”
The audience laughed senselessly but he continued.
“Look, no one can kill me. After all in America and Europe, women pay the bills!”
“That is not true and I know American and European women who do not do so.” A woman spoke up in defense.
“Most do!” He emphasized.
“In your head and by the way, is Fisiola a foreigner?” Replied same woman with a cutting edge hiss.
But Setan hissed back, the men were amused and he was certainly an expert at hissing.
Fisiola felt pity for the ‘boy’ and seemed desperate. He had been strategic in finding a good wife. He hated Engineering and was always in conflict with his bosses and colleagues. He had resolved to find a strong, independent, hardworking woman and since most of his friends could do so, then he would do the same as well. His needs were not much; he just needed good food, shelter and nice clothing while he pursued his dream with ease. Fisiola was selected by Setan for those practical reasons and for sex and passion, he would get that elsewhere and he did. Ranti was her name but she remained a secret.
His attention was back to the meeting.
“When was the last time we did anything?” Setan asked Fisiola, “Is that being a dutiful and loving wife?”
The guests gasped again with disbelieve at what they heard. Baba Toafik was also amused as he began to chew on a kola-nut with pleasure.
“We don’t do ‘it’ anymore because you repulse me. You just doesn’t turn me on anymore and I am also always tired after all that work I do. I am up at 5 am and get back home by 4:30 pm or so. I am doing too much to get kinky for your complacent and lethargic useless self.”
Setan was visibly shaken but Fisiola continued sarcastically.
“Whenever I ask for money, we have a huge fight. In fact, I ask for money to start a war so I can escape.”
Two aunties laughed aloud without care as one husband eyed a wife with suspicion.
“Why should I give you money when you are earning a salary?” Setan asked again and again.
Only God and the angels saw the hot steam of anger that circulated in Fisiola’s skull. Her father who had been listening attentively was clearly deeply displeased with his son in-law.
He paced himself as his daughter answered her husband.
“What do I do with my money?” She said with sarcastic laughter. “Well, right now I do with it whatever I damn well please. Look around, my dear, I am doing well as you can see!”
The attentive audience nodded in agreement and some even applauded. Setan ’s mother looked pitifully at the son she had raised. She remembered how long it took to get him to consider getting married because he claimed he did not want liabilities. He made it clear to her that he wanted a woman with a good job while he lived with his mother well into his thirties. He lived for years in her small house that was built with her pension fund, gratuity and sweat. He had been her major cheer leader as she built and renovated the house for years but he never contributed a coin to the project.
When the house was finally completed, she had two basic bamboo benches by local carpenters in the area. They had to have something to sit on. She noticed that it never crossed her son’s mind to buy a small set of sofas for the living room. When she playfully asked one day, he balked and replied that he was saving for his marriage and could not buy the sofas.
“People never really change.” She muttered barely audibly to herself but Baba Taofiki heard her and laughed gently in agreement.
It was Fisiola’s mother who spoke at last and all had to listen again.
“So Setan, what do you do with your money?”
“What do I do...with my mummy...em...I mean money?” He replied quickly without thinking.
The audience could not help laughing out loud again. Setan stuttered when he noticed the question was directed at him and he realized that he was the object of laughter.
The silence was awkward as they all waited for an answer. Setan smiled and scratched his head for a long time.
Her father got impatient and decided to speak up.
“Let me rephrase the question, my son, because it seems that you cannot comprehend the meaning of what my wife just asked you.”
His wife tapped him on the lap as a reminder to stay calm. He gave her a sharp glance to remind her that he did not care to be sane on that day. He continued his inquisition with a notable irritation.
“You are clearly passionate about your wife’s job and your plan makes sense only to schemers. I warned her about your lack of personal achievements and flimsy ambition but she brushed me aside. Now we are here for the seventh time in fifteen years patching things up between you again.”
Setan hung his head in anger and not in humility. His mother knew her son looked so irresponsible.
“Young man, do you work?” Her mother spoke again and Setan replied this time..
“I support my wife by helping her to make the right decisions for our family. All I say is that she cannot leave her teaching job because it is a good and secured one. She can open a school later perhaps in the next ten years because she...we...I...I...simply cannot afford to do so.”
Then he decided to add more looking directly at her estrange parents.
“This is actually not any of your businesses after all it was Fisiola’s erratic behaviour that brought us here today anyway.”
“Mr Man, you are in Nigeria and It is my business because I did not send my daughter to university so that she can feed and support a shameless fool like you!”
“Why can you not afford it?” Asked a distant cousin who was very curious.
“Why can you not afford to pay school fees and yet you want to have sex with your wife?” asked another.
“If she dies of exhaustion, would it not be her father’s business to come to the funeral...?”
“...and pay for the coffin as well, you fool?”
“It sounds like you are her wife and not the husband. Fisiola, is that what you wanted?”
“Never!” She replied like rapid fire. “How can I want that kind of pathetic arrangement?”
Setan felt embarrassed and looked to Baba Taofiki to help silence the restless crowd.
The Baba ignored him, took out another piece of kola-nut from the pocket of his agbada robes and began to chew slowly and deliberately.
“Well...” Setan continued boldly, “She cannot leave the job...”
“I resigned from the teaching job about a week ago.”
“What did you say?” Setan asked in pain.
“Even you never keep your jobs. You always find every excuse to leave a job!” she added with spite.
“You left the school?”
“You heard me?” Fisiola replied. ”Now, you get a job!”
He was visibly afraid as she continued.
“What does it matter now, after all we are on the way to the divorce court?”
“God forbid.” the pastor’s wife and some others cried in agreement as well.
“Well, I am done with the rat race of teaching because this man says so.” Fisiola replied with staunch determination. “It is simply not my calling, so you can get the job so I can pursue my dream.”
“You left your job without my permission?” Shrieked Setan again and again.
“And what are you going to do about it?” she goaded.
The finality in her voice sent chills down his spine. When she was younger, Fisiola had sworn that she would never marry a man who would stop her from maximizing her potentials and working to earn her own money. Never in her wildest dreams, did she visualize that she would be kept working like a donkey at a corn mill by a husband.
Even after all the years as a classroom teacher, she never forgot her designing dreams. She still sketched apparels regularly and kept the sketchbooks up to date. Her colleagues at work always came to her consultation about new ideas for their clothes and bags. Wedding dresses, costumes, soft furnishings, casual dresses and pants were sown with prompt, quality and ease in her own work space at home.
She continued to acquire more tools of the trade when she could afford it, or when she could keepthe cash out of Setan’s reach. A friend’s advice that she should open a secret bank account and save money to buy machines for sewing and over locking, imported patterns, elaborate threads, steam irons, dress dummies and also did some fashion courses on-line.
As she saved more money and used the financial bonuses she was paid for being so ‘proactive’ on the job, her resources grew and expanded quietly. She printed business cards for freelance work. Setan did not know about those extra incomes or he would have thrown tantrums until he could get his hands on them. Fisiola learned to keep secrets.Whenever he saw something remotely about fashion around her, he would nag nonstop for hours.
“Use your brain and not the heart. We need security and not this foolishness.” He would croak like a tired old toad.
Fisiola continued to ignore him and hide her hoard as much as she could, and continued with her plans for her own business as she saved for a flagship shop. Her mission was clear. Setan would never understand what he did not have; he lacked a personal goal and the ambition to back it up.
Fisiola became more resentful of Setan and purposeful became defiant to her husband as each day passed. Her mind was set until the unimaginable happened.
One day she came home from work and after resting for a while, she decided complete the ‘Ankara’ quilted skirt for her daughter’s upcoming school performance. She went into her private work-room which harboured her hoard of tools and fashion supplies. She was shocked by what she saw.
Her treasure was gone. The machines, fancy threads and all were gone, and only the rolls of print fabrics remained. She saw nothing!
The heat she felt all over her body was indescribable as well as unforgettable. She was in deep confusion and thought she was becoming crazy. She reached out and scrambled about the empty room, hoping that it was her eye-sight was failing or her imagination that had massive problem. She called out for her true ally in the house, her daughter, who knew about her hoard.
“Wuraaaaaa!” She called thunderously and with such groaning that will startle a wild rhinoceros.
Her daughter came running with all the speed she could muster. She was thirteen years old and a splitting image of her mother. She was followed promptly by her younger brother, Sakin, who was with her in the courtyard when they heard their mother’s cry.
“What is it, Mummy?” Wura asked with fright.
“Where....where....is it...are they…where are ….the things?” Fisiola screamed again and again as though she was dying.
She was too angry and in fear to believe what she was not seeing. Only her children knew about the things and where they were hidden. This was her private room and workspace which she kept under lock and key.
She quickly groped on the door knob to discover that it had been tampered with and looked hurriedly replaced.
She started to wail in despair.
“What happened to my fashion...where are my fashion?”
Sakin bolted and ran out of the room as soon as he could but Fisiola had caught his sudden retreat through her peripheral tear clouded vision and so she darted after him with a speed that only a hunting Tyrannosaur Rex could muster.
“Sakin, come back here now!” she shrieked in desperation.
He continued to run in panic as he muttered desperately to himself.
“Daddy said not to say anything?”
But again, his mother heard him as she cornered the boy before he could get to the main door. She stopped in her strides and threw her head in an angle with intense animation with her chest was heaving up and down with deep breathes and arms akimbo. She looked like an ancient female warlord.
It was almost comical to watch them both standing with the grey sofa between them in the living room. Wura ran to her little brother’s side and told him to cooperate with their mother. Fisiola did not care about her precious orange carpets today.
“Daddy said what, my dear?” She said with a command that seemed to shake the walls of the house. The ‘my dear’ sounded like a war cry.
“Daddy sold them yesterday to Mr Lukumanu the tailor when he asked you to go to the fruit market for some sour-sop.”
“What...?” She whispered in hurt.
But she did not stay hurt for long for soon she was mad with anger as she reached the poor terrified boy. He dodged out of her grip and ran out of the house.
Wura stood there and hung her head in embarrassment for her father and the new drama embroiling again.
“Daddy...” She whispered sadly and it certainly was not the first time.
The fight that night was the climax of all the arguments they had ever had. Fisiola did not care about the neighbours, religion, gossips or pastors.
She was all out on the attack and this time, Setan had underestimated his wife’s reaction.
She said everything without any respect or fear of him.
“You are nothing but a piece of ...”
“Mind your words, woman!”
“And if I do not…?”
In anger, Setan reached out suddenly and slapped her across the face to shut her up but she had returned it immediately with equal power, verve and vengeance. Setan staggered back in total shock and frenzy. The children had huddled into Wura’s room and climbed into her bed. They locked the door and listened quietly whilst under the thick soft blanket. This was not the first time but this time, their mum was really wild. Sakin laid his head as close as possible to his sister’s. A tear flowed down his right cheek.
Setan was stunned because Fisiola had never been so reckless and acted crazy like that before. Suddenly she was bouncing around with the large wooden pestle and started to command him to produce her tools or else she would bring hell to the surface of the earth. He tried to explain the issue away and make her see reason.
She had exploded again and demanded for the return of her things.
“I WANT THEM BACK !”
Setan had laughed and tried down play down the seriousness of matter.
“Darling, I sold them for almost seven hundred thousand Naira. Wow, woman, imagine that we will buy land with the money and begin to build our own house.”
“You said what?” She spoke and slithered like a reptile as her eyes became red with anger. “You mean I will be buying the land and building a house for you as well now!”
“I am the leader of this house...”
“Then lead yourself, you fool!”
With that, she threw the heavy pestle to the ground, went into her room and locked the door behind. It was not the time to cry, she told herself, but a time to remove herself from the liability of a man.
“This boy, Setan, is a serious thorn in my flesh and I must leave this hell.” She muttered under her breathe and clear resolve.
The next day after work, she did not come home. Fisiola had moved out to Moji’s house at first and promptly found the nice bungalow in a matter of days. Luckily, she had the rent from the secret stash in one of her hidden accounts. She also consulted with a divorce lawyer right away and demanded the custody of the children.
She threatened him.
“…or I will stop paying the school fees if you don’t give me the kids!”
Setan was in shock and had frantically called for the family meeting because he was not used to the new Fisiola and paying school fees among other things.It had been a month since he gave her the kids.
“She is not thinking straight.” He had told anyone who would listen. Hence the meeting was scheduled. The guests and mediators at this time were engulfed in dismay as some could not hold back on their annoyance and disgust. “These young boys of nowadays can be so full of excuses and laid back while women are doing too many things.”
Setan’s mother laughed as well because she was too ashamed of her son to defend him. She clapped her hands in regret as she spoke directly to her son.
“I told you when you were constantly looking for rich girls to marry. I knew you were an opportunist and could be the liability in future. Fisiola had to tell you to buy me a sofa for my sitting room even though you were living with me for free and for years.”
“I ignored the signs.” Said Fisiola
“My daughter, it is God’s will.” replied the mother, trying to pacify the matter at hand.
“No, I reject that in Jesus name!”
“Think of the children.” Someone anonymously added.
“I am!” She answered. ”That is why I moved out. I do not want my daughter to think it’s okay to tolerate a man who refuses to provide for his family, nor I do not want my son to assume it is okay to manipulate women for money and acquire a slave holding mentality. I want my son to know it is okay to provide for his wife and children.”
“Don’t you dare...you feminist?” Setan quipped.
“I dare as I please. I am a free woman and I do not need feminism to be so. If I was a feminist, I would have dumped you a long time ago. I would have been better off and looking younger.”
Fisiola’s father was amazed at the stories. He was hearing. Some of which he was hearing for the first time. His mouth hung in protest several times and he would often become agitated and had to be tapped on the shoulder constantly by his wife, Fisiola’s mother, to keep calm and stay so until the end. This was to deter him from getting aggressive at the meeting. People thanked God that she was there by his side.
Setan grew up with his mother and she was widowed by the time he was in his teenage years. Mother did everything for him and she was very hard working as well as hardened t difficulties. He wanted a woman like that who was a teacher. Mother never had to pay his school fees because of the special exemption as a staff. She had struggled to buy the land and built her house with tight savings and cooperative societies.He loved that kind of woman.
He thought that he turned out well with a good hardworking wife and he spoke out for the first time in a long while.
“But mother was a teacher and she did everything...”
“Look at how that turned out for you?” His mother replied with a sharp snap. “What do you do with your time since you are not making any money?”
“He has a girlfriend.” Fisiola replied
“Of course he does!” Almost everybody echoed with disgust again. “One he enjoys with while you are working to provide the financial support.”
“I am sure his girlfriend does not work at all…” Someone else added with a hiss. Setan said nothing but shook his head vehemently in protest as his estrange wife continued.
“I know he is cheating and I don’t care.”
Setan began to back like a cur.
“You know this is really nobody’s business but ours?” He replied directly to his wife’s comment.
The gasps was deafening and her father could not move past the mention of the slap.
“Fisiola is my child and will always be my business.” Father said vehemently. “Eh…so you slap my daughter?”
Her father got up and went directly to stand in his son in-law’s face as he furiously waved his finger dangerously in a wild opened eye.
“It was only once, Sir!” He said as he jerked back fearfully and out his seat with speed.
Her father swung round to search his daughter face for confirmation.
“It was the first and last time.” Fisiola replied with confidence. “I did not take it in stride at all and slapped him right back.”
“Good girl. I did not birth a buffoon to school. Once is more than enough because this one …” The elderly man pointed a finger with disgust at his son in law.” … will try it again!”
Setan was shaking uncontrollably. At this point, Baba Taofiki called for a needed break and thankfully so. It was clear that Setan’s entourage knew that all was lost and they decided to intercede for truce and a peaceable arrangement.
All agreed that they should meet privately with Baba Taofiki who was certainly on the wife’s side. He spoke quietly to the couple and their parents on a plan for mediation and restoration. To him, Setan needed to understand he had failed his wife and Fisiola needed to make clear demands and refuse to be his ‘super woman’. Fisiola was sceptically but her mother in–law and mother were keen about the new plan. Her father was not happy and would not fully commit.
They came back to their seats to conclude the matter before the well-wishers and mediators .Most were hoping for a positive conclusion.
Baba Taofiki commenced.
“You are welcome back again.”
“Thank you, Baba.” replied all the audience.
“I hope we have all learned a lesson or two today. It is important, nowadays, to decide and define exactly what you want in a marriage before you commit to one. Setan, here, always wanted a woman who would pay his bills so that he could be a stay at home husband but he did not communicated clearly to his intended when they were courted. Some women love that sort of man and for sure, Fisiola is not that kind of woman. She wanted a man in a more traditional role with room for flexibility in her life. Fisiola wants a man she can respect and that has not been happening with her current spouse. So let’s try and fix the situation.”
This time, Setan was more of an avid listener and nodded his head in sharp agreement at every statement pronounced from the Baba’s mouth.
“I will speak to you first, Setan”
“Because you are the husband and all of us here expect you to take the lead. Fisiola wants you to get up and be the man in your home. At least, for now while you are still married to a Nigerian woman who refuses to continue to pay the bills. Your mother told me you often spoke of marrying a foreigner before you met Fisiola.”
Some snickering occurred and Baba ignored it.
“Because Fisiola was hardworking does not mean she wanted to wear the trousers in her home. Your wife is not asking for a Bugatti or Lamborghini, she is asking that you do your share as her husband. I feel that you may need counseling from a successful man who is also husband. We will arrange that for you.”
Setan was about to protest but decided against it.
“You see, it is the faith you have used to yoke your wife to a job she detested for years. You will use that faith provide for your family.”
Setan opened his mouth and decided it was wise to close it.
“No more excuses. Get up, find a job and pay the bills. As you can see your wife can do fine all by herself.”
It was Fisiola’s turn to listen.
“Let me teach you a secret about men. It is a command called ‘Ask!’ You must collect and make demands. Be clear and decisive because men are like butterflies. When they are coming out of their cocoons, you must stand back and let them struggle it out. Do not help them to tear through of the cocoon. If you do; the butterflies will not fly but perish. Men perish when women help out too much. Let him push his way out of poverty. Put your money in your pocket or else you will weaken his resolve to think or work.”
“Hmmmm...Akiika...well said,Sir.” The audience applauded and Baba continued.
“Never start what you did not plan to finish. You should have paid attention to the signs in the beginning. You remember that you saw that he would never bought his mother the set of sofa for her living room until you mentioned it. That was the sign.”
The silence was deafening and you could see young wives had begun to calculate how to use the same wisdom in their homes.
“So this is what you will do to make your marriage work.”
“If he does not cooperate?” asked Fisiola.
“Leave him!” Replied her father and Baba Taofiki unapologetically.
Setan looked like a cornered bush rat.
The meeting soon ended and everyone dispersed after words of encouragement to the couple.
As time went by, Setan had Mr Lukumanu returned the machines and gave everything back to his wife in pristine condition. Together with his wife, his resume and cover letter was prepared and he soon got a job as the resource manager of the same international school that she had resigned from. Part of the package was continuous free education for his children and that he was very happy about indeed. He soon became known to be one of the best and organized resource managers the school had ever had. To please his wife and Setan’s dismay, it was Baba Taofiki who had tried to give him a thorough lesson in romance.
As for Fisiola, she got the flagship shop she wanted in one of the best neighbourhood in town. She is now a well-established fashion and bag designer and has even exhibited a successful collection at Ghana fashion week.
The family soon bought the bungalow they were living in and can proudly call the property theirs. Setan is now happy and confidently minds his business. He was also relieved that Ranti, his secret mistress of many years, remained a secret well-kept and had agreed to move on and out of his life quietly.
That would have been another story in Ire-Bode town.