Category Archives: MORAL STORIES

Nigerian Catholic priest suspended for allegedly raping American woman

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh in the United States has suspended Nigerian priest Cyprian Duru from ministering, after accusation of rape and legal action by a 68 year-old retired English teacher, Kathy Coll.

In addition, he has been banned from presenting himself as a priest or wearing clerical garb.
According to CBS Television, Coll in a legal suit, detailed how Duru stopped by her home in December 2016 on the pretence of giving her a Christmas card and allegedly raped her.

Coll claimed that when she offered him a cold drink, he followed her to her family room, overpowered her and assaulted her as she screamed for him to stop.
Since then, Coll claimed she has been trying to seek healing from the trauma of rape; adding that the shame, anxiety and depression were daunting.

“The hardest part was telling my pastor, who sat and cried with me and then notified the diocese,” Coll recalled.

Last week, she filed a suit against the St. Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church, the Pittsburgh diocese, and Bishop David Zubik.

Coll maintained that she was disappointed that District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office said prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to pursue charges.

But the retired high school English teacher said her biggest disappointment was learning that a church she continues to love and turned to for help had scant resources for abused women.

“There were visits by the (Pittsburgh) Diocese Trauma Team to my house offering prayer and help to find a therapist. But I found out they really don’t have anything for women who have been abused,” Coll said.

Coll said a therapist the diocese recommended within minutes of meeting her declared that she was depressed, anxious and suffering from PTSD.

“He said, ‘We’ll get you on medication and four or five sessions here, and you’ll be on your way.’ I walked out of there after 20 minutes and never went back,” she said.

Eventually, she found a therapist who helped her marshal her strength.
As she regained her footing in the world, the widowed mother of two adult sons resolved to doing something to help others.

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WORDS OF A FORMER CHAUVINIST: BY CHIEDOZIE UDE.

I recently went through Chimamanda’s article on feminism and truth be told, I was convinced that it is an ideology worth practising, howbeit with a few exceptions and disagreements to certain things about it, such as the desire to completely change things as they are, and of course, the name itself which I feel does not do justice to the human race in the larger picture. In my opinion, which I know is shared by many, the rightful term for ‘Feminism’ should be ‘Egalitarianism’ which simply means ‘equality of all races, religions and sexes.’

Many may argue that every good campaign or ideology has a title which invigorates the emotions of the followers, thereby building in them an unflinching and diehard feeling of ‘No Retreat No Surrender Until Our Grievances Are Met.’ But the title ‘Feminism’ as I said earlier is not one that can bring up these feelings in many an Individual, most especially the men, due to the fact that it sounds too feminine and also because to many, it only covers the rights of women and their whims (which is actually not true).

Despite the fact that I know what feminism is all about, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth whenever the realization of what it has turned out to be in a world already hanging precariously on a line as a result of segregation. Feminism is meant to unite us all, instead of being an object of division and ridicule (It is not uncommon for people to scoff when you mention the word ‘feminism’) and political imbroglio just like other ideologies such as ‘Negritude’, ‘Zionism’ and ‘Nazism’ (I am really sorry for including Nazism due to the world’s history with the dreaded Adolf Hitler because feminism has never been as brutal but I hope you get my point.). This is because what most women call feminism is simply radicalism or a thin line from it. In this part of the world, violence by a woman on a man is usually branded as feminism; a woman neglecting her instinctive duties as a mother is also addressed as feminism or some may say ‘Women Revolution’. You will hear things like ‘After all, men have always been doing it’. But like I always say, ‘Violence is violence, evil is evil no matter the perpetrator.’

Just like negritude, feminism should not be about a particular set of people, it should be about humanity in general and the respect for people’s rights as individuals. Despite the fact that we are likely not going to get a name change to this ideology, I still agree with Chimamanda when she said ‘we should all be feminists’ because truly, the women have been marginalized by various nefarious laws from countless ages ago, and also, the status quo which we all met that automatically places a man ahead of a woman, irrespective of their qualifications. Laws that brand females as weaker vessels were probably once useful in the days when brute strength was needed for survival— that is, in the stone ages. But in this generation, these laws are quite useless because the trait needed for survival is simply smartness, and this trait is not exclusively reserved for any gender. Leadership positions and employment opportunities should be acquired by merit and not by gender, age or race.

All these changes we expect cannot happen in a twinkling of an eye because it is a gradual process and must be practiced systematically. This is because a die hard African man or male chauvinist will surely take an exception to a radical change in the status quo— that is, the belief of male superiority over females. The first step to ensure this idea is bought by the majority is through ‘home training’. Boy should be taught from a tender age that girls are not toys. I know a man (I am not going to mention his name so I will call him Mr X) who has four children: two girls and two boys. The sons of Mr X are allowed to keep girlfriends and do absolutely what ever they like while his daughters are literally imprisoned by him all in the name of protecting them. This experience made me ponder a lot of things ‘Why was this man teaching his sons not to respect girls in the name of training them to be independent young men?’ ‘Who was he protecting his daughters from? Men like his sons?’ ‘Who is protecting the girls being used like hand rags by his sons?’ Sadly, most parents are guilty of this, and that is why we have boys who grow up into ‘wife beaters’ because the idea of superiority over women has been implanted in them.

Girls also should be taught never to be dependent on boys for anything— most especially money— because naturally, the person who pays the bills also calls the shots when it comes to decision making. While many a lady is out there trying to get what they deserve and also trying to implement the doctrine of equality to the world, we still have ladies posting on social media, supporting the idea but still expecting the man to shoulder all the financial burdens in the relationship. This is the highest form of unseriousness— or should I say HYPOCRISY? Therefore, it is the duty of every parent to teach their children respect for every gender by setting a good example for the children to follow.

Another problem facing feminism in Nigeria is called ‘BRIDE PRICE!’ While I agree with the notion that every man should pay a certain amount of money to the bride’s family as a sign of respect and regard for them, and perhaps, our culture. It should not be seen as an opportunity to literally rip the man off. We see a lot a families collecting huge amount of goods and cash from the groom, and this automatically places the woman under his control, and in most cases, she will live the rest of her life trying to always please her man at the expense of her goals in life. How will women be regarded if the practice of literally selling them off continues? It is high time we stopped auctioning our ladies to the highest bidders because a buyer can use his goods the way he wants.

Feminism is surely going to be much more effective in our part of the world if certain things are phased out. These things include: the extra bit of affection awarded to male children over their female siblings; the unnecessary rigours men go through to marry in the name of bride price; and not forgetting, the existing state of affairs which brand it as the responsibility of every man to single-handedly pay the bills in every relationship. In conclusion, everyone should be a feminist.

Suicide is Poetic: By Chiedozie Ude

“I was sad, but no one noticed. All they saw was my forced smile. My accursed dimples were a suitable facade to hide my depression. One forced smile was enough for all to think that all was well with me. But all was never well, I am a wraith who is awaiting final obliteration. I crave the blissful kiss of death, perhaps, I shall find peace in the great beyond.”

The rate at which the young people in Nigeria commit suicide is really alarming. It is quite difficult for one to browse the internet without seeing new cases of suicide. At this point, one may be tempted to blame the tools which these individuals have improvised for this act as the cause of the mass suicide currently trending among the youth, or perhaps, the fact that the ubiquitous nature of suicidal news on all the social and mass media platforms have given certain persons the encouragement they need to kill themselves. But the blame game does nothing.

Recently, I have seen a lot of online campaign that advocate the banning of the insecticide called “SNIPER”. But this is just a perfect — or near perfect example of “Chasing rats when one’s house is on fire.” Placing a ban on sniper will likely trigger another round of suicides because a lot of employees will be without a job, hence, giving them the time to contemplate evil thoughts. If Sniper should be banned by the government, then it is high time they did the same to not only the lagoon, but also, to knives, guns, ropes and every form of harmful chemicals which have served as suicidal weapons. Before the existence of sniper, a lot of people have been committing suicide. At this period of time, people should focus less on the instruments of suicide. Rather, questions like “Why is life becoming so unappealing to people?” “What is the matter?” should be asked.

Answering the any of the questions listed above is as enigmatic as other philosophical questions. There are so many reasons why one may commit suicide, but the most glaring has to be depression. Depression simply means a period of low morale or unhappiness. What makes depression deadly is the fact that it is neither seen as a sickness nor a cause for emergency in Africa. This is either as a result negligence — or the overhyped machoism of the common African man. Sadly, most parents fail to “see through” their children until it is too late. By “see through”, I mean the sudden changes in the behavior of a child; the effect of the parents/guardian words on a child; the kind of company the child keeps, among many others. We may hate to admit it, but the facts do not lie— that is, depression is real, and a lot of people are currently in its vice-like grip.

A typical example of one of such person’s is the late student of English, Akachi. Going through his facebook timeline was not only horrific, but also traumatic. To describe without mincing words, it was like watching a horror movie, one which sucks out the happiness and optimism in any individual, just like the evil “dementors” in JK. Rowlings’ masterpiece “HARRY POTTER”. He cited his personal battle against depression as the chief reason for killing himself. One glaring factor that caused this depression has to be neglect. His updates were always about different people who committed suicide; every post he made was a not-too-subtle hint about his suicidal plans—and these, perhaps, should have served as a clarion call for his loved ones that there was something religiously wrong with this child. When life becomes insipid and unappealing, it should not come as a surprise when an individual decides to take his life because at this point, it becomes poetic — that is, beautiful, too good to be true.

I do not intend justifying suicide. it is a dastardly act which should not be carried out by anyone, no matter the situation. I just wish we humans could be more understanding as regards the plights of others. There are so many people out there that are facing one form of depression or the other, help them to overcome this in any way possible. Remember, it could have been you. This is not a didactic piece, neither do I intend to masquerade as one of the cocky inspirational speakers who proffer panaceas to every problem by prescribing that their clients find their “inner tiger”. There are many Akachis out there, they need love and not words. To those facing depression around the world, chin up, tomorrow will be better.

The NEW COMER IN MY CLASS

THE NEW COMER IN MY CLASS
*
I was teaching Literature when Ebube Musheme came into the class. Ebube was the most hunky student I had ever seen. He was tall and fat simultaneously like someone who had carried weight all through his life. Ebube’s voice alone could make a timorous student cry and make an elderly person run helter skelter. Ebube’s chests were bouncy and hefty. I always thought I was huge but Ebube proved that thought wrong.
When he came into the class, I thought he was a teacher and I started introducing him to all the seated students. As I told him to go to the staff room to greet the remaining teachers, he laughed tauntingly and said, ” I am a student sir. Where should I sit?”
I never believed Ebube was a student till he showed me his books and materials. I ordered him to sit at the back, since the front space had been occupied, and I continued my teaching. The next thing that happened was that, one of the students sitting at the back raised his hand. I thought he wanted to ask questions not knowing he wanted to report. He said, “Uncle, Ebube broke my pen.” I wondered how could a 10 mins new comer commit such atrocity. I kept the little boy shut, ignored his report then continued with my teaching. Another girl raised her hand from the back seat.
“Yes, any questions?”, I asked. ” Sir, Ebube stepped on me intentionally,” she said.
That time around, I was vexed. I
commanded Ebube to stand then I said, ‘Ebu! Eb! Ebube, what happened nah? You should respect yourself o. Why are you troubling them?’
‘No mind them Jare, they no wan no play. I go give them slap now if they report again’, Ebube said with a masculine voice.
‘If they report you again, I may be forced to discipline you, too. Is that understood?’ I said annoyingly.
‘Uncle, shey you dey whine me ni? Nah you wan beat me abi? Let’s see. If they born them well, may them report,’ Ebube said disrespectedly. I was afraid deep within me. I did as if I didn’t hear what Ebube said even though other students exclaimed; ‘Ah! Uncle, don’t you hear him?’
My prayer was that, no students should report him again till I finished my Literature class and get out. As I was
rushing my lectures, a stupid boy whose name I still remember, Ibrahim, raised his hand from the back.
‘Uncleeeee! Ebube poured ink on my new school uniform. My mummy will kill me.’ Pa! Pa! Ebube lashed him slaps. Glasses fell from my eyes, piece of chalk thrown down, then I moved closer to Ebube with fears in my heart, I successfully returned the two slaps. Ebube came out of the tightened chair, his eyes reddened with revenge, drew nearer to me, sniffed in terror, then….
*

Episode continues!

MY EXPERIENCE AT THE OLARENWAJU’S HOME 2: by Opeyemi Adesokan

Episode Two

Nervously, I sat ruminatinig what the next scene would be. A lot of things came into my mind. At first, I thought about the fact that Subomi might have framed lies for her father. I thought about the fact that Mr Olarenwaju was a retired fierced soldier who did not tolerete nonsense.

As I was still contemplating these fearful thoughts, Sola broke into my reverie. “Uncle! Uncle!” she called. “what happened?” i snapped. “I am very hungry, I haven’t eaten anything since morning and i can see you are very busy. Call me when you are done” she said and left immediately. I was trying to call her back when I heard foot steps echoing vehemently from the stairs. My mind told me to run for my feeble life but I couldn’t. Beside the gates, were two tall, ugly and hungry looking dogs. The dogs had so much wanted to bite me. They never liked me and they barked and licked their mouths aptly anytime they saw me. It would be a golden opportunity for them, if Mr olarenwaju loosed them for me.

The foot steps drew closer to my hearings. I knew Mr Olarenwaju was coming and I quickly comported myself. Subomi came out first. I was surprised to see her. She looked altered like someone who was beaten by a boxer. I smiled sheepishly, thinking that her father had beaten her the more. I never knew my observation was wrong until when Mr Olarenwaju came out. “I never knew you were a trained boxer” Mr Olarenwaju said angrily. “I never punched her sir! I only gave her slaps sir.” I said quivering in seclusion. “Mr man, I only have few questions to ask you and I want you to answer me directly.” Mr Olarenwaju was taking the matter to the extreme. I had never heard him speak in such a callous baritone voice before. I wanted to frown but I knew that would only worsen the matter. “Did you punch her yes or no?” asked Mr Olarenwaju.” I didn’t punch her sir! I only gave her two faint slaps. Sola and Sade are witnesses sir! Please sir! Let them shed light to the matter. I said pleadingly. “Aunty Subomi wanted to ask question, but uncle immediately gave her blows and slaps on her face” said Sade, the last daughter. Sade was the one I hated most among the girls. She always looked for my flaws. She was so happy to go against me. She had once told me she would do anything to stop me from continuing teaching them. Indeed, her plans were being materialized. With lots of arguments and evidences, Mr Olarenwaju was convinced that I had given Subomi punches: his lovely daughter. He held my collar and lifted me up. My legs were swinging like someone who had fever coupled with a lethal malaria. I tried to free myself in nothingness as I remembered my latest poem; AGONY TIME. He threw me down and I banged my head on the glass table where i taught; blood gushed out. I reluctantly stood up and said “Sir! I am not interested in teaching your children again. Don’t bother to pay me for the ones I have done. Please sir! Let go of me. I hate all this nonsense!” Immediately i said those words, Mr Olarenwaju screamed and ran upstairs like someone who was pursued my a ferocious lion. He told the gate keeper to let loose of the dogs then I…
*
Episode continues!

Child, Not Bride: by Chiedozie Ude

Amina’s body dangled on tied pieces of clothes which were hastily knitted together to serve as a rope. Onlookers walked by, spitting on the ground, while muttering inaudible words of insults for the poor girl hanging on a tree, like a fruit— a fruit of societal and moral decadence. Amina’s eyes stared blankly at everyone who dared look her in the eyes, on her face was a picture of a fourteen-year-old girl who had finally found peace in the netherworld, after enduring for more than three years in a forced marriage with Mallam Fatah. Never again would he pass his hateful and oversized manhood through her teenage thighs. Never again would he starve and beat her to prove his “macholiness”. She would never get a decent burial because suicide was an act of taboo. Her body would be disposed in the forest, for nature elements to take care of, another hidden case of the flagitious nature of the hateful word CHILD MARRIAGE!

Another victim is Shafa (real incident). Shafa was a student of mine, the brightest pupil in my class. She suddenly stopped attending classes, and when I paid her home a visit, her father announced with a huge grin that Shafa has gone to stay with her husband. Shafa was just ELEVEN! Shafa was on a scholarship but her parents deemed it right for her to forfeit her education in order for her to serve the sexual and emotional needs of a man. Shafa will never be the doctor she said she wanted to be. This sad scenario has left me with no choice but to discuss the term “Child Marriage” and its intricacies.

Right from early childhood till now, we have always known marriage to be a union between a man and a woman, who according to the doctrine of Christianity leave mother and father to become one flesh. This definition simply implies that marriage is a thing for adults (man and woman, not children) and not kids. In Nigeria, one is regarded as an adult when one reaches the age of 18. Therefore, any union whereby one or both parties are below the age of 18 can be termed as child marriage. Just like in so many Second and Third World countries, the ignoble act of child marriage especially for girls is prevalent in Nigeria. Statistics has it that In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before they turn 15. In other to tackle this menace, a lot of researches has been carried out to find the things that instigate early marriage, and the unanimous agreement arrived for this ailment by the researchers was that the major reasons for child marriage in Nigeria are illiteracy, religion and poverty. These factors alongside many others have directly or indirectly promoted child marriage in Nigeria.

Religion is to blame in the sense that some parents give out their daughters in marriage due to the belief that it is the divine commandment of God or any other deity being deified. As a result of this, girls as young as twelve are already sexually active in the house of their husbands in the Northern part of Nigeria. Also, it is not uncommon to hear of girls being betrothed to suitors even as toddlers This trend of people marrying off their under-aged daughters is likely not going to stop until people stop making unilateral decisions concerning their children and putting the blame on God, or whatever deity they pay obeisance to. I call this ignorance of the highest order. The prevalence of child marriage varies widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76% in the North West region and as low as 10% in the South East.

Poverty also plays a big role in child marriage. This is because some parents use their daughters as collateral for loans which they never repay, and in the process, they forfeit their daughters. This looks farfetched, but the sad reality is that it happens, it is still happening and will continue to happen in Nigeria and in other Second and Third World countries, unless something drastic is done to outlaw the use of humans as collateral for loans in the rural communities. This is a classic example of “selling the needy for a pair of shoes”.

Furthermore, as regards citing poverty as one of the leading causes of child marriage, some families feel that the best way to extricate themselves from the confines of abject lack and penury is by marrying off their daughters against their wishes for huge amount of money (bride price). It is sad to see young girls being auctioned like furniture to the highest bidder. Truly, the Bible was right when it described MONEY as the root of all evils.

The most glaring of all the causes of early marriage in my opinion has to be illiteracy. Statistics further backs this claim because a whooping 82% of women with no education were married before 18, as opposed to 13% of women who had at least finished secondary education. Other factors that can cause child marriage are; kidnapping, child trafficking and elopement.

One of the effects of child marriage is that the girls face a lot of abuse; both sexual and domestic. These victims are most times sexually abused by their “AGBAYA” husbands. It is heartrending to think about a girl of thirteen performing sexual acts on a man who is old enough to be her father, or even grandfather in some cases. These little girls become pregnant, give birth, and also, start nursing children, when they themselves still need nursing. It is not uncommon for one to hear about the various degrading punishments meted out to these girls, when they falter in the duties they are supposed to perform in their matrimonial homes, by their husbands or husbands’ kinsmen. This obviously brings up the multi-million-dollar question “How can a child be expected to perform jobs that even full grown women struggle with?” Children should be allowed to experience the joys of childhood and not MARRIAGE! The importance of childhood pleasures not being cut short by the madness of societal practices was further supported by the great English poet, William Blake, in his poem entitled “The School Boy”. We cannot expect sanity in our society if children are allowed to perform the jobs meant for adults. Another effect of child marriage is death. Many of the victims die during child birth, while the rest die as a result of the violence they face in the hands of their husbands or through suicide— for after all, many say suicide (death) is better than enslavement.

The solution to this malaise is that laws should be enacted to prohibit forceful and underage marriages, and any one caught indulging in this nefarious act in the pretext of religion or culture should be severely dealt with. Also, efforts should me made to make sure that every child has access to education so as to combat illiteracy and also, parents should be enlightened on the dangers of subjecting their children to such.
In conclusion, child marriage is highly detrimental to the children involved and this must not be tolerated. Say NO to this dastardly act.

EXEMPTION by Melancholia.

“You may now come and pay your last respects to our brother and son, Albert” intoned the smallish bald headed pastor who looked like he was performing an overly rehearsed drama as though he needed to act as required to elicit the appropriate emotion from the congregation.

“Oya, go and see your husband for the last time” mama nudges me silently and I stand up from the hard mahogany chair that is reserved for “close relatives of the deceased” and walk monotonously to the large table where the shiny black lacquered coffin is laid. A solemn looking boy with an attire of a drab black two piece suit similar to that of the pastor’s comes forward and opens the top half of the coffin, baring my husband’s face with its deep creases and receeding hairline, you would think that in death, the thin lines that never seemed to smoothen out of his always sulky face would disappear, leaving it as a dead man’s face should be; peaceful and expressionless. Looking at his face now, the memories I tried hard to suppress burst free from the tightly locked vault that I buried them in. A hand crawls up my arm offering me the comfort I do not need and I look to my left to see Ruth’s beautiful face stained with tears and her eyes red and swollen, it takes my mind to those nights when Ruth would softly walk into the spacious bedroom I shared with Albert, find me cowered and crooning in pain beside the king sized bed and say to me “Madam let me help you”, I would look up, see her watery eyes, smile tightly and say “It’s okay Ruth, I can manage on my own”. Looking at her now, I absently wonder if those tears staining her coffee coloured plump cheeks were tears of pain or tears of guilt because she had been there that night and had witnessed all that happened.

As the memories become loose and free, they began to float and wander around, impelling me to revoke events that if I could, I would rather not recall. My ears still ring from how mama had yelled “Eeehhhhhh oo, God why have you taken my supporter?” that cold morning when I called and said to her tonelessly “Mama, Albert is dead”. I turn and look at her sad face and I remember how she said to me in that high pitched voice I seemed to fear when I was younger “A good African woman must never speak against her husband” when I narrated to her the story surrounding my bandage covered head while lying in the hospital bed. I turn back and mentally debate if it was biologically plausible to loathe one’s mother as I do mine.

“God ooo, where is my brother? Someone pinch me! Chineke oooo” Aunty Ije wails as she walks forward to also “pay her last respect”, held up by three women who take turns to say to her “N’do, take heart my sister”. I never liked the woman, whether it is because of how she would come to Albert’s house and speak igbo to him while making scornful eyes at me or it is because of the greedy way she always looked at the pricey pearls Albert bought for me whenever I wore them to the yearly celebration we had in the village, I am not sure. I remember how she trooped in dramatically with other family members, when they learnt of Albert’s death. They had requested to see his body and when they did, Aunty Ije had rushed at me with long fingernails threatening to tear the skin off my face. “You poisoned him, you witch, you killed my brother” she had said, sobbing. Her husband tore her away from me and said in a hushed tone “Behave yourself, Ije”. Till now, it is quite surprising to me how they did not accuse me further of Albert’s death or perform those rites they did for widows, I can not tell if it is because Albert’s death cleared the way for their greedy hands to latch on his several bank accounts and they did not mind his death or because they could never imagine that the timorous wife would kill her invincible husband. I look at Albert’s creasy face one last time and I am reminded of how he would scrunch up his face and pant in anger on those nights when he said in his gruff voice “Take off your clothes” and I would beg “Not tonight, please my husband”. Of course my begging would not deter him as he would raise his large arms and drop them heavily on my temple urging me to hastily scramble away from said clothes. He would thrust ardently between my thighs, his flaccid belly slapping my abdomen while I lie dispassionately under him and wait impatiently for when his thrusts would become frenzied and his lewd groans would fill my ears. I would endure his weight for thirty seconds till I could hear his loud snores and pull him off me, straightening and walking numbly to the bathroom to wash off the moist stickiness seeping down my thighs. I remember also, those days when I would stagger to his office after Yemisi, my female driver drops me off in front of the huge building that was his company and I would smile and tell the concerned workers “Oh, I fell on the slippery bathroom floor” when they asked about my unsteady gait and the bits of sore purple skin that my dark sunglasses failed to conceal.

“Ah ah, what were you doing there since” mama complains when I sit back down on the hard chair. The church is one of the ‘big men’s’ churches in Lagos and I wonder why they have chairs without cushions. “Sorry mama” I mutter, even though I do not know what I am sorry for. “I can’t believe that this man is dead, who will help us now eh? You refused to give him at least, one child, just one. Now all his selfish people will push you out of his house as if you never existed” Mama continued to complain. Albert and I had carried out several tests to find out why our seven years of marriage never yielded a child. When we leave the doctor’s office after he would try to console us by saying “There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, let us pray for God’s blessings”, I would quickly stop and tap my body dramatically, pretending to look for an item, then I would slap my forehead and look pleadingly at Albert, begging to return to the doctor’s office to retrieve my forgotten cellphone, he would look disapprovingly at me and say “Hurry” and I would quickly rush back and give Doctor Ade the brown envelope I always gave him while he looks at me with guilty eyes and say what he always said “Ma, I can’t keep on lying to your husband, if he finds out, he would destroy my career”. I would appreciate his discretion, stretch out my arms to receive the bottle of pills he held out to me and stuff them in my bra.

I still jolt with an alarming suddenness everytime I see my late husband’s face in my nightmares. I would wake up sweating and shivering recalling how frightened I was in the dark small room that I was locked in for two weeks, my stomach turning from the stench of my breath and from the odour oozing from the dried urine and faeces cohabiting with me. On the night after I had decided in my heart that I would die, Albert had come in, covering his nose from the smell and screwing up his face in disgust. He had carried me out, saying carelessly to whomever was standing there “Clean up the place” and dropped me in the hot tub downstairs, not wanting me to “soil the bathroom upstairs”, calling on Ruth to “assist me in washing off”. Ruth had come in and I saw how she struggled to keep from pinching her nose tight, I turned my face away from her, too weak to shed the tears prickling the back of my eyes. It was a punishment for smiling too wide at the young man who had visited Albert few weeks back and said that I had fine teeth.

Sitting there, in the big church where Albert’s funeral service is being held, it occurs to me sharply that I am free, free from the torment and anguish, from the broken bones and the blood, even though I would never see clearly from my left eyes, I am free. I reminisce with joy at how relaxed I held the bottle of methylated spirit, shaken at first I felt when I handed over to him his nightly glass of sour cream and pineapple juice, my heart beat loudly in euphoria and I started to laugh excitedly as I saw how fitfully he jerked and convulsed, I weeped in utter joy as I notice the tiny white bubbles that converged erratically and trailed down his cheek onto the soft oriental rug laid out in the sitting room. I looked on in delight as his trembling arms shivered up to touch my knee imploringly. His grunts of pain inciting my pleasured giggles and warming my insides with gratification. And at last, when a deep vacancy replaced the fright and terror in his eyes, I beamed, replete with tranquility. A soft whimper had touched my ears and I looked to where the sound came from, Ruth stood, hands covering her mouth tautly. “Your Oga is dead” I pronounced and she had come over, hugging me fervently while whispering “I won’t tell madam, I promise I won’t tell”

No one had questioned my cool manner as regards Albert’s death, I never cried or bawled. They all thought that I was still numb from the shock, I know that my mother suspects the true cause of Albert’s death and did not believe that he died from a heart attack as I had told them. I was scared at first that they would carry out an autopsy and see traces of the poison in his body but his family never seemed to care about that and amazingly accepted what I told them. Maybe one day the guilt would choke Ruth till she goes to the authorities and blurt out what she knows or tell someone who would in turn tell someone until the truth comes to light but till then I listen on with concealed glee as I sit and watch the travesty of a funeral.