It was 30 years ago: She was 24 and he was 29. She was an English major, with aspirations to take the media world by storm. Broadcasting, hosting and producing talk shows, producing and directing movies. It was her life's passion-until she met him. He was an Accountant, working hard to become chartered and juggling his employment at First Bank, with his political dreams. It was love at first shove, for that was how they met. She accidentally shoved him aside as she hurried through the halls of the First Bank on Ajose Adeogun street VI. She had an interview at Rhythm FM, and she needed to make the payment for the fees required to embark on her Masters degree in Mass communication & Media management at the University of Lagos. Her life was all planned out, for thereafter, it would be off to the states for a 6 month course in movie production at the Royal Arts Academy. Such well thought out plans, but she didn't plan on love. Oh no, she didn't.
Suffice it to say, 9 months later, she said "I do" to her dashing dude. He had advised her to obtain a study leave from her job as a news editor, and focus on her Masters program which would be gruelling , he said. The radio station declined to accede to her request and he urged her to resign. He could comfortably handle the family finances. So she did. Five months into her Masters program and one month after their wedding, they discovered she was with child. It was not in the plan at the time, but he had been opposed to family planning contraceptives and ill-disciplined in his condom/withdrawal use and techniques. Her gravid state was horrendous. Constantly bed-ridden, swollen, nauseous, with a blood pressure that sky-rocketed at the slightest provocation, she could not comply with the attendance requirements and was not eligible to take her semester exams. Not that she was prepared to.
Her first set of twins arrived one dreary Saturday morning, and she smiled through her tears as she beheld her scrawny little beauties. He was elated. Everyone was overjoyed.
Two years passed. Aurora & Adele grew and left a wake of playful destruction in their path. Work and school was out of the question for her. Who could adequately care for her precious angels if she went back to work?
Mya Blaq, dear friend and sister, gently nudged her to consider restarting her Masters program which had been long deferred. She considered it, but not too seriously. Then he, now chartered was off to the UK for his Masters in Political Science& Third World economies; he had to build his resume, he explained. Money would not be a problem. So he went, and she bade him a forlorn farewell. She would visit mid-year, he promised. Six weeks after he was gone, she found out, he done did it. She was two months along. Another set of twins. Another 39 weeks of endurance; with two angels to boot. How could she leave now?
And so the babies came. Abel & Andrew; sons! He was ecstatic. His mother had to move in with her on a permanent basis. He finished his Masters and was offered a scholarship to undertake his PhD while working as a Lecturer. The lines where falling unto him in pleasant places indeed. Wasn't God a good God? So he stayed, and built his resume; politics would soon come knocking. The girls were five and the boys were two. They came a-visiting. It was a riot. She gingerly inquired as to their future plans. Perhaps she should apply for a Masters in the UK too. Start moving things along. But, all he wanted lay between her legs. She went to pop a pill; he apprehended her and blew a gasket. "Pills? Why? Not get pregnant again? Why? We should have a quiver full of them, shouldn't we? Money is not an issue, is it? Come my love, come give your honey some good luvin". So she did. And did get her fertile self pregnant yet again.
He concluded his PhD, and it was off for a fellowship at the International Institute of Leadership; he was accepted as an assistant scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a member of the Free Africa Foundation, and another fellowship at the Hoover Institution. Back at home, he was on the board of the Lagos Business School and several high powered institutions. People began to take notice and before long he was being courted by political parties, conglomerates and universities. His dream was on!
Their children grew and thrived, best schools, best clothes, best vacations. She, their mother, grew and thrived too- just in a different way than she had expected. She let herself go and added pounds to her previously slender frame. The birth of her last baby, Antwon had left her depressed and defeated. She let herself go. After all who was there to notice? Her life was encapsulated in her children's world. From school runs to party runs to hospital runs to shopping runs to Sunday school runs to vacation runs, it was an unending cycle. Mindless routine that left her un stimulated. She turned down more and more offers to socialise, spent less and less time aprising herself of the going ons in the global world, and slowly faded into insignificance- except to her children of course! But children leave too- they grow up and move on, they love you, but they can't be your babies forever; & neither should you desire them to.
So he's 59 and she's 54. It is time. He has risen through the ranks and has been chosen as the running mate to the presidential hopeful in PDP. He has been promised a dash for presidency after loyal service as a Vice President. He watches her waddle to the lounge, bearing a tray of fruits. He is still dapper and handsome, coming into his own, with a groomed grey beard. He shakes his head and clears his throat.
"With our campaign picking up, I don't think its necessary for you to put yourself out there. I have an image to maintain and darling, you don't quite fit. Why don't you travel for a bit till we are done, so it won't be embarrassing for both of us to explain your absence, or..."
She can't quite believe her ears. "Or what?" Tears gather and quickly spill over. "Or what you ungrateful bastard?!"
He is taken aback. "Ungrateful? Me? What did you ever want that I didn't give you?"
"My life! I wanted my life, damn you! Why don't you go marry another wife who fits, hmmm?!" She flings the tray and stomps off in as dignified a manner as her extra pounds would permit.
He shakes his head in bewilderment. Women! And I do all this for her!
And so they remained: he in his high flying lifestyle and she, an old woman at 54. She toyed with thoughts of leaving. But dreams deferred had taken their toll - where would she go? What would she do? How could she start all over again at her age? So, she stayed while he jetted around the world. She watched while he wined and dined. She dreamt while he lived.
When she died in self imposed exile from her matrimonial home a year later, everyone shook their heads sadly. So young, they said. Only 55, they cried. Then they wiped their eyes and consoled themselves with one final thought 'At least she lived a full life'.